On today's episode, J.Y. speaks with 7Sager AccountsPlayable, David, who scored a 174 on his LSAT.
David is currently a 1L at Harvard Law School but gaining admissions was not straight forward. He had to apply twice. They speak about what the process was like, among other things related to LSAT prep and law school admissions.
Links to other content mentioned in the episode
Blind Review method
Links to books mentioned in the episode
Introduction to Logic by Harry Gensler
Informal Logic: A Pragmatic Approach by Douglas Walton
How to Solve It: A New Mathematical Approach by G. Polya
Please send your comments, questions, and ideas for future episodes to podcast@7Sage.com.
Other 7Sage LSAT content
7Sage LSAT course: 7sage.com/enroll/
Free logic games explanation lessons: 7sage.com/logic-game-explanations/
Free LSAT preptest scorer and analyzer: 7sage.com/score-lsat-test/
Free LSAT proctors: 7sage.com/free-lsat-prep-tools/
Free LSAT discussion forum: 7sage.com/discussion/
Free video explanations for every question in the June 2007 PrepTest: https://7sage.com/lesson/preptest-june-2007-video-explanations-for-all-questions/
J.Y.: Hello and welcome to Episode 2 of the 7Sage podcast. My name is J.Y. Ping and on today’s episode you’ll be hearing my conversation with David, who’s known as AccountsPlayable on 7Sage. David and I spoke in January of 2018. We talked about how he used the 7Sage curriculum to improve from his diagnostic score of somewhere in the low 150s to his ultimate LSAT score of 174. The 7sagers present for the live version of this conversation asked many very detailed questions about how he improved certain sections, specific strategies that he employed but I think perhaps what you might find most interesting is the fact that David applied to law school in two separate cycles. It worked out well for him because he is now a 1L at Harvard but he did not get into HLS on his first application and we talk quite a bit about what it’s like to apply in two separate cycles and the kinds of things you have to do to maximize your chances. So I hope you’ll enjoy the conversation. Without further ado I give you David, AccountsPlayable.
J.Y.: Welcome, everyone. This is the AMA/Q&A with David Brown, also known as AccountsPlayable. So we’re going to spend about an hour and a half today answering your questions, any questions you might have. To get started, I think, David, maybe we can just have you tell us a little bit about yourself.
David: Yes, so as J.Y. said, my name’s David, AccountsPlayable on the forum, and I took the LSAT twice and the most recent LSAT I took was the June 2016 test, and I was lucky enough to score a 174. I’m a little unique in the law school admissions process in that I applied to law schools last cycle, and then I got some acceptances, some rejections, and then I decided — for a variety of reasons, which I have a feeling I’ll get into with some questions tonight about why I did that — I decided to reapply again this cycle, and so far it’s just kind of short run. Reapplying has not been a detriment, so it’s something to consider, something we can talk about later today. I went through the 7Sage curriculum, so I’m a 7Sage curriculum alum. I owe a ton, a ton, a ton of thanks to 7Sage and the community and J.Y. in particular for helping me through the LSAT, and really my score improvement from my first LSAT to my second LSAT really was attributed to the curriculum and really the great community that 7Sage offers. So again, something else we can talk about later, just how to use the curriculum and things like that, just to kind of give some people some things to think about with what to ask. But that’s kind of a little bit of background on myself. I’ll throw it back to J.Y. if he wants to add anything else, and then we can get started.
J.Y.: Yeah, I think maybe let’s first talk about, sorry, I’m just trying to mute everyone who’s joining, because I think I heard some background noise. First I wanted you to talk about your LSAT score. What did you start with? How much did you improve your first time? What did you do different? Specifically, like what did you do on 7Sage that was different that helped you get your 174?
David: Yeah, so my LSAT journey was a little bit unique, and I talk about it, I actually did a webinar for 7Sage back in, I can't even believe it’s almost, it’s over a year, back in October of 2016 I did a webinar that kind of touched a little bit about sort of my LSAT journey and ways to study right. So I recommend if you guys have the time to go and watch that. But sort of, the general gist of my story was I took a diagnostic test. I didn't really take a true diagnostic test, but if I had to guess, I’d guess it was in the maybe high-140s, maybe low-150s, somewhere around there. So I certainly didn't come to the LSAT with really a leg up on anything. I’d never taken a logic course or anything like that in college, and so I really started at sort of ground zero. That summer, when I first started studying for the LSAT, I sort of did everything the wrong way. I really breezed through practice tests without sufficiently reviewing them, I rushed a lot, and I sort of deluded myself into thinking I was ready to take the test. And surprise, surprise, I took the September 2014 test, I think it was the 2014 test, yeah, September 2014 test and I scored a 161. Given just sort of my expectations, given to where I wanted to test, it just wasn’t a reflection of what I thought my ability was, and so I took a step back and sort of reevaluated how I approached the test. I got a lot more active with 7Sage, and I took that year off, I was in my master’s program and I finished my master’s, didn't look at anything for the LSAT, and sort of that summer after my master’s degree, I really hit 7Sage hard. One core, key thing I did was really get involved. I would try to make comments, try to type out comments on almost every video in the core curriculum. I tried to ask any question I had, right in the forums. When it came to a video explanation, during my blind review, if I didn't feel 100 percent, or close to it about a question, I would type out an explanation. You know, for logic or reasoning I would start with the paraphrase of my argument. I would get into what I think the answer should be, then I would analyze the answer choices, and I would say, “This is why I selected this.” I spent probably most of my prep really during, most of my blind review process, in fact, typing out explanation after explanation after explanation, and it really solidified the reasoning that the LSAT has in my brain. It solidified sort of the testing techniques, how to approach problems in a similar way. And I’d say that was one big, big aspect of my improvement was sitting there and typing out explanations. And doing that helped me score that 174 in June.
J.Y.: Yeah, I’ve read a lot of your explanations, and I think, it feels to me like at times they were cathartic as well. It gets kind of emotional when you’re struggling with some of these questions.
David: Yeah, absolutely. And you know, sometimes that’s good. I had a, not related to the LSAT, but when I was a kid, like I was very much involved in sports, and I had a coach, my soccer coach, and I was one of those really competitive kids when it came to soccer and swimming and all that. And if I didn’t win, yeah, I’d get mad. And so one time Coach pulled me aside, and he goes, “You know, it’s fine to get mad. What's not fine is to get mad and then not do anything about it.” It’s something I kind of took to heart, and it’s something that’s sort of been my reflection about the LSAT was, it’s fine to get mad with the test. It’s going to happen. It’s inevitable. You’re going to look at a question, the answer to it, you’re going to pick answer choice B, the correct answer is going to be answer choice C, and you’re just going to look at it and go, “What are they talking about?” And there's no possible way that’s the right answer. And I’m right, yada, yada, yada. But that’s half of it, right? The other half of it then having to come to the realization, “OK, you’re wrong here, and how do you improve?” And for me it was typing out an explanation, and yeah, showing the sort of pathos and the emotion sometimes in the not-so-good days. But yeah, it was relaxing sometimes, but it still was a mechanism to improve, because I still had to sit there and analyze, all right, there was an error in my reasoning here. What am I going to do about it? That was sort of my check against myself. That was the check against myself to get complacent or lazy, because it’s so easy, and I was definitely guilty of this early in my prep of just, “Oh yeah, the answer, I picked B, the answer choice was C, OK, that’s good. I’m moving on,” without spending the time to sit there and reflect on the question and “forcing” myself to type out an explanation made me really take a step back and analyze my reasoning, analyze my thought process. And it made it so much easier to find mistakes, and it made it so much easier to go back and review. Because with every typed out explanation was a snapshot in time of my reasoning at one point, and there were tons of times where I would redo questions and I’d go, “Man. How did I think about this question two months ago?” And I’d have a document, I’d have a record of it. I can go back and see improvement. “Hey, I missed this question two months ago, but I got this question correct now.” And you can look at that delta, like hey, I was totally off-base two months ago, and now I’m not, and the explanations really helped with that process.
J.Y.: Yeah, yeah. I think it’s just such a great way to safeguard against our tendencies to fool ourselves.
J.Y.: When you’re reviewing, and generally if you don't write anything out or type anything out, or if you’re not reviewing, or if you’re not being forced to explain the question to someone else, you don't have any guardrails. You kind of just look at the question and you feel like, “OK. Well I get it.” But, do you really get it? Are you not going to make the same mistake again? Those are the important questions, right? Because it doesn't matter if you got this question right. It’s a prep test, it doesn't count.
David: Yeah, exactly. The important part is sort of minimizing the same mistake, minimize the number of times you make the same mistake twice. Right?
J.Y.: Right. Yeah.
David: And again, we’re all human, we’re going to sometimes, we’re going to make the same mistakes again sometimes, but that was one sort of, if there was ever a benefit to, and again I’m not advocating for this at all, but if there ever was a benefit for breezing through the prep tests and “wasting” the prep tests like I did when I first started, it was when I had to rely a lot on my retakes, one sort of benefit that that actually had on my blind review was I could compare what my first score was, my sort of fresh take score was versus what my retake score was. And if I found that I was missing the same questions on that second time, I knew I hadn’t really analyzed the test that first time sufficiently.
David: I knew that there was ways to improve. Definitely don't waste your prep tests, because they are, I know there's 80-something now, but they really are a precious commodity to be sort of savored and taken when they’re value add to take them and when they’re sufficiently reviewed. But just because you've used all of your prep tests, it’s not the end right? There was never a single prep test I took where I got every single question right, you know, on a retake. I always looked at it as an opportunity going, OK, there's something, even on this retake test, I can learn something. I missed this question again. I not only missed it the first time when I saw it on fresh eyes, I missed it again after I’d even spent all of that time reviewing it, and even tests I took three times. Sometimes I would miss a question a third time, and there was always something I sort of drilled down further with with any test, and if you can minimize the mistakes, the same mistake, if you can minimize the number of times you do the same mistake twice, the better off you’re just going to be, and the whole blind review process and typing out explanations I think, at least for me, it was the most efficient way I could sort of identify those sorts of errors and try to correct them long-term.
J.Y.: Yeah, yeah. That’s a really good, I hadn’t thought of it that way, but it’s, what you just mentioned is a very good way to find out how effective your blind review was.
J.Y.: Which is just wait a couple months, take the same test again so it’s a retake, and see how many questions you miss.
J.Y.: I mean theoretically, you should be getting a 180, because you blind reviewed everything, you already know the answers, you've supposedly worked out all the logic, so you’re not just memorizing a string of letters.
J.Y.: Plus it’s been a long time, so you’re really not going to remember. So yeah, and if there are any faults in the way you think about certain things, it’ll show up on the retake, and those are going to be glaring faults.
David: Yeah, exactly, because that was the way I always looked at it was missing a question on a retake, or missing a question on a third take, that sort of would create its own priority. A lot of people that I talked to on 7Sage or just about the LSAT in general, a constant, and almost everybody’s going to ask the question at some point in their prep, “What do I prioritize? Do I prioritize games? Do I prioritize my state of mind? Do I prioritize logical reasoning?” And I think the answer is going to be different for pretty much everybody, but if you’re just looking at it from I think the straight data perspective on at the end of the day, the whole point of the LSAT is you've got to get questions right, and if you don't know where to sort of start, and you’re far enough along in your prep where you’re taking prep tests, taking retakes of prep tests, a really good place to start is looking at those areas where you've made the same mistake again. That creates its own sort of internal priority where, hey, I missed Question 5 on Section 2 twice. I missed it two months ago, I blind reviewed it, and then now two months later when I retook it, I missed it again. And that’s a really good starting point I think when it comes to what you should maybe drill or trying to do a little meta-analysis. I’m like, “OK. Am I really taking the test or reviewing in efficient manner?” And I think that sort of takes a higher priority than a lot of other things. It’s all about value-add.
David: And if you’re making the same mistake twice, that to me is a very valuable, it’s very valuable to spend your time trying to correct that as opposed to maybe other things where you sort of lower priority items, if that sort of makes sense.
J.Y.: Yeah, it does, it does. You look at a retake and a retake underreports your errors, right?
J.Y.: In other words, a retake will mask a lot of your weaknesses, because it’s a retake, because you had seen the test before, and seen the logic before. Who knows if the logic’s shown up in a different, the same logic, but this time it’s about, I don't know, a sailing ship versus previously it was about a bus. Who knows if you would recognize it? A retake only masks errors, it underreports errors. If in that context, an arises, then you know you to take that error very, very seriously.
David: Yeah, exactly.
J.Y.: That’s good, that’s really good. That is something, I’m glad you brought that up, because a lot of people do say, unfortunately they do burn through a lot of prep tests too quickly, and they end up having just a handful of fresh prep tests left, so retakes are helpful for that.
David: The thing about the prep tests is I think a common sentiment that I find talking with people is, “Oh my God. You’re so screwed if all you have are retakes.” This is patently false, right? Again, the retakes are a really good gauge of, “OK, am I making the same mistake twice?” And if so, “OK, that’s a whole priority,” and we sort of just talked about that. But it’s also, they’re also really good practice to test, are you taking the test the same way from test to test? They’re also really good, retakes are really good to experiment a little bit. There is always, yeah, in an ideal world, when I first started studying for the LSAT, would I have saved maybe 10 or 20 prep tests that I would have looked at, that I would have saved in case I needed to retake them? Of course I would, but I didn't know what I was doing at first, and I didn't do that, but I never felt I was at a huge disadvantage when I was retaking them, despite, you know, sometimes, occasionally not having the best gauge about what my score was. Because J.Y.’s right, you know, when you retake a test, your score’s going to be inflated and how indicative, how much that score inflation is might be a matter of debate, but it’s at least inflated, so it’s hard sometimes to gauge a lot of useful information about your retake score, but I always felt that the blind review process on the retake was the bulk of the learning process. So even if I didn't feel like I could trust my score, I felt like I could trust what I was doing in blind review with my method of blind review, where I was still learning a lot, and I could see that tangible improvement by comparing a written explanation I had two months ago versus a new explanation that I wrote, and I can compare them, right? And I can look and see, “OK, how have I improved?” That to me was enough to know when I was sort of ready to take the LSAT. I delayed taking the LSAT over the course of when I got back into studying that August, when I started studying again after my master’s. One big reason why I kept postponing it was because I could see, I couldn't see enough of a change between where I was testing and where I was currently testing, and then it got to a point to where, yeah, I think I’m ready to go, and I killed it. I was correct in that assessment and I didn't really feel like I was ever at a huge disadvantage with relying mostly on retakes.
J.Y.: Yeah. Just in case anyone leaves this conversation with a slightly altered message, I just want to clarify: It’s still not, it’s not the best situation to be in.
David: Yeah, it’s definitely less than ideal.
J.Y.: Yeah, it’s less, it’s like worse if you have fresh prep tests.
David: J.Y.’s absolutely right, you definitely don't want to burn through your prep tests. It definitely was an issue that I couldn't reliably figure out my score that often. Because when I started back into studying for the LSAT, I think I only had about five or six, I could be off by, I’d need to sit and think about it. But I think I only had roughly about five fresh tests. So they were very, very precious to me. Like when I needed to take a fresh test, it needed to be like, yeah, I need to know what my score is, so I can see where my improvement is, right? Where my improvement was. But in between them when it was sort of like, all right, every, for four weeks take retakes and then take, you know, take four tests then a fresh test, take four tests then a fresh test. I felt like those four in between, there still was a lot of I was learning, and that’s kind of where I’m sort of accentuating, that point is those four tests in between may be the fresh tests that I was taking, I still was learning a ton about the tests. I was learning a ton about myself. I was learning a ton about was I employing the right timing strategy. Was I addressing these questions correctly. Was I really doing the blind review the right way? And that helped me a lot, that helped me prepare myself for my fresh tests, because I could use those retakes also to experiment a little bit, to figure out, right, can I make an efficiency gain here and efficiency gain here. So that’s kind of what I mean where I didn’t feel like I was at a disadvantage from that standpoint. Now best case scenario is you’re sort of perpetually taking fresh tests at a rate that you’re not sort of wasting them, right? So retakes are good, I think, intermittently throughout the study process. I don't really think every test you should take needs to be sort of fresh tests, and I think you should also take 10 or 15 if you have access to all of the exams, put them aside, put them under mattress in case the world falls apart and you need to retake once or twice, you still have a healthy set of fresh tests. But if that’s not you, don't feel like you’re totally screwed, right, if you’re just relying on retakes, because as evidenced by me, that wasn’t the case, especially if you review them correctly and if you really analyze what you’re doing with the right way, if that makes sense.
J.Y.: Yeah, it does. If people here aren’t familiar with AccountsPlayable’s write-ups underneath the lessons, and not just the core curriculum lessons but also the video explanation lessons, I highly encourage you guys to, let’s say you just took prep test 47 and you’re blind reviewing and then you’re watching the videos, I highly recommend you scroll through the comments to find David’s comments. They’re very well written, very well thought-out. And more than that, I think it’s just exemplary of what everyone should be doing as well, right? Like reading other people’s comments is one thing, but it’s quite another to force yourself to write your own.
J.Y.: We mentioned this earlier. They’re guard rails against your inclination, against your natural tendency to kind of be lazy and fool yourself into thinking that you get it. I don't write it out, I don't write out explanations very much, but obviously I make video explanations and sometimes I host blind review calls. Part of the motivation for those things is precisely to put guardrails against my own tendencies to be lazy, right? I’ll take a prep test, and I’ll just, I’ll be like, “Yeah, I think I get it.” And then like through talking to other people or through having to plan out a video lesson, I realize, “Oh, there's actually a lot more to this answer choice that I just so offhandedly dismissed, or I thought was so obvious. There's a lot more subtlety to this particular question.” That’s the kind of depth of understanding, that’s the kind of juice you can squeeze out of the flesh before just discarding it and moving on.
David: Yeah. Absolutely, absolutely.
J.Y.: Yeah. OK, so you guys should definitely feel free to type in your questions in the chat box. I’ll call on you guys to ask. So I think here we have a question from Tyler. Tyler, can you unmute yourself?
Tyler: Yeah, hey J.Y., hey David.
J.Y.: Hi, Tyler.
David: Hi, Tyler, how are you doing?
Tyler: I’m doing good, thanks.
Tyler: Yes, I am. I’m so used to losing, it doesn't matter, we’re here. I know most people don't care, because it’s an SEC final, but that’s all right. Thanks for asking. One thing that, I’ve heard you talk about in the past about when you were actually sitting down to the do blind review process, when I had done in the study group calls and everything else, a lot of people will go through and do specifically LR straight through and do a blind review of the question. If I remember correctly, I’ve heard you mention that you did it a different way?
David: Yes, are you talking about, you know what? I can just explain it. I’ll just go through my blind review process.
Tyler: I don't want to… because I liked how you did it.
David: Yeah, I’ll just restate it. So I think I’ll go, I’ll probably say too much, but I’ll just explain my whole blind review process. I tried not to take more than one exam a week, because I was, I tried at some point taking three, and then I was like oh my God, three’s way too many. That didn't last very long. Then I went back down to two, and I didn't think I could blind review two in a week, so I tried only to take one exam a week, and once it became apparent I was going to take the June test, which is 1 o’clock on a Monday, at least it was when I took it. I think that’s still the case. But I would do my best to take the exam on a Monday, at 1 o’clock. I’d try to wake up, eat my breakfast, sort of do the things I was going to do on test day. I would try to make my Monday just like replicate test day. And so I would start my test at 1. I would take the test from, I don't know, 1 to 4, 1 to 5, how long it took. I would try to take a five-section test to sort of test my endurance and all that. That would be the only thing I would do Monday, just take the test, right? And afterwards I would go to the gym, have a martini, relax, watch a movie or something, because I’d just be so burnt out taking the test, and I just couldn't get myself to do any review afterwards. And so Tuesday, Tuesday through Thursday, was my blind review, and I would do about, I would try to do maybe two sections a day. And it didn't really matter which two sections I did. Sometimes I would mix it up, so sometimes I would do LR and games, sometimes I’d do reading comp and games, sometimes I’d do LR and reading comp. It doesn't really matter as much, and so I would just do two sections a day and for my blind review process for games, I would print out a fresh section of the games, and I would redo the game, sort of one at a time. So I would have, say, so in other words I’d have Game 1, and I’d have maybe my phone right next to me and I’d hit the stopwatch on my phone. And so I would time myself, how long did I spend, upfront, jotting down my rules, making my master game board, etc. And then once I was sort of done with that, I would pause my timer, jot down the time on my piece of paper, and then I would go into the questions, and I would then jot down how long I spent as a bulk on all of the questions. Once I was done with that first game, I would then check my answers, just for that one game. I would then, after I’d check my answers, I would watch J.Y.’s video to see, OK, did I approach the game correctly? Or did he say something in the video that I missed? Was there some inference that I missed? So I’d always like to check my work with J.Y.’s game video. And I would do this even on games that I got 100 percent correct, because maybe there was something I’d missed, some inference I should have made and didn’t, and maybe it cost me 30 seconds somewhere. So I always very religiously watched J.Y.’s videos, for pretty much every section as you’ll sort of see as I explained my other two sections too. But that was sort of my logic on that. And any game that gave them a problem, and I defined problem in the most liberal sense, that I’d missed a question, or I was over time, or I just thought it was a really unique or weird game. Some of the games between prep tests 1 and 35 are kind of weird and by the time I was scheduled to take the June test, a couple of tests had kind of come back and asked sort of weird game types, and I felt like it was sort of valuable to sort of go back and practice those. So any sort of game that I felt any modicum of trouble, I’d put it in an Excel spreadsheet, and I would try to recycle through that Excel spreadsheet maybe once every two weeks, right? So as the spreadsheet got longer with the game lists in it, I would just try to print off and in my sort of free time, if I was at a doctor’s office or I was at the DMV or whatever, I’d maybe whip out my piece of paper, and I’d sort of, if I had 10 minutes, I’d do a game. So that was sort of my games blind review process. My logic or reasoning process, what I would do is I would go through the questions I circled during the test, and I would try to keep my circles, I was never very good at this, and I’ll admit that but I would try to sort of limit my circles, but I always found myself very under confident, and that I was, I think I tended to circle questions way too many questions than I maybe should have. But that was sort of something I tried to correct over the long term and I maybe could have done a bit better job doing it when I was studying, but be that as it may, during my blind review I would go through the questions that I circled. So say I circled Question 5. I would start with Question 5, I would redo the question from scratch, and I would pick my answer, and again, I’m not looking at my original take. I sort of have a new fresh set of this too. I do Question 5 again, and then I would sit there, and I would type out an explanation. So before I’ve done any sort of analysis on whether the question was correct or incorrect, I would type out my explanation, and you can kind of use my explanations template on so many questions throughout the curriculum and throughout the prep tests in the curriculum. After I was done typing out my explanation, I’d then check my answer and watch J.Y.’s video, sort of for the same reason that I would, I’d do that for the games, to see, OK. Was there something I’d missed? How did J.Y. Interpret it? Or was there a comment already in the logical reasoning section? I’d sometimes read those too. And I would do that for every question I’d circled, and then once I did that, I would then check that section. So then I would look and see, OK, were there any questions that I missed that I hadn’t circled? Because I was checking questions, I was checking my circled questions as I was going along. But then at the end of that section I’d then go back and I’d see, OK, say I missed Question 17, and I hadn’t circled 17, I’d then go and try to address that right then and there, because I’m sort of in the, I was in the logical reasoning mindset, and I would do it sort of in the same way as I’d done my other ones, except I was a little bit more strict with myself on questions that I’d missed and hadn’t circled. I’d maybe, I would spend a lot more time on those, because they were questions that had fooled me sort of two times, right? If you circle a question, you kind of have a feeling that maybe I’d missed it. I sort of am uneasy about it. But a question I hadn’t circled was something that just flat-out fooled me, and so I would try to spend a lot of time on those if those ever arose. And then finally for my reading comprehension, I would blind review it a lot like I would blind review games. I would print out a fresh section of reading comprehension, I would look at reading Passage 1, and I would have my phone next to me, and I’d time, all right, how long did it take me to read the passage, and then I would take a step back and then I would fill out, and if you go to the reading comp sections for I think pretty much every test from like 35 to 72 or 73 or whatever, you can kind of see my summary comment that I make about every passage between those prep tests. And so I encourage all of you to go and read those and maybe take my bare bones skeleton and use that going forward for your reading comp blind review. But I would fill out that template. It would be, what was the summary of paragraph one? What was the summary of paragraph two? What was the main point of the passage? What was my author’s tone? What was the reasoning structure of the passage? And I would do this all by memory. I would try my best not to look back at the passage, because I would try to practice, OK, do I remember, I spent three and a half minutes reading this. Can I answer these sort of structural questions or structural points by memory? And so I’d spend time typing that out. Then I would get into the questions, right? And like games, I’d have my phone next to me, and I would time how long did it take me to do all of the questions? At the end of that —
Tyler: Can I ask a quick follow-up in that regard?
Tyler: Thank you. When you were setting the stopwatch, are you gauging your internal time clock to make sure that you’re watching the time or are you trying to do it test-taking time?
David: Yeah, so yes, that’s a good question. So for both the games and for reading comprehension, I was going at the pace that I would go during a regular timed section. So it just, in other words the watch was sort of next to me just, so I could have a data point, hit “stop” and say, OK, how long did that take me? Right? If it took, I would try to read the passage in really no more than three and a half minutes, depending on the passage difficulty, and I would sort of try to answer the questions in about three or four minutes, depending on the difficulty of the questions, how many questions. And if I found myself way under or way over, I would kind of note that and I’ll get to sort of what I would do with this sort of note at the end. But it was just an extra data point. If I was really going way over, I had some sort of, way over with time, I had some sort of way to sort of, I had evidence of that, in other words. Because sometimes you can feel like you’re going fast, sometimes you can feel like you’re going slow, but you’re really not. Having the watch in front of me for blind review was, helpful for me in that regard. Going back to the question, so I would, I’d answer the questions, and then at the end of that, I would then take a step back, and I would go through the questions again, but this time I would try to justify my answer choice with a line reference. In other words, I had done all of the questions in reading comp for that first passage, and I’d done it but without looking back at the text. Because again, I want to practice my memory, I want to practice, can I answer the questions without going back, because going back to the passage is such a time sink right? It’s something where, you just don't want to do it on your initial read-through. But then I would go back, and I would look at my line reference. I’d say, OK, I pick answer choice C, can I really quickly find where maybe answer choice C is in the passage? So say answer choice C is line 27. I’d put a little 27 next to C. So that way when I checked my answers, I have some sort of, not only my sort of gut answer, which wasn’t looking at the passage, I also have, OK, this is actual textual line support, in case I need to type out an explanation for whatever reason. So I would do that for all of the questions. Then I would go, and I’d watch J.Y.’s video of him reading the passage, and again, I would sort of compare that to my typed summary, then I would watch the video explanations for the questions, and I’d be grading them as he’s going along, and any question, again, that I missed or any question that sort of gave me trouble, I would type out an explanation. That would be passage one, then I would rinse and repeat for passage two, rinse and repeat for passage three, rinse and repeat for passage four. That was my blind review for Tuesday through Thursday, which were extensive time, a few hours a day sort of doing that. Then Friday was my reflection day. I would take the data that I had gathered about timing or if I had recorded a video of myself taking a section, which also helped me kind of gauge my timing strategy and stuff. I would use that and ask myself a series of questions. OK, did I take the test efficiently? Does the video that I took of me taking a logical reasoning section indicate that I had enough time to go back and look at the questions I circled? During blind review, the time I was taking, reading the passage and answering the questions, was that efficient? And if not, I would sort of tailor my drilling strategies to that. The other thing I would ask myself, like OK, was there anything that just gave me problems? Did I miss two necessary assumption questions? Did I find myself really struggling with weakening questions? Or man, I hadn’t seen an in/out game in forever and the in/out game in this test really gave me issues. Maybe I want to drill five to 10 in/out games today. So I would use my Friday to be sort of my ad hoc strategic drilling based off this week’s prep test. And Saturday was sort of the same thing. Anything I didn’t finish Friday I’d do Saturday, then I would try to take Sundays off. And then Monday would be my next test. So that was kind of my blind review process in a nutshell. I hope that, did that answer your question, Tyler?
J.Y.: I think you did.
David: Yeah, I think I did too.
J.Y.: OK, we have a bunch of questions.
J.Y.: So where do we start? Let’s see. I’ll just start at the top. I’ll try to get through all of these questions if possible. Someone asked where do you start, when you’re restarting your studies after a long break from studying?
David: Where do I start? So I started — after I took the —
J.Y.: I think this might be, they might mean, like, proverbial, like would one start?
David: So if you have, sort of you've taken a break and where to come back, that kind of thing?
David: Yeah, so I would say one thing to do is take a retake test, and maybe even take the last retake, maybe even take a retake of the last prep test you took, right? If you’re in the prep test stage. If you’re not in the prep test stage, then I would say a really good place to start would just be back at the core curriculum or back sort of with the fundamentals. But if you’re sort of already in the prep test stages of your prep, I’d say start with the last test you took and take that one again and sort of no differences. Because I think most of the time people take breaks because they’re burnt out, and it’s because, “Man, I’m just sick and tired of taking practice tests. I’m just sick and tired of looking at the LSAT day in and day out for XYZ number of weeks.” And sort of picking up where you left off in that regard, I think can sort of really help you solidify where you need to prioritize for your studies, right? It kind of goes back to what we said earlier about if you’re doing the retake, and you’re still missing the same questions after blind review —
J.Y.: That’s a good point.
David: — that’s a really good starting point, because it’s already prioritized for you. Like, hey, I missed Question 5 two times. Question 5 is a necessary assumption question. Maybe I’m not so hot on necessary assumptions, right?
David: Maybe I need to go back and review those, or hey, I missed, I did this in/out game on this prep test a month or three weeks ago, and I just did this in/out game again, and I still struggled through it. Maybe that means I’m not too hot on in/out games. Maybe that’s a really good place to start, in/out games. I think retaking a pretty fresh exam is a really good place to start, because it’s already going to be prioritized for you depending on how you do.
J.Y.: Right. Yeah. Jack, you asked a couple of questions. Is your mic working?
Jack: Yeah, absolutely.
J.Y.: Hi, how are you?
Jack: Hi, how are you all doing?
David: Doing well.
Jack: All right, so just getting started. I wanted to ask, I’m having trouble trying to find the time and motivation to really sit down and work out, well I’ve taken a cold diagnostic, but I’m starting spring semester, obviously I have a full class load. I’m trying to graduate a year early, so I’m taking 16 hours, and I’ll be graduating in spring, and I’m trying to schedule for June, and I’m skipping February. But I’m just trying to wonder where I’ll be able to find the time to sit down between school, classes, homework, and an internship.
David: Yeah, so time management, so I would say right now, so you only get one shot at your undergraduate GPA, right, and I would say prioritizing stuff with the LSAT is for the most part fairly compartmentalized. Like, when you’re an undergrad, I would recommend get your GPA as high as you can get it, because once you’re out of college, and you’re going to be a young guy, right, because you’re going to graduate early, so you’re going to have plenty of time to study for the LSAT after you've graduated, if need be. So I would say prioritize your GPA and then anything you can sort of do LSAT-wise should kind of be secondary to that. But if you’re really hellbent on taking the LSAT in June and studying for the LSAT while you study, I would just budget time. I’d say, you know, I have so many hours in the day. I go to class from 10 to 2 or whatever, I got to get my, get your undergrad homework done first, get your projects done, get your group meetings done first. Because again, I think your priority should be your undergrad GPA. But then try to find maybe a two-hour chunk of time sometime in the day, whether it’s before class, whether it’s after class, and that two-hour chunk of time just be very, very efficient. Go through the core, because it sound like you’re just now starting your LSAT prep, and I think two hours, two and a half hours a day of going through the core curriculum, reading the comments on those videos, watching those videos, taking notes, and giving a really good fundamental, fundamental stuff down by the time, for the first few months of your prep, because it’s January, you’re going to graduate in May. That’s four months of doing that, right? And I think that’s fine, and then I think from maybe April until, the test is in June, April, I think two months of taking prep tests after that, depending on when your finals are, I think two months of practice exams is pretty good too, and taking one or two prep tests a week for two months, can be sufficient for a lot of people. I know I was kind of all over the place on that, but I’d say priority should be undergrad GPA, but if you really want to study at the same time, I’d say just budget out two hours a day, and just say, OK, no matter what I’m doing from 6 to 8 or from 7 to 9, I’m just going to do LSAT, and I’m going to do it right. I’m going to turn my phone off, I’m going to turn the TV off, and I’m just going to do that, and get a really good, get your fundamentals down while you’re in undergrad, and then sort of at the end of the semester, before, at the end of the semester, then start prep testing, and then you got to study for finals and all of that, and then after finals, get really into the prep testing mode until June, and I think that’s probably your best bet. Now I didn't really address the internship, but it’s sort of the same philosophy there, because once you’re, I’m assuming your internship starts after you graduate and kind of do that. You have your internship, say it’s from 8 to 5, say OK, from 6 to whenever at night I’m taking my prep test, and then the rest of the days of the week I’m blind reviewing it, etc. Does that make sense, Jack?
Jack: Yeah. I was going to say that the internship’s in duality with my spring semester, so I was, I meant I’ll have classes, and then I go to my internship and then I’ll do my homework. So the internship is in, it goes hand in hand. But, so a follow-up question with that, should I be focused more on studying for a section I’m already good at and basically trying to zero that one out or should I be working on a section that I’m weaker on? Should I be focusing on logic games more because it’s, from what I hear, more of a learning step to logical reasoning? I’m sorry, these questions are kind of weird. Is it easier to work on logic games first as opposed to logical reasoning or — do you have an opinion on that?
David: So the answer to that question is yes. Logic games is the most learnable part of the test, and it just comes with practice. So that answer’s yes, at least in my experience. To answer your other question, I think it’s better to hit the stuff that you’re weaker on first, and then sort of manage the stuff you’re still good at. Right now, say for example you’re really good at games, and you’re consistently, say, right now minus 2, minus 3, minus 4 on games. Still room for improvement, but you’re pretty good. But then you’re going minus 10, 12, 13, 14, 15 on reading comprehension. I say nip the reading comprehension stuff in the bud ASAP, because it’s going to take you the longest to improve on that. And at the same time, again, they’re not mutually exclusive. You can be working on games sort of at the same time as you’re working on reading comprehension. You can do an hour and a half of reading comprehension, and then 30 minutes a game, 30 minutes a game is probably two or three games plus their blind review right? So I would say focus on the stuff you’re weaker at, because that’s going to take more time to improve on and manage the stuff you’re good at so where it doesn't get rusty, if that makes sense. And then once you’re at a spot to where you’re pretty comfortable with all of the subjects, that’s sort of what the prep tests I think are for. Then you can sort of put everything together and as you’re in the prep test phase, you can then focus on, OK, I really need to then hone in on games, because I’m at a point of reading comp is at least manageable, I’m at a point to where my logical reasoning is manageable. Now while I’m prep testing, blind review should be OK, how do I then put everything together and make that leap forward for the targets where I want to get. Does that make sense?
Jack: Perfect, thank you for that answer.
David: Yeah, no problem.
J.Y.: Yeah, thank you, David. Just one last thought, Jack. Sometimes you are just up against a hard limit. You only have 24 hours in a day, and it is just impossible to squeeze more time in. If you’re graduating early, that actually gives you a time advantage. You could take a year off to do something and study for the LSAT, maybe that will be a better balance for you and you won’t start, and if you start law school at the age of 22, you’ll still be, like, below average in terms of age for your incoming class. So that is something to think about as well. Next we have, I know we have a lot of questions. I am keeping track of them all, and I do want to get through all of them. So next, Anjali, is your mic working?
Anjali: Yes. Hi, everyone.
David: How are you doing?
Anjali: Good thanks. I just wanted to ask if you could elaborate on applying to law schools twice and if you could talk about, did you apply to the same schools the second time around and also were you worried about rewriting a personal statement?
David: Uh yeah, so I did apply to all of the same schools twice, and so far I’ve been readmitted to all of the schools I was admitted to last year, and I have five remaining schools that have not made decisions yet, but they haven't made decisions for anybody yet other than early decision applicants. So I don't feel like from an acceptance position it hurt me to reapply, simply because I had some pretty compelling reasons why I was reapplying. I decided to take the additional year and sort of expand my job. I have a very nice job that I’m happy with, and had I gone to law school last year, I would have been at that position for just under a year, whereas now I’m going to be, when I attend law school this August, I’m going to have pretty close to two years’ experience. And so from a professional standpoint, there's a lot more to sort of be leveraged there I think from an interview perspective during my 1L, 2L year when I’m looking for summer associate positions and maybe looking for a full-time position my third year. There's also, you know, the financial aspect. The extra year, financially I could save more to sort of decrease the financial burden law school’s going to be. And then there was the emotional side. Like I got engaged and that, we’re going to have to think about how my fiancée’s job is going to work during this. So I had a lot of sort of stuff going on and I felt like it was the right thing to do to sort of wait another year, apply when I had a more robust resume, if you will. Be that as it may, I think one thing that was sort of the saving grace, why I’ve had, as of right now as much success, and again I had a very successful cycle last year, so it was very hard to sort of turn down a lot of the schools and offers last year. But if you’re going to reapply, if you’re thinking about reapplying, you have to have a delta, you have to have a change. I think one thing that you don't want is you apply one year, you go, “Huh. I don't really like any of the offers. I don't like where I’m at. I’m just going to apply next year,” and you’re not changed. There's nothing new about your new application. I think that’s sort of a red flag, because all an adcom going to do is look at it and go, “Well, we rejected you last year. You now reapplied this year. You don't have a new LSAT score. You don't have a new GPA. You don't have any new interesting job experience. You’re just the same applicant.” That’s not going to help you. So what I did was yeah, I wrote a new personal statement, I wrote some addenda that I didn't write the year prior that I think I should have in hindsight. I sort of redesigned my resume to stress some things more than others and fleshed some things out more than others. I wrote more optional essays. So there was a really big change in my application from this year to last year that sort of made me, in my opinion a fairly different candidate, which I think is for the better. And yes, I did write a new personal statement, so I think if you’re going to reapply, if you’re thinking about reapplying, at the bare minimum you should definitely write a new personal statement. And I always think that the personal statement just needs to, it sort of needs to tell a story, and I think everyone is sort of full of interesting stories and interesting experiences, you just have to find the right one, and if you’ve already written one for a previous cycle, find a new story that tells the admissions committee something about yourself, or a story about how you've grown as a person or an interesting experience that made you look at the world differently. And I think everybody should be able to find a couple of those at some point in their life, and they don't need to be crazy sob stories or super dramatic. They need to be real. It’s better to be real than to sort of make up a story like that, if that makes sense. Does that answer your question?
Anjali: Yes, awesome. I also just wanted to know how many years you've been out of college.
David: This is my third year, so I graduated undergrad in, or excuse me, fourth year. I graduated undergrad in 14, and I got my master’s in 15, and then I’ve been working close to two years right now.
Anjali: Great, thank you.
J.Y.: Awesome. Emily, I think you had asked a similar question, I hope David was able to address your question. If you have a follow-up, please just type it into the chat. Next, Effie asked, are you still here and is your mic working?
Effie: I, yes, my mic is working. Can you hear me?
J.Y.: Yes, hi.
Effie: All right. So I have a question concerning a retake. So I took the LSAT in December, and I plan to retake in June, and I’m just kind of confused on where to start from. I have been going through the curriculum recently, and I don't know if that’s the right approach to it or should I just focus on more prep tests? So that’s my question.
David: So let me, so you took the test in June, right?
David: If you don't mind repeating the question.
Effie: Oh, sure. So I took the LSAT in December, and I didn't get the score I wanted, so I plan to retake in June and I’ve been going through the curriculum and I was just wondering if that’s the right approach to a retake, or should I just focus more on taking more prep tests and just zeroing in on my weaknesses?
David: Yeah, so the good thing is the June test is quite a ways away. So I think one thing to do is reflect on where you are with your December score. I would say, so say your target score is a 170, and you got your December score back and if it’s sort of I think sub-160, I think starting with the curriculum is a pretty good spot, because there's a lot of, I think that would suggest there are some fundamental things that you can improve on. And take a look at your score breakdown, the LSAC sends you your breakdown, your responses versus the correct responses, so you know which questions you missed, right. And take those questions and see if there's similarities. Do you find yourself, man, I missed three necessary assumption questions out of the five on the test, or I missed the in/out game on this test or I really struggle with reading comprehension, and I would say that’s a really good place to start if you’re looking to start from a fundamentals aspect in the core curriculum. If not, say your target score’s a 170, and you scored a 168, then I’d say probably your fundamentals are fine, and between now and June, really honing in on taking prep tests and figuring out what was it about the December test, what did I do that prevented me from scoring my target score? That’s something that really stress during blind review and taking practice tests and analyzing those and looking through your blind review process. The nice thing is June is so far away, you can do a little bit of Column A and a little bit of Column B. You can kind of go back, you have enough time to kind of go back through the curriculum. I think the curriculum, going at a healthy pace takes about six to eight weeks to go through, and that still puts you with plenty of time to prep test. So doing both is still an option. I think to answer your question is it kind of depends on where you are, where you were in December relative to where your target score is and using your December take to then gauge on, OK, is it best to start with the curriculum or is it best to kind of continue with the prep tests? Does that make sense?
Effie: Yeah, definitely. Thank you.
David: Yeah, no problem.
J.Y.: Next we have Jacob. Jacob asks, did you do any self-study before/after your course with 7Sage? Also, why did you decide to go to grad school before law school?
David: Yeah. So did I do any self-study prior to 7Sage? Not really. I did, I had the PowerScore books and I had the Manhattan books. To be perfectly honest, I didn't really get a whole lot of them. I read them cover to cover I think maybe twice that summer before I took the test, and I really struggled, and I don't know if it was the aspect of, I don't know really what wasn’t clicking, that was something that — I think 7Sage to me just was a lot better, just fit my personality a lot more. I’m a very visual learner, so I like watching videos, I like listening to explanations. Sort of reading it sometimes I think some of the nuance and inflection is sort of lost on where you should stress certain things. Because in a book, everything is sort of given equal weight, whereas in a video, you can kind of listen to tone and attitude and stuff. And I don't know, that just sort of, that to me was a much more effective way to study, and it was a lot more interactive, because I could get in the comment section, type out an explanation, type out a question. Or I had the forums to then go and ask a question to somebody in the community. You lose that, you don't have that option if it’s just in a PowerScore book, it’s what's in the PowerScore book and that’s it. It didn't really fit with what I was sort of looking for. The answer was technically yes, but to be honest, I don't think I got a lot out of it other than just the basic familiarity with OK, there's this test called the LSAT. It has a games section, it has a logical reasoning section, and it has a reading comp section, but other than that, I didn’t think I learned a whole lot from them. I also, during the 7Sage curriculum, I did supplement, supplement is not right word, complement I guess is better, some of the curriculum with some outside reading. So I bought an Introduction to Logic textbook, which was very, it actually wasn’t too dense, but it was a pretty good book in that it formalized a lot of the ideas that the LSAT tested, and the arguments in the book were a lot more complicated than what you would see on the LSAT, so I felt like if I could do the arguments in that book and proof them out, I felt like I could tackle anything the LSAT gave me. There was another book I bought called Informal Logic by Doug Walton, and it was just a really interesting book that talked about why certain fallacies are fallacies and how certain fallacies kind of be corrected in dialogue. It got me to really think about flaw types in a really interesting way, and that was sort of what I used sort of on the side. I say “free time” read, because I would kind of spend my Sundays, my day off, because I wouldn't want to watch the Chicago Bears lose, so I would read one of those two books for maybe 30 minutes or 45 minutes a day on a Sunday and sort of just take note and approach things in a little bit more formalistic way. But really the 7Sage curriculum was really the bulk, I think more than sufficient for explaining my score increasing and everything. What was the other question? Why did I get a grad degree?
J.Y.: Yeah. But just to jump in, someone’s asking what's the name of the first and second books that you read?
David: Oh yeah. The textbook was called Introduction to Logic by Harry Gensler. It’s not really that long. It has some problem sets in it. You could probably buy it used for like 10 bucks. Don't buy a new one. It’s not worth more than 10 bucks. The second book was Informal Logic: A Pragmatic Approach by Douglas Walton. And same. Buy it used for $5, 10 bucks. I mean it’s, don't, you don't need to spend 40 bucks on this thing. But I thought those were, I read some other books as well. Those two, by far, were the most useful. I read a book about the psychology of logic. I thought it was pretty garbage, so don't buy that one. And then I read a book, “How to Solve It: A New Mathematical Approach,” which was written by a Hungarian mathematician (George Polya) in like 1940. I really like math, I’m pretty good at math, and it sort of again approached logic in a mathematical standpoint, and there's a chapter in the book just on arguments by analogy. And I think if you’re using that book to help you study for the LSAT, I’d say that’s the only valuable chapter in that book that’s most relevant to the LSAT, because it made me look at arguments by analogy in a totally different way. But again, I mean I don't know if I’d recommend buying it or reading the whole thing, but definitely those first two books I think are pretty good, if you’re looking for a more formal, more complicated I guess stuff than the LSAT’s going to throw at you, but I don't think they’re necessary, but they’re interesting outside reading.
J.Y.: Great. Thanks, Dave. So the other question was yeah, why did you decide to go to grad school before law school? And what did you study in grad school?
David: Yeah, I studied tax. So I’m a CPA, and I needed my hours to be a licensed CPA. My undergrad institution offers a one-year master’s of accounting program. I stayed and did that, so I could get the 150 credit hours to sit for the CPA test. While I was in there, I focused my studies on federal tax. I plan on studying tax law. As of right now that’s sort of my ambition to study tax law in law school. My understanding in talking with people in the profession that the CPA and the more business-side of understanding how the tax code works is far more useful than, say, a tax LLM. So I decided to go that route as opposed to maybe the tax LLM route after law school, like NYU’s tax LLM is probably the best tax LLM in the country, but I decided to say, well, I don't know if I want to do that, but I’ll stay at my undergrad. My undergrad institution’s a top-10 accounting program, so it’s a very reputable accounting school. And I was just like, well, I’m already here. I was maybe planning on getting a tax LLM after law school anyway, but since I’m already here, I might as well do it. I didn’t have to take the GMAT or anything, so I got auto accepted and I’m like, yeah, why not. Another year to watch our terrible football team.
J.Y.: OK, so this next question is something you had touched upon earlier, and this comes from Emily whose mic is not working. She says, “So how did you have time to do all of the studying that you were describing when you were answering Tyler’s question, your blind review process?” So how did you have time to do all of this, where you, if I recalled correctly, you weren’t working while you were studying, right?
David: Yes, that’s correct. I was not working. I took time off to study, which I know is a luxury that not a lot of people can do. I was sort of lucky enough to be in a position where I had a family member that had a health issue, and so while she was recovering, I moved in with her to take care of her. So I was doing that, and then I just had enough time to study for the LSAT. I would say if you’re working full-time or again, it kind of comes back to, I think it was Jack’s question. Budgeting out your day, if you’re working full-time, I’d say find a two-hour chunk of time, after work, or some people are morning people, can do it before work. I am not one of those people. I have to get my sleep. Find a two-hour chunk of your day and use that as your LSAT time or use an hour of your lunch or something like that, or 45 minutes of your lunch break. One thing that I sort of have had the luxury of doing is being a CPA, is I see people studying for the CPA exam, and so one thing I’ve kind of been able to do in the past year or so is look at, OK, how are my peers studying for their test as they work full-time? And most of them say, I take out a set of time out of my day during the week, two hours, and that’s my CPA time. And I think that’s analogous to say, OK, this is my LSAT time. And during the weekend they hit it a little bit harder. If you’re working full-time, I think you just have to be able to take your test probably during the weekend, because it takes about four hours to take a practice test, and you probably don't have that four-hour chunk of time during the week, right? So your Saturdays and Sundays are going to be your valuable time, and the Monday through maybe Friday is sort of your blind review time, your Monday through Thursday, your blind review time. When I was describing my blind review schedule, outside of Monday when I was taking the actual full-time test, which was four hours, I would say I was studying no more than maybe three hours a day, kind of taking a step back and thinking about it. So I think it would have been doable with a full-time schedule. It would have been hard, and it would have been tiring and frustrating, but I think it would have definitely been doable. And I would have also utilized my weekends a little bit differently. So I would have maybe, I would have taken that exam on a Saturday instead of maybe the Monday and then used my weekdays for my blind review a little bit more. But yeah, I think my schedule is definitely, can be tweaked a little bit to fit a full-time schedule without that much compromise, if that makes sense.
J.Y.: Yeah, well that definitely makes sense to me. On that note, Rachel, you had mentioned something I thought was really great, and if you’re still here, I would like for you to tell everyone. Rachel said in response to managing time and finding the motivation to study, she said, “My biggest help is getting dressed. Different clothes, even if it’s in the middle of the day, then going to a separate place with my phone on Do Not Disturb. It helps me a lot in getting in a different state of mind.” I really like that. It’s very practical.
J.Y.: It’s nothing earth-shattering, but I think it’s small, but I think it really helps a lot. It makes a big difference. I love the flight mode. Some people, I don't think everyone knows that your phone has like a flight mode option. I love the flight mode option. People got on just fine without cell phones forever, right? So now that you have a cell phone, I just can't stand just the constant buzz and the light. I love putting my cell phone on flight mode. And then you’re in control, right? Like when you actually want to engage, you just un-flight mode it and then a torrent of texts or whatever random unsolicited —
David: Yeah, and it was, it’s interesting because I’m going to kind of take it back to the CPA exam, because I think it’s pretty analogous to the LSAT in that respect too. I had a lot of my classmates spend time before they started their jobs to take and pass the CPA exam, and I found the ones that were really struggling with the CPA exam were the ones that would “I studied four hours a day,” but then you go study with them, and they’re checking their phone every five minutes, they’re browsing the internet every five minutes, and so maybe time wise from when they entered the library to when they left is four hours, but the actual study time was probably 45 minutes. It was something I just kind of observed, like the correlation right there between the procrastination of being on your phone and whatever. So when I was studying, I would keep my phone in the other room, or something like that. I would have my laptop out when I was doing the timed exams only because I would use the 7Sage proctor, but I’d have my laptop facing the other way on the other side of the room. It’s like I couldn't even, even if I wanted to I’d have to totally get out of my chair and go over and walk to it if I was going to procrastinate. It was a really good way for me to not sort of waste time on my phone or something. I’d have the TV off. Phone in the bedroom. Laptop on the other side of the room, and I would just have then papers in front of me. Then when it was time to type out an explanation, I’d bring my laptop back over, I’d turned the internet off, and I’d type out something on Microsoft Word and then copy/paste it into a comment at the end of it, sort of at the end of my day, and I felt like that was a, that helped me really use my time very, very effectively.
J.Y.: Yeah, that’s great. OK, so do you want to answer your anonymous question?
David: Yeah, so I’ll do the anonymous questions. So this person is taking the exam in February, so I’m reading the question right now. This person is taking the exam in February and just starting to prep test this Saturday. Is this sufficient time? I know it may vary person to person to do a prep test a week and blind review schedule and try to squeeze in question types throughout the day. This person also works full-time 9 to 5. So to answer this person’s question whether taking the February test and just starting to take a prep test this Saturday, I’d say is it sufficient? I mean it could be. It’s going to be, you’re going to sort of know the answer once you take that first exam, and depending on what your practice score is, or excuse me, depending on what your target score is. If your target score is a 170 and you take your first prep test and it’s a 150, which is a very common diagnostic score, to go from a 150 to 170 in just under two months, very hard to do. I’m not going to say, it has been done before but by very few people. It’s something to sort of evaluate expectations, and one sort of common theme of my webinar that I did a little bit over a year ago was a huge mistake in my early prep was not being clear with my expectations. Because had I been objective about where I was prep testing and sort of where I was from a fundamental aspect of did I just understand what it means to weaken an argument? Did I understand what a necessary assumption was? Did I know what a grouping game was? Where I was, right, I thought I did. I was like, yeah, of course I do. I’m going to go in there and score a 172 like no one’s business, and that’s going to be the end of it. Had I taken a step back and looked at the data, looked at my prep tests, looked at the things I was actually struggling on, struggling with, I should have been able to see, actually no, I wasn’t. And I should not have been surprised that I scored 9, 10 points lower than I thought was my potential, the first time I took the LSAT. And that was after studying for most of that summer. I really started hitting the books hard that June to take thing September test, so that was June, July, August, the September test at the end of September. That was three and a half, four months of studying that I made zero improvement, because I was kind of doing it the wrong way. So you got to be honest with yourself, to sort of know the answer to that question whether it’s sufficient or not. But if you’re going to be taking the February test, chances are you’re not going to be applying to law school until the next cycle anyway, this next year. I mean the June test, you know, it’s still an option. The September test is still an option, the December tests are still options, and I want to say the LSAC is — and so if those are options for you, don't feel like you have to rush into it with the February test. I even think, I think the LSAC, I don't know when they’re starting to, when they’re going to start offering the more testing windows. I don't know if it’s this year or the following year, but don't feel like you need to lock yourself into February when June, September and December are very real and very good options still for the following cycle, because you’re most likely going to be applying to that cycle anyway. I hope that answered your question.
J.Y.: Great. Thanks, Dave.
J.Y.: So Matthew, you asked the question, some time ago, do you think the modern tests and those in PT 70s or 80s are different or harder than the ones pre-70? I feel like the LR section’s in general much harder. Any thoughts on this idea? Maybe it’s not true, I’m just getting fatigued. And related to that, Janice said, Janice asked, did you take all the prep tests before June 2016? If not, how many did you take, and which prep test number did you start with?
David: I’ll start with the latter question. So I took a lot. I took, I’m going to say, 40-something, 50-something, and I started with the June 2007 test as my diagnostic, quote-unquote diagnostic, I didn't really take a diagnostic, because I had sort of studied a little bit before I took it. But yeah, I took pretty much — the June 2007 test and I took prep test 35, all the way through like 75 or 76 or whatever it was with maybe one or two tests that I sort of, out of my very few that I had that were fresh, I think I saved one or two of them just in case I wanted to retake in September. But yeah, I took, so what would that been, that would have been like around 40. Yeah, I would say 40 or 50. And that’s not even including retakes, because I retook a huge chunk of those too, so maybe even more when you count the total number of times I sat down and took a five-section exam. So yeah, so a lot. To answer the question, whether I think the 70s and 80s are harder? I don't think they’re harder, but I think they’re different. And I think they’re different for a just sort of employee turnover reasons. I mean just the person who, a person who is writing test questions for the LSAC in 1991 probably isn’t there anymore, right? So people get new jobs, they get new editors, they get new psychometricians. So I think there's definitely an element of the test that’s dependent on who’s there working at the LSAC right now. But are they harder? No. I don't think they’re harder. Certainly the games I think are the most, are maybe the easiest section to see how it’s a little bit different because there's the rule substitution question that crept its way in from, I think it was 65 or 67 or whenever that question started as well as sort of the propensity for more modern tests to occasionally throw in kind of a wonky game. But at the end of the day they’re still testing the same types of inferences, they’re just asking it, and they’re presenting the game board in just a different manor, but they’re the same kinds of things that the LSAT has always tested. When it comes to logical reasoning, yeah, has there been a little bit more of a sort of blurriness between what is a sufficient assumption and what is a necessary assumption? I think so a little bit. I think on a lot more recent test you find the answers to necessary assumption questions I think tend to be closer to the sufficient side than necessary. But they’re still necessary, right? So it just is a little bit tweaking your sort of mindset to approaching some sections to sort of know that and sort of knowing the patterns, but at the end of the day, they’re a little bit different but I wouldn't say they’re harder.
J.Y.: Yeah. I agree with that too. I don't think they’re harder, plus they’re all graded on a curve.
David: They analyze every word of those tests and they also have a mechanism to challenge questions. I don't know if anyone has ever written to the LSAC about challenging a question. They send you a frickin book back about why you’re wrong and they’re right. So they, maybe it’s confirmation bias, maybe it’s also oh my God, guys, we can't admit that we’re wrong on this question, so we’re just going to throw in the kitchen sink on our explanation, but they present, I think it’s a pretty amazing quality, I think it’s kind of amazing how the test for so long from I think prep test one is the June 1991 exam. To put that in perspective, the Soviet Union still existed in June 1991. From then to now, it’s a very consistent test, and I think that’s kind of an amazing feat when I kind of sit back and think about it for how long the test has been around.
J.Y.: Yeah, I agree, especially with the level of rigor in the questions, yeah.
J.Y.: OK. So we have just about five minutes left for this AMA/Q&A and I think we have two questions. Nicholas asked, how do you identify the questions you should skip? I suppose maybe take this for LR.
David: So the questions I should skip for LR? Pretty much it was my one-minute standard. So I would, my sort of reading speed was for an average LR question, I could read the paragraph of information and then all five answer choices and pretty consistently that was a minute of my time. And if I found that by answer choice E I wasn’t confident enough to put an answer down, I would skip it. And that was my strategy. So what that sort of did was I got eyes on every single question in 25 minutes. Didn't mean I answered every question in 25 minutes, because I was skipping questions still, but I had eyes on every question in 25 minutes and I would spend the remaining 10 minutes going back to the ones I skipped, right? And that was a pretty comforting strategy. It sounds kind of daunting and kind of scary, like oh my God 25 questions, 25 minutes? But I’m not a particularly fast reader. The comforting thought was it didn't matter. I was not going to run out of time. Because putting eyes on 25 questions, 25 minutes meant that you’re going, by definition, have 10 minutes to look at the questions you skipped. And so I would much rather, if I’m going to run out of time, I’m going to run out of time on a question that I skipped and have a higher chance of missing than I’m spending all of this time upfront and all of a sudden the five-minute mark is called, and I’m on Question 21, and I have to rush through the final five questions or final four questions and miss three of them, and I maybe should have gotten those right. I’d much rather miss three questions that I tried and just couldn't figure out as opposed to missing maybe four questions that I just didn't have enough time to even give them a shot.
David: So I always thought the probabilities worked out on that by having a really rigorous timing strategy for something like that.
J.Y.: Yeah. Plus you’re in control. You get to choose which questions you want to miss, versus the test.
J.Y.: Yeah. So we have AccountsManNo1.
AccountsManNo1: Hey, how’s it going?
David: Hi. I like the name.
AccountsManNo1: Hey. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, this is George by the way, J.Y.
David: How are you doing, George?
AccountsManNo1: Pretty good, pretty good. Yeah. So basically I have, I think a full ride offer from UCLA coming through and I’m wondering since I want to work as a trial lawyer, is it better to try to shoot for the T14 probably at sticker or very little scholarship or to try to go for UCLA on a full-tuition scholarship. Like what's your view on that, what are your thoughts, both of you actually?
David: So my viewpoint on a —
J.Y.: Sorry. Before you guys started, I just want to make sure everyone heard that question. The question was sticker on T14 or sticker or close to sticker on T14 or something like full scholarship on UCLA?
David: So let’s say, let’s lump UCLA, Texas Austin, WashU, like the sort of 16 to 15 kind of ranked schools together, versus say a sticker or a close to sticker at top 14. One nice thing about the top 14, and I’m sure this is also true of not top 14 schools, is they have pretty generous loan repayment assistance programs. I think it’s like, most of them if you’re not making $100,000 a year for XYZ number of years after law school, which a defense attorney, for not very good reasons, most likely aren't making that if you’re sort of a government defense attorney or something. Schools will help you out there, right? So kind of food for thought on that issue if you’re public-interest-minded or sort of defense attorney or sort of low-paying government jobs, but that’s what you want to do. But if your end goal is, say, a big law job and your tradeoff is between, say, sticker at a top 14 school versus a full-ride to UCLA, I mean again it depends on do you have ties to UCLA, do you have ties to the California market? Do you network in the California market? My opinion is I would lean more toward the sticker at the top 14 school simply because it gives you a lot of flexibility, market-wise, and I think that’s valuable, and I think that that value is something worthwhile, because something like WashU places very, very well in the St. Louis market, but that’s about it and places semi-decently in Illinois and kind of semi-decently throughout the rest of the Kansas market, or Missouri markets. You’re kind of locked down to that region, and if that’s where you want to work and practice and raise a family, then yeah, it’s hard to say that well WashU at full tuition is not your best option. It probably is. But if you’re like, well, I kind of want the freedom and flexibility to make lateral moves in big markets, I think having a top 14 job is something that, excuse me, having a top 14 degree even at sticker is worthwhile. And if you’re working a big law job in a big market, you’re going to get paid a lot of money, and you’re going to have the liquidity and the funds, if managed correctly, to pay it off. Yeah, I mean you’re making loan payments, but I think the aversion to debt is something I find really interesting, because when you go to top law school forums, there's such a debt averse mindset, and I think that’s prudent, and I think it’s frugal, which is, I’m an accountant, I’m definition a frugal guy, but there's a big bias to the kinds of people that are on top law school forum. The people on top law school forum are people that are applying to law school, so they don't actually have law school student loans yet, or they’re actually in law school right now, or they’re recent graduates, like maybe a few years out. Go, find, talk to people who are maybe a few years out, if you can, and talk about their debt load and how they manage it. But also find the people who are 15, 20, 30 years out of law school and ask them how they manage their debt load. So I think you’re going to find the answer, you’re going to find the recent graduates much more pessimistic on the debt load, because they’re paying their debt off right now, and they’re like, “Oh my God. This sucks. So much of my paycheck is going to taxes and law school debt, and I’m living in New York City or Washington, D.C., two of the most expensive places on the planet. This sucks.” But if you talk to a person 15, 20 years from now who’s made lateral moves, who’s maybe moved up to partner, who’s maybe switched jobs a few times, has paid off their law school debt, I think you’re going to find a person like that is going to say, yeah, I think going to a top 13 school, even at sticker, was a really wise option for their career despite the debt load. Now the question of what about sticker price at a non-top 14 school, then you got to really think about the regionality of the market and stuff, but in our example, UCLA full ride versus a Cornell at sticker, I don't know. I mean I think the Cornell degree gives you a lot more flexibility to pay that off, or excuse me, a lot of flexibility market-wise and I don't think you’re going to have a huge time paying it off if you’re big law focused. And if you’re more public-interest focused, it has a very, very good LRAP program that you can take advantage of, if that makes sense.
J.Y.: Yeah, I agree with what you’re saying. I guess I’ll just emphasize looking into loan repayment programs that the different schools offer, different T14 schools offer. Depending on which ones you get into, I hope you get into all of them, in which case you’ll have a ton of research to do, but for the ones you get into, I’d highly encourage you to look in close detail at their loan repayment programs, because they are very different. Some of them are incredibly lenient. It tends, there tends to be a correlation, the higher-ranked school you are, the better your loan repayment, the more lenient the loan repayment program is. So it’s kind of like winner take all situation. If you win, you really win. But yeah, and also their employment statistics, really dig into the employment statistics. I think those are the two factors that, depending on how you turn the dial on those factors, the outcome will differ. But yeah, I think everything David said was right, and I hope that answers your question.
David: I had one quick follow-up to the private question about, that I can address really quick, that the LSAC taking away the cap, the two takes in three years, yes, the cap is gone. I believe that’s effective now, right?
J.Y.: Yeah. Three takes in two years?
J.Y.: And it’s been effective for two administrations, I think.
David: Yeah. So the old cap was three takes in two years, and so now it’s unlimited. You can take the test an unlimited number of times, in any number of period of times. But be that as it may, I think there's still, for better or for worse, I think once you’re into the fourth, fifth take, then you’re getting into, you probably need to write an addendum and kind of explain that. But it shouldn't affect you. I mean for just pure incentive-wise for rankings and everything, only the highest score matters, but I think there's a sort of psychology of, oh, when you’re taking the test four or five, six times, that might be frowned upon. It’s the sort of first year that the window, the limited testing window doesn't exist anymore. So we’ll kind of see what schools actually do. Like NYU for example, I’ll do a shout out to them. On their website they’re like, hey, we average scores and you need to write an addendum, and if you don't we’re going to average your score. I, Case 101, did not write an addendum and got accepted into NYU and my average score would not have been, I think would have been under their 25th percentile. So they didn't do that for me, so I think it’s a case in point of actions speak louder than words, so they have every incentive to take the highest score no matter how many times you take it, but food for thought.
J.Y.: Yeah. Yeah I think we just have to wait and see what the schools do. I’m skeptical that they, despite what they say, which is kind of just that, like just the signal to the applicants, but what they actually do is determined by I think a lot driven by US News and what the ABA, what they have to report with ABA. So unless one of those two organizations changes how they view the LSAT in admissions, I’m not sure why the schools would change what they’re doing.
David: Yeah, they have no reason to care, right? If the ranking, at one point the rankings, at one point the schools cared about multiple takes because their rankings averaged the scores, right?
David: So you saw schools reflect that, and because the rankings averaged scores, the law schools averaged scores. And then in like 2007 or 2008 or whenever it was when the US News was like, “We don't care about averaged scores,” you saw the schools reply in kind. “OK, we don't care about averaged scores anymore.” So very much so the, just the actions of the schools reflect that yeah, they’re very ranking conscious and if they have a, think about the most extreme scenario. They have a person that’s a 180 LSAT, say they took the test one time and got a 126, and then took the test the second time and got a 180, they’re not going to care about that 126 at all, right?
David: And that’s an extreme example that I doubt has ever happened in the history of the test, but I think it’s true even from a modest score jumps. I think a 160 versus a 175?
David: The 175 puts you at, I think that’s the 75th percentile at Yale.
J.Y.: Everywhere, I think.
David: At every law school, right? They have no reason to care about that 160, because from a rankings standpoint, you’re hitting their 75th percentile, doesn't matter, doesn't matter what your average is.
J.Y.: Yeah, yeah. Well great. Thanks so much for your time, David, and everyone else who’s here as well. Thank you so much. Before David I let you go, will you let people know how to get in touch with you if they want?
David: Yeah, so for sure. So again I’m AccountsPlayable on the 7Sage forums, and if you want to get in touch with me, shoot me a message in my inbox. I check my 7Sage inbox a couple times a day. I think that’s the most efficient way to get in touch with me. If you didn't ask a question today or if for some reason we didn't answer your question, shoot the question to me and I’ll be, I’m more than happy to answer it. I’m a pretty approachable guy. I want to answer everyone’s questions and everything. So for whatever reason we didn't get to your question or if just say five minutes after the call’s ended you just come up with a question and you’re like, man I wished I asked it, shoot me a message on the inbox on 7Sage. Again, I’m AccountsPlayable, and I’ll try to get back to you within a day or so. I can't stress enough how much the 7Sage community and the course and J.Y. and everybody here really, really helped me through my LSAT journey, and it’s quite an amazing company and quite an amazing website. And take advantage of it, take advantage of every resource you have, just the community, the blind review calls, the videos, the core curriculum, me, the other sages that do a fantastic job. There's a lot of really, really good stuff on here that is just perfect for anyone at any stage in their prep to improve their scores. So with that I’m going to give it back to JY, but really excellent questions today and I wish everyone the best of luck with their LSAT journey and prep going forward. Back to you, J.Y.
J.Y.: OK. Thanks so much, David, and you've certainly given back a lot. If you guys haven't seen David’s other webinar, just go to the webinar section and you’ll find it. And David you have to let us know in a few months which schools you've gotten into and what you’ll decide, which one you’ll decide to attend.
David: Yeah, absolutely, yeah. I’ll keep everybody updated on that. I’ll probably make a post in the forum in a few months once I make a decision and hear back. But right now I’m very happy, I’m very happy with my acceptances and everything so far this cycle. I’m optimistic, and again, just to kind of reiterate the 7Sage stuff, when I first started studying for the LSAT, I was like, I would have been happy to go, I would have been happy with sort of my alma mater law school, which was a great law school, but then once I found the 7Sage site and I did research on just law school admissions, I’m like, there's every opportunity to sort of improve if you study the right way, and my webinar that I did a year ago from this October really focuses on all right, how to study the right way for the LSAT. So if you’re just starting your LSAT journey, or even if you’re well in it, I think it’s worthwhile to watch, just for general tips. I spend a lot of the webinar going through mistakes I made and how to, if I were to do it again, just how would I do things differently, and I think it’s valuable for a lot of reasons. But that might be the most important one. So if you haven't watched it already, I really much encourage people to watch it, because it’s just sort of my journey and bumps and things I would have done differently and things that worked and didn't work and considerations to have for your prep. So I think that answers, is a good sort of additional information for a lot of questions that were asked today, really good further information, like more detailed for a lot of those questions. Just kind of food for thought if you have extra time and want to watch a webinar or something.
J.Y.: Well thank you so much, David.
David: Yep, awesome. Thanks, J.Y. Thanks for setting this up.
J.Y.: Yeah and look forward to hearing more from you.
David: Yeah, for sure. Will keep in touch.
J.Y.: OK. Bye-bye.
David: Bye, see ya.
J.Y.: Hi there, J.Y. from the present. First I just want to thank you for listening to our conversation. I hope you found it helpful and a good use of your time. If you have any comments or suggestions or ideas please please please tell us. We are all ears. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. I really want to make this work. And in order to do that I need your help. So please don’t hold back. Tell me what you think. Thank you again.