The BriefA Blog about the LSAT, Law School and Beyond
Wondering if you're overdoing it and studying too much for the LSAT? That's a normal worry to have. You might just be working really hard, propelled by a healthy sense of responsibility to fulfill your dreams. Or you might be overdoing it. Do any of these apply to you?
1. You're reading this post. Just kidding. Kind of. If you find yourself Googling things like "how to know if I'm studying too much" or "maximum hours per week to study for the LSAT"—well, maybe you're trying to tell yourself something?
2. You've missed so many birthdays/funerals/holidays, your friends don't bother to invite you to anything anymore. There's a difference between supportive friends who know you're busy (and thus might let you know it's ok if you're unable to attend an event) and friends who have straight up given up on you. If you're only finding out about parties or outings after the fact, and this is unusual for you, it might be a sign that you're neglecting your friends. While a high LSAT score can definitely get you places, it won't get you friends. Take care of your relationships.
3. You compulsively translate normal conversations into lawgic in your head. What kind of a monster have you become? You're not seeing the Matrix. But you might be hallucinating. Doctors commonly prescribe taking two chill pills and going outside to treat this common ailment (commonly known as "lawgicitus").
4. Take a look at your Facebook/Twitter/Instagram posts. More than 50% LSAT related? Think about the most annoying person you've friended/followed on social media. That person probably posts a lot of the same thing (kids, workout pics, what they're eating, etc.) for self-validating reasons. Sound familiar? Does it sound familiar because you are that person with the LSAT? Don't be that person. If you are that person, it's probably time to pump the breaks and get a hobby. Just don't post a ton of repetitive content about that.
5. You've taken to identifying the flaws in everyone's arguments. Oh man. Some people get downright socially hazardous when studying for the LSAT. Just because you're busy mastering Flaw questions doesn't mean you need to become the self-appointed Master of Flaws in every conversation! Give it (and your friends—while they still are your friends) a rest!
6. Your definition of fun is buying new pencils or doing Logic Games "because you enjoy them." It's much more likely that you've become rather rusty in the recreation department and have forgotten what fun really is.
7. You reference LR stimuli/RC passages in casual conversations, prefaced by "I read this really cool LR stimulus/RC passage the other day..." And if you're going to do this, just don't tell people you picked up the cool-ish factoid from the LSAT! (And maybe branch out a little ...)
8. Your emotions are directly connected to your PT performance. No, that PT score a few points below your average does not mean that you're a failure or that you're going to end up at the American Samoa Correspondence School of Lawls.
9. You've watched Legally Blonde more than twice in the past week. We see you. You know Netflix keeps track of your viewing history, right? Same goes for that episode of Suits where Rachel gets the 172. Some pop cultural inspiration is a good thing! But if you're OD'ing on those rare mentions of the LSAT in TV/movies, you're probably overdoing it on the LSAT.
10. You dread studying. This is the most serious sign that it's time to take a break. You're toasted. Crisped. Burnt out, through and through. Time to get back to life and remember why you're doing this in the first place—to live a life spent pursuing your dreams! And those dreams don't stop with the LSAT. The LSAT is just a gateway into your future and this season will likely be over sooner than you think.
Images taken from Imgur (The 50 reaction/funny gifs you didn't know you needed), WiffleGif, and Giphy.
For this final installment of LSAT Final Stretch leading up to the June exam, we've asked some of our Mentors and Sages for any final words of encouragement for those of you taking the exam (or looking forward to future administrations).
Mentor Sam: "You got this!" "You're almost there!" "Last minute advice: Stay focused and do your best. You've come this far, and you're only a few steps away from the finish line.”
Mentor Nilesh, Georgetown University Law Center '18: “I know it can seem impossible... but never give up hope. Logic Games only clicked definitively for me in the last week after a year and a half of prep and even more so in the last 4 days...keep working...and do not give up!”
Mentor Josh: “The LSAT doesn't happen in a testing room on test day. It happens the months and years before test day. It happens during core curriculum as we slog through the information and slowly achieve mastery. It happens during drilling as we reinforce and solidify that mastery. It happens during PTs and JY videos and fool proofing games; and during the times when we inevitably get knocked down, when a bad PT shakes us, when we realize we have further to go than we thought; and it happens when we get back up and keep fighting. So what is test day? It is not the LSAT. You have already conquered the LSAT. Test day is simply the dropping of your score in the mail. Y'all got this.”
Mentor Alejandro: “Trust your instincts. Find serenity in the fact that you studied your hardest up until this point. Oh and don't be afraid to skip!”
Mentor Brittany: “Good luck on the test everyone!! We did all the hard work already!!! Let's go crush this thing!!!”
Sage Allison, Harvard Law School '19: “You've already put in so many hours on this test. In a real sense, the hard work is behind you. June 6th is your opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of the LSAT, and regardless of your nerves, you are equipped. You can do this!”
When to Withdraw
If you’re confident that you have not reached your LSAT potential or still have major milestones to overcome in your LSAT journey, then withdraw from the test.
Never, ever, ever waste a take. Many of us here who have LSAT success stories needed all three of our takes to get to the triumphant chapter. Assume that you will likely be in the same situation.
To put things in more concrete terms: take the average of your last 3 PT scores. If this score is more than 3 points below your minimum goal score, you should think about withdrawing.
If you’re seriously ill, have had recent personal drama (not related to the LSAT), or have major life changes going on (particularly that are out of your control), also consider that you might be better off withdrawing. We have heard many stories of folks who decided to take the test instead of respecting the realities of personal upheaval. Few of those stories had happy endings, and most of those folks wished they’d taken a step back from the LSAT at that time.
Do not take the test "just to see how it goes." Do not take the test "just to get experience." Only take the LSAT when you are good and ready.
When to Cancel Your Score
Fact: Everyone feels awful after they take the test. Expect that you will too. The worst thing for you to do is to obsess over all of the questions you weren’t sure about or how you could have diagrammed that game more effectively. And don't discuss the test with anyone else—both to preserve the integrity of the administration per LSAC's guidelines, and to preserve your sanity. It’s over, and you did your best.
It’s important to say that up front, because feeling icky after that test is not a reasonable grounds for cancelling your score.
There are three conditions that warrant score cancellation, and only three.
- You are certain you had a bubbling error from which you were not able to recover. For instance, realizing that you started bubbling at #2 and were therefore one off for every answer in that section. If you are certain that this happened, then you should cancel your score.
- You had a medical emergency during the test, such as: an asthma attack, seizure, blackout, full-blown panic attack, etc. This list of conditions sounds extreme, because you should only cancel your score if something truly extreme happened.
- You had to leave the testing room for any reason and were not done with the section. If this happened for any reason, then this may be an serious enough condition for you to cancel you score.
Again, please note that feeling bad about how you did is not grounds to cancel your score.
How to Know You’re Ready
A combination of these three conditions is necessary for you to go forth and conquer this upcoming LSAT:
- Your PT average is within 3 points of your goal score
- You’ve done due diligence in your prep and have not neglected any major difficulty
- You do not meet any of the criteria noted in the “withdraw” section above
You may not feel perfectly ready. Almost no one does! But if you’ve done your part and your performance indicates readiness, then let us be the first to say: YOU GOT THIS.
For those of you taking the upcoming June administration of the LSAT or thinking ahead to future administrations, we'd like to share a few best practices/pro-tips to help ensure that you're in top shape heading into the exam. We've included some guidance for the week leading up to the exam as well as for Game Day itself.
Right up front, we'd like to say that you're not going to learn anything new the week before the exam. The hay is in the barn. You've already done the work that will carry you into the exam. Don't cram PT's; at most, do a few sections to keep your mechanics sharp. You need to make sure that you're fresh and in the right mindset for Game Day.
1) Between today and Sunday, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day (and this should be the same time you'll need to wake up for the June exam). Waking up ~3 hours before the earliest time you're likely to start the test (as soon as 30 minutes after the show-up time) will help ensure that your cortisol levels are up and that you're fully awake. Waking up at this time during this week and Monday June 6th helps to ensure that you'll be tired enough to go to bed Sunday night. Also, no screens/blue light after 10pm. This will help ensure that you're not artificially stimulating cortisol (waking yourself up) before bed.
2) Pre-hydrate. Drink a 3-4 liters of water every day of the week before the test. It's really not that big of a deal to drink that much water, and doing so will ensure that you are well hydrated the morning of without having to drink much (if any) liquid.
3) Practice your game day routine at least twice. This means wake up at the time you'll wake up on Monday, eat the exact same breakfast/lunch you plan for game day. Keep track of what you eat and drink and when you do it. Track your hunger, thirst, and bathroom need levels (just like in The Sims). Pro-tip: if you need to go at 2PM, there's a very strong likelihood that if you follow the same plan/timing, you will need to go in the middle of a section. Which is what we want to avoid.
4) Day of, general: Don't do anything differently from your dress rehearsals. No magic pills. No extra coffee. No tricks. No surprises. Perhaps get to the test center early and just go for a walk around the grounds if feasible. You might see some very nervous folks in crisis mode. Disregard. You are not them.
5) Day of, warm up: Whatever you do, don't score anything. And don't do any new material. Maybe take a handful of LR Q's, maybe one easy game, maybe one easy RC. Just chill out about it. You're just warming up your mechanics.
6) Day of, during the break: People will try to talk to you because they are nervous or want reassurance. You are not there to be anyone's friend. You are not there to be anyone's therapist or life coach. However you put up your personal "Do Not Disturb" status—just don't let anyone throw you off your game.
Not sure what all those letters and arrows are that people draw for the LSAT? Watch this video on Sufficient and Necessary Conditions, fundamental to LSAT Logic.
Drawing LSAT Sufficient And Necessary Conditions
You've probably heard a lot about sufficient and necessary conditions on the LSAT. They're tough to get a handle on at first, but not that difficult once you get the hang of it.
A sufficient condition is "enough" to tell you that something else is true. Suppose I tell you that a CEO of a fortune 500 company is powerful.
Then if I tell you that Tim Cook is CEO of Apple, a fortune 500 company, you know something. Tim Cook is powerful.
A necessary condition is something that has to be true, when something else is true. "Powerful" is the necessary condition of the statement I just told you. If you find out that Marissa Mayer is CEO of Yahoo, then you know she is necessarily powerful. It can't be any other way.
A conditional statement has a sufficient and a necessary condition. A conditional statement is true 100% of the time.
So if I tell you that all Fortune 500 CEOs are powerful, don't look for an exception. Just assume that it's true. This isn't a good idea in real life, but it's what you have to do for the LSAT.
Drawing LSAT Conditional Statements With Arrows
It's complicated to try to keep track of several conditional statements. And LSAT logical reasoning questions often give you several conditional statements. So you should use a system of shorthand notation to represent them.
The system everyone has settled on has letters and arrows. Take the statement I gave above. Here's a good way to draw it:
C --> P
I prefer to stick to one letter, or two at most. Some people will try to add more letters, like this:
CEOF500 --> Pow
That quickly gets confusing. The letters should serve as a reminder of the statement, but they don't have to mirror every part of it.
Joining Conditional Statements To Form Deductions
If you have multiple conditional statements, you can often join them. Anytime the necessary condition of one statement matches the sufficient condition of another, you can put them together.
"Every CEO of a fortune 500 company is powerful."
"Everyone powerful is a little arrogant"
C --> P
P --> A
C --> P --> A
"Every CEO of a fortune 500 company is a little arrogant"
You could also draw this as C --> P --> LA, if you prefer to include the "little" in the statement about "arrogant".
Did you like this lesson on LSAT conditional statement diagramming? If so, you'll enjoy our online LSAT course, which has complete lessons on LSAT logic, applied to real LSAT questions.
19 common, repeated argument flaws that students overlook on Logical Reasoning
Note: This list is not meant to be exhaustive. It is simply meant to be a guide to the more common argument flaws the LSAT tends to exploit.
1. Attacking the source of the argument
To attack an argument you may attack:
1) the premises (which never happens on the LSAT); or
2) the support the premises give to the conclusion
What you DO NOT get to do is to attack the author, his past acts or arguments, his motivation, where the argument comes from, or anything other than (1) or (2).
2. Uses terms unclearly/equivocation
The author uses a term (with more than one meaning) inconsistently. For example, “public interest” in one sense means what is in the best interest of the public (e.g., clean air, roads, schools). In another sense, it means what the public is interested in (e.g, celebrity gossip). The shift in word meaning will often be subtle and hard to notice.
3. Analogies that really aren’t analogous enough
All arguments by analogy fall apart at some point. At some point the two things being analogized lose their relevant similarities and the analogy cannot continue. We can say attacking the LSAT questions is like attacking enemy starships. But, in many ways, it’s not.
4. Appealing to authority in an area outside their expertise
Appealing to an authority where the subject matter is outside the expertise of the authority. For example, a dentist’s opinions on automotive maintenance is not authoritative.
5. Causation confusions
Whenever the LSAT concludes or assumes that A causes B, 99.9% of the time it’s wrong. They’ll tell you A is correlated with B or that A coincided with B and therefore A caused B. Maybe. That’s just one possible explanation for the correlation. Here are the other 3 possible explanations:
1) B caused A
2) C caused both A and B
3) A and B are merely coincidentally correlated and really something else, X, caused B. We see this a lot with accident rate and speed sign questions. New speed limit sign was put up! Accident rates drop! Therefore, it must be that the new speed limit sign dropped the accident rate. Maybe. But maybe there was an increase in cop cars patrolling the area and that’s what actually caused the drop in accident rates. The speed limit sign was just coincidentally there.
6. Circular reasoning
Assuming what you’re trying to prove. The premise is a mere restatement of the conclusion.
“Everything I say is true. This is true because I said it, and everything I say is true.”
7. Confusing necessary and sufficient conditions
The oldest trick in the book.
8. False dichotomy
A false dichotomy only pretends to divide the universe into two binary halves. It is not a real contradiction. Consider this real contradiction: cats and non-cats. That’s cleanly cuts the universe into two halves. Garfield? Cat. Einstein, MacBook Pro, Love? Non-cat. Here’s a false dichotomy: Cats and dogs. See how that leaves out Einstein, MacBook Pro, and Love? They are neither cats nor dogs.
9. Confusing probability for certainty
Could be is not must be. Even if something is 99.99% likely to happen, it does not mean that it will happen.
10. Confusing is for ought
Don’t confuse the descriptive for the prescriptive. Descriptive simply describes the state of the world. The tree is small. The lake is murky. Prescriptive reveals values. The tree ought to be big. The lake should be clear. The prescriptive reveals what we care about. You will typically encounter a descriptive premise leading to a prescriptive conclusion. For example, the house is on fire therefore we should put the fire out. That’s not a good argument. There are a number of reasons why we wouldn’t want to put the fire out. We always need a bridge premise to take us from the descriptive world of the premises to the prescriptive world of the conclusion. The bridge in the example argument above would be: Houses that are on fire ought to have their fires put out.
11. Percentages v. quantity
Percentages don’t necessarily reveal quantity and vice versa.
For example, Group A wants a 10% raise and Group B wants a 50% raise. Who will earn more money afterward? Who is asking for more money? We have no way to know based on this information.
12. Surveys and samplings to reach a general conclusion
Remember that surveys and samplings must be random (that is, non-biased). Asking a group of 20 year olds about who they are voting for will only tell you who 20 year olds are voting for (assuming they’re a statistically random set of 20 year olds regarding race, gender, etc.), not who the entire country will vote for.
13. Hasty generalization
Hasty generalization is very similar to sampling error. The difference is that the conclusion is very broad. You cannot make a generalization based on small sample size or based on one or two incidents.
14. Experiments to reach a general conclusion
Experiments to reach a general conclusion must include a control group. It must also establish the baseline of what is measured before the experiment begins.
15. Your argument fails therefore the opposite of your conclusion must be true
Be careful of arguments that try to do this. Just because you’ve wrecked someone’s argument, doesn’t mean that you get to conclude the opposite of his conclusion. If I make a crappy argument for going to the movies tonight as opposed to going to a bar or doing any number of things, you can’t just show me why my argument sucks and conclude: therefore we should go to a bar. First of all, there could be other arguments made to support going to the movies. Additionally, you still have the burden of making an argument that proves that we should go to the bar.
16. Relative v. absolute
A is faster than B, therefore A is fast? Not necessarily so. A is faster than B in relative terms. It doesn’t imply that A is fast in the absolute sense. For example, we know that the conclusion in this statement is not true: “Hippopotamuses are smaller than an elephants. Therefore, hippopotamuses are small.” Or take this statement: “Turtles are faster than ants. Therefore, turtles are fast.”
17. Confusing one possible solution for the only solution
There are many ways to solve a problem. Just because one solution solves a problem doesn’t mean that particular solution is the only solution that can solve the problem. Nor, for that matter, does it mean it is the best solution. If I nuke Cleveland, I’ll probably solve Cleveland’s homeless problem. This does not make it a good solution.
This flaw can also be used in the negative. This happens when one solution to a problem turns out not solve the problem, and then the conclusion might say that the problem cannot be solved or that the problem shouldn’t be solved. The flaw remains: just because one solution to a problem is inadequate doesn’t mean that the problem itself cannot be solved.
18. Red herring
This happens when the argument doesn’t address the relevant issue. Rather, it addresses some other issue that is tangential or has nothing to do with the relevant issue but, for some reason, commands your attention.
19. Tradition fallacy and novelty fallacy
The fact that something is old doesn’t mean that it is right or better. In the same vein, just because things have been done a certain way for a long time doesn’t mean that it is right or better. See slavery.
Likewise, just because something is new doesn’t entail that it is best course of action. Nor does it entail that the old thing or idea is no longer relevant or true. Change for the sake of change is not an argument; there must be something that shows the change is better.
Did you like this list of common LSAT argument flaws? You'll find more information like this in our online LSAT course, along with walkthroughs of hundreds of flawed LSAT arguments.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.