Archive for the ‘General’ Category

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!”

Featured image: ogungo

Comment on 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.

Featured image: Barney Moss

Comment on this

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.

Featured image: Practical Cures

Comment on this

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

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

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

Featured image: Chris Lott

Comment on this

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

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

Continue reading

Featured image: Elliott Brown

Comment on this

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

  • [empty]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So remember. There is only one right answer choice.


Comment on this

When are LSAT scores actually released?

Almost always before the scheduled release date. Below, I'm listing the scheduled release dates v. actual release dates (for the past couple of years) to give you a sense of when you can expect to get your LSAT score back from the June 2013 LSAT. But, before that, here are some interesting

Summary Statistics

Average release date: -3.7 days (before scheduled date)
Average release date for June only: -3.2 days (before scheduled date)

Since the LSAC scheduled the score release for July 5, you can expect your June score either on July 2 or July 3.

Scheduled Score Release Dates v. Actual Score Release Dates

Test date Scheduled Actual Difference Days after test
Jun 10, 2013 Jul 5, 2013 Jul 1, 2013 -4 21
Feb 9, 2013 Mar 6, 2013 Mar 6, 2013 0 25
Dec 1, 2012 Jan 4, 2013 Jan 2, 2013 -2 32
Oct 6, 2012 Oct 31, 2012 Nov 1, 2012 1 26
Jun 11, 2012 Jul 6, 2012 Jul 2, 2012 -4 21
Feb 11, 2012 Mar 7, 2012 Mar 6, 2012 -1 24
Dec 3, 2011 Jan 6, 2012 Jan 4, 2012 -2 32
Oct 1, 2011 Oct 26, 2011 Oct 24, 2011 -2 23
Jun 6, 2011 Jun 29, 2011 Jun 27, 2011 -2 21
Feb 12, 2011 Mar 7, 2011 Mar 4, 2011 -3 20
Dec 11, 2010 Jan 10, 2011 Jan 6, 2011 -4 26
Oct 9, 2010 Nov 1, 2010 Oct 30, 2010 -2 21
Jun 7, 2010 Jun 28, 2010 Jun 25, 2010 -3 18
Featured image: cathedral ceiling - credit stevecadman

Comment on this

Good luck everyone!

Tomorrow, the biggest challenge will be psychological.  Stay calm and collected and you'll get the LSAT score that you've been getting on your timed LSAT PrepTests.

If you have any last minute questions, concerns, or just want to chat, we will be on this post until 1am.  Hit us up!


46 comments

Our students are telling us that they are starting to see logic games videos on YouTube that look like our videos. One student, Emilie Eisold, emailed us saying "Look what [you] did. [You are] inspiring all these others LSAT instructors to be like 7Sage!"

Wonderful.

When we first put these videos on YouTube for free over a year ago, we had no idea what would happen. All we knew was that we wanted to make our quality instructional videos accessible to everyone. But, in truth, we didn't know whether people would like our videos, if they'd even watch them, if they would help anyone learn. When you're doing something new, there's a huge chance that you're just plain crazy. We rolled the dice anyway. Continue reading

Featured image: lunch-atop-a-skyscraper

2 comments