Archive for the ‘General’ Category
The annual uproar about law school rankings might lead you to believe that the rank of the school you attend is the only factor in determining whether you will become a successful lawyer. As Above The Law points out, the T14 law school rankings, as determined by US News and World Report, rely heavily on inputs – especially peer assessment, grades, and LSAT scores — while ATL’s rankings rely more heavily on outputs like jobs and starting salaries. Given that the two lists overlap quite heavily at the top, I wouldn’t blame you for feeling like you might as well say goodbye to your law career before you’ve even read your first case note if you don’t get into a T14 school. But don’t lose heart! Many, many law school graduates attend non-T14 schools and go on to have successful law careers.
I speak from experience. By way of background, I graduated from Emory Law School squarely in the middle of my class. It was a great place to go to school, with whip-smart professors and clinics, but it was not T14 when I attended and still isn’t (though it’s been solidly T25 for many years). Emory is also located in Atlanta, which, for all of its charms, was not the city where I intended to practice upon graduation. Like so many others, I had my eyes set on New York City. I managed to write myself onto the law review which, given my highly mediocre class ranking, definitely helped boost my resumé. This, combined with my comfort with interviewing, helped me land a job in Big Law in the New York office of a Chicago-based firm, where I specialized in real estate law.
I jumped ship after five years and wound up in Cardozo’s admissions office, where I counseled prospective students about whether they should or shouldn’t go to law school, and why they might be a good fit for Cardozo in particular. I later returned to practicing real estate law with the New York City Economic Development Corporation. As a lawyer, first in private practice and later for the City of New York, I regularly interviewed candidates for summer associate and lateral positions. While I can’t speak for every law firm or government agency, I do think I have some insight about whether attending a T14 law school really matters—so here goes!
When does attending a T14 law school really matter?
What is the “experimental” section?
The LSAT is composed of five multiple choice sections, but only four are scored. Those four sections include two Logical Reasoning (LR) sections, one Logic Games (LG) section, and one Reading Comprehension (RC) section.
The remaining section is the experimental section, which can be an LR, LG, or RC section. Crucially, that section does not affect your score.
On 7Sage’s Forums and elsewhere, you’ll see people refer to that section as “fake” to distinguish it from the four “real,” that is, scored sections.
Given that there are always one RC, one LG, and two LR sections that determine your LSAT score, if you see an extra section - for example, you see two RC sections - you can rightly infer that one of them is experimental or “fake.”
How can you find out which section is experimental?
You can’t. So don’t bother.
When you are taking the test, you might think, “Wait, another LG section? And this flowers game... it’s so weird. I’ve never seen anything like this before. Must be experimental.”
You could be right or you could be wrong. My point is: don’t think about it. Your suspicions will only divert your valuable attention and other mental resources away from the far more important task at hand: taking the LSAT.
The experimental section could appear as your first, second, third, fourth, or fifth section. So treat every section like it’s real.
The LSAC says, “Identification of the unscored section is not available until you receive your score report.” However, after the test, you can come to our Forums and through a process of cross referencing against many students' reports, identify which section was real and which was experimental. For example, if you had two LG sections, you know one of them was fake. But you don’t know which one. Was it the one with the flowers or was it the one with the planets? On the Forums, you're bound to encounter someone else who had only one LG section. That means their LG section was the real section. They’ll say something like, “Thank God I only got one LG! It was about flowers.” Now you can infer that the planets section was experimental.
Why does the experimental section even exist?
According to the LSAC, the experimental section “typically is used to pretest new test questions or to preequate new test forms.”
It is a way for the LSAC to test new questions to ensure fairness and comparability across different LSAT administrations.
How come PrepTests only have four sections?
Each PrepTest (PT) consists of only the scored sections from the actual administered LSAT. Since the experimental sections are not released, they do not make it into the PrepTests.
How can I get a five-section PrepTest to train my stamina?
To get a five-section PT, you have to “sacrifice” another PT. You can randomly pick a PT, print it out, and split it up into its four sections. Then you insert one of those sections into whatever PT you're going to take to make a five-section PT.
If you’re asking this question, we’ve got good news: you’re thinking strategically and (hopefully) respecting your limits. Both of those are attributes that can help keep a long-haul LSAT study plan afloat.
Let’s talk about minimum and maximums. Know that the answer to this question varies based on whether you work full time, have little kids running around, or other time-intensive responsibilities.
It will take you about 300 hours to complete the 7Sage Core Curriculum. For some, it will take longer. Then, if you take all of the PrepTests we include with Ultimate+, and Blind Review them properly, count on spending about 600 hours doing that. So let’s plan for about 900 hours of studying total. That might sound extreme. It’s reflective of how difficult—and powerful—the LSAT is. Your mileage may vary—we’re assuming you want a ~10-15 point increase (or more), which is what most LSAT students are looking for.
If you study about 15 hours per week, it will take you a little over a year. Clocking in at a more standard 25 hours a week (say 5 hours on Saturdays and 4 hours each weekday), you’re looking at a 9 month estimated study period (again, this is pretty standard fare). Both folks who work full time and those who study full time are often best off with a ~20-25 hours per week schedule (be sure to take at least one full day off a week to help prevent burnout and stay happy!). 30 hours per week is probably the healthiest maximum number of hours for anyone (including those who study LSAT full time with no obligations). It’s impossible to rush or “brute force” the LSAT.
The most important factors to consider are how much time you can realistically devote to the LSAT, given your other obligations. Find that number and commit yourself to a weekly schedule while respecting the aforementioned sanity-protecting upper limits.
Law school is unusual among post-graduate educational pursuits in that a bad undergraduate GPA doesn’t necessarily ruin your chances to attend an excellent law school. In fact, with a high enough LSAT score, you might just get into a T14 law school with a considerable scholarship, even with a sub-3.0 GPA. Folks with a sub-median GPA and an above-median LSAT are known as “splitters” and those with GPA/LSAT outside of the 25th and 75th percentiles respectively are known as “super-splitters.”
Law school admissions is as much as 50% dependent upon the LSAT score; due to rampant grade inflation in most undergraduate universities as well as inconsistency in grading policies and relative difficulties (both of universities and disciplines), GPA is a somewhat inconsistent indicator of academic or intellectual fitness of candidates. Furthermore, GPA is set in stone after graduation; while an applicant may have had a rough patch in the past, a poor GPA may not reflect a candidate’s true aptitude or abilities. Finally, the US News & World Reports rankings weigh LSAT scores particularly heavily. For these and a variety of reasons, law schools really like a high LSAT score—so much so that they might make room in the class of a top school for someone with a GPA well below median.
But what LSAT Score will make up for a sub-3.0 GPA at a T14 school? It depends on the school.
Know that for certain schools, such as UC Berkeley or University of Chicago, the door is closed with a sub-3.0 GPA, due to policies requiring a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Other schools, such as Harvard, Yale, or Stanford, receive so many applications from students with nearly perfect numbers that it is extremely unlikely for a sub-3.0 to be admitted. Given that these schools already have medians well into the 170’s, one would likely need a very, very high (175-180) LSAT score to even get on the radar of a T3 school—and even then, it might be best to manage expectations (and save the application fees).
Still other schools are known as being “splitter-friendly,” such as Northwestern. These schools often place a higher emphasis on work experience or other factors in their search for a well-rounded class. Georgetown also has a reputation of being somewhat splitter-friendly. For most of the T14, a sub-3.0 GPA won’t necessarily result in a shut-out by the Admission Committee—if you’ve got a stellar LSAT score—likely 170 or above, though a 168 or 169 may in exceptional circumstances be enough to offset the below-median GPA.
Outside of the T14, follow the splitter’s rule of thumb: if your GPA is below a school’s 25th percentile, make sure your LSAT is above their 75th.
I'll answer with something cryptic, which the rest of this lesson will further explain: you're making a bad assumption. You're assuming that you will actually get everything you answer correct, which is, for 99.99% of the people, false.
The way you want to approach your LSAT is to embrace a principle borrowed from Economics: the low hanging coconut.
Imagine you're on a desert island and you're thirsty. The only source of potables is coconut water. But, coconuts grow on the top of some really tall trees. How do you get them?
Let's pretend there are exactly 25 equally sized coconuts. You need to get at least 20 of them within 35 minutes to not die of thirst (yeah, they're, um, really small coconuts), but it'd be great to get all 25. Sound a little familiar? Haven't we all been trapped alone on a deserted island dying from thirst with coconuts as our last salvation? At least emotionally? Figuratively? Just me?
Anyway, let's walk a little closer to the tree. Or, actually, just you. I'm only there with you as an apparition, narrating this because you're hallucinating from thirst.
The first thing you notice is that the tree is really tall. There are lots of coconuts at the top, but hey! Look! Around the trunk, there are 12 of them just lying there, like idiots. Oh stupid coconuts, what joy you bring! Scoop them up quick before you start to think that we're actually talking about coconuts instead of questions on an LSAT section.
That took no time at all! What will we do next? Let's have you shake the tree to see if any will fall down, eh? I mean why wouldn't you. So, you shake and shake and lo and behold, 7 more delectable coconuts drop down from the tree. Great, we're at 19 coconuts! And we still have 10 minutes left. Now what?
There are 6 coconuts left in the tree and you still have 10 minutes to get as many as you can. There is only one thing left to do: climb. This is time consuming and the results are uncertain because you probably suck at climbing trees. And coconut trees... are an absolute nightmare. Instead of branches for you hold onto, they have perfectly smooth bark. But, lucky for you, some of the coconuts hang lower than the others! So, you climb a couple of feet, and grab the lowest hanging ones first. Then, you climb a bit higher to get the harder to reach ones near the top. The 10 minutes evaporate like drops of coconut water on hot sand and you manage to score 4 more coconuts for a total of 23/25. Not bad.
These are macadamia nuts, which are delicious nuts. A coconut is also delicious, but is not a nut.
Now, to bring the analogy home, imagine each of those 25 coconuts had a number on them, 1-25, like the LSAT questions are numbered 1-25. The ground-lying-coconuts, those 12 easy to get coconuts, are numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, 13, 14, 21, 22 and 25. Those 7 medium difficulty, shake-me-loose-coconuts, are numbered 5, 7, 10, 11, 17, 19 and 24. Those 6 difficult-to-get-way-up-on-the-top-of-the-stupid-tree coconuts are numbered 9, 15, 16, 18, 20, 23. The way you approach your LSAT sections ought to mirror the way you approach your coconut collecting. Get the easiest ones first! Save the harder ones for later. This way, you ensure that each incremental minute of time you spend on answering a question is spent on the lowest hanging question, the easiest coconut. This must become a habit.
On V-Day, you'll certainly be hit in the face with a couple of ridiculously hard coco... I mean questions. The worst thing for you to do is to be stubborn. You just knocked out questions #7 and #8, easy. Now you see coconut #9 hanging on top of the tree and you spend 30 seconds reading it to realize that you have no clue how to get it down easily, except to climb. Don't climb. Move on. To spend the next 3 minutes climbing up to the top of that tree to collect coconut #9 while coconut #13 is just lying there on the sand is foolish. It's not worth it. It'll cost you too much, even if you get #9 right.
In addition to overpaying for that question in terms of time, you will also be overpaying in terms of psychological strength. You may freak out once you realize what a bad decision you just made. "Arg! That was 3.5 minutes on 1 question and I still have 16 questions left." I'm also assuming the best case scenario where you actually get #9 right - a big assumption, since you tend to miss hard questions. But even if you get it right, you still lose. You shouldn't have gone for it until after you finished up gathering the easy to get coconuts first. Every question is worth 1 point anyway! Why would you risk not having time to do an easy question in order to attempt a difficult question?
When you're taking your timed practice LSATs, learn to intentionally skip questions that you suspect may be "out of your league." Cut your losses and move on. Don't try to fix one mistake with an even larger mistake.
1. False Hope
You check your LSAC account the day after your official LSAT administration because, well, there's a chance your LSAT score will be up, right? Go ahead and check.
No way; it's not going to take the full three weeks to get you scores. That can't really happen—right? They won't wait until the last day to release them, would they? No, they couldn't do that.
You realize that all everyone who took the LSAT has taken to social media—and they're all talking about when the scores will come out. You can't take it anymore, so you go on a 3-week social media fast.
Ok; it really IS going to take the full three weeks (usually this stage occurs a few days after the earliest predictions of score release). Seriously? In 2016, we can't throw a bunch of scantron sheets into the machine and get the scores into the computer any fast than this?
Maybe if you call LSAC, they'll give you your score over the phone, right? Maybe no one has thought of that one yet ... Right? Or maybe ... Maybe if you hit refresh again on the LSAC website, it'll be Gray Day ... Right?
Around 2pm, you realize ... You would have heard by now if scores were going out. And the let down sets in. Today is not Gray.
Ok. Today's not Gray Day. And it might not be tomorrow, either. But you know what? You'll have your scores soon. And everything's gonna be all right.
This series is just a sampling of the kind of wisdom ready at hand to anyone in our Discussion Forums. We've interviewed mentors in regards to whether the LSAT is worth the effort and offer a piece of advice for those looking to transition into a law career.
What would you tell someone who’s wondering if studying for the LSAT is worth it?
Sage Alex: The most important thing to consider before deciding whether or not to study for the LSAT is whether or not you want to be a lawyer. If you are passionate about becoming an attorney, then you should devote an adequate amount of time to studying for the exam. The LSAT is arguably the most important component of your application. A high LSAT score opens up the door to the best law schools in the country and can yield tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships. To put it simply, the LSAT is too important a test to forego adequate preparation. It is worth the time and effort to make sure that you are scoring in a range that makes you competitive for your target schools and merit scholarship awards.
Mentor Sam: No matter how you look at it, the answer is yes.
—If you want to be a lawyer: Well, you kind of need to study for the LSAT. Ultimately, decide on what you want to do in life. If your goal is to become an incredibly successful attorney, than going to a top tier law school will help you get there. Getting into a top tier school requires tons of studying for the LSAT.
—If you don't want to be a lawyer: That's okay—the LSAT teaches you to approach everyday tasks and conversations with a more critical eye. It teaches you to be analytical, and to stay sharp.
Mentor Brett: Rarely in life do we truly have second chances. We live in a society that is fixated upon first impressions; whatever you’ve done in the past is going to stick with you for the rest of your life.
But what if I told you that you could take one year and make up for nearly all of the problems you had in college? Maybe you struggled a certain semester; maybe freshman year was rough for you. If I told you that this one test could make up for all of that—and that if you pounded out a good score, not only could you be accepted, but given a scholarship over someone who scored lower than you on this test but had a higher GPA? The LSAT is the great equalizer and this is the only universal thing that every aspiring law student has on their resume. Take advantage of it!
Mentor Dan: The LSAT opens so many doors financially and occupationally. Before getting hardcore into studying for the LSAT, my dream school was the second best school in my state. Now, my dream school sits at the top of the T14. The LSAT is so learnable, and being that it carries the most weight in the application process, learn it!
Like many of you, I watch Game of Thrones. While watching the latest episode, I realized the characters make many arguments. So, I thought it would be fun to use some of their dialogue as mini LSAT lessons.
If you don't watch Game of Thrones or aren't caught up, turn away for many spoilers lie ahead.
Scene 1 - Jon Snow wields a cool conditional chain
Jon Snow: "I need you with me if we're going to beat them, and we need to beat them if you're going to survive."
survive → beat them → you with me
Jon uses "need" to indicate necessity along with "if" to indicate sufficiency. Though he states only his major premise without giving the full argument, he correctly assumes that everyone wants to "survive" which would triggers the conditional chain allowing everyone to draw the conclusion that the Free Folk ought to stick with Jon Snow.
Scene 2 - Tormund's like "Hey Snow, let me see that cool conditional chain."
Quickly following Jon's argument, Tormund wants to play with the conditional chain also. Earlier in the dialogue he mentions that Jon died for the Free Folk so "do the same" is referencing that.
Tormund: "If we are not willing to do the same for him, we're cowards. And if that's what we are, we deserve to be the last of the Free Folk."
not willing to die for Jon → cowards → deserve to be last of the Free Folk
Like Jon, Tormund also states only his major premise. He also correctly assumes that none of the Free Folk wants to be the last of the Free Folk nor do they want to be labeled cowards. Hence, by failing either of the necessary conditions, we can contrapose and arrive at the conclusion that the Free Folk "are willing to die for Jon". In context, this means join Jon in war to take back Winterfell from the Boltons.
Scene 3 - Cersei is not half as bright
I find this scene really funny. Olenna says to Cersei, "If you're half as bright as you think you are, you'll find a way out of here, too." Without missing a beat, Cersei replies "Never." Like, she just accepts Olenna's insulting premise and plays along. I almost feel bad for her.
Let's look at this in lawgic.
Olenna: Cersei is 50% as smart as Cersei thinks she is → leave
Cersei: not leaving
Conclusion: Cersei's not very bright
Scene 4 - Blackfish understands the inclusive or
In this scene, one of the Frey idiots threatens Blackfish and says "Yield the castle or I cut his throat."
Blackfish, who clearly understands the inclusive or, thinks to himself:
not yield castle → nephew's throat cut
But I remember from this 7Sage lesson that if I yield the castle, that Frey idiot might cut my nephew's throat anyway. I'm gonna call him out on his shit bluff.
Scene 5 - Jamie with a strong contrapose
This was probably my favorite scene from the episode.
Right before this scene, Jamie simultaneously insults and warns the Frey idiot that "only a fool makes threats he's not prepared to carry out."
makes threats he's not prepared to carry out → fool
Since Frey threatened Blackfish earlier but didn't carry it out, Jamie effectively called him a fool. There's the insult. But Jamie is also warning Frey because we can assume that Jamie does not think himself a fool and hence conclude that Jamie makes threats he is prepared to carry out. Jamie proceeds to make the following threat: "Now let's say I threatened to hit you unless you shut your mouth, but you kept talking. What do you think I'd do?"
not shut your dirty Frey mouth → Jamie hits you
And of course, like the idiot he is, the Frey keeps talking.
Scene 6 - Jamie is fond of unless
Jamie uses "unless" again in this scene, "Have him bathed and fed. Unless you'd like to take his place."
don't want to take his place → bath and feed him
Jamie assumes that the idiot Frey does not want to take the prisoner's place and therefore will bath and feed him. This time they take Jamie's threat seriously.
Scene 7 - Davos also knows how to contrapose a conditional chain too
Davos strings together a conditional argument just like Jon and Tormund did at the beginning of the episode.
Davos: "As long as the Boltons hold Winterfell, the North is divided. And a divided North won't stand a chance against the Night King."
Boltons hold Winterfell → North divided → no chance against Night King
Davos correctly assumes that Lady Lyanna Mormont wants to stand a chance against the Night King and so, contraposing back, will arrive at the conclusion that she should help them kick the Boltons out of Winterfell.
As part of a new series here in the 7Sage blog, we've asked our community leaders (Mentors, who were selected from among their peers for their outstanding contributions and character, and Sages, who are community leaders who scored above 170 on the LSAT) to answer a series of questions and provide us with their LSAT wisdom.
This series is just a sampling of the kind of wisdom ready at hand to anyone in our Discussion Forums.
What’s the one thing you would tell yourself (if you could go back in time) at the start of your LSAT journey?
Mentor Sam: Don't waste money on other prep courses. Stick with 7Sage and supplement it with The LSAT Trainer (by Mike Kim)! Don't ever say, "XYZ date is still some time away...I can buckle down later." Why? Because "later" will never come.
Sage Alex: I’m going to do everything in my power to get the best possible score. If I don’t succeed in doing well enough to get into a top law school, at least I’ll know that I gave it my all. I can live with knowing that I did not accomplish a goal—but what is unacceptable to me is not putting forth 100% effort. There’s no worse feeling than looking back and saying to yourself, “What if?“
Mentor Brett: I would tell myself that this is a long process and that the people around me who care about me most may very well be some of the greatest threats to my success. That those who haven’t gone through this process truly don’t understand what we have to do and how demanding this test is. I would have had a much more open mind when going through the process. I would have said: "Law school isn’t going anywhere, and if it takes me 1-2 years from graduation before I feel comfortable taking this test—then so be it. I only have to have one good score throughout my entire LSAT studying; the problem is getting to a point where I know that when I take the exam that I’m going to have a good score.
Mentor Dan: To aim high. No, for the highest. If I don't quite reach that goal, so what? I tried my best and achieved the most I could have as a result. Thankfully, I eventually adopted this mindset and avoided an LSAT score over twenty points below a score I know I can achieve.
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.