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

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

Logic games are the hardest section of the LSAT, at first. They're like nothing you've ever seen before, and they're very confusing.

Fortunately, they're also the easiest section to get better at. It all starts by getting a good overview of what you're up against. That's why we made this video introduction logic games. Enjoy!

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You may find logic games tough now. They're difficult because they're unfamiliar. As you practice, they get a lot easier. We promise.

Repeating logic games until you master them is the best way to get good at games. Our students have used repetition to score near perfect on games, and so can you.

Don't worry too much about game types. You'll find complicated classification systems in books and on the internet, but these aren't necessary and can be distracting. We just classify games as either sequencing, grouping or a mixture of the two types.

Did you like this introduction to logic games video? It's part of our online LSAT course. If you found the video useful, you'll probably like the rest of our course too. You should have a look.

Featured image: Abdulla Al Muhairi

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The LSAT is hard.  There’s no getting around that.  But it is a learnable test.  If you know how to prepare for the LSAT, you can study for the LSAT and improve in a pretty dramatic way.  Study hard and study right, and you will get better at the LSAT.  There are three things you need to do to get a great LSAT score.

1. Master grammar and logic

The LSAT is a test of grammar and logic.  Read that again.  If you get good at grammar and logic, you get good at the LSAT.

Grammar?  Yes, really.  Grammar.  Grammar is the law of language. The language used in the LSAT is intentionally confusing, yet precise.  The LSAT tests your ability to parse and decipher complicated sentences.  Sentences with triple negatives, referential phrases, and clauses within clauses.

Let this sentence be a warning if you never thought that a lack of grammar analysis abilities impacts how many students do on the LSAT in a negative manner or if you don’t find yourself seeing that it’s not unclear from this sentence that it actually has such an effect.

After reading, you need logic.  Once you actually understand what the questions and answers say, you have to understand how the logic plays out.  Concepts like validity, conditional statements, and premises should be near and dear to your heart.

How do you get good at logic?  For starters, try to take courses like Introduction to Logic, or Formal Logic in undergrad.  But really, a good LSAT prep course will teach you all the logic you need for the LSAT.  If they don’t teach you logic, then they’re robbing you blind.

2. Practice until you want to stab your eyes out with a No. 2 pencil

Take as many real, timed, LSAT PrepTests as possible. There are enough old LSATs (over 70) available that you will lose all your friends before you finish all of them.

Take only real LSATs.  Most LSAT books that you see in the bookstore do not use real LSATs. They make up their own questions to avoid licensing fees.  Made up LSATs are a complete waste of time.  Stay the hell away.  The whole point of practicing is to get good at doing the LSAT, not Honest Sal’s LSAT-like Test.

3. Review your answers

So once you finished a practice exam, what’s the first thing you do?  You check the answers and grade your test right?  No, wrong.

You should do something we call “Blind Review”.  When you take the practice tests, you circle every question you are unsure about.  After the test is over, go through every one of those questions and take however long you need to on the question – without looking at the answer.  Then when you mark your test you will have two scores.  Your real score, and your blind review score.  If your blind review score is low, then you need to work on your grammar and logic.  If your blind review score is high, then you need to work on your speed.

This is a powerful way of learning that only works when you haven’t peeked at the credited answer!

What now?

So now you know the three things you need to do in order to do well on the LSAT.  If you want to test the waters, sign up for a free trial.  If you're ready to dive in now, register for the best and most affordable online LSAT Prep course you can get.

What are you waiting for?  Jump in, beat the LSAT, go to law school and become a lawyer.

Featured image: Studying for the LSAT (Photo credit mezone)

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One of the most common questions we get is how to improve at LSAT Reading Comprehension. It seems really tough to do: either you are good at reading, or you're not, and you can't do much to change that, right?

We disagree. Here at 7Sage we've been testing a new approach to Reading Comprehension that has gotten great results, and now we're proud to present you with: The Memory Method for Reading Comprehension.

Train Your Memory For LSAT Reading Comprehension

Ever read a passage, then feel like you don't remember anything? You get to the questions and realize it's true: you've forgotten most of what you read.

It happens to almost everyone. We're not built to retain all the information presented in a reading comprehension passage. But you can get better.

The drills in this post build your mental muscles, and will teach you to retain what you read when you take a test.

This method will teach you to do what skilled readers do naturally: consciously think about what you're reading.

The Memory Method For Reading Comp

These are drills to be done with individual reading comp passages. Do these drills with 6-8 passages.

It may be tough at first, especially the "Check Your Memory" section. But if you stick with it you'll learn to retain what you read.

Phase I - Improving Retention

Memorize The Passage Structure [3.5 Minutes]

1.Take a passage. Spend 3.5 minutes reading it.

2. At the end of each paragraph, summarize the main point of that paragraph into one line.

3. At the end of the passage, look over each paragraph again and make sure you know the main point. Combine these main points into a narrative.

4. Once you know the point of each paragraph, decide on the main point of the passage.

Gaining command of the passage will speed you up when doing the questions.

Check Your Memory [1.5 Minutes]

1. Turn over the passage - don't look at it.

2. On a sheet of paper, write down the main point of each paragraph (one line each), and the main point of the passage.

RC tests whether you really retained what you read. If you don't remember anything at first, don't worry, and don't look back at the passage.

Just write down what you do remember, and resolve to do better next time.

Do The Questions - Avoid Time-Traps [3.5 Minutes]

1. Turn the passage over, you can look at it again.

2. If the question involves a specific detail (e.g. lines 17-21, paragraph 2, the statements of Picasso and Braque), reread that section of the passage. This shouldn't take long, because you memorized where details are located.

3. If there is no specific detail, attempt to answer the question.

4. In either case, if you think one answer is right, use your gut and move on.

5. If you're not sure, refer back to the passage [but be quick about it].

6. If step 5 doesn't solve it, flag the question, pick an answer, and move on.

If you waffle between answer choices, then you are spending most of your time on the hardest questions. This is a time-trap. You want to spend your time on questions you can solve.

Give each question an honest shot. But if you aren't getting it, cut your losses and move on to the other, easier questions.

Eventually, you will get fast enough to come back to the flagged questions with a fresh mind. They're often significantly easier the second time through.

Phase II - Reading Comprehension Mastery

The second phase of the memory method is exactly the same as the first, with one exception: you only spend 30 seconds on step two (Check Your Memory).

Do this 6-8 times. The first phase teaches you how to retain information. The second phase teaches you to quickly recall and apply it.

Conclusion - Practice, Practice, Practice

Getting good at LSAT Reading Comprehension is a habit. These drills lay the foundation for proper technique, but you'll have to revisit them from time to time to perfect your method.

If you feel your retention flagging, focus on improving it. A good command of the passage and it's structure is the key to success on reading comprehension.

This article was authored by Graeme Blake when he was working for 7Sage.

Featured image: Michael Coghlan

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

The June 2016 LSAT administration is on the horizon. Student after student has been asking us: "Should I take the LSAT in June or delay it to the next (September 2016) administration?" Let’s help you evaluate your situation and make a decision, with a reality check.
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[This is a lesson excerpt from our online course, for which we invite you to enroll.]

A video introduction to LSAT logical indicators.

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Sufficient And Necessary Indicators On The LSAT

LSAT Necessary Or Sufficient Condition?

Sufficient Or Necessary?

 

The words in the 4 translation groups, which are covered in our online course, and the words “some” ”most”and “few” (which are also in lessons in our course) are special. They are logical indicators. Also called logical operators. As logical indicators, these words perform a very specific function in the English language. They lay down the structure of the sentence as opposed to the content.

For example, let’s consider “if”.

I can say, “If you are a man, then you are mortal.”
Or I can say “If you like cheesecake, then you’re gonna love my surprise!”

Of course, these sentences are distinct. They express very different ideas. The first sentence is about the inevitable mortality of all men and the second is about cake. But, these different ideas are not informed by the words “if” and “then.” Rather, they are informed by the other words in the sentence, like “mortal” and “cheesecake.” What do “if” and “then” do? They lay down the structure of the logical relationship. In other words, what they do is to establish that whatever these ideas may be in this particular sentence (in the first example, being a man and being mortal, in the second, liking cheesecake and liking the surprise) they exist in a conditional relationship with each other where the idea following the “if” is the sufficient condition and the idea following the “then” is the necessary condition.

Once you realize this, you see that it doesn’t matter what ideas go into this structure. If X then Y says that X is sufficient for Y and Y is necessary for X. You can define X and Y to be whatever you want. X is being a man and Y is being mortal. So we’ve recreated the first sentence. X is eating a hamburger and Y is being able to fly. So, eating a hamburger is sufficient for being able to fly. That sentence would, of course, be false. Awesome, but false. Yet, that doesn’t change the fact that it expresses a conditional relationship between the two ideas. Of course, the reason that it’s false is because that conditional relationship does not hold in our world. Who knows, maybe there is a world where eating hamburgers guarantees your ability to take flight. That world will be almost as crazy as one in which being a Jedi allows you to use the Force, whatever that is.

LET’S REVIEW
Some words in English express logical relationships. We call them logical indicators or logical operators. These words are special and you should train to become sensitive to them.

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

Below, you will find a LSAT logical reasoning question with each of its components labeled. Learn their names. You will not be able to follow along with the curriculum if you do not know what the different parts of the question are called.

I also want to introduce you to “the author.” The author is the person writing the passage to you. It’s helpful to think of the author as the person speaking to you, trying to convince you of her point of view, in other words, trying to sell you on her conclusion. In the curriculum, I will often refer to the “author’s argument” as “our argument” or the “argument.” Take note of this when it happens. Often, the stimulus contains more than one argument and it’s invariably the author’s argument that the question stem is referring to.

LET’S REVIEW
The author is the person writing the passage to you. The passage is the same thing as the stimulus. The question stem lays out the directions for you to choose the correct answer choice.

Featured image: Lennart Tange

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First, a word of caution:

The honest truth is that for the vast majority of students, low scores are not properly attributed to LSAT anxiety, because the vast majority of students have large gaps in their fundamentals that have nothing to do with nervousness. Your mindset counts for a lot, but you can’t relax your way out of knowing how to take a contrapositive.

If you’re looking to improve your score generally, the curriculum is this way. If you’re looking to ensure that you can apply what you’ve learned correctly on test day and hit the same range of score that you’ve been hitting in practice, then keep reading.

1. Interpret your bodily reactions differently

Let’s say that you get the butterflies every time you look at the cover of a fresh LSAT practice test. Rather than interpret those butterflies as nervousness, train yourself to interpret those butterflies as excitement, a sign that you’re about to do something awesome. This has two benefits – it avoids the nervous thoughts, and it puts your mind into a positive mindset.

2. Put your fears on paper

Also known as “Flooding Therapy”, this is a great way to alleviate stress. The key to this technique lies in the fact that your brain interprets your thoughts differently once they’ve been expressed concretely, versus just floating around in your brain. You know those times when you just have to get something off your chest? Yeah, it’s basically that. This technique has been used with varying degrees of success with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder patients, so it’s probably more than powerful enough for even the most test-anxiety-crippled LSAT taker.

To do this, simply sit down for about 10 minutes or so before you take a practice test and make a list of all the things that you’re worried about. It can be as large scale as thinking you’re going to flat out bomb the test, as detailed as thinking that you missed 15% of your flaw questions on the last test, which is higher than your usual 12%, and you’re scared that it might get worse, or as seemingly irrelevant as you thinking that you don’t look very presentable on this particular morning. Whatever it is, get it out. One study showed that a 10-minute “emotion-dumping” session led to a 15% increase in performance over a control group that just went through their normal pre-test routine.

3. Meditate!

The goal of meditation is to train your mind to block out distractions. We’re not just talking big distractions, either – while the ability to focus while sitting next to the guy who blows his nose every 4 seconds is a nice side bonus, it’s not the main thrust of the exercise. The goal is to be able to focus through the more subtle things that creep into your mind – in particular, the thoughts of doubt and worry that sabotage you while you’re busy trying to take the test.

You should be entirely awake and alert during the process of meditation – this is not an excuse to take a nap before you start a test. Close your eyes and focus on something. Focusing on your breathing is great since it’s readily available. Don’t let any other thought enter your head. If you find your mind wandering, give yourself a mental slap on the wrist, push those ideas out of your head, and return to focusing on your breathing. Do this for ten or fifteen minutes at a time, twice a day if you can manage it.

This will be exceedingly difficult for the first few weeks, and you will probably be pretty bad at it to start. Eventually, though, you’ll begin to notice that your mind wanders less and less. This is the mental training that, down the line, will enable you to push aside those feelings of doubt and worry and focus your entire attention on beating the LSAT.

4. Positive Self-Reinforcement

One of the simplest and most effective ways to get all those feelings of doubt and worry out of your head is perhaps the most obvious one – just remember how awesome you are! By the time test day arrives, you should know exactly what you can reasonably expect to score, so why allow the doubt to creep back in? Test day is neither the time nor the place. Remembering that you’ve been hitting your target score consistently for the past month and a half goes a long way toward squashing your nervousness. Remember your highest score, remember that time you wrote a perfect logic game section, remember that time that you got every flaw question on the test right – remember SOMETHING that will remind you that you can conquer the test in front of you.

5. Practice under mild stress

Practicing under stress doesn’t necessarily have to mean that you should have the weight of the world on your shoulders every time you take a test. Actually, all that really matters here is that there is something – anything - at stake. If you adhere to a practice test schedule, odds are that you already put some amount of pressure on yourself to do better the next time. Unfortunately, there’s no real pressure to perform and no immediate consequences to doing poorly in practice (except perhaps a slight ego hit). And you’d better believe that on test day, when so much is at stake and the consequences of doing poorly are very real, you’ll be feeling the pressure to perform.

So, create your own consequences. For example, maybe you can put a quarter in a jar every time you miss a logic game question, or maybe you can do five pushups for every logical reasoning question you miss. No matter how trivial the stakes seem, the fact that your performance now has real consequences attached to it on a day-to-day basis will train your brain to function under stress.

Again, I must reiterate – none of this replaces real understanding of logic, and you still have to make sure that your actual LSAT capabilities are on point to do well on this test. That being said, if you get nervous when thinking about test day and you want to avoid a big letdown, try one (or all) of these things, and stick with it. By the time test day rolls around, you’ll have trained your mind to dispense with the worry and the nervousness, leaving you free to rock the LSAT to your fullest capabilities. The rest, as they say, is up to you.

Good luck!

Jonathan Wang is a professional LSAT tutor and featured instructor for 7Sage.

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

IT HAS BEEN SAID THAT “ALL JEDI USE THE FORCE.”

For this edition of LSAT Fundamentals, let’s engage in a little verbal sparring. Say the above sentence differently. By that I mean use a different grammatical structure to express the same meaning. Give it a shot, young Skywalker.What? You are done already? Let me see what you got there.

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

Think you know what the word "or" means? You might not! Check out this video to find out more about one of our favorite LSAT fundamentals.

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“OR” is a Very Confusing Word In English

The word OR on the LSAT

Do you know really what this word means?

The word “or” and the often interchangeably used phrase “either or” are ambiguous. That means they have more than one meaning. Sometimes “or” means “or, but not both,” sometimes it simply means“and,” and sometimes, it means “and/or.” Context will tell you which meaning is intended and let me save you a lot of trouble and tell you right now that the meaning that the LSAT summons most often is “and/or.” That’s why we included “or” as a Group 3 logical indicator.

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

SUFFICIENT ASSUMPTION (SA) QUESTIONS.

Sufficient Assumption questions are like Inference Must be True (MBT) questions, in reverse.

In MBT questions, you’re given all the premises and asked to find the conclusion that would make for a valid argument. Here, you’re given the conclusion and all the premises (minus one). You’re asked to supply that missing premise which will make the argument valid. So really, they can easily turn any MBT question into a SA question by switching out the right answer choice for a premise in the stimulus. Or vice versa.

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