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

[This is an excerpt from our full course.]

The Blind Review

The Blind Review Method as introduced in this series of lessons are meant to be used for the problem sets in our course and timed LSAT Prep Tests.

Most students review LSAT questions the wrong way. I’m going to show you a proven approach that will increase your LSAT score.

If you’re already studying the LSAT, this is most likely not what you've been taught to do.  If we’re the first ones to teach you the LSAT, great.  Either way, this ought to be how you practice the LSAT.

How do people normally study and what’s wrong with it?

Take your average LSAT student.  Say he finished LSAT PrepTest 53 (December 2007), fully timed, using the proctor apps for iPhone/iPad or Android (or the online LSAT proctor).  The clock is running and he chooses his answer quickly, sometimes tentatively.  The time is called and he puts down his pencil.  He breathes a sigh of relief and what does he do next?  He immediately checks his answers: "Sweet, got this one right - I'm awesome.  Oh no, this one's wrong - I’m dumb. Oh yay, I got this one right - I'm awesome again."

I know that's what most LSAT students do.  Why’s that bad?  Isn’t checking the answers obviously what you should do after you take a timed prep test?

Well, no.  In fact, checking your answers right after a timed prep test is the worst disservice you can do for yourself.  You've essentially just wasted the time you spent taking the prep test.  Okay, I exaggerate, but not by much.  Think about what you’re actually doing when you check the answers right away.  Do you just want vindication that you're smart?  The psychology of doing that is like placing a bet and you can't wait to find out if you've won or lost.  I’m betting A, I'm betting C, and so on.  The answers are right there and it's like you're at the roulette table at Vegas and you're praying "I hope it lands on red 18 (or whatever answer choice you selected)!”

But, that's kind of insane isn't it?  You're not placing bets.  The LSAT is not a casino.  There are reasons that distinguish right answers from wrong ones.  Random chance is never a factor.  You, in fact, are the only factor.  You're studying for this test.  You're trying to improve the way you think.  You're trying to get better, intellectually.  And that’s completely the wrong way to go about it.

Again, to emphasize one last time, if you're immediately checking your answers, you're doing it wrong. You’re just checking whether you filled in the right circle. You’re NOT checking whether you had good reasoning.

Blind Review, the right way to study for the LSAT

So, how to do it right?  We call it the Blind Review method. In the next couple of lessons you'll see how to use the Blind Review method to correctly practice the LSAT. You can contrast that with the method you already use or you thought was the right way and decide which one is better.

Continue Reading - Blind Review Part 2

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LSAT Books

LSAT books can help you study

Our LSAT Courses are all you need to study for the LSAT.  But if you don't have access to the Internet (how did you get here??) or just prefer the smell of books, here are our top picks.

The most important books are the official LSATs from the LSAC. We sell many tests with video explanations, but you can find even more past LSATs on amazon.

Some of these tests are quite old. You should use them if you have a decent amount of time to study. If you have less than a month, stick to the more recent tests.

Best LSAT Books

Ten New, Actual, Official LSATs (LSATs 52-61): The most important book from the list. This book is only $19.50, and has ten of the most recent LSATs. You can't get them cheaper anywhere.

The Next Ten Actual Official LSATs (LSATs 29-38): These tests are older, but still quite useful, especially if you have a few months to study. These tests are also quite cheap.

Hacking The LSAT: Explanations For LSATs 29-38: These are full explanations for every question in The Next Ten LSATs. Written by our VP of Curriculum, they're a great resource to figure out exactly why an answer is right or wrong.

LSAT Superprep: This is LSAC's guide to the LSAT. It comes with strategies for each section; the Reading Comprehension guide is short but good. It also has three tests you won't find anywhere else. The best part is that these tests come with full explanations by the LSAC.

They are the ONLY official explanations from the LSAC for any test, so it's useful to see what they're looking for in answer choices. The questions also have difficulty ratings.

Ten More Actual Official LSATs (LSATs 19-28): The LSATs in this book are fairly old. In particular, the logic games are different from those on the  modern LSAT. But these are still useful tests, especially if you think you'll use up all the modern LSATs.

Ten Actual Official LSATs: Old tests from the early 90s. You should be aware this book exists, but only use this if you've got a lot of time to study and will run through all the other tests.

Note: All the official LSAT books come with bubble sheets to mark your answers. You should definitely use these to get the most authentic test experience. Otherwise you're giving yourself extra time.

If you need more bubble sheets, or a timed LSAT proctor, check out our LSAT tools page and our LSAT App


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Are you getting ready to take the upcoming June LSAT?  Enter to win of two free LSAT Complete courses!  This contest is open to everyone.

If you're already enrolled in a course and win, you get a free upgrade to the next higher course. If you already have LSAT Ultimate, then you win the Mystery Prize.

There are two ways to win. You can win by random draw, or if you collect the most entries.

This contest ends at 11pm ET, March 8th.

Pro-tip: You can get dozens of extra entries! You get 18 more entries for following the simple steps, one more entry for every person that clicks on one of your links, and FIVE(!) extra entries for every person who enters the contest with your custom link.

(Contest has ended)

Follow the steps, spread the word, and rack up tons of extra entries to boost your chances at the draw prize, and to shoot for the prize for the most entries.

2013-03-10 Update:

Congratulations to Anthony E and Claudia M!  They won the contest, and both got full access to the LSAT Complete course.

For everyone else, don't despair, our courses are several times more affordable than other courses. So enroll now, then take the hundreds of dollars you saved to have some fun :D

Featured image: LSAT Prep Course Giveaway (attribution Newsbie Pix)

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cover-preptest-C

I took PrepTest C (the February 2000 LSAT) under simulated testing conditions.  I want to share some of my thoughts with you.  This post will cover Logic Games for which I have already made the videos lessons (with links below).

**Spoiler Alert**

Stop reading if you haven't taken this prep test yet.  It'll ruin the test for you.

LSAT C Logic Game Summaries and Video Explanation Links

Game 1 - At a water carnival, eight lifeguards will participate in two events.  One event is a boat race and the other is a rescue exercise.  These lifeguards will be grouped into four two-person teams.

Game 2 - A critic ranks exactly seven restaurants.  These restaurants are named Lautrec, Medici, Pastilla, Robusto, Scheherazade's, Tantoko, and Vistula from the best - the highest rank - to the worst - the lowest rank.

Game 3 - Three parks, Jessup, Island, and Hilltop, contain attractions. The attractions are of five types: fountain, garden, museum, playground, or theater.

Game 4 - Dynamic Motors will assemble four new automobile models.  Over the next three years, the models Volante, Whisper, Xavier, and Ziggurat will be assembled in its five factories F, G, H, J, and K.

Game 1 - Lifeguards at water carnival

This is a grouping game with an unusual setup.  That means it's hard initially.  If you aren't careful, it reads like an In/Out game.  Once you realize that it's not, that in fact for each of the two events, you are asked to group the eight lifeguards into four teams of two persons each, you'll see the right game board.  From there on out, this game is easy.

Game 2 - Critic ranks seven restaurants

This is a tough sequencing game.  You have to be proficient in handling conditional rules in a sequencing game.  The conditional rule in this game breaks up the game into, essentially, two sub-game boards.  Beyond that, your proficiency with basic sequencing games will determine how quickly you can move through the questions.

Game 3 - Three parks with five attractions

This is an easy grouping game with a chart.  If you setup it up with a chart, you can figure out three sub-game boards that represent all possible worlds.  The questions are fast.

Game 4 - Dynamic motors assemble automobiles

This is a hard, unique game.  The game board doesn't look like any game board that we're used to.  So, you have to spend some time figuring out what game board works best to organize the information in this game.  The rules are also difficult to represent visually.  As with all games, spend time upfront understanding the setup, the game board, the rules, and the pieces.  Otherwise, the questions will simply be a waste of time.

So, what's the take away?  Games two and four games were hard.  You have to be able to move through the easy ones very quickly to save up enough time to tackle the hard ones.

______________

For more Logic Games explanations like these, hop over to our Logic Games page. There, we’ve recorded video explanations for every Logic Game going back over a decade. All in HD, with variable playback speed, and you get to ask questions. Oh, the best part: it’s completely free.


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cover-preptest-BI took PrepTest B (the February 1999 LSAT) under simulated testing conditions.  I want to share some of my thoughts with you.  This post will cover Logic Games for which I have already made the videos lessons (with links below).

**Spoiler Alert**

Stop reading if you haven't taken this prep test yet.  It'll ruin the test for you.

LSAT B Logic Game Summaries and Video Explanation Links

Game 1 - Eight boats arrive at a dock.  They are named Jewel, Kashmir, Neptune, Ojibwa, Pacific, Spain, Tornado, and Valhalla.

Game 2 - A park contains at most five of seven kinds of trees.  The trees are firs, laurels, maples, oaks, pines, spruces, and yews.

Game 3 - Four married couples dine at a circular table.  They are named Francisco, Gabrielle, Kyoko, Lee, Olivia, Peter, Raymond, and Simone.

Game 4 - Zeno's unfinished furniture sells five types of furniture.  Footstools, hutches, sideboards, tables, and vanities.  From the five, Irene will buy four.  Each piece Irene buys will be made from a kind of wood: maple, oak, pine, rosewood.

Game 1 - Eight boats arrive at a dock

This is a simple, easy sequencing game.  We've seen very similar reincarnations of this game before.  You should finish this in under 5 minutes if you want to get through all the games in this set.  Your proficiency with the basic sequencing chart will determine how quickly you can push through this game.

Game 2 - A park contains trees

This is a very difficult in/out game.  If you do not normally have enough time to finish all the games, this is the one you should skip.  The rules that make this game hard are the last two rules.  One of them has an embedded conditional.  Both of them demand that you represent them visually to fully understand how they control the pieces on the game board.  Once you do that, you can split the game into three sub-game boards to use up these two confusing rules.

Game 3 - Married couples dine at a circular table

This is a medium difficulty spatial game.  You can think of it as a circular sequencing game.  It's unusual because of the circular game board.  Aside from that, this game is not very difficult.  Hit the questions quick after a brief, simple game board setup.  For many of the questions, you'll have to draw sub-game boards that cater to them.

Game 4 - Zeno's sells furniture

This is a hardish in/out game with grouping within the in group.  Since there's only one item in the out group, you should split the game board up into two sub-game boards to accomodate the two possible items that could be out.  Once you do that, you can focus your attention of grouping the items within the in group.  In the in group, you have to figure out what wood goes with what type of furniture.  If you're not adept with conditional logic, there is a conditional rule that could potentially be confusing.

______________

For more Logic Games explanations like these, hop over to our Logic Games page. There, we’ve recorded video explanations for every Logic Game going back over a decade. All in HD, with variable playback speed, and you get to ask questions. Oh, the best part: it’s completely free.


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As the February 2013 LSAT approaches, a blizzard is striking the East coast. The LSAC rarely cancels tests, but this year the storm is severe enough that testing has been suspended at a few test centers.

Odds are, your test center is not affected. Be sure to monitor the official notice of cancellations here:

http://www.lsac.org/jd/announcements-and-news.asp#weather

The LSAT does not appear to have announced what happens if your test is postponed, but from past experience they will contact you to schedule a retake in 1-3 weeks. If that happens to you, continue practicing as usual: timed practice tests are the best way to prepare at this point.

Good luck!

Featured image: snowman credit oimax

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Looking for live LSAT classes in New York City or Boston?  You're in luck!  PreProBono, a NYC based 501(c)3 non-profit also founded by our co-founder J.Y. Ping, is offering weekend LSAT classes at various NYC and Boston colleges and law schools.  7Sage is proud to donate our curriculum and materials to PreProBono.  The cost to you?  $50 deposit, fully refunded upon successful completion of program.  Successful completion of program means that you show up on time to the class you sign up for and stay for the whole time.  If you can manage that, it's pretty much free.  Can you manage that?

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Prep for LSAT and increase your LSAT score with the latest LSAT prep test!

LSAT PrepTest 68 from the December 2012 administration is now available for purchase through an instant PDF download.  In addition to the PDF, you will also get individual video explanations that cover every single question on the test.

The early bird 43% discount ($16.99) is on through Sunday.  After that, the price goes back to $29.99.  Purchase LSAT PrepTest 68 and all video explanations here.

Featured image: flower credit aussiegall

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cover-preptest-68I just took PrepTest 68 (the December 2012 LSAT) under simulated testing conditions.  I want to share some of my thoughts with you.  This post will cover Logic Games for which I have already made the videos lessons (links below).

**Spoiler Alert**

Stop reading if you haven't taken this prep test yet.  It'll ruin the test for you.

LSAT 68 Logic Game Summaries and Video Explanation Links

Game 1 - A realtor is showing a prospective buyer seven houses.  The first and second houses are shown in the morning.  The third, fourth, and fifth are shown in the afternoon.  The fifth and sixth are shown in the evening.

Game 2 - Five witnesses are scheduled to testify at a hearing. The hearing is scheduled on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

Game 3 - A maintenance company is taking service requests.  Their clients are Image, Solide, and Truvest.  For each client, there are two service targets - one for website requests and one for voicemail requests.  The service targets are set for either 3 days, 2 days, or 1 day.

Game 4 - An editor will edit seven articles. Three articles cover finance, three cover nutrition and one covers wildlife.

Games 1 and 2

The first and second games are standard sequencing and grouping games where much of the board can be determined.  I made a few sub-game boards to better visually represent the placement of items on the game board.  Both games were solved in about 5 minutes each with no errors.

Game 3 - Maintenance Company

Since the first two games were quick, I expected the third and fourth games to be harder. The LSAT did not disappoint.  The third one was confusing.  I had to read the stimulus a couple of times to figure out how to set up the game board correctly.  The stimulus used a lot of referential phrasing ("clients" and "service targets") that made the it hard to follow.  The first rule took about 4 or 5 re-readings to sink in.  I thought pretty hard about what it meant for "website targets to be not longer than voicemail targets." As is almost always the case, the time invested up front was worth it.  I split up the game board into a few sub-game boards.  Even with the sub-game boards drawn out, I still had to redraw them next to most of the questions to avoid careless confusion.  This game took about 10 minutes with no errors.

Game 4 - Editor, Very Difficult

Going into the fourth game with about 15 minutes on the clock was comfortable.  Still, I wasn't fully prepared for how difficult it would end up being.  After setting up the game board and writing down the rules, I stared at the nearly blank page for a couple of seconds.  I was pretty sure there would be no point in trying to spilt the main game board up into sub-game boards.  The rules were so open that I couldn't make any inferences and so I didn't know where to start.  But with plenty of time left on the clock I just hit the questions hard and thought I would brute force my way through them.

That was risky.  Most of the questions required a separate game board setup for each answer choice.  That meant creating making up to 5 game boards for each question!  That felt paralyzing.  But you just do it.  By the time I got to the last 2 questions, I was down to 2 minutes.  Brute force is a highly time consuming strategy.  For the second to last question, after spending about  a minute on it, I eliminated the answers down to two.  I had a strong feeling about one of them and just chose it so I could move onto the last question.  I didn't prove it out.  I just moved onto the last question.  I got lucky and got it right.

With under a minute left for the last question, I looked at answers and guessed at which one of the five probably was right given what I knew about the dynamics of the rules.  Before I could even prove my only guess at the correct answer, time ran out so I had to bubble in my choice.  I got lucky again.

So, what's the take away?  Two of these four games were hard.  You have to be able to move through the easy ones very quickly to save up enough time to tackle the hard ones.

______________

For more Logic Games explanations like these, hop over to our Logic Games page. There, we’ve recorded video explanations for every Logic Game going back over a decade. All in HD, with variable playback speed, and you get to ask questions. Oh, the best part: it’s completely free.


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LSAT panic

You’ve experienced panic during an LSAT. Your brain freezes, you can’t think, and you get questions wrong.

You’re actually experiencing the fight or flight response. This is a mini-meditation exercise to teach you how to kick your body out of that, and get back to answering questions. But first, a bit about the fight or flight response.

The Fight or Flight Response

So, as humans, we’re all equipped with a sophisticated system to deal with sudden threats. Suppose a bear appeared in front of you when you went out to lunch. Here is what you would do, without thinking:

1. Freeze. It’s actually the freeze-fight or flight response. Predators are attracted to motion, freezing hides you. This also prepared you for your next action. Your brain assesses whether to attack the threat, or flee.

2. You hold your breath. This helps you freeze, and gives you a burst of strength when you exhale. You’ll recognize this added force if you’ve ever done heavy weightlifting.

3. You shut down non-essential body functions. Digestion is all well and good, but it won’t help you fight a bear. That gets shut down, along with several other non-crucial body functions, such as higher order logical thought.

Oops. Unfortunately, a tough LSAT question triggers this same stress response, and exactly the same effects occur. If you ‘panic’ during the LSAT you’re experiencing an evolutionary reaction utterly unsuited to your current situation. You can’t punch logic games, or run away.

Fortunately, there is a way out. Breathing is quite something. It’s the one autonomous bodily system (happens without thinking) that we can also control. And it’s a crucial part of the fight or flight response.

The Mini-Meditation Exercise

Taking deep, conscious breaths acts as a manual override switch to the fight or flight response. ‘It’s ok brain, not a bear. At ease.’ You literally can’t be stressed if you take a series of deep breaths. So here’s the protocol:

1. Close your eyes
2. Take 5-10 deep breaths, slowly, in and out, until you feel relaxed.
3. Breathe through your stomach. This activates the parasympathetic nervous system and heightens the effect.
4. Focus on the breath entering and leaving your nostrils. A common meditation technique, among other things, this removes the stressful incident from our thoughts.

This whole process takes 10-15 seconds. The increased mental awareness of returning to a normal, logical mind state more than makes up for the few seconds spent.

If you liked this article, you'll probably also like our tips for combating LSAT anxiety.

Featured image: meditation credit ePi.Longo

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