The Brief
A Blog about the LSAT, Law School and Beyond

[This is a lesson excerpt from our online course, for which we invite you to enroll.]

LSAT Conditional Logic GROUP 2 is made up of the following terms:

  • Only
  • Only if
  • Only when
  • Only where
  • Always
  • Requires
  • Must

All the words in this group follow this translation rule:

The ideas introduced by (i.e., immediately following) these words are the necessary conditions.

Let’s try it:
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This logic game is easier than it looks. It's the one about an animal shelter that places six dogs - greyhound, husky, keeshond, Labrador retriever, poodle, and schnauzer - with new owners on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. It's from LSAT PrepTest 44, October 2004, Section 3, Questions 7-12, Logic Game 2. A lot of students consider this to be one of the toughest LSAT Logic Games of all time—let's break it down!

 

This game hides behind an important inference and it tries to confuse you with two conditional rules. Watch this video lesson and learn how to solve this game fast.

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[This is a lesson excerpt from our online course, for which we invite you to enroll.]

LSAT Conditional Logic Group 1 is made up of the following terms:

  • If
  • When
  • Where
  • All
  • The only
  • Every
  • Any

All the words in this group follow this translation rule:

The ideas introduced by (i.e., immediately following) these words are the sufficient conditions.

Let’s try it
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This mind map shows the contents of the Grammar section of our top-rated LSAT course's Core Curriculum. Does your LSAT prep course cover this?

For a color version of the mind maps, click here.

For a black-and-white version (which may be more suitable for some printers), please click here.

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[This is a lesson excerpt from our online course, for which we invite you to enroll.]

Thomas Edison said that genius is "1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration." Rene Descartes said "You just keep pushing. You just keep pushing. I made every mistake that could be made. But I just kept pushing." Lucretius, the Roman philosopher, said "Constant dripping hollows out a stone." The point is that hard work counts a lot. Especially when it comes to the LSAT. Yes, how well you do on the LSAT does depend on your raw intellect too, but do not discount how large a role your work ethics will play.

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Here is a list of all of the LSAT questions for which there are two correct answer choices:

  • [empty]

When it comes to LSAT correct answer choices: There can be only one!

I tend to always hear from typically new students, disgruntled at having gotten a question wrong, “Hey, I totally understand why C is right, but I’m sure B is also right. Here, look at my proof.”

Since, you’re just starting down this long road, I want unburden you from this misconception. It makes for lighter travel. Plus, I don’t want to yell at you later.

So, drop this misconception on the ground, dig a fire pit, burn it, and bury the ashes. There is never another answer choice that is even arguably right for any LSAT question. Don’t even think about it.

I’ll say it again. There is only ever one right answer choice and four massively, horrendously, embarrassingly, wrong answer choices.

This is not to say that it’s easy to identify the right answer choice. Quite the opposite, it’s very difficult. Often, I have a difficult time figuring out why an answer is right or wrong. But, I never think it’s because the LSAC messed up. Rather, it is invariably true that I just haven’t figured it out yet.

Why am I so certain of this? For a couple of reasons. First, I’ve done or taught every LSAT question in existence (over 7,000) and I have never run across a wrong answer choice that I thought was even arguably right. Second, I’ve discussed this issue at length with other LSAT instructors and high scoring students and we’ve always independently come to the same conclusion. Third, and this is the important one, LSAC’s policy in dealing with possible mistakes in their questions guarantees this result.

Of the four LSATs administered each year, the June, October, and December LSATs are disclosed to the test takers. You receive a PDF of the test and you have 90 days to challenge any question you want.

Just think about that for a second. Think about the importance of your LSAT score. The difference even a few points make. Think about the level of neuroses that pervades LSAT takers. When you get your score back and you see that you got some questions wrong and the LSAC is telling you that you have the option to challenge every one of those questions and that’s your only chance of getting a higher score, what do you think you’re going to do? Of course you’re going to scrutinize the shit out of every single question.

Except it’s not just you doing this. It’s everyone who took that LSAT. That’s the insane level of scrutiny that every LSAT question is subject to.

It doesn’t even end there. Say you sincerely believe that the LSAT has made a mistake. You write in your challenge. The LSAC will answer every challenge in writing showing you why the right answer is right and the wrong ones wrong and why your argument fails miserably.

But, say you get their response back and you’re still not satisfied. Then, you get to appeal this issue to a panel of independent outside experts. This means that the LSAC writers must ultimately write their questions with reasoning solid enough to persuade a entire fucking panel of independent outside experts that there is only one right answer choice and four wrong answer choices. If a wrong answer choice was even arguably right, they would be unable to meet this standard.

Now, of course, this doesn’t mean the LSAC never makes mistakes. Even the LSAT writers are human after all and even though the system they designed is solid, any human system is subject to error. Every once in a while a written challenge does reveal an error. When that happens, the question is removed from scoring and removed from the published Prep Test. By the time you are taking that Prep Test, it’s already been through hellish scrutiny. You’re not going to find anything new that tens of thousands of people just like you only with way more riding on the line haven’t found before.

So remember. There is only one right answer choice.


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Sometimes it can feel like we are prisoners to our own habits, and indeed, research suggests more than 40% of our daily actions are automatic processes we no longer screen. As author Charles Duhigg explains in his popular book The Power of Habit, "When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making. [...] So unless you deliberately fight a habit--unless you find new routines--the pattern will unfold automatically." For the LSAT, eliminating bad habits and developing productive new ones can be tremendously helpful in improving your score, especially if you're shooting for the 90th percentile and above.

Three elements make up a habit--the cue, the routine, and the reward. Duhigg suggests that one way to replace a bad habit is to change the routine, as smokers often do by substituting gum or other snacks for cigarettes. Another way to tweak an existing habit is to tack on a new, good habit to the routine, such as doing a few squats while brushing your teeth or more pertinently, adding the blind review process to your normal practice test schedule.

What Duhigg calls "keystone habits" should be another point of focus. These are the habits that when changed, can also impact other habits in positive ways. Making one's bed in the morning is one such habit, producing a small "win" early on in the day and instilling confidence that "bigger achievements are within reach." For the LSAT, you can create a pre-test routine of several "keystone habits" to build up confidence with each step--a process that, as Duhigg writes, will help you feel victorious even before you reach the main event of the day.

Although I wasn't aware of it at the time, I built a pre-test routine similar to what Duhigg recommends, practicing it each time I took a sample exam: eat some oatmeal while reading Wired (stimulating but not rocket science), do a really easy logic game to get my brain going, and "free write" my anxieties (i.e. what could be the worst case scenarios, what would be my plan, and reminders that these things had never happened in the previous practice tests). If nothing else, it cut down on my anxiety by making the exam less of an event and more of a natural next step on my checklist.

You can read more about changing habits in the Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.

Featured image: Mertie .

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Sometimes it can feel like we are prisoners to our own habits, and indeed, research suggests more than 40% of our daily actions are automatic processes we no longer screen. As author Charles Duhigg explains in his popular book The Power of Habit, "When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making. [...] So unless you deliberately fight a habit--unless you find new routines--the pattern will unfold automatically." For the LSAT, eliminating bad habits and developing productive new ones can be tremendously helpful in improving your score, especially if you're shooting for the 90th percentile and above.

Three elements make up a habit--the cue, the routine, and the reward. Duhigg suggests that one way to replace a bad habit is to change the routine, as smokers often do by substituting gum or other snacks for cigarettes. Another way to tweak an existing habit is to tack on a new, good habit to the routine, such as doing a few squats while brushing your teeth or more pertinently, adding the blind review process to your normal practice test schedule.

What Duhigg calls "keystone habits" should be another point of focus. These are the habits that when changed, can also impact other habits in positive ways. Making one's bed in the morning is one such habit, producing a small "win" early on in the day and instilling confidence that "bigger achievements are within reach." For the LSAT, you can create a pre-test routine of several "keystone habits" to build up confidence with each step--a process that, as Duhigg writes, will help you feel victorious even before you reach the main event of the day.

Although I wasn't aware of it at the time, I built a pre-test routine similar to what Duhigg recommends, practicing it each time I took a sample exam: eat some oatmeal while reading Wired (stimulating but not rocket science), do a really easy logic game to get my brain going, and "free write" my anxieties (i.e. what could be the worst case scenarios, what would be my plan, and reminders that these things had never happened in the previous practice tests). If nothing else, it cut down on my anxiety by making the exam less of an event and more of a natural next step on my checklist.

You can read more about changing habits in the Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.

Featured image: Made in Canva, image purchased by CL.

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We're looking for striking photos of 7Sagers to go up on our front page!

Ideally the photos would:
1. include 7Sage student; and
2. include laptop / tablet / phone used to access 7Sage; and
3. be visually arresting and in good taste; and
4. communicate how one uses 7Sage or what 7Sage is or studying for the LSAT.

That's it.

Whether you're cramped up in your 100 sqft NYC "apartment", or sprawled out on the steps of your Savannah portico, or hunched over in a greco-roman columned ass old library room, or looking ever so disdainful in your hipster coffee shop, think outside the box, work the angles, and break out the premium filters. We're looking for some creative stuff!

Submit photos as attachments with subject "7Sage Photo Contest" to jy@7sage.com

Multiple submissions welcome and $100 per photo chosen to use on the site ye shall receive. 

Contest ends June 1st. 

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An expert on human rights law, Rebecca Hamilton is a Research Scholar and Lecturer at Columbia Law School. Prior to her work at Columbia, she was a Special Correspondent on Sudan for The Washington Post and a lawyer for the International Criminal Court (ICC). Here, she talks to 7Sage about her experiences as a joint JD-MPP student at Harvard Law School, her work at the ICC, and her thoughts on the ICC and present-day human rights concerns.

Can you talk about your time at Harvard Law School?

Harvard is like New York City in the sense that its size brings a lot of diversity.

I had an incredible time at the law school. I remember Dean Kagan telling us as 1Ls that Harvard is like New York City in the sense that its size brings a lot of diversity, and I found that to be true.  You have a large number of classmates and so  from among them you can find your own niche. I very much found my human rights niche there with a great human rights clinic that enabled me to do a lot of things that I was passionate about doing.

You did a joint JD-MPP degree. Is that something you’d recommend for students interested in international law?

I don’t think it’s necessary for people going into international law as a career, although any additional experience is invariably useful in whatever you do.

I don’t think it’s necessary for people going into international law as a career, although any additional experience is invariably useful in whatever you do. For me, it was a nice balance of subjects, and I liked having a very policy oriented focus in the mix. I was in the extremely privileged position of having a scholarship, but the costs are significantly higher when you do a double degree – both in terms of the tuition and the opportunity cost of another year out of the workforce – so I really advise people to think hard about whether it is worth them taking that extra burden on.

What were some of your most enjoyable classes, whether in your JD or MPP program?

But I made some great friends, and as a result I’ve now got friends who work on all sorts of areas of the law that I know absolutely nothing about, and that ends up being quite useful in daily life.

The law school’s human rights clinic was certainly a highlight. I also had fantastic seminar experiences in my third year with other students who were doing a joint public policy and law degree. What’s exciting at that point is you’re starting to build a core community that’s going to stay with you after law school and be part of your professional life. In your third year, you have more of your bearings and understand more of what’s going on whereas the first year is generally overwhelming.

Although I will say that my first year, I had a fantastic section. It’s a group of 50 students you do all your required classes with, and most of those people will never go near international law. But I made some great friends, and as a result I’ve now got friends who work on all sorts of areas of the law that I know absolutely nothing about, and that ends up being quite useful in daily life. People come to you, knowing you’re a lawyer, and say, “I’ve got this custody issue, can you help?” As an international lawyer I’m of no use to them, but at least I probably can find them someone who will be!

How did you initially become interested in international law?

I saw what a precarious situation refugees were in, legally.

Back in in Australia, I had worked with asylum seekers, and they seemed to have very minimal legal protections under refugee law. I saw what a precarious situation refugees were in, legally. Only after that did I learn about internally displaced persons (IDP). When you are an IDP, you are suffering persecution just like a refugee but you can’t actually cross the border and get away from the government that is persecuting you The end result is that you have no formal protection of international law because you are still stuck in your country. I couldn’t understand how this could be, and I was really interested in studying and understanding that, which led me to get interested in Sudan. It was a country, which at that moment (and this was pre-Iraq), had the largest number of internally displaced people. So I began working with IDPs there, and everything else flowed from that.

640x589_Flickr_JosefStueferInternational Criminal Court, 
Hague, Netherlands

I know that you worked for the International Criminal Court (ICC) after graduating from law school. Can you talk about that experience?

It was a huge privilege to be working on cases of that scale so early in my career.

It was incredible to be at the ICC at such an early stage in its institutional development. I was really seeing it from the ground up. It was a huge privilege to be working on cases of that scale so early in my career. Just seeing what this radically new court on the international stage was trying to do and the reactions of states was an enormous education.

It was also frustrating—the degree of cooperation that the court was receiving was not as much as it needed to be, particularly with the Sudan situation. After an initial period, the court could no longer get investigator access to the situation at all.

Do you think the U.S. will be joining the ICC in the future?

I don’t think it’ll happen soon but the relationship between the U.S. and the ICC since the second term of the Bush administration has been one of constructive engagement, and I think that’s a pretty functional status quo. Still, I hope at a future point, the U.S. will ratify.

Fatou Bensouda became the ICC’s Chief Prosecutor to much fanfare in 2012. How has she been doing in this role?

I think her tenure needs to take on a different role from the first Prosecutor.

It’s too early in her tenure to make any assessment but I think it’s fantastic to have an African woman at the head of the Court. I think her tenure needs to take on a different role from the first Prosecutor. The role of the first Prosecutor was really to convince the world that this thing called the ICC could be viable and could be a player on the world stage, and that’s an important part of any new institution’s role. The role for the person who comes in after that is really about consolidation and showing that you can do the day-to-day operations and make the trials credible, both procedurally and substantively. That work happens farther removed from the spotlight. That’s the role she’s taking on.

Can you talk more about the article you wrote on the lack of capacity of domestic courts in states where ICC cases are pending?

So the root of the problem is that those domestic jurisdictions can’t – or wont’ - take on the cases themselves because if they could, then the ICC would not be in there at all.

It was in the context of this charge that the ICC is targeting African states, which, despite the over-representation of African cases, is misleading in the sense that most of those situations have been referred to the ICC by those African states themselves, or by the U.N. Security Council. But the bigger issue is that the ICC only gets involved when the domestic jurisdiction is unwilling or unable to do so. So the root of the problem is that those domestic jurisdictions can’t – or wont’ - take on the cases themselves because if they could, then the ICC would not be in there at all. So the question I had was whether these African leaders who are saying that the court is racist are trying to deflect attention from the debilitated state of their own domestic justice systems.

ICCInformation via the ICC

Is that the ultimate goal, to have domestic courts that can handle these types of cases?

Yes, in an ideal world, you wouldn’t need the ICC. In a truly ideal world, you wouldn’t need the ICC because none of these atrocities would be happening. But at the very least, justice is always best if it can be closer to the victims and survivors. So if domestic courts could be prosecuting these crimes, it would be a great result for everybody. But we need an ICC for as long as domestic jurisdictions are unable or unwilling to play that role.

How would we go about doing that, and is there a role for international law in that process?

I think we spend, as lawyers, a lot of the time looking at the legality of getting into situations and not nearly enough time thinking about the exit.

There’s a role for international actors. That’s a little bit of what you’ve seen in Yugoslavia with the ICTY taking on a coordinating role with other actors to help establish the ability to do war crimes trials in Bosnia for instance. It takes a sustained period of work. One of the papers I’m writing now is about how unless the ICC has an exit strategy in place in the situations that they are in, it’s hard to motivate these actors to think about how to get their own domestic systems ready to handle these crimes in the future because they think the ICC will do it. But the ICC should not be doing this on a permanent basis in any one country.

I think we spend, as lawyers, a lot of the time looking at the legality of getting into situations and not nearly enough time thinking about the exit. Yet we know from the perspective of people on the ground that the way exit is handled has a huge impact on long term outcomes.

You have and continue to work with civil society groups against mass atrocities and have significant experience on the ground. What is memorable or surprising about these on-the-ground interactions?

The resilience of people is always absolutely humbling. I’ve spent time with women who’ve experienced things that I feel like would completely destroy me, and yet they are making it work and doing the absolute best possible job for their kids. It gives one a good sense of perspective.

What areas in the world are you concerned about now for the potential of genocide?

South Sudan, where there is horrific violence. What started as a political conflict has escalated. There has been highly irresponsible leadership that has been fueling atrocities between different communities on the ground. But there is any number of places to be watching out for. Obviously, the moral stain that the world is facing with Syria, and similarly with Myanmar and the Central African Republic. And it seems that world leaders never have the bandwidth to deal with more than one crisis at once.

Are there lessons you wish you had known as a law student, or earlier on in your career?

You won’t remember 90% of the actual coursework that you learned but the relationships you make will last.

I think what shocks me still is the degree to which a J.D. opens doors into things even vastly outside of the law. It seems, in the U.S. context in particular, that the J.D. is a unique signal of credibility. I know my ability to work as a foreign correspondent in Sudan for instance was partly perception that well, she’s had that legal training and critical thinking instilled through the J.D. so we can trust her analytical abilities.

And the other is that they always tell you in law school, but that you don’t fully appreciate at the time, is that you learn the most from your colleagues. Turns out they’re right. You won’t remember 90% of the actual coursework that you learned but the relationships you make will last.

You can read more of Rebecca's thoughts on international human rights law at the UN Dispatch and also at her website.

Visit the 7Sage Law School blog to read more interviews with lawyers and law students

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