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The single biggest mistake that I see people make in terms of timing is not being confident enough in the answers that they've eliminated. If you've narrowed down a question to maybe your final answer, maybe two answer choices, and then you start going back because, you know, you don't feel great about it and you start uneliminating answer choices, you've lost the mental war with yourself.
Hello and welcome to the 7Sage podcast. I'm J.Y. Ping, and today we're presenting a webinar about study planning with the 7Sage tutoring team. Our tutors talk about how much time most people need to study, how to balance a full-time job with LSAT, and much more. So, without further ado, here's the webinar.
Hello, everyone. Welcome to our webinar. If you don't know me, I'm David. I'm a partner at 7Sage, and I'm really pleased to host three of our LSAT tutors to talk about timing and pacing on the LSAT. But before we dive in, I would love it if you three could introduce yourself.
I'll start. Hey you guys, my name's Aastha Sinha. Outside of being a tutor here at 7Sage, I work in a public defender's office in Florida, and I'm really excited to talk to you guys about a super exciting thing called the LSAT.
You say that with sarcasm. But I know you actually, you're actually excited about the LSAT.
We do love the LSAT. My name is Charlie, and I'm also a tutor here at 7Sage. I am a part-time English teacher, and then I also tutor with 7Sage. And I originally set out to be a tutor after seeing the score increases that I was able to get on my LSAT due to 7Sage's products. So here I am and I love the LSAT, and I'm ready to talk about timing.
All right, and hello, everyone. My name is Henry. I'm also a tutor here at 7Sage. I am an engineer for work outside of just being a tutor, but I love teaching people and I love teaching the LSAT especially, because this is a fun little test where you can really improve your score if you know what to do.
Henry, I didn't know you were an engineer actually. What do you engineer?
Right now I'm working in the oil and gas industry, but it's more on the carbon management side. So it's a lot of talk about trying to take the oil and gas industry carbon neutral. Really interesting stuff at the moment.
Good for you. That sounds almost as important as what you do at 7Sage.
Almost as important as helping people get those sweet, sweet score increases.
So we're going to start with a panel discussion, but I'm going to leave plenty of time for your questions at the end. And after the webinar, we will pick one lucky attendee by lottery for a free hour of tutoring. So let's dive in.
Henry, Aastha, Charlie, when you start studying for the LSAT, it's like assumptions, conclusions, grouping games with a twist, oh my! You know, you're just focusing on the material and if you're taking any questions, you're probably taking them untimed. So my first question is, how do you know when to get the clock involved? When should you start taking timed sections or timed PTs? I'll throw that first to Charlie. Why not?
I would say the short answer is it depends. Most people, I think on average, start doing timed PTs way ahead of when they really should. I'm definitely a believer in the idea that PTs are not necessarily the most helpful super early on. And speaking from my personal experience, I would say maybe a couple of months before you start doing things under time constraints.
Definitely, if we're operating under the assumption that studying for the LSAT is going to be at least, you know, a five, six plus month process, my assumption going in for my first take was that I was going to do three months and then be done forever. So in week two, I was like, okay, let's start doing timed stuff, and that was a hundred percent wrong. So I would say probably a couple of months.
Okay, so one thing I'm hearing is maybe later than you would think. But let me phrase the question slightly differently for you, Aastha, and you, Henry. Is there a way to gauge your readiness for the timed sections or do you advocate, you know, doing some timed practice right from the very beginning?
I'm going to take this one first, Henry, if that's all right. I think the most important thing is being comfortable with the material before going into timed sessions. Like if you're using 7Sage, for example, like getting through the core curriculum, in my opinion, you know, before you start doing full-length timed PTs, because in my eyes, there's really no point in putting yourself under a time constraint if you don't know what you're doing.
So once you feel comfortable with the material, once there aren't any major gaps in your understanding of the material on the LSAT, if you simply do not know how to do a certain type of game, or you always go minus zero on science passages because you just don't know how to do them, maybe then is not the time to start putting yourself under the clock.
So to get comfortable with the material, and also like Charlie said, it really is later than you think. If you're under a time crunch because of when your LSAT is, maybe do a mix of both, but if you can afford giving yourself a lot more time to learn the material, I think that's always beneficial.
Any thoughts, Henry?
Yeah, so I don't want to be the contrarian here, but I took the LSAT twice. Both of them were under, you know, a bit of time constraint. The first I studied for a month or two, the second one I studied for about four months. And I believe that once you've at least seen every question type in theory, once you've seen every type of game, once you've seen the different types of reading passages, the comparative and everything, I like to go ahead and start taking timed tests.
You know, there's a reason why everyone talks about their diagnostic LSAT and that's because it was the first time that they ever had to take the test under real conditions, and I think it's important to know what that feels like before the rest of your studying.
Absolutely, I agree that a mix of timed practice and untimed practice is important. I think you've got to be, you know, foolproofing your games. You've got to be doing your logical reasoning drills to make sure that you really understand the questions, but I personally am an advocate for starting your timed practice early, and at least, you know, doing a couple of timed sections a week, making sure that you don't get too used to not being under a time constraint. Beause, you know, the LSAT, it's about confidence and it's about speed as much as it is about knowing how to take the test.
All right. Well, let me lob a question that's so broad, it's either stupid or brilliant, and I want all of you to answer. We'll just go clockwise, according to my own Zoom gallery. So that's Aastha, Henry, Charlie. How do you get faster?
Not the most important question of them all. I wish there was like a very simple answer. You drink two cups of orange juice every day, and then you get faster on the LSAT. That doesn't exist. Obviously, practice is super important to get faster. But one thing I will say, specifically for RC at least, is that you don't have to understand every single word of everything that you ever read on the LSAT to get through the section.
Obviously, it's nice to, like, recognize every word that you ever see, but you don't have to do that. You don't have to grasp every detail to just get through the question, to look at the answer choices, pick the right one, and move on. And another thing that I would say that really helped me at least to get faster is being a lot more confident in my abilities and how much I've studied, and eliminating answer choices with that same confidence.
I have, like, a tiny little story of a client I had recently. We would go over questions and he'd make this face every time he saw an answer choice he didn't like, and I called it his "getting cut off in traffic" face, because he looked disgusted by the answer choice. He knew it was wrong and he'd sit there and he'd talk to me about it, like, is this wrong? Is it right? I don't know.
And it's like, dude, you got it. Like, you absolutely know this answer choice is wrong. Trust your gut, stop wasting time on it, and move on. And I think that's one of the most important things to get faster, is just trusting that. You've been studying, you've been working hard, you know the test, you can eliminate an answer choice, you can pick an answer choice, and you can keep it going. Those are my thoughts.
Yeah, I'll just jump in for a second. I think that, like when you study a lot, you learn how to calibrate your intuition, because when you start, sometimes your intuition is dead wrong. A lot of answers are actually designed to trap you by appealing to your intuitions.
But at some point you get good enough to sort of intuit the right answer or at least intuit wrong answers, even if you don't know exactly why, and it's really important to recognize when you yourself have sort of learned how to do that. Henry?
So I think one of the really important things is setting clear time and goals for yourself in each section, and making sure that you are making yourself meet those through timed practice. One of the big things that I always say is on logical reasoning, I want my students spending 15 minutes on the first 15 questions, you know, because those are going to be the easiest questions on the test.
You know, for better or for worse, they might feel hard in the moment, but those are going to be the easiest questions on the test, and I want you getting through those quickly and I want you getting them all right. So that then, for those last 10 or 11 questions in the section, you've got 20 minutes left. Who cares how hard they are? Who cares how long the question stem is? You know, you can get through them because you've set yourself a clear timing goal, and you've met it.
And the same goes for logic games. You know, if you want to be finishing the logic game section with minus zero, minus one every time, I want you taking single games, and if you don't finish the game and, you know, five minutes, eight minutes, however long you're supposed to, I want you foolproofing that game, even if you're getting every single question right, because the time constraint is just as important.
Yeah, so kind of piggybacking off of what Henry just said, the checkpoints are super important because if you're getting to the last RC passage and there's five or six minutes to go, a lot of times that's going to be the hardest passage and you're also going to be panicking because a lot of times there's going to be a snowball effect and it's normally not good.
Now, another thing that I assume we'll end up talking about it a little bit is the art of skipping can be a really great thing with timing. Even people that score really high have questions where you fall almost into a little state of paralysis, where you're going back and forth between two answer choices and you're just not sure.
And that can kind of have a snowball effect as well, where you start questioning yourself, having this, like, erosion of confidence, and now all of a sudden you're panicking on the question, you're going back and forth, you don't know what's what. Before it gets to that point, just move on and come back to it.
Especially, like, I'm thinking of logical reasoning right now, the questions in the late teens and twenties, I think towards the end of my study, I would almost never do those straight through because there would be one that would have some crazy stimulus and it would freak me out and I'd have to come back.
You know, because if I could stay there and do, you know, three or so minutes on it and then maybe still get it wrong. So I just found that skipping and coming back was a really good way to preserve time, and that worked for me really well.
Let's stay on that for a second. Charlie, how do you know when you should skip a question? I mean, you start doing it and then you realize it's hard? You just look at the size of the stimulus?
For me, it would just be a feeling I would get. I think you kind of just have to gauge your level of comfort with the question. And if you get to a point, I'm just going to say for sake of this, like a minute, minute and a half into working the question, where you realize that you're between two choices and you're not really getting any new info and you're just kind of going back and forth, at that point, I think people benefit from going away from it and then coming back and getting a second read.
So I think the point where you feel like you're not getting any more new info, like you're not seeing anything new in the stimulus, you're just kind of at, like, a dead spot. And maybe that's at a minute, maybe a minute and a half. Definitely, you know, move on before it hits three or something like that, I would say. But yeah, it's just a feel thing for me at least.
Aastha, Henry. What do you tell your clients about skipping strategies?
I personally am very liberal about skipping. When I get to the end of an LR section, I've usually skipped about, like, maybe a little under half of the questions in this section. What I tell my clients at least is that if you read the questions down, you read the stimulus, you read all the answers choices, and you really just don't know what's going on, like you just don't have an idea of where to start eliminating, you don't really understand the stimulus very well, at that point, I say, skip it, move on, leave it completely blank.
And then my second strategy is that if you look at a question, you're able to eliminate, like, maybe one or two answer choices, you kind of, sort of understand what you're supposed to do, but you can't quite nail it, I would bookmark that question. Still keep the ones that you've eliminated eliminated, and then come back to it at the end.
And when they're coming back to skipped questions, I always say, start with the ones you've bookmarked, the ones that you have already made a little bit of leeway on, or like a little bit of progress on, and then go to the questions that you skipped entirely.
And just to second what Charlie said, I always tell my clients that if you are spending more than a minute 15 on round one on a question, you should not be. Unless it's like a particularly super long, strange question, you really should not be spending that much time round one, because you want to get the questions that you're going to get right and you're going to get right fast, first. You can always come back to those time sinks. Those are my two general rule of thumbs.
I think the reason skipping can feel scary and wrong is that if you have spent a minute and 15 seconds on a question, like you've made an initial investment, and I know that like, that's time you've already spent, you can never get it back no matter what. But if you skip it and come back, you do have to sort of reinvest. You have to reacquaint. You're almost certainly going to have to reread the stimulus at the very least and think about it again.
So, I don't know. Talk to me about that, Henry. Is that a concern, that you sort of have to start over on the question once you skip it?
You know, first, I want to point out what you said a second ago, that you have made the initial investment on that question. And one thing that's important for us to remember is the sunk cost fallacy. Staying there and spending three or four minutes on that question, at some point, we reach a point where it doesn't matter if you get the question right anymore.
You've taken so much time away from other questions that you're certainly going to be under a time crunch later. You're going to be stressed out and you have a much better chance of missing those questions later on, especially as you get deeper and deeper into the harder questions in the section.
I also want to say each section is only 35 minutes long. Maybe it's twice that if you have accommodations or something, but it's short enough that you're not going to completely forget the question. You may come back and have to reread the stimulus just to refresh yourself, but I think you need to have the confidence in yourself that you can come back and you can look at the two answer choices left that you haven't marked out yet, and you can make the right decision.
But I think the most important thing to remember is we can't fall for that sunk cost fallacy. It doesn't matter if you've already spent a minute on it. What you're doing once you've gotten past a minute or a minute and a half is you're taking time away from yourself.
Okay, so the most important reason to skip is that you're just protecting yourself from being in a major time crunch for the entire rest of the section. And the second thing it's doing, and it sounds like Charlie and Aastha at least were getting at this, sometimes you may have new insight into the question when you come back to it, even if you're only coming back like five minutes later.
Well, how much time is too long for a question? Henry, you told me that you like your clients to do the first 15 questions in 15 minutes, but surely you don't only give them one skimpy minute per question. So how much time is too much?
On any one given question, I think the cutoff time, especially in those first 15 questions where I'm trying to get them to get through the easiest questions on the test as fast as possible, I don't want them spending more than a minute and a half.
You know, there are going to be easier questions and there are going to be harder questions. There are going to be questions that they spend less than a minute on, that they spend 40, 50 seconds on, and that does give you some wiggle room. If you have a longer stimulus, if you have longer answer choices, you can spend a minute and a half on it. But really, once you're hitting two minutes, once you're over two minutes, you are taking time away from yourself.
And again, there's a reason that I have this 15 questions in 15 minutes rule. It's so that when I get to those last 10 questions that I know are going to be longer, and I know are going to be harder at the end, I've already banked myself two minutes a question there.
How do you use your time, Aastha or Charlie, if you end up finishing the section early?
So I would have, I think I originally got this from the core curriculum, I don't remember where I picked it up, but this kind of way of gauging my level of uncertainty with any given question. So let's say I went through LR and I finished. There's three minutes left, which, that would be lucky. And normally I wouldn't have about three. It'd be like one.
But if I had two or three minutes, let's say I had starred four or five questions that I was uncertain about. I would try and go back and spend 30 seconds on each and just make sure that I felt good about what I picked. Early in my study, I would try and go back from the beginning and just review everything and make sure that I didn't make any simple mistakes.
But I found as time went on, the little review time that I would have sometimes was normally best served going back to those questions that I was not fully certain on. I mean, just making sure I felt good about those. But there is a trap that you can fall into, you know, where you look at it again and you start questioning yourself.
So you have to go into it relatively confidently, because I've had a few practice tests where I, I think, lowered my score during my little two-, three-minute review time. So there's definitely a right and wrong way to do it. But I would say looking at questions that you are not fully sure about is what I like to do.
Yeah, I pretty much agree with that. Like I just mentioned, my strategy usually when I get to the end of the section is I usually have plenty of time because I've skipped so many questions throughout. So I answer the ones that I bookmarked, because I was able to make a little bit of progress on them, go back to the ones that I had skipped completely.
And then if, after all of that, I still have time, I will usually go back to questions that I wasn't able to eliminate all of the answer choices before picking the one I thought was the right one. And like Charlie says, it's very easy to change your answer at the last minute to a wrong answer.
So usually what I do is I spend my time if I have 30, 40 seconds for these questions is trying to figure out why I can eliminate that answer choice that I hadn't beforehand, the one other than the answer that I chose. And usually I'm able to talk myself into a good reason to eliminate that one, just so I feel more confident in the answer I chose.
But especially later on in my studying, I really had to stop myself from changing answers at the very last minute, because 9 times out of 10, I would shoot myself in the foot and pick the wrong answer. In my opinion, those last couple minutes should just be a confidence-boosting, feeling-sure-about-the-answers-you-picked time period.
That's interesting that you have to protect yourself from yourself.
Let's talk about specific sections. Aastha, I believe you are in the reading comp special operations task force.
I am, I am.
Have you noticed any bad habits that just commonly suck up a lot of time?
There are a couple of them. Number one, I think, is one that I have to stop both myself and some of my clients from doing is overannotating. Like, I've had people write like full sentences for each paragraph that they've read, you know, on a piece of paper. That's a huge time sink when you're trying to get through the passage.
Or overhighlighting things, because not only does that take time as you're reading the passage, but then when you're trying to go back to the passage to find information, you're not going to be able to find it if your whole screen is bright yellow, or if you've got, like, a bunch of words everywhere. That's the number one thing I would say, is don't overannotate. If you're going to do the low-resolution summaries on paper, write a couple of words and that's it.
And then my second biggest thing, and I've touched on this a little bit, is people getting stuck on a sentence or a word that they don't understand. Especially I find this with science passages, where, you know, I'm not some bio nerd, like, I don't understand quantum physics when I get through these passages. And the great thing is I don't need to, I don't need to be like this big rocket scientist to get through these passages.
So I think understanding that, you know, if there was a word or a sentence or a concept you don't understand, that's okay. And you don't have to sit there and freeze up because you don't know how to get through the passage. You know enough, you understand how to read a reading passage that those things won't end up mattering.
And then my last biggest thing for time sinks, I would say, is if you are skipping a question in a passage during RC, I've seen people go back and spend four or five minutes at the end of that passage trying to answer that question. In my opinion, time is way better spent moving on to the rest of the passages so that you're not sinking much time in, like, the first passage, trying to answer this one question, and you haven't even looked at the rest of the test yet. But those are my big three, I would say.
Henry, do you have any rules for reading comp akin to your 15 questions in 15 minutes rule, or just any other strategies for reading comp specifically?
For reading comprehension, one thing that I've noticed people getting slowed down on a lot is the comparative passages. And that was something that I had a very difficult time with when I was first studying for the LSAT. And I think the single most important thing that you can get out of 7Sage's curriculum specifically is reading the first passage, going through the questions, reading the second passage, going through the questions.
I see people make the colossal mistake all the time of trying to read both passages and then remember in their heads, try to parse out, okay, what happened in the first passage? What happened in the second passage? Did I see this word here or here?
I think that is the single biggest thing I have for reading comprehension, because the comparative passages can be a huge time sink. They can take up so much of your time. Forget about losing time and being stressed out later. You'll be stressed out then trying to remember what you read in those passages, you know.
Yeah. Charlie, I'd love to hear if you have any tips on RC in particular, and if not, I'd love to switch gears and talk about logic games.
Yeah, I was actually thinking about the comparative passage thing too, Henry. The first few practice tests I took early on, it is really too much to hold in your head without reading one of them first and then trying to eliminate. But I think they've both covered most of what I believe about RC.
For LG, I have a similar rule to Henry's for LR, which is to try and leave at least 10 minutes each for the last two games. So 15 minutes through the first two, and then you've got 20 minutes left for the last two games. So if you can get those first two games done in about an average of seven and a half minutes each, that leaves you 10 for the last two.
Sometimes if the first game is just a simple ordering game with seven or so elements, you could even do that in like six, if you've gotten really good in them. That always made me feel better because that way you can get to the third or fourth, and if it's the infamous computer virus game or some of those games that are just like, man, who came up with this and why are they torturing us?
If it's one of those, you can have enough time to sit back, figure out how am I going to do my setup, and stuff like that. Because odds are, I don't know if it's 50% or more, but there is a chance that there will be a game that you're not quite sure how to set up. And so you want to leave enough time to where that does not freak you out. And if you're coming into game four and you've got six minutes, it's going to be tough to get that done in time.
And so, you know, you have to know when you're getting too caught up on game one and game two. And a big part of that is just the repetition of doing those simple ordering and grouping games over and over and over and over. LG is really so easy to improve because a lot of it does come down to repetition. So that's one that you can just hammer every day and slowly and slowly get better.
And do you recommend practicing a full timed section of LG every day, or just one game, or what? I guess it depends where you are on your studying.
Yeah. Towards the end of my studying, I was doing, because I had realized that LG was either going to make or break my score because my other sections had pretty much reached what I felt like was their peak, so I was doing a full LG about every other day, but I would say early on, at least some sort of drilling or something, probably not a full section every day now, but just working on those weak spots and getting fully comfortable with all the different games.
We're going to open it up to questions soon, but I want to ask all of you tutors two more rounds of questions. First, single biggest mistake that we haven't covered yet. And if it's something that we already have covered, then we can just move on.
I've got one. The single biggest mistake that I see people make in terms of timing is not being confident enough in the answers that they've eliminated. If you've narrowed down a question to maybe your final answer, maybe two answer choices, and then you start going back because you know, you don't feel great about it, and you start uneliminating answer choices, you've lost the mental war with yourself.
You can't second-guess yourself on this test. You only have a limited amount of time, and as much as we talk about strategy, knowing how to take the test, working on your timing, confidence is just as important because confidence is a lot of what is going to get you there.
And if you have read a question and you've pre-phrased the answer in your head and you see that answer exactly the way you've pre-phrased it, I want you choosing that and moving on. If you've eliminated four answer choices, I don't want you going back and deciding, you know, maybe one of them looks okay to me after all. It's I want you confident on this test.
That's great. What about the single biggest thing you can do to improve or get faster that we haven't covered yet? Aastha or Charlie?
Well, we kind of already touched on it, right? Practice is the most important thing ever, and I really want to second what Henry said about confidence. That is, in my opinion, like the number one thing that's going to get you moving through this test is just being sure of yourself and all your preparation.
One thing that I will say is timing is never something that you should take for granted necessarily. Like, you know, you've had a couple of good tests, you're doing really well with timing, something that you still need to be working on, there's always a risk of you finding yourself spending four or five minutes on a question.
And one thing that I would recommend kind of later on in your studying when you're just trying to fine-tune things is potentially taking drills of 90% time or 80% time, like trying to get yourself comfortable with doing things even faster than you need to, if you feel like you've reached a point of like, oh, I'm good. Like, I never run out of time. I'm totally fine.
You know, keep challenging yourself, drilling a little bit more, because time, especially on the day of, nerves happen, maybe you have computer issues. Like, a lot of things could happen. You want to feel rock solid in your timing by the time you go into test day.
I just want to say that we really like to hear your voices, so if you have a question and you're willing to ask it out loud, please raise your hand. We're going to call on people before we look in the chat window or the Q&A box. Charlie, any last pieces of advice?
I think just reiterating again the confidence piece, because that is such a big thing. I've already talked about it a little bit, but I think for me, the biggest mistake that I see relating to timing is the paralysis with skipping and just getting stopped up on a question, which we've kind of already covered. But it's so common and it's something that I myself would fall into even later on in my studies, because it's so easy to get into that place of just being uncertain.
And so you have to be really vigilant about kind of having like an internal clock and saying, "Okay, it's time to go. We've got to do other questions." I mean, they're all worth the exact same amount of points. And that was something I had to tell myself multiple times, because, you know, you don't get a bonus for getting the really hard LR question that was a five-star curve breaker that no one else got right. We still got a point.
They're all worth the same amount of points. All right, let's take questions. Hailey.
Okay, perfect. So my question is, I'm sure like most people, I work full-time and I'm studying, so sometimes it's difficult to juggle the two and I don't necessarily know how much time to allot to studying, because I will, you know, get in that rhythm where I'm like, I have to study this many hours on this specific day for this many days of the week. And then you kind of get burnt out or frustrated when you don't meet that goal. So what would you suggest on, you know, balancing work and studying?
I have some thoughts on this. Yeah, I think the number one thing I would advise is that you're going to do yourself a huge favor if you study consistently over studying sporadically. You know, like, it's all great to spend eight hours on a Saturday and then never look at the LSAT again for the rest of the week, but that's not going to get you as far as spending one, two, maybe three hours every other weeknight, and then, you know, a larger study session on the weekends, and you're doing that consistently.
I also will say, you know, working full-time and studying for the LSAT, burnout is very common. I don't think anybody is immune to burnout, no matter how dedicated or diligent you think that you are, right? Like, you will burn out if you do too much.
And so I think having days of the week, or like at least a Friday or a Sunday that you sit back and you don't think about the test and, you know, you live your life as a normal functioning human being, and go out to brunch with your friends, and still continue outside of the LSAT is super important.
But I think that whether you're a morning person or an evening person, blocking out some time in your day that you know you will be distraction-free, you can just sit down, you can study, doing that consistently is the most important thing, as opposed to, you know, staying up till 2:00 AM every day trying to study, and then you get three months in and you never want to look at the thing again. Those are my two cents.
Alright. I hope that helps, Hailey.
Yes, it does. Thank you.
All right. Well, good luck. Aubrey.
Hi, my question is for Charlie because I ran into some logic games timing issues my first take, and I'm really trying to avoid those again. So when you said to get through the first two games in 15 minutes, and then, say, 20 for the second two, are you suggesting to go in order, exactly game 1, 2, 3, 4, or to glance at the games and gauge your attack from there?
I'm only speaking from my experience, because I know some people like to go out of order. I found that for me, typically game 3 or 4 would be the hardest one. I know that there's probably some cases where that may not be true, but for me, by the time I've looked at all four and decided which one was the easiest, I've already burned up at least 30 seconds probably. So I would just dive in with game 1 and I would say more times than not, game 1 is pretty easy.
So for me, I advise people to just go straight through and don't bounce around. Now, if you see a game and you're absolutely stumped, and you're going to fall into that kind of state of paralysis, then you can move on to another one. But I typically don't recommend bouncing around. Some people may have other ideas, but for me, I found that it was typically best to go straight on through.
Okay, thank you. I prefer to go straight through as well.
Yeah, if that's what you prefer and that's what you're comfortable with, I wouldn't stray from it, unless you have a really good reason to, you know, like if game 2 is the computer virus game that I talked about, then definitely skip that, or one of those crazy ones. But most of the time I would recommend going straight through.
All right, thank you.
Good luck, Aubrey. Ed, you can ask your question.
Hello, my question is about a logic game. So this is for Mr. Charlie. I'm just starting off in the logic game section in the core curriculum, and my question is, doing the logic game, the issue that I'm having is being able to translate the rule into symbolic symbols, the first phase of it. So what I'm doing is just taking a bunch of questions, diagramming it, but timing myself to see how fast I can read it, and just translating the stimulus into symbols.
Now going to the question, what do you think about these approaches rather than timing down, but rather timing up, clocking yourself to see how fast you're able to diagram?
I think that's a good approach, and if y'all have anything to add, feel free to jump in. That sounds like a good approach, you know, just some of those drills, getting started with making sure you're comfortable with the rules. As you get more comfortable with that, you could start adding in some of those weirder rules and some of the conditionals and things like that.
I don't know exactly where you are right now and what things you're diagramming and all that. But I think in general, that sounds good. Logic games is really, out of all the sections, the one where repetition works the most.
So to me, it's just repetition over and over, drilling yourself, drilling yourself when you feel comfortable with the setups. Now you go to timed sections and seeing how the games are working out and just keep going. The foolproofing method really, really works, and that's something that I think we all can attest to for sure.
One thing to add to that. I think that one thing that really helped me in my studying was I would take specific game types and I would drill like two or three of them at a time, just diagramming them. And once you do that enough with a certain game type, you're going to see that they all look pretty similar, right? You're doing pretty much the exact same thing for all of these questions.
And once you can kind of drill those patterns into your head, when you go to test day or go to take a full-length PT, you already kind of know what this is going to look like, and you're already familiar with the question type. And so I think that can be pretty helpful.
While we're on the topic of games, I also had one more thing that I wanted to add, and that's that your diagram, your game board that you build for yourself, that's by far the most important part of all of this. I never want you going back and reading the game rules that the LSAT writers have written for you. I want you creating that game board such that you can get through all of the questions just looking at that.
And in fact, you know, we're talking about foolproofing. A lot of people say, "Okay, well, you know, I didn't have too much trouble with this game. I'm not going to foolproof it." If you took too long on the game, I want you foolproofing it. If you've got any questions wrong, I want you foolproofing it. And if your game board didn't look like the one in J.Y.'s video, I want you foolproofing it.
All right. Well, good luck, Ed. I hope you got some good tips there. Alejandra, you can ask your question.
Yeah, I think it was a lot touched on, but I was just kind of wondering if it would benefit to skip around questions, because personally I enjoy and I think I got most just stuff like linear games or like the main point questions or like identifying sufficient and necessary conditions. But when it comes to grouping games or quantifiers, I get stuck on that.
So I was wondering if just trying to seek out the questions that I know I have more strength towards and doing those, and then if time allows and going back to the ones that, like, if I see that a setup is going to be a grouping, that I'm like, okay, I'd rather do the linear games because I know I'm going to get those points and not waste my time on the grouping games or such, if that was a thing, or that was just kind of like, don't do that because every question is important type of thing.
I think one thing you have to remember here is that you don't have to get every question on the LSAT right. Especially if you're aiming for a 160, a 165 on this test, you can skip an entire game and still be probably fine. You know what I mean? Still get your goal score.
So if you look at a game and you say, "Okay, I know this is hard. I know this is one that's going to be a big time sink for me," it's okay to jump around. Like Charlie was saying earlier, you know, almost invariably your first game is going to be the easiest one. You're going to want to do that first. But you don't have to do every game.
And even if, you know, you are doing every game, sometimes there are going to be question types like rule substitution on a game, that you don't have to get that question every time. You can skip the last question or two questions on a game and move on. And, you know, the same goes in LR. It's okay if you've spent a minute on a question, you've eliminated a couple of answer choices.
It's okay to skip around and come back to it with a fresh head or just after you had some time to give yourself a little more confidence by going and getting some other questions right. I think it's really crucial to remember you don't have to get every question right.
All right. I hope that helps, Alejandra. We're going to move on to Rihanna. You can ask your question.
Hello. Good evening, everyone. Reading comp is my strongest area. Would you all recommend that I practice on the weaker areas? I'm just two weeks into studying for the LSAT and reading comp is kind of a breeze. I have, like, some weak areas, but should I focus more on the logic games and the logic reasoning, or what should I do?
I would say definitely focus on your weaknesses. You know, you're very early on in your studying, you know, get comfortable with LG, get comfortable with LR. But one thing I would say is don't neglect reading comp and make sure you're still throwing it into your study sessions. You know, maybe it's with a lot less frequency than your other two sections.
But one thing that I see a lot of people falling into is they'll have, you know, like games, I got games under control. Like I'm going to be totally fine. I always get minus zero. And then you just don't look at a game for three weeks. And then you go back to do it, and it's like, oh, not as strong as I used to be, because you've neglected it for so long. So definitely maybe put it at the bottom of your priority list, but I wouldn't say ignore it completely.
Great, thank you.
And I would add too, a lot of times the scoring can kind of change throughout your study, especially with logic games. I don't know many people that start out good at logic games, at least I didn't. And so it may wind up that logic games ends up being your highest. So don't let your initial perceptions prevent you from really grinding it out on those ones that are the weak points.
Because they very well could end up being better than RC in the end, because I think RC tends to be the most difficult to improve. And with logic games being the easiest, it may very well pass RC at some point. So you never know how things will change during the course of your study.
Good luck. Okay, we're going to go on to Kennedy.
I am taking the LSAT. It's kind of unexpected, but I decided to take the LSAT. It's my partner's inspiration I'm taking the LSAT, but I don't have much time to prepare. I did pretty good the first time I took it, although it was a practice test and I did go over time a little bit, but I was still able to do like the mid to high 150s, and I really just want to get to 160, 165.
As background, like I really do love standardized tests. I always have. So I don't think I have to worry about the confidence thing. I always just roll with it. You know, I'm not big on the consequences or whatever.
I just really want to know, if I have to study for this test in the course of like a month, you know, hypothetically, should I be looking at question types and trying to really like wade in there deep and understand all the different question types? Or should I just be taking back-to-back timed practice tests until this is like, you know, something that I have some kind of muscle memory? What do you suggest?
You definitely shouldn't just take back-to-back practice tests. That's one thing's for sure. You need to be drilling yourself on the material that you want to improve on in between those tests. And if you have a month to prepare, by far, the biggest return on your investment is going to be sinking time into logic games. There is a clear answer to every question if you can figure out how to diagram those right.
So what I would do if I were you, I would be practicing logic games every single day. I would be foolproofing games. I saw in the chat earlier, somebody asked what foolproofing was. I've used that word a couple of times now without explaining it.
Foolproofing is when you take a game, timed, and then you're going to go on the 7Sage website, you're going to watch J.Y.'s explanation of the game. And then afterwards, if you weren't absolutely perfect on it, you're going to take it again, and then you're going to take it again, and you're going to keep taking it until you've gotten it perfect.
And then the next day, you're going to do that again, and then you're going to set it aside for a week. You're going to let yourself forget about it a little bit, and you're going to revisit it after a week and make sure that you're still perfect on it. And if you do that, you're going to foolproof it. It's going to be foolproof and you're going to be able to do that game type every time.
So that's what I want you to be doing. That's what I would really recommend. The biggest bang for your buck is going to be trying to get your logic games up to a consistent, you know, I don't know where you're at specifically right now, but you know, aim for minus zero, minus one on logic games if you can.
All right. Well, good luck, Kennedy. Let's move on to Paris. You can ask your question.
I know you guys touched on, you know, get familiar with the questions and the question types, and then, you know, kind of Henry mentioned, you know, kind of get going with putting the timer on then. But what I feel like when I'm doing that, I still feel like I need to go slow to go fast.
What I'm trying to say is, what do you guys recommend, like, how should I do that? Like, not getting too comfortable with kind of taking my time, but also being mindful, hey, Paris, you know, you should pick up the pace. I don't know if there's a happy middle or even a magic answer to that.
So this is kind of corny, but I grew up in a military family and they had this saying that slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. And I cannot tell you how many times I heard that from my dad, but it really is true. So I think that the sweet spot, you may be right. I don't know if there's a perfect answer, but you know, let's just say for argument's sake, you're at a point where you can do RC in 45 minutes and you feel pretty good about that.
Try 43 minutes. See what that feels like. If it feels completely horrific, try 44. But just, over time, try to gradually get quicker and quicker. It does not need to be a rush. You can study and take your time, but gradually approaching that 35-minute timeframe, I think, and this was something that I did to myself at the beginning. People put kind of arbitrary limits on their study.
So when I first started, I was like, okay, I've got three months and then I'm going to be done. And then after three months I wasn't done. And so that was kind of not what I wanted, but if you wind up having to study for longer, but you get a better score, you know, to me that's well worth it. So I would try to gradually push towards that 35, but don't feel like you got to get there tomorrow. I don't know if that helped at all.
Thanks so much. I just feel like, you know, it's like a question 14 and then I'm, you know, I've read it and I'm like, okay, I have a partial understanding, and then I just, I don't know. I just want to speed up, but I just, I can't.
Don't forget about blind review, though. So, you know, you do these timed sections and you're going to feel like you're under a lot of time pressure, but then when you get to the end, you get to stop and breathe for a second, and you get to go through and do blind review and, you know, you don't know what the right answers are when you're doing blind review. You're just going through and you're making sure that you're a hundred percent confident of what you think the answer is on every question.
You know, I say I have these rules about finish each question in so many minutes and everything, but once you finish that section, you've got as much time as you want to develop as deep an understanding as you need on each of those questions when you're doing your blind review. I think it's really easy for a lot of people to say, oh no, you know, I just looked at those questions. I don't want to look at them again.
And you know, you can set them aside for, you know, an hour, a couple hours a day. But I think blind review is a really important tool for getting from where you are to where you can be in terms of timing on this test.
All right. I hope that was helpful, Paris. We've been talking this whole webinar about timing on a question or timing on a section. We haven't spoken about timing in terms of studying, but I think especially when it comes to the months that you'll spend studying for the LSAT, slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.
You just need to put in the time. There's no substitute for it. And it is going to take a long time before you see yourself improving. So patience, everyone. You will get there. Kevin, you can ask your question.
Hi, my question, I don't know if this is legal. I would like to ask two quick questions. Question number one is with respect to timing and RC. So sometimes I noticed that in the third passage, right around question, so this is after I read the passage, right around question, I'm guessing like 18, 19, 20, I'm running out of time.
Sometimes I'll have like five or six minutes, and I don't know whether I should skip and read the next passage and then try to come back because I've already read the third passage, or if I should just go ahead and finish the last couple of questions for the third passage and then move on to the fourth with maybe like four or five minutes left and try to rush it and then guess.
Or is it if I'm having a hard time with timing and RC, is it better to maybe focus on three? I've heard sometimes, you know, it's better to just focus on getting to three passages as opposed to trying to get all four and then your accuracy goes down.
And then my second question is with respect to LR, logical reasoning, and my question is what are you guys' thoughts on anticipating before jumping into the answer choices? Because I know J Y. has the target for each question, like sometimes like strengthening questions, I realize there's a million ways to strengthen this, or there's a million ways to weaken this, and I'm sitting here anticipating it and wasting 10 to 15 seconds, and then when I get into the answer choice, I'm like, obviously this. So what are your thoughts?
Special Operations Officer Aastha. Do you want to take the reading comp?
You're going to need to get me like a badge or something that says that. I would say, to answer your question, it depends a lot on what your goal score is. You know, like Henry mentioned earlier, like you can get a certain score just by doing three passages. Like that's totally possible, especially if it improves your accuracy.
As far as you're sitting on a third passage, you know, you've done a couple of the questions, I personally recommend getting through those questions, as many of them as you can, on the passage that you've already read. If you've only got four or five minutes left to do the last passage, chances are you're not going to make too much progress on that. So I wouldn't, you know, give up the points that you're going to get on the third passage by trying to move on and rush it.
Now, ideally, what I would recommend doing is sitting down and figuring out where you're spending a lot of your time. Are you spending too long reading the passage? Are you spending too long on questions? And try to practice and speed up. You can get to that fourth passage.
But, you know, if you're taking the LSAT tomorrow or something, I would say, try to get as many of the questions that you can on the passage that you've already read, because you have no idea what's coming in that next passage. So low-hanging fruit, always, always, always.
All right. And then Henry or Charlie, we also had an illegal question about anticipating answer choices or pre-phrasing for LR.
You know, it's exactly what you said, Kevin. When you have something like a strengthen question, there are going to be a million ways to strengthen the argument. And that goes for a few different question types. You know, I think it's just about practicing each of the question types, doing the core curriculum, and knowing when you really want to be pre-phrasing and when there are a million different ways to do something.
And again, like I was mentioning earlier, if you read something, sometimes there's going to be an obvious pre-phrase, especially on, you know, maybe a flaw question or something, you can see right through the argument. You know what the flaw is. That's when you're going to be confident you're going to pick the answer choice.
But yeah, if it's something like strengthen or resolve reconcile explain where you've just got a couple of statements and you don't really know what's going to get thrown in there, you know, don't worry about it.
All right. I hope that helps, Kevin. Let's go to Sarah.
Hi. So I know J.Y. actually talks about this a lot, but basically he kind of talks about not getting tripped up because there's like a lot of trap questions that, you know, they know that people tend to think one way. So my question is, do you guys have any sections or question types that you feel like people tend to take for granted or it's kind of the least intuitive thing that it kind of takes people a little bit more time than they think to unlearn the bad habit that brings them into that trap, if that makes sense?
The answer might be no.
I'm trying to understand your question completely. So are there any question types that, that people are more likely to develop bad habits on? Is that the question?
Not necessarily. I guess, like question types that we might feel like, oh yeah, I already get that instinctively, or I kind of intuitively know how to do that. And then they spend less time on it because they feel like, whatever, I already got that in general, only to be shocked later that like, hey, actually, the way you normally think about something like that is kind of incorrect, so you need to spend some time kind of fixing how you think about this.
Sarah, I'll just jump in to plug 7Sage's analytics. I know I'm not answering your question, but it may actually sort of obviate this question because if you're doing PTs, you can check those assumptions. It is such a valuable tool for understanding where you should focus. And so if it happens that you are sort of taking a question type for granted, if it happens that you're overestimating your abilities on, you know, whatever, parallel flaw questions, you'll see it right in the analytics.
I hope that helps. We're going to go to Jess.
First and foremost, thank you all for doing this, really thankful for your time. My question is, so I think someone asked earlier, so I understand that some questions you can see the gap and anticipate and see that answer choice in the list of choices, and then select and move on. But what do we do when we find the list of choices and our gap is in the list, if that makes sense?
I feel like I tend to freak out because I forget the conclusion already and all this stuff. So kind of keeping my cool is something that I could really use your advice on and how to see a new gap and select a choice that can fill that.
I think one thing is just, before you panic, before you do anything, go back and reread the stimulus. It could be that you missed one word or something was there the second time that you just missed the first time. A lot of times that second reread, for some reason, new things come up. So that would be the first thing.
And then just remembering that just because your choice wasn't there, that it doesn't necessarily mean you were wrong. I mean, there's a million different strengthening or weakening answers that they could put in there and they choose one. So just keeping in mind and not get too attached to the one that you pick ahead of time and kind of using it as a crutch, because it's very much possible that they could pick a different one, and it doesn't always mean you're wrong.
I hope that helps. We have time for only one more question, unfortunately. Melissa, you get the honor.
Thank you so much. I'm just wondering what strategies do you recommend for building stamina with RC section specifically? Like, do you suggest maybe sacrificing some unused PTs and doing timed RC sections with five passages instead of four or like two RC sections back to back without a break in between? Thanks.
I can take this one. One thing that I have a lot of my clients do and something that I did too when I was studying is when I felt like I needed a little bit of extra practice on RC, I would do this five-day RC marathon, but on day one, I would do four passages that were a Level 1 difficulty, and then on day two, I do four that were Level 2, day three, Level 3, and so on and so on.
And by the fifth day I'm doing four Level 5 RC passages, but I've worked my way there. This doesn't have to be five consecutive days, but I would say, you know, upping the difficulty as you go, getting a strong foundation and kind of those easier RC passages.
And you don't have to take them from the eighties or the nineties. Take some from the fifties or from the sixties, some of those older tests. And I would recommend doing that just to kind of get your foundation strong, build up confidence as you go. And then that last day, those four Level 5 passages, that will really test your stamina at RC.
All right. Well, thanks, Melissa. And thank you for everybody who came. I'm really sorry that we couldn't get to everybody's questions, but if you want to post them in the forum on this discussion post, I'll ask our tutors to take a look.
And, of course, if you want to work with our tutors, you can go right to 7Sage.com/lsat-tutoring. I wish all of you good luck. I know studying for the LSAT is super stressful, so remember what Aastha said about staying sane. Give yourself some breaks. Don't be too hard on yourself. You know, it just takes a long time to improve, but you will get there. So hang in there and good luck. Thanks for coming.
Hey, it's J Y again. Thanks for listening, and I hope you got some good advice that you can implement in your own studies. If you are thinking about working with a tutor, get in touch. We'll do a free consultation. You can reach us on 7sage.com.
That's it for this episode. Take care of yourself, and see you next time.
Hello, and welcome to the 7Sage podcast. I'm J.Y. Ping, and today we're presenting a webinar about study planning with the 7Sage tutoring team. Our tutors talk about how much time most people need to study, how to balance a full-time job with the LSAT, and much more. So, without further ado, here's the webinar.
Hi, everyone. Thank you for coming. I'm David. I'm a partner at 7Sage and I am super excited to be joined by four of our new LSAT tutors. They are incredibly dynamic. Behind the scenes, we were just learning about a couple more hobbies from everyone. Maybe I'll let them share it. So actually, could you all introduce yourself? I'd love it if you, being the LSAT nerds that you are, said something nerdy about why you love the LSAT, and then maybe told us something else about yourself. Britt, do you want to start?
Yeah, sure. So, hi, everyone. My name is Britt. I first fell in love with logic and reasoning in college when I began taking philosophy classes. So, I guess you could say that I was in love with the LSAT before I even knew it existed. But I truly love finding—
But I truly love finding ways to beat the LSAT and finding ways to tailor the LSAT learning process to each and every client. I'm super passionate about the LSAT and I actually kind of think it's a lot of fun and I really do enjoy helping other people. I am dedicated to ensuring that each client feels their personal best on the date of their LSAT. And in my spare time, I love dancing, singing, studying ethics, and volunteering within my community.
Nice, thanks. Scott, talk to us.
All right, then, I'm Scott Milam. I think I'm the oldest panelist here. So, I'm 37, so I'll be a non-traditional student going into law school. I've spent the past 12 years as a classroom teacher, teaching all sorts of subjects ranging from Latin to computer science or formal logic. And that's actually what brought me to the LSAT, is I decided to pursue law school and then realized that the entrance requirement was that I get really good at formal logic, which is a subject that I've had the joy to teach for about a decade now.
So again, kind of like Brittany, I didn't know that I liked the LSAT, but when I found out that it existed, it seemed like a natural fit as soon as I started working on it. Except for logic games, cause screw those things. But I'm happy to help all of you with them. But those were my big struggle as I went into the LSAT.
Can I just say that Scott's trying to pass as normal and relatable, but he's actually a total freak who scored a 180 after a month of study, Scott?
It was nine weeks. It was nine weeks.
Okay. Okay, Raphael, talk to us.
Yeah, I don't think I can match this whole 180 after nine weeks thing, but yeah, I'm Raphael. I tutor with 7Sage. I am a graduate of Georgetown University, studied political science there. Currently reside in Taiwan. What I love about the LSAT, honestly, what got me at first was just the logic games. I was terrible at them, but there's like fun about them, you know. It felt like it was doing puzzles and I just enjoyed, throughout the test, this sort of appreciation for logic, what sort of got me through my studying for it.
And it was why I wanted to come back as a tutor and I especially have an interest in, you know, working on sort of game aspects of it. You know, section timing, strategy, long-range planning for improvement. And when I'm not thinking about the LSAT, I enjoy playing chess, speed chess especially, following baseball, go Yankees, and exploring new cuisine across Taipei.
Cool. Matt, let's see if your internet works. Talk to us.
As a native Bostonian, I've got to disagree with the Yankees thing. But I'll leave that there. What I love about the LSAT? At first, I didn't love it. I was like, what are logic games? I did not get them. What I liked about it a lot is that it makes sense. You can study for it. You can learn it. There are things that probably you never thought about before, but you can learn them and figure them out. And it makes sense, and it can even be kind of fun. That's definitely what I've found studying for it.
I'm also part of the strange group of people who got a 180 on this thing. I don't know how that happened, but it involved a whole lot of studying. And when I'm not working on the LSAT, I actually work as a geologist. You can tell by my middle-of-nowhere background right now. And I love hiking, mountain climbing, learning about history and political science, and usually being outdoors in some way.
Matt, what's your favorite rock?
My favorite rock. That's an incredibly hard question, but I might go with the Vishnu Schist at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The stuff is billions of years old. It's been deformed, built up mountains, flattened again, more mountains. It's got the whole history of the world in one little rock.
You're really selling me on it.
It's worth it. It's worth hiking all the way down.
Okay, so let's talk about study schedules. And my first question is just, and I think I'll pose this to anybody but Scott, how much time do you need to study? Let's go to Raphael.
Yeah, I can get it started. I think it depends on a couple of things. The first is your diagnostic, but I guess the delta between your diagnostic and your target, and it also depends on how regularly you're going to be studying. Somebody who's studying full-time, I think, can of course compress the timeline more than someone who's juggling it with a full-time work obligation.
So speaking from personal experience, I took several months to study, but I was also studying close to full-time because I started studying, you know, when COVID hit, school had lightened a bit, and my summer stuff got canceled. One of my closest friends was studying for the test, but juggling it with work. So it was a more elongated timeline.
So I would say that the key thing is just to decide, based on your needs, in terms of your target score, how many points you have to go up and how honestly you think you can, how much time you can spend over that period.
But Rafael, you or somebody, give us something a little more concrete. Like shouldn't the average person who isn't sure how many points they want to increase, like, bank on six weeks, six months, six years, hope not six years.
Yeah. Continuing my answer, I would say that the range of normalcy is probably, three months is sort of the minimum, and I'd say the maximum is probably maybe around a year, year and a half tops if you're really stretching this out. I can't imagine less than three months, except for extremely aberrational cases like Scott's.
But I think three months really is the minimum to ensure that you're learning the fundamentals. And I think over a year, really, only if you're only studying a few hours a week.
Okay, thanks. And let's go to Scott. Scott, can you just lay out sort of the basic structure of a study plan for us? I mean, you know, where do we even start? Tell us a little bit about how it's going to progress.
When we start to create a study plan, the first thing you need to do is just get a handle on where you are at in terms of the LSAT. And we've already kind of pointed out the fact that everybody starts in a different place. You know, my diagnostic was a 168. That's not where most people start out. My study plan, as a result, looked a lot different than necessarily what I would recommend to a lot of my students.
So the first thing is to take, and really seriously take a strong diagnostic. And from there you can kind of identify, what are my weaknesses and what are my strengths? And we want to, of course, build a study plan that focuses on those weaknesses and fixes them as quickly as possible. If your weakness is in RC, you know, obviously that's the thing that you want to be spending most of your time on. If your weakness is in LR, obviously that's the thing you want to be taking a bunch of time sections on.
For me, it was logic games. I was great on those other two sections, but logic games was noticeably lower. So that was pretty much it. I foolproofed logic game for nine weeks until I could consistently more or less get a minus zero, and then I was ready to take the test.
So, again, it depends on each person, but the biggest thing I would say to any client who comes through is look at the time that you have available and then prioritize, what are my weak points and how am I going to use that time to best deal with whatever your weakness is?
Is it fair to say that you should start by ensuring that you sort of understand the fundamentals before you move on to drilling and nailing the timing?
Yeah, and this is where we get into the real particulars that are going to depend on every person. So if your diagnostic is a 165, okay, well, you probably have a good grasp on the fundamentals on most of the sections. We probably don't need a lot of core curriculum with you.
If your diagnostic's at 145, though, okay, there may be some fundamental issues just on the understanding of the logic that the LSAT uses, and so we're going to first front-load basic formal logic, and, you know, the core ideas that you really need to understand in order to be successful on the test. And then we're going to, as we go on, start drilling the actual timing and testing strategy and, you know, really kind of turning it up on your accuracy and consistency as we get closer to the test.
Britt, this is possibly a matter of opinion, but for a self-studier, you know, do you think that you should learn one section at a time, you know, spend three weeks or four weeks or whatever with RC before moving on, or do you think that you should jump around?
Yeah, so this is definitely a personal question, but my opinion from when I was studying is I found that a lot of the basics overlap in between sections. So, for example, when you are doing a logic game section, you really need to understand, okay, what goes on this side of the arrow? What goes on that side? But then again, you'll find yourself diagramming premises and conclusions when you take a logical reasoning section and you're doing the same thing.
So, in my opinion, I think the best way to start is just learning traditional logic and then starting to apply it section by section. So, for me, I probably started with traditional logic for a few weeks, then did like two weeks really, really focusing on logical reasoning, two weeks really, really focusing on games, two weeks really, really focusing on reading comprehension, and then kind of, you know, mixing and matching and trying to figure out what I was doing. But I really feel like there is no right answer to that, but hopefully that helps a little bit.
Yeah. Matt, I want to ask you about RC in particular, because I feel like it's the hardest to nail down. I mean, it's pretty obvious how you study for the logic games, right? Just learn how to make a board. It's pretty obvious how you study for LR, at least when you're starting out, right? You know, you need to learn your formal logic. You need to learn about assumptions and premises and conclusions. But, you know, I think on the one hand, we all know how to read already. And on the other, kind of like, none of us really know how to read in an LSAT way. So how do you even approach that?
Reading comp is actually one of my favorite sections to tutor for, partly because a lot of people kind of say, "Oh, it's just reading. There's no way to teach it," which is completely wrong. Reading comp is absolutely just as learnable and as teachable as any other section. Really, one of the things that I like to point out is how so many reading comp questions look just like a logical reasoning question. They're really quite similar.
It's all talking about arguments. It's talking about, what's somebody claiming? What's the evidence for it? And so a lot of those skills carry over. And we're all good at reading. We've all read plenty in our lives. We know how to read things. And so the question here isn't so much, can you understand what's going on? A lot of it is, okay, what's the argument being made? Can we break it down?
And that's really the same skill that you're using across the LSAT. And so, definitely, if reading comp is a section where you're struggling with it, I know that was the section I was trying to improve my score. I just saw, huh, I keep missing a few on here. I don't get it. And what really finally gave me that breakthrough was saying, wait, this is just like logical reasoning.
That's really helpful. I want to open this up to everybody else because I feel like I hear the most anxiety about reading comp right now. What else can we do to study more efficiently for reading comp?
Yeah, I just want to echo that I agree that people shouldn't have this fatalistic attitude that, oh, I'm born a certain level of reader. That's sort of what I get for reading comp. So there are certain through lines, I think, between the sections that can help you on reading comp.
For example, your idea of like, you know, confidence threshold. At a certain level, I'm going to move on from this question if I don't think I'm getting it, I'm going to skip it. Or I'm confident enough that I'm going to pick this answer and lock it in. That's something that you can master for LR and RC, and it's really synergistic. The confidence threshold you have for one, for the other.
Same for identifying wrong answers, you know, deciding, okay, I'm going to try to predict the answer here as opposed to do process of elimination. And if I'm doing process of elimination, here are five things to look for for bad answers. A lot of those things will overlap between LR and RC.
Sure, there's some differences, but the psychometricians have a lot of the same tricks all throughout in both those sections, that you really could find through lines across those sections, which means I think that once you know those tricks, it becomes a lot easier for RC as well.
Raphael, who were the psychomagicians?
The people who wrote the LSAT, I think they're called psychometricians. I could be getting the name wrong, but I think it's the people who write the LSAT.
No, no, no. I was just making a really stupid dad joke.
So here's another question. I know a lot of people are studying when they're in school, a lot of people are studying when they have a full-time job. How do you make it work? Do we have any tips for helping people balance life with studying? Because it does feel like LSAT studying is sort of a full-time job, maybe more than a full-time job.
I'll jump in and answer that. My study period wasn't that long, it was only nine weeks, but it was during part of the school year. I'm a full-time teacher, I'm a dad, I'm a husband. So for me, it was really important to find as much time as possible, obviously to do well on the LSAT in such a short period of time, without absolutely blowing up my marriage or depriving my child of the things that he really needed.
So for me, the big thing was to actually sit down with the various people in my life and actually create a schedule, to plot, you know, here are the specific times that I'm going to work on the LSAT and to really dedicate those as much as I would dedicate any other part of my job. Luckily, you know, I had a flexible teaching schedule. Some of those times could be during the day, in between class periods, or when I'm supervising a study hall or something like that.
But even if all you've got is weekends or evenings, bring the various stakeholders in your life in, make sure that they buy in on the plan, and if you are surrounded by the sorts of people who love you and support you, I think you can pretty much be guaranteed that they're going to help you as much as possible to make the thing actually work. But include them in the decision. If they understand why you're making the sacrifices and why you're asking them to make those sacrifices, it'll be a lot more successful.
Scott, that's such a great point.
Yeah, I can touch on that too. I took the LSAT and was studying for the LSAT while I was still in school and while I was working part-time as a paralegal. So I sympathize with all of you who have to manage your time. But one of my big things is separating, we call it separating church and state. Separate where you do your schoolwork or your office work and where you study for the LSAT.
Just having those differences, like don't mix them together. Just keep yourself focused on the task ahead of you. And then in addition to that, I'm somebody that loves making PowerPoint slides detailing my days, hour by hour. So it's kind of fun to, like, create your own slide show, like, okay, from 9 to 5, I'm going to work, and then from 5 to 6, I'm going to make dinner, and then from 7 to 10, I'm going to study for the LSAT. Just having that PowerPoint, designing it, it's like a kind of exciting part of your day, and it keeps things like fresh and fun.
First time I've heard someone talk about PowerPoint as a fresh and fun exercise.
I find schedules and PowerPoints both fresh and fun, I gotta say.
I just want to let everybody know, in maybe 5 or 10 minutes, we're gonna turn to you and ask you for questions. And we really like to hear your voice. So if you have a question, we'd love it if you raised your hand, and we'll call on you and you'll get a chance to talk to these extraordinary tutors. And if you have a question, you can go ahead and raise your hand now, but we're going to keep talking to them for a few more minutes.
Okay, so those are both really wonderful points and I'm just going to underline them. Scott pointed out that the LSAT is such an incredible undertaking that you have to get buy-in from the other stakeholders in your life, and it's going to be much easier for you if they support you.
And then Britt pointed out that it really helps when you're studying for the LSAT to make a schedule. I don't know if you have to use PowerPoint, but if you can, it's great. And I like your idea of separating where you study for the LSAT from everywhere else. So, you know, it kind of feels like its own job with its own space.
How do you know, everybody, when you're ready to start drilling? Or should you start drilling from the beginning? And how do you know when you're ready to start taking whole prep tests? Or should you just start taking prep tests from the beginning?
I guess I can speak to that a little bit. And in many ways, it is an individual thing. I know for myself, I sort of like just taking a whole prep test fairly often. I wouldn't recommend just doing that as a general strategy. That's not going to be a great way to go at it. What I'd say is I'd do, like, sprinkle in a prep test every now and again. You've been learning this stuff in the abstract. You've been learning about the theory and stuff.
See how it goes and only do that if you're not going to worry too much about the score in the beginning, because scores vary. I can tell you that I've taken this test way too many times. I don't want to look at how many, it's too many, and I know still scores vary. But definitely it can be nice sometimes where you've been focusing on, say, some ideas being logic games, and you realize, oh, okay, I can kind of do this. And before, I'm like, what is going on here?
So yeah, I'd say it's helpful. It's definitely helpful to drill sections and to take prep tests. It also kind of reminds you of what you're doing. At the end of the day, all that matters in terms of getting your score is this one test that you sit down and take.
And so it's nice to remember what game you're in, but don't put too much stake in them when you're just beginning, because you're just beginning. This is a weird set of skills that a lot of people, including me, had never seen before. So yeah, my recommendation's sprinkle them in, but definitely, it's not the only thing to focus on.
Yeah, I agree with that. I guess the thing I'd add is that I think of it in three stages. The first stage is really just fundamentals, and I think that's a precursor to drills and certainly practice tests. Stage one is you learning, you know, what arguments are, what logic is. And I don't think drilling or PTs are useful at that stage, because you're still just learning the fundamentals.
So I think that that stage can be more compressed for people who have a strong grasp of logic out of the gate. Like someone like Scott, for example, who has such a strong diagnostic, they can compress more of that initial fundamental stage. But I think that stage does not involve drills or PTs.
I think the second stage is more of the core curriculum stage when you're running through, you know, okay, I'm going to learn this question type for LR. I'm going to learn how to do sequencing games. And then I think drilling makes a lot of sense. And I think you just mostly do the drills that are included in core curriculum, right? That we've compressed PTs 16 through 35 as drills. I think that you just, you know, do those.
And then once I think you've finished that, once you've sort of exhausted the questions from the core curriculum, that's when I think you start doing PTs. The PTs really are, you know, sacrosanct and there are only a certain number of them. They're not going to produce that many more, at least within an operationally relevant timeline for you.
But I don't think you should start PTs until you finish core curriculum or until you reach the point of, okay, I'm like nailing all these drills consistently. This is too easy. I need to start doing PTs. So I'd say that's the third stage, the PT stage.
Yeah, and I'll chime in to add one thing to that. And that is, we need to remember that the PTs really don't teach you the LSAT. The PTs are a way of assessing where you're at in your study plan. And then, as Raphael pointed out, you get a limited number of those. You essentially get, you know, functionally about 60 checks on where you're at in terms of your progress with the LSAT.
So you should use those strategically, kind of keep in mind, and I would even plan out in advance, you know, here are the PTs I have, here's where I'm going to use them over the whole span, because once you've run out of them, you're really not going to get any more. And reusing them is just not nearly as useful as taking a fresh PT.
Yeah, I think when I was studying, I did what Rafael said and maybe Matt said, you know, I started with no drills. I just sort of learned about the fundamentals. And then I believe I would drill sections, but I wouldn't time myself. And then at a certain point, I also struggled with logic games. They did not come naturally to me at all. That was the hardest section for me.
And so I would start doing at least one complete logic game section every single day. And I looked forward to it. It was like my treat when I came home from work. Cause it, I don't know, it was like a fun challenge. And then at some point, I can't remember when, I would do a prep test once a week, but I didn't start doing that until I was maybe a month or two months away from the test.
What do you guys think about the pace of prep tests? Is there such thing as too many prep tests? Is there such thing as too few prep tests?
Yeah, there's, Scott, I will steal your words from you, there is definitely such a thing as too many prep tests, as Scott said, and I can say this pretty much in short. When you continue to do prep test after prep test after prep test, you're not learning anything. So you really have to do prep test, okay, line review and then really, really, really understand why the answers are right and why the ones that are wrong are wrong.
So if you take too many prep tests, you're not going to be focused on finding where you're weak, where you're strong, why the one answer's right, why it's wrong. So, as I think many of us will say, there is such thing as too many prep tests.
How many prep tests is too many or does it depend on the person? Yeah, sure, Raphael.
I think my hard and fast rule is don't do more than three per week. That I think that if you assume you need basically a day to take the test and a day to thoroughly blind review/watch the videos, update the wrong answer journal, that means each PT is a two-day process, basically. I think more than three is just unreasonable. I think even three is maybe pushing it a little bit. I was doing three when I was studying basically full-time for this, and at a certain point, I even decided, yeah, I'm going to go down to two. So I think three is just the absolute upper limit, I think.
Is there such thing as too much studying in general? Do you think, I mean, maybe it just depends on the person, but how do you know when it's becoming unproductive to put in the extra hour of LSAT studying?
I honestly think it's a personal temperature check. Are you feeling overwhelmed? Are you feeling stressed out? But if you're feeling burned out and the test is no longer feeling enjoyable at all, like I'm not saying you have to find it fun, but it shouldn't be a total chore or a thing that you dread. I think if you're feeling stressed out, that's a sign that you need to pump the brakes a little bit.
Though, like, I genuinely enjoyed the test, and when I found myself feeling like, oh, I don't want to do this, that was a sign I need to take two days off and then lighten the load a little bit. So I think it's really a personal temperature check. Don't be embarrassed to feel like you're stressed out or overworked. It's normal, even for high scorers.
Okay, I'm going to ask our panelists a few more questions and then we'll turn to the audience. So again, if you have a question, we'd really love to hear from you. We will take questions from the chat and from the Q&A, but if you can ask your question out loud, we'd love it. So raise your hand and we'll call on you. We like to hear your voice.
Talk to me about how you can taper for the test. How do you build that into your study schedule? I mean, what should the month before the test look like if you've been studying for six months? What should the week before the test look like?
Yeah, I can touch on my own personal experience. So, probably the month of the test, I was kind of doing what Raphael touched upon. I would do a prep test then really, really review it the next day. Then I'd probably really, really review it the next day. Prep test; really, really review it; really, really review it. So that'd be like my month before test day.
And then the week before, I'd probably do one prep test, really, really review it, and then I would actually just read things for fun and try to pick apart arguments in my daily life. So, for example, I would read the Economist, or I'd read these big idea books. There are these like really, really awesome books, you can get them on any subject, and I would just read those and then force myself to want to read it.
And then I would walk around and just tell people random facts about what I read, just working on that memory while reading. And then I would also just listen to people talk and pick apart their arguments and be like, oh, that was a premise. Oh, that was a conclusion. So that was kind of my week before. The week before, it's kind of just like relaxing, but also using my brain in similar logic and reasoning ways.
Any other thoughts on the week before?
Yeah, I'll talk a little bit about that. So, I mean, starting out first with the month before, hopefully by the time you're four weeks or so away from your actual test date, we're done with fundamentals, we're done with fixing major problems that you have with particular question types.
And now you're really drilling down on, you know, trying to finish bridging the gap between your blind review score and your actual score. In other words, you're trying to work on those timing strategies, those skipping strategies to really just eke out those last few points and make yourself really consistent.
So, you know, again, PTs are good for assessing that, but taking time to practice sessions on a regular basis, that's really where you're going to improve those skills, and you should go back and review them. You should record yourself doing a PT or a time practice, and actually watch yourself make those mistakes and figure out why you make them. Because at that point, you should have the fundamental ideas of the LSAT down. It's really about implementation and making sure that you're getting all the ones right that you know you can get right.
The biggest thing, though, once you get to the week or so before the test, I think it's great to take a PT seven days or so before your actual test day. By the way, you should do that in the exact same place on the same hardware on LawHub as you're going to take the actual thing, cause that lets you first check all your tech setup, but it also kind of just drills your brain into thinking, okay, this is just another practice test when you actually get to the day of.
But other than that, on that last week, no more than one or two timed sections a day, that's it. And they should probably be logic, or at least one of them should be logic games and then you can alternate LR and RC, because you really just want to keep the muscle memory there. But other than that, you're not really trying to improve in the last week. You can't improve, really, in the last week.
You just want to let your brain relax, recover from everything that you've done to it over the past month, two months, five months, six months, and kind of let all of that sort of settle into your brain and you be as rested as possible on the actual test day.
Thanks. That is super helpful. Let's turn to our audience and ask a couple of questions. So, Nancy, I'm going to turn to you first, and you can unmute yourself and ask your question.
Thank you. Good evening, everyone. So my question was a little bit about demystifying that last step in studying. So when you have the fundamentals down and you are doing that deep review, know exactly where it went wrong for questions that you got wrong.
That last final step, I feel like people have a lot of trouble with because you identify what you did wrong. And so a lot of the times we find ourselves thinking, well, just don't do it next time. Well, it isn't that a great way to, you know, move forward. So are there any kind of tips or methods that you would find, you know, effective in that sense?
Yeah, I'm happy to take that one. That's a great question. And I think that is the hardest thing. You know, people have a tendency to view mistakes as situational, one-time things that do not reflect on them as learners, anything, you know, dispositional. But the key thing is to figure out patterns, right? I think the key thing is that you need to learn from every mistake.
I'm a big fan of keeping a wrong answer journal. Every question that I missed on the LSAT I put in a Word document. I took a picture of it, I wrote out what went wrong, what the right answer is, basically just wrote out a guide to that question. It took time, but it helped me see patterns. Like, for example, that sometimes I just didn't understand the right way to approach pseudo sufficient assumption questions.
Even when I was scoring, you know, very, very high on practice tests, that was just the question type that I continued to forget how to approach. So I then rewatched core curriculum on that. But it's when you take note of the mistakes you make, you can start finding patterns, and then make it so it's less situational but more of a dispositional thing that you need to figure out.
I'll second that wrong answer journal idea. I did the same thing. I found it really useful, especially on logic games, but on all sections, even on RC. There were certain types of assumptions that I would miss, and it would turn out that I would see it later. One key to making that journal effective, at least for me, is to review it before you take a new PT. I wanted those mistakes fresh in my mind so that I did not make them again.
Thanks, Nancy, and good luck. Rebecca, you can ask your question.
Thank you, everyone. So I have two questions. The first one is that, you know, when I'm doing the core curriculum, I need different problem sets. Should I finish all the problem sets? And the second question's that, you know, I've finished all the questions and do a blind review. So should I watch the explanation video when I finish the question? Thank you.
So I guess the first question about doing all the questions, I think ideally, yes. I think that it's a manageable number in the core curriculum that I would certainly say you should do all of the LR and all of the games. I think that for me, personally, I skipped a little bit on some of the RC. In core curriculum towards the end, like the last few that were just sort of, you know, passages. I started PTs without finishing those, but I would say I did probably 85 to 90% of the core curriculum before PTs.
But your mileage may vary. I started out pretty strong on RC, so I felt okay moving more quickly on those, but I think that other people, maybe, they do want to do all the questions, but it depends on how you're doing in the drill sets.
For the second question, my view on that would be, yeah, I would watch the videos after you blind review it and you score it. Then I would see, oh, did I miss this one? Okay, I should maybe watch the video if I'm not understanding it. Basically, I'd watch the video for anything I flagged or missed is what I would do, but I would do that after you score it, following. So you take it, blind review, score it, watch videos for flagged or missed questions.
All right. Thanks, Rebecca, and good luck. Davis, you can ask your question.
Hey there, everybody. First off, thanks for being here. There's a lot of sage advice going around here. No pun intended. So I guess my question is, so I've finished core curriculum and I've gone through the drills and everything like that. So I, basically, the only things left are drills and PTs. I've been taking some PTs and taken about 10 since this core curriculum started wrapping up. I got bored of the reading comp, so I sort of fast forwarded PTs.
Anyway, I keep, I'm oscillating between like just below my target score and like the mid, like, 160s, and every single time I dip down back to the 160s, I'm missing points on a different section. So, like, one will be like, I'll miss -10 for logic games. I'll study logic games and I'll get better. But then I'll go down to like a -6 for reading comp and then the same thing for logical reasoning. I'm just like, what do I do? Which one do I choose to get better at?
I'll field that one. There are a lot of different things that could be happening there, but this is definitely one where, man, I would love to go through a video of your performance through a test and just see where the mistakes are. Cause there are a couple of things that could be happening.
It could be that the consistency in terms of what you're missing doesn't have to do with the actual section. It may be that you really do know them more or less equally well. It might be where their placement in the exam is. In other words, as you get near to the end of the exam, you're getting tired and you're getting less accurate as you go on.
If that's what's happening, then actually training yourself with putting together what I call a Frankenexam, where it's not a four-section exam but a five- or six-section exam, can really kind of train your mental endurance to be able to get through that.
You know, it could be that, depending on which PTs you're in, maybe RC is getting to be a real problem when you get into the PTs in the 70s and 80s. That was something that happened to me because those RC sections get markedly harder than the ones in the 50s and 60s. So if it's every time you're dipping into one of those really recent RC sections that suddenly RC tanks, well, you might need to train yourself in the 70s and 80s on those longer sections with the much harder questions and really drill down on why it is that you're missing those.
I think the question you need to find out and the thing I would encourage anyone who's struggling with consistency, figure out what the common factor is. It might not be a section type. It might be placement in the exam. It might be skipping strategy. It might be exhaustion. It might be, you know, something else, but figure out what that is and then you'll know what to attack.
Thanks. Okay, well, good luck.
Awesome. Thank you.
I hope you get that target score. Diane, we'd love to hear from you.
So, my best section is the logic game section, and I tend to usually go -2 when I PT. The RC section, however, is my most difficult section. What advice do you have as far as feeling rushed with that last passage and trying to make it through? Because with the logic games section, I don't run out of time. It's only with the RC section that I find myself trying to catch up on that last passage.
Hey, Matt, can you field this?
Yeah, definitely. My advice for that would be with reading comp, really focus on those passages, especially on, like, understand the passage before you go into the questions. That can be hard. You look at this giant passage and all these questions that are after it, and you're like, oh, I'm worried about time. I want to just rush through as fast as possible.
I find it really helpful to even sort of diagram, say, okay, this paragraph, what's it saying? What's the argument? And think of it in terms of arguments, think of it in terms of arguments and supporting evidence they're giving, and really get a sense for what's going on there.
In terms of timing, yeah, I mean, if sometimes you run up against the clock, somebody else said it's timing, and sometimes, you know, you do have to say, okay, I know this kind of question is really hard and I just got to get down to two or something, which is crazy and it's frustrating, but sometimes it's how the LSAT is.
But my advice would definitely be, take a look at the test. Just think, if you know usually that last one is taking a little bit longer, sometimes it is a little bit harder, or, you know, if one specific thing, like, say the legal passage is taking you a little longer, give more time for it and just keep an eye on the clock.
And yeah, my best advice if you're really stuck on something, just move on to the next passage or to the next question. And sometimes, you know, a little bit of thinking there will help. But definitely, it's never fun to be rushing at the end, so pacing is always your friend.
Good. Any other advice for Diane on this subject?
Yeah, I could say one thing. I think being well read helps when you read reading comprehension passages, just because you're more familiar with the material. So I'm sure you hear this from everyone, but just go out there, like go to the local library, be a little bit old-school, like pick some books off the shelf on different topics and just kind of get used to reading like unique and random things, and reading it to like actually understand it. And I think you'll find yourself moving through reading comprehension a little bit quicker.
Good luck, Diane.
Hey, awesome. I actually posted my questions in the Q&A section as well, but I guess I'll ask my most pressing question. So I'm curious for students who are past the fundamental stage. So they're kind of aware of generally the concepts and are maybe into the drilling and the PT stage.
What are your suggestions for how we can best work with a tutor and kind of, I guess like the term we use at work is to like "manage up," but in this case it would be like kind of helping our tutors help us. Like, would you guys have suggestions as tutors?
Anyone want to take this?
I'll tackle it. I think the first thing I would encourage you for, if you're hiring a tutor, you're hopefully hiring someone who is an expert. You're hiring someone who really understands not just the LSAT but how you can get good at the LSAT. So the first thing I would advise you to do, if you're going to hire a tutor, is meet with them and ask them what their plan for you would be.
You obviously give them access to all of your statistics. If you've been using 7Sage, you can use our Study Buddy system and they can see every PT that you've taken, but I would really challenge them to come up with a plan and explain exactly how it is that they're going to help you improve over whatever time span that you have.
And I'd listen, really with a critical ear, to see does what they're saying make sense? That's actually a core part of the tutoring program that we have here. The very first thing we do with you is a 30-minute session where we walk you through, okay, we've looked at your analytics, I'm going to walk you through exactly how we're going to spend every hour of your time that you're spending here and how it's going to help you improve. If they can't answer that, then I think you should find someone else to be your tutor.
Any other thoughts about Stephanie, how Stephanie can help her tutor? Okay. Well, Stephanie, good luck. Hi, Daniel.
Thank you so much for doing this. This is amazing. My question is regarding untimed work for students working on mastering the fundamentals. On the 7Sage podcasts, there have been past successful students who talk about the importance of untimed work. They mention how they first focus on getting the questions right, then work on time from there.
But what hasn't explicitly been explained by the students is whether they took any PTs untimed first and then introduced timing constraints after. Should untimed work strictly adhere to problem sets and drilling, or can those be used for individual sections? As David said, he used full PTs.
Yeah, I can take this one. I think that untimed sections can be really useful for full tests, especially when you're just sort of starting to take them, because when you're taking an untimed section, you really can look at it, really think through it. And when you're first learning to apply these things that you've learned, or even just learning drill sets and whatnot to an entire prep test or to an entire section, it's kind of nice to say, okay, I get this.
And then later you can work on getting it fast. Another thing that 7Sage is big on this, and I find it super helpful, it's what we call blind review. So, basically, going through, after you've taken the test, before you look at the answers and, you know, correct your test, looking through and basically circling any question that you feel less than like absolute a hundred percent on, and really thinking it through, untimed, and figuring out, okay, I think I feel really confident in this answer now, and I've taken, I don't know, 5 minutes, 10 minutes to look at it.
And that's nice because you've seen that you've done it in the heat of the moment of a timed test or whatever, and you can go back untimed and really think it through. So I think untimed practice is super useful. It was really useful for me. It's been useful for students of mine. Timed practice definitely has a big role. It's important, but don't neglect untimed. It's really valuable.
Does that answer your question, Daniel?
It does. Thank you.
Okay, well, good luck. Let's go to Ruth. You can ask your question.
Hi, thank you for offering this opportunity. I really appreciate it. I have been studying for the LSAT for over a year, and then my average score on each section is minus, like LG, LR, and RC is -5, -9, and -15. I've been studying for a year, and I really, like, I'm struggling for it. And I really wanted to improve myself but I really don't know how. I just need help. Like anyone could tell me that like a practical strategy, like how to improve myself. My goal is like 168 for the January test. I really need your help.
Yeah, I'm happy to take this one. The first step, I think, is to figure out what you think the problem is. I think if we want to disaggregate this more than just RC's not the score you want. Is it a question of your timing? Are you not finishing on time? Is it about the passage? Are you not understanding the passage? You know, getting confused, especially with denser, you know, five-star passages.
Where's the issue, you know, the questions that you're understanding the passage, but you just either don't know how to approach certain questions, like, strengthen the author's argument, or maybe you're just falling for trap answers. So I think the first step is figuring out the problem. And then from there, I think we just attack the problem.
If the issue is timing, I think the strategy is you can record yourself through every question and figure out, okay, look at my process for this one. Why am I taking so long? Or set sort of a maximum sort of top-out that you'll spend on the passage that you always try to follow within that, and then work on your reading skills to get underneath that.
If it's passage understanding, I think it's, you know, really untimed going through the hardest passages and mapping them out formulaically, and then getting it to the point where you can do that under timed conditions. And if it's the questions, it's learning the tricks they'll use, the question types, the ways they can fool you with wrong answers, to ensure that you don't have those problems, you know, crop up on the test.
So I would say figure out the problem, and it falls into one of those three buckets probably. That really should be the broad contours of your attack strategy for that.
All right. Well, good luck, Ruth.
Thank you all for your time. My question mainly has to do with progression. Like, I'm working through the core curriculum, and I believe Brittany spoke about this a little bit earlier. I'm wondering, for example, I'm working through reading comprehension. Should I focus on mastering, so to speak, like the reading comprehension section before moving on to the logic games, or should I continue through the core curriculum, and then, I guess, like, go into drilling? Should I start to attack where I think I can improve on before moving on to practice tests?
Brittany, could you field this one?
Yeah, definitely. So, to be honest, in my opinion, I actually would take the time to really master the section that I am sitting in. So if you don't feel too hot or too great about reading comprehension, it may be worth taking the time to really understand it. So just get your process to reading comprehension down.
So, are you reading it and then writing a low-resolution summary down? Are you looking to see what the main idea is? Are you looking for the author's opinion? Are you looking for changes in viewpoints? I think once you kind of get your whole little system, your whole little dance routine down within the section and you feel confident ,then go ahead and move on.
But I don't want to see you focusing on something and then just abandoning it halfway through and then kind of losing the progress that you had already. So I would just say, take your time, relax. Get your little system going within reading comprehension, and then keep moving.
All right, Tyler, I hope that helps.
It does, thank you.
Good evening, everyone. I have two questions asking you guys. Why is, I'm still at the CC. I'm studying the PSA, but I find out I have a problem, like, okay. Before I study reading comprehension, I was bored, so I jumped to the LR, and now I find out, oh, I forgot RC, okay.
And right now, I study LR, and because I feel I might've forgot the first part of the LR. So my question is, do you think I should like mix that together, like two weeks LR, two weeks RC, or two weeks LG, or I should finish LR and go to RC?
I can take that one. I think, ideally, your approach is more of a unified approach to it, that you're not just doing RC, just doing LR. I think you can have a concentration on one of them. Like I'm going to do more LR, more RC, but I don't think you should go cold turkey on any of the sections for any period, because of that issue of, you know, relapsing and not really remembering some of the stuff that you covered before.
So my recommendation would be, if you're focusing, say, on LR, maybe you go through the core curriculum, but for 30 minutes every day or whatever is a reasonable amount for you, you do, you know, an RC passage, you rewatch a video from core curriculum, and vice versa.
I think the more actionable step for you right now would be to rewatch the videos for the stuff that you're forgetting. If you're forgetting, for example, oh, what are assumptions? How do I predict those on LR? You watch a video on that. If you're forgetting, how do I approach the passage? What's the low-res method? You watch the video on that.
But I think going forward more prescriptively, what I would recommend is trying to intersperse all sections into your ordinary study routine.
Okay. I have a second question. Second one is, do you recommend me to read the comments in each lesson? I feel like once I read the comments in the lesson, it's helped me to figure out what other students' strategy to attack this problem, and also helped me to deep understandings of question.
But I spent so much time for each lesson. Sometimes I spent, look at J.Y.'s video, maybe watch two or three times, okay, for one lesson. So not only 3 minutes or 5 minutes for each lesson. Normally, I spend like 30 minutes or 45 minutes. So I really admire that Scott only used nine weeks to get 180 score. I never get that one. Okay, you know my question. Thank you.
Yeah, totally. I guess in short, I think it depends. That's sort of the lawyerly answer here, but I think it depends. If you're confused and not understanding it from the video and you want to see it in text or you want to see someone else writing it out, I would look at the comments. But if you think you got J.Y.'s point in the video, I would then just move on.
I sort of view the comments as a last resort. If I needed it in text, because for some reason it wasn't computing, you know, in an auditory sense or if I just didn't think his explanation was making as much sense to me, and for some reason I wanted to see an alternate, I would look at the comments. But if you don't feel the need for that, then yeah, I'd move on.
Thank you so much.
Good luck, Alice. Hey, (new speaker).
Hi, thank you for calling on me. I, too, have a reading comprehension question. My question is about building endurance on reading comprehension passages, especially now that it seems that the latest Flex exams are featuring two RC passages. So I find that anytime I get to the end of a passage, I'm completely brain dead, can't keep up with the details.
So, Brittany, you had mentioned the types of outside reading that you did to practice. Do you guys have any other tips for reading accurately over the long term?
Yeah, I can touch upon that. So, one of the things that you really have to make sure is you have to tell yourself, I don't care if you're reading about why grass is green, you have to tell yourself that this is the coolest reading that you've ever seen in your life, and it's going to be like the most important thing, like five years from now. That's what I tell myself. I tell myself that whatever I'm reading is the best thing in the world. And that kind of keeps you in the focus mode.
Another thing is in 7Sage, we'll talk about this, is writing low-resolution summaries. Those are just so that you make sure you're understanding what is going on in each paragraph, but also it's a really good way to kind of build the narrative of what you just read. Like, okay, paragraph one said this, paragraph two said this, paragraph three said this, let me build a narrative. That kind of keeps you focused and you remember what's going on.
And then another thing, like you said, that your endurance is a little bit low. Maybe you should find yourself reading more books like outside of the LSAT, and really reading for a longer period of time, being like, okay, what did I just read? And then maybe another idea for you would be add another, sounds like torture, I'm really sorry, but maybe add another passage, like after a section, other reading comprehension, just to build up that endurance. I know it's rough and I've been there, but I hope that kind of makes it a little bit better.
Yeah, definitely. Whatever it takes. Thank you.
It's like running with weights on your feet.
Yeah, you just gotta practice.
And also a bit on that, anyone who's working on endurance issues on any of the sections, put together a Frankentest, as I like to say. In other words, put together a version of the test that has not just two, let's put in three RC sections. Put them all in a row and don't use brand new ones. Use RC sections from prep tests that you took a month ago or something, and put them together. And if you can train yourself to handle a three-RC section plus the rest of the test, when you actually get to the real thing and have two of them, you won't even find it that stressful.
Yeah. What Scott is saying sounds like literal torture, but it will be so worth it. Don't they say like beauty takes pain?
Yeah. Beauty takes pain.
Alright, well, good luck. Let's call on Thomas.
Hi, how are you? Thank you guys so much. I had a question about a specific question type. I guess like general tips of approach or whatever, specifically the ones on logic games that'll ask you about a rule being substituted. Like if this rule is substituted for one of these answer choices, which would serve the same function? I'm not sure if you have any general tips or whatever.
You're asking about substitution equivalence questions, right?
Okay. Those are hard. I think you should definitely watch the video in core curriculum on that. But I think the general thing I would suggest is twofold, without getting too detailed on this. The first thing would just be that's a question that often I think is going to be one of the hardest or the hardest in that LG section.
I actually would always skip that my first pass-through and just come back to it at the end of the section. Because that's a real time sink. I think of that as a luxury question, right? That's a question that might cost you four or five minutes, and you very well could still miss it. But I would always come back to that at the end.
But in terms of how you actually go about doing it, I think the key thing is just thinking about, do they accidentally backdoor in new worlds that are not supposed to be there, or do they knock out allowed worlds? I would go through every choice and ask myself those two questions. Does this rule add a new world that it's not supposed to, or does this rule knock out a world that is supposed to be there?
And I think the second one is easier to see, because you can just look at your boards from the other questions that you've drawn up and think, oh, this world that exists here, would that be allowed by this rule? It's this choice. So I think it's ask yourself those two questions for every choice methodically and you'll eventually get it.
Yeah, and I'd say too, this is a type of problem where the power of educated guessing definitely comes in. As Raphael was saying, these take a lot of time and, you know, you can get a 180 on the LSAT and miss one or two questions on many tests.
These are kind of a time sink and a lot of the LSAT is time management. Often, if you get to a place where you're saying, okay, I don't have enough time on this test to completely determine this, you can often rule out at least a couple of answers as being, okay, I know this isn't the same thing. I know this won't be the same.
And honestly, if you can get down to two and you can guess in an educated way, it's a 50% chance of getting it right. That sounds funny. That's not how a lot of tests in the world work, but on the LSAT, time management is so much, and so sometimes that's going to be the way to do it. And don't feel bad about skipping it. If it's really hard, I'll still skip those sometimes. They're crazy.
All right. Well, good luck, Thomas, and good luck everyone. I just want to say, you know, the LSAT is such a world when you're studying for it, and I think it is really easy to beat yourself up and to feel like everybody is better at this test than you are, and to feel just really down about how you're doing. I very, very vividly remember feeling that way when I was taking the test.
So let me just leave you with this: be kind to yourself and be patient with yourself. You know, it takes a lot of time, and however much time you think it's gonna take, it's probably gonna take more. So just be patient, hang in there. If you're putting in the work, if you're sweating, if you are pushing yourself and you're studying in a smart way, you will improve, you will get there. So just hang in there, everyone, and good luck on this test.
And real quick, David, there are a lot of people asking if we take clients and if so, how can they get in touch with us? Did you want to address that?
Yeah, so I just sent a link to the chat window. I'll post it in the forum as well. We are accepting clients right now. You can work with any of these lovely tutors and we have even more who are just as incredible and dynamic as these four. So, if you have any questions about it, just get in touch with me. You can email email@example.com and I will be happy to answer your questions, and we'd love to work with you.
All right, bye, everyone. And thank you, panelists. You were great.
Hey, it's J Y again. Thanks for listening, and I hope you got some good advice that you can implement in your own studies. If you are thinking about working with a tutor, get in touch. We'll do a free consultation. You can reach us on 7Sage.com.
That's it for this episode. Take care of yourself, and see you next time.
When it comes down to trying to make sure that you're setting yourself apart, the best way to do that is by being your genuine, authentic self, by making sure that throughout your documents, different facets of you are coming through. That your perspective is very clear.
Hello, and welcome to the 7Sage podcast. I'm J.Y. Ping, and on today's episode, admissions consultants Tajira McCoy, Christie Belknap, and Jenifer Godfrey of 7Sage host an Ask an Admissions Consultant Clubhouse room for law school candidates. Tajira moderates the panel, inviting the audience to inquire about the admissions process, specific documents, timing, and application strategy. So, without further ado, please enjoy.
Well, good evening and welcome, everyone. I'm Tajira McCoy, but you can call me Taj. I'm a professional writer and law school admissions and administration professional. For 10 years, I worked in law school admissions at four schools, spanning public and private institutions, including two Jesuit schools, a T14 school, and an HBCU. Most recently, I served as the director of admissions and scholarship programs at Berkeley law and the director of career services at the University of San Francisco School of Law, before joining 7Sage as an admissions consultant and project manager.
Tonight, we have a fun conversation planned for you. It's all Q and A. Tonight's panelists, my colleagues and I, represent 7Sage. For those preparing to apply to law school, 7Sage offers LSAT preparation, admissions consulting, and editing services. If you visit our website, 7sage.com, you can create a free account, which gives you access to some sample lessons, an LSAT prep test, and a hundred question explanations.
The free account also gives you access to our discussion forum, where you can ask questions about the admissions process, hear from others who are currently in the process, and learn about other events we have coming up. You can also follow us on Twitter. Our handle is @7Admissions with an S at the end.
The three of us on the panel are admissions consultants and have worked on admissions teams at various law schools across the country. Let's go ahead and get started. So for my panelists, I'm going to ask that each of you please introduce yourself, share which schools' admissions teams you've served on, and then I will go ahead and set the room as far as asking questions. And so, Christie, why don't I start with you.
Hi, everyone. My name is Christie Belknap. I practiced law in New York City for 12 years, and during that time, I worked as an associate director of admissions at Cardozo Law School. And since then, I've been an admissions consultant at 7Sage for the past three cycles. Thanks for joining us.
Great. Thank you so much, Christie. And Jen.
Hi, everyone. My name is Jen Godfrey. I have served in pretty much every region of the country in terms of law school admissions over the course of about a decade-long career. But my most recent position was assistant dean for admissions and scholarships at the William H. Bowen School of Law in Little Rock, Arkansas. So, super happy to answer any questions that might come our way tonight.
Great. Thank you, Jen. To set the room as far as our Q&A session, this entire hour is meant to be a Q&A session for you all. If we find that we're a little light on questions, don't worry, I have some prepared. But to start, we're going to ask that people limit themselves to one question, no follow-up questions, so that we can get to as many people as possible. However, if things slow down, I'll invite those who have asked questions to return for another round. If we have more questions than time allows, I encourage you to ask them on Twitter using the hashtag 7SageonCH for Clubhouse.
And to give you a preview, we have another event scheduled for next Wednesday, which will feature both admissions consultants and some of our professional writers, who are going to discuss brainstorming different law school admission statements. So make sure if you're not already following Club 7Sage, hit that little green house towards the top of the page so that you can follow the Club 7Sage and be pinged whenever we have new events scheduled and/or starting.
And so with that, I invite people to begin raising their hands, and I will call on people one at a time. I'll bring people up to the stage one at a time. You've got one question you can ask and then we'll move to the next so that we can make sure that if everybody has a question, they have an opportunity to be heard.
Okay? I'm going to start with, I believe we've spoken before. Is it Tanisia?
Hi, yes it is. My quick question is, what are you guys's opinions on letters of recommendation that are longer than a page, so about a page and a half?
Great question. Christie?
So I would say that, generally speaking, we want, admissions officers are reading through a lot of files and I guess the thing is, and sometimes scary thing for applicants is that typically, admissions officers spend about seven minutes per application. So, that said, your letters of recommendation, we generally recommend they be about a page. I mean, if it's a little bit over a page, that's okay.
I guess it also depends if it's, you know, fully packed and you just want to make sure that it's substantive and you're not overburdening an admissions officer with too much information. So, generally speaking, a page, a page and a half is probably okay, especially if it's glowing. Yeah, that would be what I would say.
For me, I find recommendations to be highly scannable, so the length of them never really puts me off. Granted, I say that, but I've never encountered one that's five pages or anything, but I honestly would rather see one be a page and a half.
And I feel like, okay, they've really hit it with their best shot to share what they know and admire about this candidate, rather than see something that is very brief, you know, like a single paragraph is not very helpful. And we usually see those sorts of letters when the person really doesn't know you that well.
Thank you, Tanisia. The next question is going to be from Dominic.
Hi there. I was wondering if there's an amount that I could add to my GPA, it's a STEM GPA, right? So if I'm putting it into a calculator, I think you guys have one, it's like a 3.3 normally, but I've a STEM GPA, is there now like adding like 0.2 or something?
Go ahead, Christie.
So there's not something that an admissions committee would automatically add, but they definitely take into account the fact that your classes are all STEM classes or what your major is. It's not unusual at all for a STEM major to be, you know, for STEM students to have lower GPAs, and that will definitely be taken into consideration. And also maybe a little bit different than many of the applicants who have more of a liberal arts background.
Did that answer your question, Dominic?
Yeah, I was looking for kind of a number, but, you know, definitely answers it.
Yeah, we don't actually add numbers to GPAs ever, so that's not something that's done, at least not in the admissions practice, from what I've seen. Okay? Thanks so much. Go ahead, Jen.
Honestly, I feel like when you get into attaching these numeric values to things, it really pigeonholes an admissions committee's ability to evaluate holistically, which is the aim of all law schools. So, honestly, you know, be careful what you ask for. But I will say, with STEM majors, a lot of times we are expecting a little bit lower or accepting of a little bit lower GPA.
But admissions officers will take a look at the transcript and see for courses where, you know, your English courses, your intro-level English courses, anything that might have had a heavy writing requirement, or if you took anything that typically has essay exams, like if you took a political science elective or something like that, they will look to see what the grades are in those courses to see some indicia that you write well despite the lower STEM GPA.
Thanks for your question, Dominic. Moving right along, we have, is it Somia?
Yeah, my name is Somia. Thank you guys for speaking with us today. I actually have a really quick question. So I guess because of COVID, it's been really hard to find a professor that I could ask for a recommendation, and then like the professors that I do have in mind, I've had them, I think, two, three years ago. So do you think it's even worth asking them? Because I'm not even sure if she'll remember me after this long. Or do you think I should ask my job manager or someone else?
Are you just two years out of school?
No, I'm actually a senior this coming year.
The expectation is going to be that you have academic letters of recommendation. Even if you do get a professional letter, schools are still going to expect one to two that are academic in nature. Two years out isn't that long of a time to reach back to a professor and kind of refresh their memory. And you can do that by reminding them what kinds of projects you worked on, how you performed in their class, perhaps if you visited during office hours, et cetera. For professors that you had during COVID or that you currently have, it's still not too late to be connecting with professors if you're not actually done with classes yet.
Okay, thank you.
You're welcome. And next is Nathan.
Hi, everyone. Can you hear me?
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. I'm a doctoral candidate in history currently, and I'm applying for law school primarily, or a big reason I'm applying is because I'm interested in joining the legal academy, legal academia. I was curious if in reviewing applications like this, there were particular pitfalls or points of emphasis that you all have seen in the past that I should be wary of or focused on.
Are we speaking specifically about a certain part of the application, or just in general?
I guess I would, personal statement-wise, or just in general, yeah.
Jenifer, would you like to tackle this first?
Sure. I mean, that's a bear of a question, Nathan. I think that a lot of times it can be, you have to have a really good justification in terms of when you're writing in a personal statement about your ultimate career goals with the law. They really have to make sense. So if there's nothing on the resume, for instance, to show any experience with finance, and you're like, I'm a corporate lawyer or bust, the admissions committee gets kind of like, yeah, well, we'll wait and see.
So with you having the goal of ultimately being a part of the legal academy as a scholar, the PhD really plays well. And so speaking on your experiences and your training and your education thus far, and tying that to your goal of ultimately wanting to pursue a professor lifestyle, I think would make a lot of sense for a candidate like you.
Anything to add, Christie?
Well, so I guess I would just say you had mentioned the personal statement. So if you know you want to go into academia, that would be a great way to, I'm not sure what you're going to focus on, but it'd be a great way to say, "And this is what my goal is," if it's not totally clear in your resume or elsewhere in your application.
And I think, generally speaking, pitfalls in general would be not necessarily spending enough time with proofreading or not answering a question directly when it comes to a prompt that's given. Those are not uncommon things. We see a lot of times where people will leave experience off of their resume, thinking that we don't want to see it. That would be another pitfall.
So there's a lot of different ways that people can kind of inadvertently shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to their applications. Not being as candid as they should be, not providing context when they can. And so there's tons of ways that pitfalls can be created, but if you kind of take your time with applications and really put forth a thoughtful package where you're looking at how each of these different pieces of the application impact each other, you should be on the right track.
Thanks very much.
Thanks so much. Moving on. Is this Tasia?
Thank you, guys. My question is about, I would consider myself a nontraditional student, working since college for about four years as a paralegal. You know, in life you go through things that's just... how can I set myself aside from the rest of the applicants? Do I speak towards my professional development, experiences I had as far as that, or by settling that with the diversity statement?
I think it's all of the above, honestly. When it comes to you being able to tell your story, no one else can tell your story but you. When it comes down to trying to make sure that you're setting yourself apart, the best way to do that is by being your genuine, authentic self, by making sure that throughout your documents, different facets of you are coming through, that your perspective is very clear.
Your personal statement can talk about parts of your professionalism or something that impacted you or something that helped put you on the trajectory that you're now on toward law school, while your diversity statement can get more personal and into your family dynamic and into, you know, what it is that's driving you forward, what's motivating you, what you're passionate about, that's a part of your identity, that's also a part of what's moving you forward.
And so, like, if, as I was mentioning with Nathan, if you kind of think about how all of these different pieces of an application fit together, then it's almost like a puzzle. And the more clear the picture is when all the pieces are together, the better your chances are. Does that make sense?
Okay, great. Thank you so much for joining us. Our next question is from Aaron.
Oh, hello. My question's a little bit, I guess, a little bit long, but it's kind of, kind of like Nathan's question earlier. So, one of the reasons that I want to go into law school and pursue a career in law is because of my father's incarceration, how it affected my community and my family, and the other one's a mix of mock trial and undergrad, and academically, I have a lot of interest in the field.
But how much is too much on, like, my father's incarceration side, because I'd like to explain that thoroughly, but I really don't want to come off as a sob story. And it's a very difficult thing to do. And whereas I've spoken to professors about it to try to see, like, if they can read over my personal statement to see if it's a little bit too much or too, or not a lot, but as former admissions counselors or former admissions board members, you know, what would y'all consider too much or too little?
So, on behalf of my colleagues, I'm just going to put this out there. When it comes to the "sob story," I guarantee you that that was some applicant that came up with that catch phrase, because when it comes to actually going through and reviewing admissions applications and reading your stories and learning about you and what you've been through, none of us are looking at these things as sob stories.
We're looking at these as opportunities to get to know you and who you are. When it comes to sharing a part of your family history or something that you're wanting to impress upon us, the important thing to do in a personal statement especially is to make sure that even if you're telling us a part of your dad's story, you make sure that you bring it back to you so that we still get a sense of who you are in relation to these circumstances and in relation to what happened, because at the end of the day, it's you that's applying to law school.
So I need to get a sense of what is driving you to law school and what's moving you forward. And that's a pitfall that a lot of people fall into. They'll talk about someone in their family who maybe pioneered something. They'll talk about someone who, you know, has been such an inspiration to them. They'll talk about a mentor. And then all of a sudden that particular candidate gets lost because they've used two full pages on that person and only left about a paragraph for themselves.
And so I want you to make sure that you find a right balance when it comes to really giving us a sense not only of what your story is, what happened to kind of drive you to law school, but also what it is about you that's going to really move the needle forward. How are you going to be successful? How are you going to get through when times get hard? And so make sure that you find that balance for yourself as you're moving forward.
Okay, thank you.
Thank you. And so the next person on the list is Mahie. I'm so sorry if I'm butchering your name.
Hi, my question is I've heard admissions counselors say before that they prefer applicants to take the LSAT only once, but as someone who's taken the LSAT multiple times, how can I convey to anyone who's reading my application, maybe the reasons for taking it multiple times are how I felt like I improved? Is the addendum a good way to do this, and do you have any advice as to going about doing this?
Great question. Christie?
Yes. So if there are different reasons for why you improved drastically or why you took it multiple times, the LSAT addendum would be the perfect place to explain that. And you want to be factual. You don't want to come off as making excuses for your different performances. You just want to tell them what happened. But yeah, the LSAT addendum would be the appropriate place to do that.
Great. Was that helpful, Mahie?
Yes, it was. Thank you.
Thank you so much. And our next question comes from Sasha.
Hi, thank you so much for taking the time to do this. So my question is, I applied last cycle and, like a lot of people, I wasn't successful. And so my question is, when you look at reapplicants' applications, what are you looking for, and what can people do to make themselves stand out the second time?
That's a great question. Jen?
If you're applying to the exact same school, I think that you really want to use that as an opportunity to have a fresh take on the personal statement, because a lot of times schools and committees are looking to see what you actually changed if they see that you're flagged as a reapplicant.
So in many ways, they're going to give a little skim to that previous application. So you kind of get twice the real estate. So don't waste it by only adjusting like a paragraph or something. I think try to take as fresh of a take on the personal statement as you possibly can. In my opinion, I think that's a good way to go.
I also think you have to dedicate some real estate, whether it be a short addendum or a short piece of the personal statement, to really outlining kind of what you've done in the past year to basically improve yourself and make yourself a more viable candidate for law school.
Does that help, Sasha?
Yep, absolutely. I'm taking notes. Thank you.
Excellent. Thanks for joining us. Our next person is Supria.
Thank you for taking my question. Can you hear me?
Hi, cool. Yeah. So, thank you, first of all, for doing this. I've been following 7Sage for a bit and everything you all do is very helpful. My question is about applying early decision. I know that a couple of programs have scholarships attached and others don't. But it's kind of unclear whether there's sort of a "bump" in terms of your likelihood of being admitted if you apply ED the way that there is in undergraduate admissions, or if it's kind of just another way of letting the school know that you're very interested in them. Thank you.
Thank you for your question. I can tell you specifically, because I worked at UC Berkeley, when it came to our binding early decision program, it did not increase anyone's chances. The acceptance rate in the early decision program was almost completely identical to that of the regular pool. It did help us get a sense of who felt like Berkeley was absolutely their number one first choice, but it didn't necessarily increase chances. Does that help?
Yes, that does. Thank you so much.
You're welcome. The next person is Rachel. Hi there.
Hi, thanks for answering our questions. So I have a gap in my resume, specifically my education, and it is because of a medical condition, the onset of the medical condition. And I'm wondering whether it would be better to discuss it in an addendum or discuss it in a diversity statement, since now that it's managed, it's a condition that I live with.
So I feel like it affects me in that way. Or if there's a way to kind of combine both, like an addendum-type explanation and a kind of diversity impact in one statement and where to put that. If you have advice on that, that'd be great.
So I think you, if it's something that continues to impact you and something you feel would add, you know, first of all, I do think it should be addressed either in an addendum or in a diversity statement.
And as to where, it really depends on whether, does it explain why you were on the trajectory that you're going on? Does it help explain something about your background that just shows another side of you? If it's more just a factual thing, there was a gap because I had to take a few months or a semester off from school and, you know, it affected my grades in this way, or that's more factual and would be in an addendum.
But if it's something that you feel explains or just impacts you further, then I think it is more of a diversity statement and like how you continue to manage it, deal with it, and how it sort of fills out some other aspect of you that is not clear elsewhere.
Okay. That's helpful. Thank you. Yeah, it definitely is the latter. It was a few years' gap that I have, though, so I'm just, I just wanted to make sure that it won't be looked at as how come I have not addressed it in an addendum?
Yeah, that makes sense. If it's a few years, yeah, I would definitely, maybe it's more than just an addendum.
Right. And given the length of time and that it was during school, there might also be a location on the application where you answer parts of that. So just make sure that you keep a look-out. Once applications open on September 1st, different schools ask about gaps differently, but typically, when there's a gap in education, there's a specific question for that and space on the application to kind of give a short answer as well.
Wonderful. Thank you very much. That's very helpful.
You're welcome. Thanks for joining us. Our next question comes from Sophia.
Hi. I was wondering if you guys could talk a little bit more about the rolling admissions process and specifically, how late in the cycle is considered too late? For example, if I was going to take the October, the November LSAT, would that be considered still like a late application or what do you think the trade-off is between waiting to send an application versus maybe taking the LSAT one more time?
Well, earlier is always better in terms of rolling admission. However, if the LSAT puts you to where you're at the 25th percentile or even below for a school, being early is probably not enough to overcome that, and certainly retaking the LSAT is in order. However, once you register to take the LSAT, you are automatically flagged, and all of the schools that you have applied to will see that you have a future LSAT and when that is.
Many schools, not all, pretty much will process you as much as they can go. And then they're not going to move any further on you until they see the new LSAT, unless they already know they want to say yes. So you could always just go ahead, get your application sent in, register for the LSAT, and then just be in communication with the admissions office about whether you need to say or do anything in addition to just the flag to ensure that your application is enacted upon until your LSAT score is available.
Okay, thank you so much.
Thank you, Sophia. Our next question comes from Kashif. Hi there, yes.
Great. Thank you so much for doing this. Well, I had a question about addenda, which is a lot of schools only have two slots for addenda, but if I want to write a GPA and LSAT addenda, can I combine them into just one of the slots and use the other for a diversity statement?
Well, can you combine an LSAT and a GPA addendum into one addendum? Yes. Can you use the other slot for a diversity statement? That depends on the school, and you want to make sure that you're really following instructions. And so if a particular question allows you to upload a specific document, and then that's the only one that's stated, I would not upload something that's contrary to what their instructions say.
Typically, for a diversity statement, that would be under optional statements. There are a small handful of schools that don't accept diversity statements, and so you're going to want to clarify with that particular school what their preference is.
Yes. Thank you.
Thank you so much. So the next question is from, is it Sherry?
Yes. That's right. Thank you.
Yeah, thank you for hosting this. I have a quick question. I've heard before that if you have work experience after college, it's good to, in addition to receiving an academic recommendation, also one from your boss or somebody that knew you at work. I just heard that advice for, I think, somebody that had been out of school for a while, so it made more sense.
But personally, for me, by the time I apply, I'll have been at my current job for two years. Would it be important for you as a consultant or for an admission officer to see a letter of recommendation from my work or is it kind of less important than an academic one from back when I was in college a couple years ago.
So I would say that, so for, I think all, most, maybe all schools, at least one academic recommendation is required, generally speaking. I mean, it depends on how long have you been out. You've been out for two years. It would be nice to see a professional recommendation, but definitely not required. Whereas a second letter, academic letter of recommendation would be welcomed, if that makes sense.
Yep. That makes sense. Thanks so much.
Thank you. And the next question comes from Casey.
I hope all is well. My question is, I just wanted to know, how can I bolster my application as a nontraditional student, where I went to community college for two years, and then I transferred at a university and then I graduated the next two years. So I was just wondering if that all, if I should mention that on my application or if I should just focus on the latter two years of my college.
Is it the community college that's making you nontraditional, or is there something else?
It's the community college that makes me a nontraditional student.
Well, I think that your transcripts that will be featured in your CAS report will tell the story of how you came to getting your bachelor's degree. So they will see that you came from community college and transferred, but that doesn't tell the story of how that impacted you and maybe any adversity that you faced in having, you know, experienced your education in that way.
If that is a story of yours and that was very impactful, then by all means, tell it in another place in your application. But I don't think that it needs to be explained. Many people go through the community college system, but if there was something about that that really left a lasting impact on you and is motivating your desire to go to law school and it's relevant, then by all means, tie it into some sort of statement that is in the written portion of the application.
Yeah, I think I'm, I was kind of stuck on the nontraditional portion because to me, if you went from high school to community college to university, that's not actually a nontraditional route. If you had taken several years away before you went to college, or if you had a whole other career before coming down this path towards law school, I might be looking at you as kind of a nontraditional student, but as Jen said, it's so common to see people go through community college.
That's not really something that I would consider nontraditional, but if there's something about that experience that has really stuck with you and impacted you in a way, then that is something that I would want to hear about. Does that make sense, Casey?
Yes. It makes a lot of sense. Thank you.
Thank you so much for joining us. Our next question is from Matthew.
Hi, thank you, everybody, for asking all of the previous questions. All these answers have been incredibly insightful. So one of my questions is as a splitter, since you, I specifically will be a higher LSAT, lower GPA splitter. And I was wondering if there, like, what other factors on the application might potentially raise red flags in regards to an acceptance, for example, if I have a misdemeanor charge, will this be something that, since I'm already coming in as a splitter, might potentially take me from an acceptance to a waitlist or even a reject? Does the question make sense?
Yeah, your question makes sense. So I think what you want to make sure when you submit your application, first of all, you answer all the questions truthfully. You want to have explanations for the lower GPA, and you could do that in your GPA addendum. Maybe that's related to the misdemeanor in some way, or maybe not. You don't want the admissions committee to have questions. You don't want to leave them with questions after they've read your entire application and all your written materials.
So, yeah, that would be my advice. Just make sure, you know, for the different things that you see as weaknesses, they may, if you have a reasonable, factual explanation, they may not be as bad as you think they are.
I'd just like to add, I totally agree with Christie, but I would like to add to that the consideration that is paid to the character and fitness portion of the application is not going to be influenced by whether you are a splitter or not.
You could be above the median in both regards. If it's a character and fitness issue that is serious enough, a law school may not accept that applicant. So I don't want you to feel like a misdemeanor is going to count heavily against you just because you're a splitter. It may not matter that much, especially once you're able to justify the reasons, but that combination, it doesn't matter.
You could have exceptional numbers and a misdemeanor and you would get the same consideration. So, you know, don't beat yourself up about being a splitter or, you know, having a past. Just be confident in what you put forward in your application.
Does that help, Matthew?
Yeah, that's incredibly insightful. Thank you so much.
You're welcome. Thanks for joining us. Okay. Moussa.
Hi, I have a two-part question. I was entered on a waiting list and I was wondering what would put someone on the waiting list? Like, is it like Matthew was saying, if someone's like a splitter or is it something, oh, you guys just think this person's almost good enough? And what's more important when you guys are looking at applications? Is it like the LSAT or the GPA, or is it like a little bit of both?
So, I mean, the age-old answer that you're probably going to receive across the board is it depends. When it comes down to how things are weighted, it depends on the school, it depends on their goals, it depends on the priorities that have been set forth by their university, their dean of admissions, the dean of the law school, et cetera.
When it comes to a decision to waitlist someone, it depends on, yes, it can depend on the credentials, but it can also depend on the writing. It can depend on how much space is left in the class. There's a lot of factors that play into these decisions and depending on when you apply and when the application becomes complete and what the application is comprised of, that decision may vary depending on when the application is submitted.
So I didn't actually answer either of your questions directly because there's not actually a direct answer I can give, because it really is going to depend on any number of factors. There's no one reason why something lands on the waitlist. There's no one reason why or what would be weighted more heavily. Each school is different. I've worked at five different schools and all of them reviewed admissions differently.
I hope that that helps you a little bit, at least to understand some of the considerations that we're thinking of, but there's no direct answer to your questions.
So, okay. What if this is a little bit clearer? Like, is ethnicity something that's looked into just as much as LSAT score or GPA, because I see that there's a lot of schools post their percentages of like culture or ethnicity of students or, I don't know.
Yeah, I wouldn't think so, but Christie or Jen, if you've seen a situation where that mattered more than LSAT or GPA, can you speak up?
I haven't seen a situation like that. I think what it is is that we're valuing pretty much all the different, that's what holistic review is about. You're looking at all of the different characteristics and not really assigning any weight to any one thing. You're looking at total package of that individual, but then also total package of the community that you're trying to build.
What's the personality of this class? What are their life experiences been? What mix of worldviews do we have? So you can't have that with having exactly one carbon copy, this is the student we're looking for, because if we went by a checklist with points, and if it's this, this, this, and this, you're in, you get a class that looks exactly the same. And that's exactly what law schools don't want.
I would just add one more thing. Unless things have changed drastically since I worked in admissions, I mean, the numbers do matter. So I would say, and this is just a general, LSAT, GPA would probably be, you know, 70 to 80% of your application. And then all of those other soft factors definitely come into play. No one is making decisions based solely on the numbers, but the numbers are important.
Thanks for joining us. Okay. Michael.
Hi, thank you all for doing this. I worked a full-time job during all four years of college to support myself. I'll be graduating as a senior this year. Is that something that I should include on my resume, a personal statement, or maybe like an economic diversity factor?
Go ahead, Christie.
So I would say definitely include it in your resume. You know, people sometimes think, well, in college, I did these, I can only list my extracurriculars, clubs, other types of activities like that. But I always think that work experience during college is important to list. And yes, you can also include it in a diversity statement. I mean, if that was the reason you were working all four years of college, because you needed money to go to college, that can be something that's very impactful, and you could discuss your upbringing and your background and why that makes you have a different perspective or a unique perspective.
Perfect. Thank you.
Thank you for joining us. So our next question is from Shamiha?
Yes. Hi, thank you so much for having this room open. So my question is related to addenda. I was wondering if it's possible to have too many pieces of addenda. So I'm planning to write basically a GPA addendum. I'm also, I have to also submit a character and fitness, and I'm wondering if it's, for the LSAT addendum, if it's more required or optional. So I do have a 10-point difference in between two of my scores. So I was wondering, would I need to submit an addendum for this, or is it more optional?
For a 10-point difference, I would recommend including an LSAT addendum just because then you have the opportunity to tell what you did differently and highlight progress. A character and fitness statement is not an addendum actually at all, because it's a required document. So we don't look at that as an addendum.
Okay. I think that's about it. Thank you so much.
Thank you. We've got two questions left. The first one is from John.
Hi, thanks for taking the time to speak with all of us. My question was fairly brief. It's just, as far as the timeline goes, would you have an idea of when schools typically state the current, the new, this coming cycle's personal statement topics, if there are one? Thank you.
Usually you're just going to see that type of information once the application itself opens. Most of those are on September 1. A lot of times, though, however, a good indicator is what was asked in a previous year. And a lot of schools are going to place the previous year's application on their website in PDF format, just for you to look over. Also, of course, read the How to Apply section of the website of schools that you're interested in. Many of those sections will tell you, you know, the nuts and bolts of all the pieces of what goes into putting together your application, and sometimes you will see prompts listed there as well.
Thank you, John. Okay. We have reached our final question of the evening. Ryan.
Thank you. Thank you so much for giving the opportunity to, listening to everyone's questions. I just had a, sort of wanted to assess my, so basically, I'm definitely going to be considered a splitter student when it comes time to send my application in. I won't go into the specifics, obviously, my statistics and everything, but I was in a very, very rigorous STEM major, and my university was one of the, it's definitely one of the most, like, on like the top public universities.
And I graduated about a year into COVID. And for the most part, the reason for my academic performance largely came down to having a lot on my plate and my involvement in many different clubs and activities on campus. I wasn't joining things sporadically. For the most part, I was fairly consistent in my extracurriculars and a lot of diversity in that aspect, but really just having my hands in a lot of things made it pretty difficult to really devote the time necessary to really succeed in such a difficult major.
But then during COVID, really, when all of those obligations sort of went away, I had about a year left of school and my academic performance improved significantly, really because I had nothing else to do but my studies and focus on doing really well. And it was a very drastic sort of improvement. But even still with that, it'll definitely categorize me as a splitter student. I was just wondering, is that something I should even mention in like a GPA addendum considering like any of this?
Well, I think, you know, the important thing is, do you want to give an admissions officer context, right? Like, so if you know that they're going to be reading through your application and you think that they're going to have questions about your application, it's important to think of it in terms of do they have all the information that they need to say yes? And so if you, if they might need context to get to yes, then you should give them that context.
Okay. Meaning if they were curious as to maybe why there was a, my academic performance was not as proficient in the earlier years, but then there was a sudden upswing towards the last year of college.
Right. Because if you're in college for four years and three of those years, the grades aren't great, what was the reason? Right? Like, because like the majority of your years, you have shown a certain type of performance. Only the final year is showing that strong performance. Which one is going to be reflective of your abilities in law school?
I see. Yeah.
Does that make sense?
There really wasn't, yeah, definitely, yeah. There really wasn't any incidents, like I know, unfortunately, you know, a lot of students go through some crazy hardship that like reflects poorly on their, maybe they couldn't focus on something, but there really wasn't like an event in my life that caused my performance. It was really honestly just—
You were overcommitted.
Definitely. Yeah, it was just a lot of commitments I had and it was difficult to really just lock down and be at the top of my class or anything like that.
Well, I think as long as you tell the truth, you know, and you say like, you know, this was my situation, I was involved in a lot of things. I took on leadership roles. I did X, Y, and Z, right? The pandemic hit and I wasn't able to participate in those things, so I really kind of focused. I like hunkered down and I was able to perform a lot stronger.
It would be to your benefit to then make a statement that's kind of like, "Moving forward, this is the work ethic that I would utilize while in law school," so that they can kind of tie that to something and say, okay, well, moving forward, how is he going to be? Is he going to revert back to his old ways, or is he going to, you know, like, they're going to want to get a sense of what you learned from that.
I see. Okay. So a GPA addendum would be beneficial.
I think so, yes.
Okay. That's good to know. Thank you. Thank you for clarifying that because I've heard people say, oh, don't even mention it because admissions officers will think you were lazy during those few years and you just weren't trying, and it would be only to your disadvantage if you say that, but I guess if I include, or if I just, if I mentioned the last year and my sort of disciplinary change, it would be better.
Well, I mean, there's always something to be said for creating new habits that are good for you, right? And when it comes to, you know, what an admissions officer will assume, we'll only assume if you leave us space to. If you give us the context, then you actually get to control the narrative. Whereas if you leave big gaps, then we're going to make assumptions and it's probably not going to be favorable.
Okay. That makes sense. Thank you very much.
My pleasure. And with that, we've now reached the end of our session. Thank you so much to my panelists, to Christie and to Jen for joining us today, and thank you to everyone in the audience for joining us and listening in.
Don't forget that next week, we do have a wonderful conversation that includes both 7Sage admissions consultants and professional writers talking about brainstorming law school statements. So, if you are starting to prepare your law school applications and really just don't know where to get started, make sure that you tune in next Wednesday at 9:00 PM Eastern here on Clubhouse.
And in the interim, if you have questions, shoot us a message on Twitter. Our account is @7Admissions with an S at the end. And you can utilize the hashtag 7SageonCH, or make sure that you join for a free account on 7Sage.com and jump into the discussion forum, where you'll find answers to a lot of the questions that you have here, including some answers from 7Sagers who have been through the process already.
So thank you again and have a great night.
Hi, it's J.Y. again. Thank you for listening. As always, if you're studying for the LSAT, applying to law school, studying for your law school exams, or studying for the bar, come visit us at 7Sage.com. We can help.
That's it for this episode. Take care of yourself and see you next time.
My environment did affect me greatly at the time at a young age, and I realize that now, by owning it, it shows maturity. It shows that I have moved on from this and I'm willing to own it. And it's become part of my career trajectory. I want to help people in low-income communities and families and youth to have opportunities so this doesn't have to happen to other people.
Hello, and welcome to the 7Sage podcast. I'm J.Y. Ping, and on today's episode, David interviews a student named Christian who had to change his approach to get into law school. Although Christian had high numbers, he was waitlisted or rejected from every school he applied to, two cycles in a row.
But after he got out in front of his character and fitness issues, he was admitted to Northwestern with a full ride. Okay. Here's the interview.
Christian, thanks for joining me today.
It's a pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Yeah, so I know that this was not your first cycle, and I'm wondering if you can start by telling us about what happened before you applied this cycle and came to 7Sage.
Sure. Like you said, this is my third cycle, so I began applying to law schools during my senior year of undergrad. I was convinced that I was going to start right away because I had such a high GPA and I had a decent LSAT score. I was a little too overconfident, actually, thinking that that alone would get me in, and I thought I had a cool story.
But I ended up getting waitlisted at every school I applied to, which were most of the tier 14, during my first cycle. So that was a wake-up call for me that I needed to improve my application. I had a 168 LSAT and a 3.9 plus when I first applied.
And do you have a sense of what went wrong in the first two cycles?
I know now it was a combination of two things. One, I did apply kind of late, I didn't actually turn in all my applications until the beginning of January. That was mainly because I was waiting on letters of recommendation, which I didn't plan ahead for. But the second, probably more important part is I just was not communicating my story well. I didn't really know how to write a good personal statement or diversity statement.
I kind of, reading back at it now, it's kind of cringe-worthy because it was clear that I just did not know what the law schools really wanted to know about me or hear about me or how to present myself as an attractive candidate. I was saying good things about myself, but I just wasn't really expressing myself as one cohesive applicant. I was kind of all over the place, and I really think that was the main issue.
And what made you decide to work with a consultant? Did you realize this on your own?
Well, after my second cycle applying and still getting similar results, even though I tried redoing my essays on my own and there was an improvement, but it still wasn't good. I knew that my score was good, my LSAT scores. I knew my grades were great, and I felt that I had very good experience on my resume.
So I think that the issue had to be that I just wasn't presenting myself correctly and I wasn't going about the applications and the communication with the schools the right way, and it was clear that I just didn't know how to do it myself. And I didn't have many people that were going through law school that could give me pointers.
And it just seemed like if I really wanted to do this, I didn't want to quit. I wanted to get into one of these schools. And I knew I would have to work with a consultant that knew what they were doing.
So let's talk about how you ended up framing your story. Your personal statement was the centerpiece, as it usually is, and it is a version of a life story essay. I was wondering if you'd be willing to read us the first paragraph.
Sure. I'll just go right into it.
If my high school friends could meet me now, they would not recognize the man I have become. The most impressive things they had taught me to do by age 15 were riding a skateboard and weighing out drugs. Those friends were part of a string of bad influences I was exposed to growing up in a low-income neighborhood in Kissimmee, Florida.
Although my parents put a roof over my head, they taught me nothing about life and they did not surround me with people who did. They divorced when I was nine, and my dad's idea of father-son bonding at 14 was to take me to Vegas to watch him gamble at the poker tables. That's the first paragraph.
And then, Christian, would you mind summarizing the rest of the story?
Sure, so basically I feel I had a rough upbringing. I was going down a terrible path with drugs and the juvenile record and not doing very good in school, even though I feel I had potential. And the main point is I definitely came out of that. You know, I changed my life around at a young age. I went to a new school that would give me more opportunities and I really applied myself to graduate early and to become, in the community, something better.
I didn't want to be around negative influences. I became very involved in church and a youth ministry, and I did a lot of volunteer work just because it just was very fulfilling for me at the time. And I knew it was giving me a good purpose and was helping me to become a better person and to come out of the path that I was going on beforehand.
So that culminated in me excelling in school and doing my associate's degree at a somewhat of a community college in Orlando. And I eventually transferred to Harvard extension school with a scholarship. So that's not much of a summary, but I ended up becoming a congressional intern at 16. I ended up graduating high school and my associate's degree pretty early.
I had very great grades, and I chose to study government economics and ended up working in affordable housing research and development as a way to give back to low-income communities. And this was influenced from my upbringing and a low-income community and the issues that I faced, and I wanted to apply my education in a way that would help other youth and people in low-income communities.
So that's the gist of my personal statement, and it led to me in my current work now in affordable housing, but also in what I want to do as a lawyer and what I've stated I want to do as a lawyer, working in community development.
It's a great story. It's an inspiring story. Is this what you wrote about in your original personal statements?
It's been a while since I looked at it. I think I did. This was the gist of it. I just wasn't able to communicate it as well as I was able to in this essay. I was less direct on how my upbringing really was. I tried to kind of avoid the rough parts and focus more on the good, if that makes sense.
Yeah, that makes sense.
I did speak about wanting to help low-income communities with my education and in law, but I wasn't as specific as I was in my latest version.
Right. If you show us that you grew up in a low-income community, and if you show us how it affected you, it's so much more compelling when you tell us that you want to help other people in low-income communities.
Right. And I understood that only when I worked with consultants at 7Sage, and they helped me to realize all of that and to communicate it. Even though I had the story, my life didn't change during my cycles of applying. I gained some more experience with work, but my story remained the same. It's just now I was able to communicate it correctly and effectively.
Let's go to the turning point in your essay. That's paragraph three. Would you mind reading that as well?
Sure. Everything changed when I was 15. Kicked out of high school because of a drug charge, I'd spent the night in a juvenile detention center. As I lay on that cot contemplating life, I knew deep inside I could be so much more than what society and my environment were trying to make of me. After I was released, I knew I had to take some drastic measures.
With nobody guiding me, I found my way to a public charter school, out of necessity, and church, out of a spiritual responsibility, where I found positive role models who changed my entire outlook on life and my future.
This essay is really successful because there's such a clean before and after. And I don't know if every essay has to follow this model, but you do make it really easy to understand your story and to summarize it, which in turn makes it more memorable by giving us this joint. Here's where everything changed. Tell me how you arrived at this structure.
Well, in my life there was a period where it was kind of a clean break from the past. It did happen quickly.
Did you know that this would be the turning point of the essay when you started writing it?
No, no. I mean, it was all developing. I mean, I guess I'd kind of had to pick a spot that would help to communicate exactly the before and after. There were several points I could have used to do that. I just felt this one was able to communicate the before and after the most clearly, while remaining true to my actual story.
You know, and the consultants that helped me to pull that together, but I just thought this was an actual turning point for me. And this was a moment within a period that, as a whole, was a turning point for me.
Do you remember how many drafts you did on this one?
Oh my goodness. Dozens.
Oh my God. Dozens?
In fact, we started two or three drafts and then completely scrapped the whole thing and started all over.
With the consultants, and Sarah and Selene were totally there for me in making this. They did not hesitate to just start all over if we needed to. And that's exactly what we did. And we really did go through dozens, I can show you the emails. There's a lot of back and forth.
And even when I thought it was done and it couldn't get any better, we still had dozens of drafts left to go after that. And I really thought we were done so many times, and we really weren't. No, it got better every time.
Wow. Yeah, that's the thing about writing. You can always make it a little bit better. So you wrote this personal statement and you, finally, dozens of drafts later, came to the end. How did you approach the diversity statement?
I had already written diversity statements in the past that tried to capture the essence of what the new one arrived at. I wanted to communicate more about my background and it really was just building off of the personal statement. I almost put things in my diversity statement that I just couldn't fit in my personal statement.
And it was meant to complement the personal statement and not be a whole separate thing entirely, if that makes sense. It was just adding more context to the parts of my background that spoke about coming from a low-income community and family and being a first-generation student without much guidance.
And I spoke about that in my personal statement, I just was able to elaborate more on it in my diversity statement, so it complemented the personal statement.
Would you mind reading the first paragraph of the diversity statement?
Sure. Two weeks before graduating from college, I bought my first car. This was almost as symbolic of progress in my life as the degree. In south Orlando, cars are a necessity. Neighborhoods are sprawling and the heat is brutal. For years, I had only the scarce public bus to rely on. I would ride it to my charter high school, then to the community college where I was dual enrolled, then to church, and finally back home at 10 p.m. I often fell asleep against the bus window with a book open on my lap while trying to keep up with my class readings.
It's a great first sentence. It's simple, and it's not immediately evident why we should care that you bought your first car, except that you're putting it in that place of importance. Talk to me about the beginning. How did you choose to start here?
Because to me, not having had a car, living in south Atlanta, everybody has a car. Everyone has a car or their parents buy them a car. Or a teenager, they buy one immediately. It was just, to me, was such a big deal for me. It made everything so much tougher for me just getting around.
And it was clear to me every day, hey, I am not coming from a wealthy background. It was clear to me every day I took that bus where it was less normal to take the bus here than somewhere else. That being low-income was a big part of my upbringing. And again, it was just an example that highlighted, hey, I'm coming from a low-income first-generation background.
And this seems like a simple way to communicate that, and a clear and honest way to communicate that without being too, I guess, dramatic or gimmicky.
Yeah, it's not gimmicky at all. I'm going to have you read the second paragraph too because you do something that I think works so well and is so smart, and I think that other people would really benefit from just listening to you do it. So go ahead and read that second paragraph, if you don't mind.
Okay. When I transferred to Harvard, I often felt like an imposter because I was a first-generation student from a lower-income background. The community felt worlds away from my hometown, yet because of the extra difficulties I faced while working my way up, I had a unique perspective that my classmates found valuable. I often informed our discourse on poverty, class, and opportunity from the viewpoint of a first-generation student looking through a window on a public bus.
In my urban policy class, I could speak firsthand to the importance of affordable housing located along transit routes and the opportunities that afforded me. I told them about how I was able to get ahead by attending a public charter school instead of my overcrowded, underfunded regional high school. My anecdotes supported and complemented the data and research we were discussing in class.
In another course that focused on peer-to-peer discussions on social issues and class relations in the United States, I was always prepared with personal anecdotes that helped to shed light on issues of economic mobility for low-income Americans.
What I love about this is that you give examples of how you contributed to the discussion in class. I feel like so many students say, or at least imply, that they're going to add a new perspective to class discussions given their diversity, but you actually show us how you've done that. And that's why it works so well in my opinion.
Yeah, and I've got to say, I mean, again, my story never changed. All this information was always there. It existed as part of my life, but I just wasn't able to piece it together. I mean, I've got to say Sarah and the consultants really helped me to find these anecdotes and to know to include these anecdotes, that they would help my argument that I'm trying to present in my diversity statement.
And I didn't think to include all of these in my last two cycles. It was only in this recent cycle that I was able to realize this with the help of the consultants.
So let's back up. When you started working with the consultants, probably before you drafted any of these new essays, you must've been wondering whether you were reaching too high, whether you should apply to the same schools, whether you should totally change your approach.
And I was hoping you could just make us privy to some of those discussions, if you can remember them. What was the conversation like at the beginning, and how did you decide to reapply to these schools that had rejected or waitlisted you before?
Yeah, so it's funny. My first meeting with Selene and Sarah, I was convinced I only want to go to Harvard and Columbia, and Selene was like, okay, well, just in case, what other schools do you want to go to?
I mean, which was realistic because, you know, I didn't make it into those schools, and previous cycles only was waitlisted. But I did open up my mind more about which schools and what my goals really were, and which schools could help me to accomplish that. And, you know, there's not just one school. There are multiple schools that could have helped me to achieve my goals.
So, definitely advice from Selene and Sarah, where their advice was pivotal to me expanding my horizons and applying to more schools, even to think about schools that weren't even on my radar beforehand. Like, I had never applied to Northwestern. I had never thought about Northwestern as a school.
You know, Chicago was just, seemed distant to me. I had no ties to Chicago. But I started to think about it with Selene's advice, and I realized, you know, that actually, Northwestern's an amazing school. I could apply there, and it could be one of the schools I applied to, and I could probably achieve my goals there just as much as I could at some of these other schools I was applying to.
And it wasn't just Northwestern. It was other schools I applied to as well, like Georgetown, which I had not applied to in previous cycles. But yeah, Sarah and Selene helped me to broaden my horizon of target schools.
Zoom out one more time. Can you talk about how your different essays fit together?
The diversity statement was very much an extension of my personal statement and speaking more about my low-income, first-generation background that I couldn't really go into detail on in the personal statement because of space requirements, you know, length requirements of the personal.
But the personal statement was supposed to tell the full, my background growing up, the pivot point, my academic interests, and how I came to want to go to law school and how what I want to do with my law degree fits in with my life story and makes it all one cohesive story. And I accomplish all that in the personal statement, whereas the diversity statement emphasizes more parts of my background of low-income and first-generation that really does fit the criteria of diversity and bringing diverse perspectives to the law school community.
My character and fitness statement, out of necessity, I needed too, because of my juvenile background, my juvenile record. I had to disclose some information about charges, but what I never thought to do before, which I thought was brilliant, that Sarah and Selene helped me to do, was to turn that into an essay.
Before, I had it as just a list of things that had happened and that I did as a teenager, but they helped me turn it into an essay that shed further light on my environment growing up, and you know, why did this happen? And to own what happened and to not shy away from it while making clear, obviously, this is part of my past, not my present or my future, but to make it almost part of my personal diversity statement.
Let's turn to that. You don't have to answer this question if you don't want to, but in vague terms, what kind of character and fitness issues did you have to disclose?
I mean, I had two domestic battery charges from when I was 13 and 14 years old and also had a possession of cannabis and possession of drug paraphernalia. So those are four charges that I had as a juvenile. And I was 13, 14, 15 years old when these happened, you know, I had to do a teen court program, I was on probation for a period of time at a young age. So those were the issues I had to disclose.
And tell me more about what you mean when you say you worked them into an essay.
Well, I didn't just give a list in this most recent version of my applications that I had help formulating from 7Sage. It wasn't just a list of what happened and dates and times. I mean, it was that, and I was very blunt with what happened, but also I gave more context on what happened. Like, hey, this is my family environment, here's what was happening with my family and me at the time.
And it's by no means an excuse for my behavior. And at no point did I make this an excuse, but I did want to give context of my upbringing and how, of course, I apologize and I've moved on from this, but this is part of my upbringing. My environment did affect me greatly at the time at a young age.
And I realize that now, by owning it, it shows maturity. It shows that I have moved on from this and I'm willing to own it. And it's become part of my career trajectory. I want to help people in low-income communities and families and youth to have opportunities so this doesn't have to happen to other people. So I kind of worked it into my career trajectory.
Let's talk about your timeline. When did you manage to get all these applications in?
I believe I had them all submitted around November, for the most part. Maybe one stayed until December, it wasn't until December that I submitted. But I had most of it completed, most of the essays completed earlier on when the applications opened up, but we were taking our time to go through draft after draft and make sure each application was perfect before actually submitting it.
And how long did you have to wait to get some good news?
Oh, I didn't receive my first decisions until February, I believe. Late February. That was early February that I got the decision from Northwestern, which was the first decision I received. And then, I believe, at the end of February, I received a notification that I got the full tuition scholarship. So yeah, till February.
Tell me about that period of waiting.
Oh my goodness. Well, I was trying to remain active. I did have some resume updates at the time, so I did send an updated resume, I believe, in January to all the schools, but besides that, it was just a whole lot of waiting and stressing and hoping for the best. You know, it was my third cycle applying.
I had gone through an LSAT retake. I'd gone through the help of consultants and I was just really hoping that this was all worth it. So it was very stressful, but it ended up surpassing my expectations.
What did you do when you got the good news from Northwestern first, that they accepted you?
When they first accepted me, I was very, very happy. That was actually my first acceptance at a tier 14 in my three years of applying. So I thought that was amazing news. Because I got one acceptance, it just made me excited that I would get more acceptances and perhaps scholarships at other schools. I wasn't rolling over in joy just yet.
I wanted to wait until the other schools got back to me. It wasn't until I received news of the full tuition scholarship at Northwestern that I just broke down crying. You know, it really validated my years of work and all that time and effort and money spent, trying to create perfect applications.
That is fantastic. So have you moved yet?
No, no. I have a few weeks left before I move to Chicago. I have my lease signed and I'm so excited to start at Northwestern.
Ah, so exciting, Christian. What are you going to do with yourself for the rest of the summer?
Well, there's a lot of logistics with the move, but I'm still working on affordable housing development and I'm just trying to relax and gear myself up mentally to go into law school with the right mindset and do a bit of focus, you know, saying goodbye to friends and family, and working some, but enjoying myself in the meantime. I know it's going to be a very busy time during 1L.
I want to end with some advice for other people. Can you take a moment to think about the difference between your first two applications and then your third batch of successful applications, and try to extract something that might be useful for other people who may be feeling discouraged or just anxious?
I would say really think deeply on who you are as a person, what your story really is, and what really drives you. Don't come up with something that you think the admissions committees want to hear, you know, but think of what is actually genuine to you and what's special to you. It doesn't have to be a crazy out-of-the-world story, but be as genuine and deep as possible.
And I think once you figure that out, it should flow much more naturally, you know, the examples and the story you're going to put together of yourself. It's going to be much more impactful and genuine and believable and relatable to an admissions committee. I think they have a more open mind than we might think.
Thanks for your great advice, Christian, and thanks for talking to us.
It was my pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Hi everyone. It's J.Y. again. Thanks for listening. If you're prepping for the LSAT, applying to law school, studying for your law school exams, or studying for the bar, come visit us at 7sage.com. We can help.
That's it for this episode. Take care of yourself and see you next time.
I think that that's what is one of the best things about going to law school, is that there is not one direct path to law school. You don't need to be a certain major. You don't need to have a particular job. And that's what makes for such an exciting law classroom, is that you have such a variety of different voices and people in the classroom. Hello, and welcome to the 7Sage podcast. I am J.Y. Ping, and on today's episode, admissions consultants Tajira McCoy, Christie Belknap, Elizabeth Cavallari, and Jill Steier of 7Sage host the Clubhouse Room to talk about creating a cohesive application package.
Tajira moderates the panel, asking the panelists to share their insights on what details to incorporate into a resume and how diversity statements, addenda, and other optional statements can build on required application materials to provide greater context, to build a big-picture view of an applicant's candidacy. The talk also includes Q&A with Clubhouse listeners.
So, without further ado, please enjoy.
Good evening and welcome, everyone. I'm Tajira McCoy, but you can call me Taj. It's so refreshing to see so many new members to Clubhouse in our audience today. Thank you so much for joining us. I am a professional writer and law school admissions and administration professional. For 10 years, I worked in law school admissions at four schools, spanning public and private institutions, including two Jesuit schools, a T14, and an HBCU.
Most recently, I served as the director of admissions and scholarship programs at Berkeley Law. Currently, I am a 7Sage consultant and an author of a couple of books. Tonight, we have a fun conversation planned for you. Tonight's panelists, my colleagues and I, represent 7Sage.
For those preparing to apply to law school, 7Sage offers LSAT preparation, admissions consulting, and editing services. If you visit our website, 7Sage.com, you can create a free account, which gives you access to some sample lessons, an LSAT prep test, and 100 question explanations.
The free account also gives you access to our discussion forum, where you can ask questions about the admissions process, hear from others who are currently in the process, and learn about our events we have coming up. You can also follow us on Twitter. Our handle is 7Admissions, with an S at the end. The four of us on the panel are admissions consultants and have worked on admissions teams at various law schools across the country.
Tonight, we're going to be speaking to you about creating a cohesive application package with resumes and optional statements. So this talk is really for law school candidates still in the process of preparing their application materials, or for future applicants who are in the planning stages. There will be time for questions and answers for the last 10 to 15 minutes of our conversation.
I encourage you all to ping friends of yours who may also be interested in this subject matter. And if you're not already a member of Club 7Sage, I also encourage you to tap on the green house on your screen. It'll take you to our club page, where you can follow us and be notified of upcoming events.
Let's go ahead and get started. So, to my panelists, I'm going to call on you one at a time and I would ask that you please introduce yourself, share which schools' admissions teams you served on. I'm going to start with Elizabeth.
Thanks, everyone. Hi, I'm Elizabeth Cavallari. I've been consulting with 7Sage for the past two admission cycles and I've spent over 10 years in undergraduate and graduate admissions, six of those years as the senior assistant dean for admissions at William and Mary Law School.
Great. Jill? Hi, everyone.
Thank you so much for joining. I am Jill Steier. I've worked in law school and undergraduate admissions for around 10 years. I've worked at Columbia Law School, and most recently, I was assistant director of admissions at NYU School of Law.
Great, and Christie.
Hi, everyone. This is Christie Belknap, and before working with 7Sage as an admissions consultant for the past three cycles, I practiced law in New York City for 12 years, and during that time, I worked in law school admissions at Cardozo Law School for two years as an associate director of admissions. Thanks for coming.
Great. So our first question for our panelists is, what are you looking for when you review an applicant's resume? Jill, I'll start with you.
Great, thank you. So I am looking for cohesiveness between the personal statement and the letters of recommendation and the resume. So if a letter of recommendation from a professor talks about a particular research assignment that you worked on or an internship you've had, I'd love to see that on the resume.
If you talk about in your personal statement a commitment to working in, let's say, immigration law, I'd like to see your interests reflected on your resume. So whether that's work experience, internship experience, or a student organization that you may have been a part of, it's important that the resume kind of ties together all facets of your application.
Great. Elizabeth, would you would like to add anything?
I think it's also helpful to see what someone's path is. So not everyone's path is necessarily direct to law school, but knowing kind of what they've done over time, I think I'm really looking for succinct information, but even if someone is doing something that isn't directly related to law school, that their resume's still highlighting skill sets in that work that could make them be successful law students.
Great. Christie? So I would just say, you know, we're already going to see what undergraduate school, graduate school, and your GPA, you know, from your transcripts and the LSAC report. So your resume highlights your work experience, obviously, and that can be in college or after college. And, you know, you want to highlight your responsibilities. You want to do that, I think, in three bullets or less.
You want to highlight your volunteering experience in college and outside of college, and your personal section should tell us a little bit about you and what interests you have outside of the law, if your resume already speaks a lot to why you're interested in the law, so it can be a little bit more fun and something that we don't know about.
Great, thank you. I think it's also important to make sure that on your resume you're highlighting opportunities that you've had to be a leader. And so, in student organizations, if you held a specific office on the board, if you are part of professional organizations, if you're a volunteer and you've been doing that for a really long time, it's a great opportunity for us to see that you've taken initiative beyond being a member and that you're actually leading others, and what that might entail.
There's definitely power in that, especially when you happen to have been really involved on campus. If you list a whole bunch of student organizations, I would anticipate that some of those will include a leadership role. And so for our next question, and I'm going to pick on you a little bit, Jill, because you happen to have worked with NYU and Columbia, but do law schools expect applicants to take a gap year?
No, law schools don't expect applicants to take a gap year. If it was expected or required, it would be part of the application, it would be, we'd include it on the application. I think that that's what is one of the best things about going to law school, is that there is not one direct path to law school.
You don't need to be a certain major. You don't need to have a particular job. And that's what makes for such an exciting law classroom, is that you have such a variety of different voices and people in the classroom. I will say that law schools often like to balance their class and they think carefully about having a diverse class.
And that includes students with work experience and students coming directly from undergrad. And that number, often schools may choose to share that information. Often schools may let applicants know how many applicants come directly from undergrad and how many have a year out or more. But also keep in mind that these numbers may change each year.
So it depends on what the applicant pool looks like each cycle. I think the most important thing is that, you know, law schools want to see that you're doing something. And if you are coming directly from undergrad, they want to see that you feel that law school is the best decision for you right now, and that you feel prepared to take on law school, if you're coming directly from undergrad.
Great. Christie, Elizabeth, anything to add?
I think the only thing I might add is the average age for most law schools is between 22 and 24, so a good number are coming right from undergrad. So taking a gap year doesn't necessarily make you a stronger candidate. I think if you're planning to take a gap year, it's about the experience and what that might bring to the table for you as a law school applicant.
And I'll just say, I think that there are times when specific schools might have a preference for folks who have some work experience. When they have that preference, typically they're pretty explicit about it on their websites. And so it may not be that they require a gap year per se, but they may say that they want to see at least a year of work experience under your belt, and that might've taken place while you're in college or in grad school.
It really just depends when we're looking at students who are going straight through, one of the things that we want to make sure is that you're ready. And so if we can see that from your materials, then going straight through doesn't really leave a question mark for us.
And so, Christie, I'll start with you. Are there any common mistakes that you see when reviewing resumes?
I would say that a common mistake can be formatting and making the resume really difficult to read. So when I look at a resume initially, and I see just blocks and numerous bullet points, that it's hard to just scan. It just makes the resume almost unreadable. So, you know, I think you just, a lot of it, obviously, the substance is important, but you also just want to make it very easy to read and highlight what's important to you.
The other thing I would say is, you know, when there's an unexplained gap of, say, three months or more, that just leaves questions for the admissions committee, which is not something you want to do. You want to be able to have, you know, it easy to read and be chronologically, just fill the spaces. So, you know, there's no question about what you're doing.
Elizabeth? So I think, along with that, in addition to formatting would be typos. And so being consistent in terms of commas, dashes, things like that. So whatever format that you're deciding on, that you're consistent and have that consistency flow between sections.
Christie also mentioned this, but I think the number of bullets, I think it's hard to discern when you want to include everything, but it is important to say, these are the three or four things that I think are really important that will apply to law school, versus trying to list everything you might have done in a specific role. So some information might be figuring out what's important to you versus what's important to the law school. So figuring out what might be a little bit more insignificant and what might be most important.
And this is something not just for the resume, but for kind of any application, is thinking about that email address. So what email address are you putting on your resume, on your application? How will it reflect on you? So most people have school email addresses or work ones, or setting up a generic Gmail with your name and making sure it's something professional, because that's one of the first things they're going to see when looking at your resume.
Jill. One of the most common questions that I ask myself when looking at a resume is what are the dates that somebody was committed to something, and what were the, you know, what does this commitment look like? When somebody is, you know, very vague about the dates that they were participating in something. So whether it's just like a year, like 2018 to 2019, or if it doesn't have any dates at all, that makes me wonder why.
So if you can, you know, I recommend that students be a little bit more specific. You know, it's fine if you write spring semester or fall semester. If there is a full-time job that you did during school, please note that it's a full-time job because we'd like to see, how did you balance work with school? Maybe this did impact your GPA. So that type of information is helpful.
Something else that I think is helpful as well is, and this is especially for students that may have a STEM background, if there are any acronyms or terms that are very specific to your field, that we may not be familiar with, please just kind of spell it out in lay person terms for us.
I find that to be pretty helpful. You know, we're not familiar, even though we've reviewed a lot of different types of applications, we may not be familiar with the very specific type of lab that you're working on, or the acronym or shorthand term that you use in the military that you may use to describe something on your resume. So just keep that in mind, that you may need to spell things out for us.
Great, thanks. I would say something that I've been seeing recently is, I've had a couple of clients actually just completely leave things off of their resume just because they felt like they weren't there long enough. Maybe they worked an internship over the summer and they just thought, because it wasn't six months or more, that it wasn't substantial or it didn't matter.
And, you know, you don't want to lose the opportunity to tell us about your experience by leaving something off, when it, especially, you know, I've had folks leave off legal work experience and that's something that's extremely relevant to what you're doing when you're applying to law school.
I have been seeing a couple of hands raising, and we are going to have a question and answer period. It's going to be closer to the end of our program today, so I hope you'll hang in there with us and hang on to your questions.
The next question that I have is, you know, is it necessary to narrow down all of the experience someone has to a one-page resume? Elizabeth?
I think for the most part, yes. But it also depends, which is sometimes you'll get that depends on the school, depends on the individual applicant. So the first thing is follow the instructions. Some schools will say they want a one-page resume, and then you should absolutely just include a one-page resume.
I think the other question when thinking about how much additional value and additional and related experience that you might have, if you're thinking it's not a ton, but it just shows kind of timeline a little bit more, then I think potentially squeezing that down to include it still in a one-page resume.
But if you really do have substantial and extensive work experience, particularly if you're an older applicant, I think it is okay to use a two-page resume. But I would say, more often than not, if you're coming right from undergrad or just one to two years out, more than a one-page resume can sometimes feel excessive.
Admissions officers are reading everything, but we do try to read things quickly, because we're going through a lot of applications. So the more concise that an applicant can be in their resume, I think is really helpful that we're able to pull out the key things that you want to show us in promoting your application and why you might be a good applicant for our law school.
Anyone have anything to add?
Along those lines, I would say, so for the entire application, and this is kind of crushing to some people, I would say, on average, 7 to 10 minutes on the entire application. So the resume, you know, how much time is spent on that, maybe a minute, maybe a little bit longer, but so, that just goes to say a one-pager that highlights the most important things can often be most effective.
You know, again, if you feel, if you're an older applicant and there's a lot to include, maybe that justifies a longer-than-one-page resume. And obviously the instructions, if they allow more. But you don't want to use that to include those big block bullet points so that, you know, the effectiveness of your resume gets lost.
Great, thank you. If I don't have legal work experience, is it okay to put other jobs on my resume? Jill?
Absolutely. You don't need to have legal work experience to go to law school. And actually, this is something that I often say, and I'm glad that you talked about, Tajira, applicants feeling like they should not include things on their resume.
I often speak with applicants who feel like they don't want to put on the resume that they were a cashier during school, or, you know, that they worked in retail, because they feel like those skills aren't valuable or it doesn't relate to the law, and I couldn't disagree more. First of all, we understand that not every applicant has the financial means to take on an unpaid internship.
And so we'd like to see that you're just doing something. I'd rather have somebody include on their resume that they were a leader and that they were committed to their job working in retail or as a cashier than to have somebody put in information about an internship that they didn't really care about or that they weren't that involved in.
So I really, it's absolutely okay to put other jobs on your resume, even if it's not related to legal work experience. But just keep in mind, though, if you don't have legal work experience, it is helpful, you know, if you put somewhere else in your application, like in your personal statement, reasons for why you've thought carefully about law school and why this is the right fit for you.
That's great. Thank you, Jill. Go ahead, Christie.
I would say along those same lines, you know, I had an applicant who said, you know, I had so many different jobs in college and none of them are related to law. Should I include, like, for example, that I worked at Starbucks? And I said, definitely, and, you know, you don't have to list those out as separate entries in your resume.
You could say as one bullet point under your college extracurriculars that you worked at Starbucks and wherever else to help finance the cost of your education. You know, I think that's very helpful for admissions committees to know what you did with your time and that you were still able to excel in undergrad.
I 100% agree. A lot of times applicants don't think we do is, you know, if I have someone who's applying and they're a team lead, you know, somewhere in food service, I can glean from that that you can work with others, that you can be responsible for money, that you probably have great customer service skills, which means that you probably have a good amount of empathy.
There are things that we can glean from the skills that are required to do certain jobs that make it still relevant to us, because it gives us a sense of how you're going to operate on campus.
We've spent some time on resume, and so I think we're going to actually move on from there now. In considering whether an applicant should write a diversity statement, how would you define diversity? Elizabeth?
Sure. So I think defining diversity or kind of what constitutes being diverse, it can be challenging because there's not a ton of guidance for a lot of applications about what this means. So some factors to consider would be race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, educational background, physical abilities, potentially adversity that people might've had to overcome.
This certainly isn't a comprehensive list, but just kind of some examples. So I think when people are writing diversity statements, it's not just saying, here's why I think I'm diverse, but it's also being introspective about it, so that the law school admissions committee can get a better understanding of how an applicant's individual set of experiences has shaped the world view and how potentially that applicant will bring these perspectives to their incoming law school class.
Anything to add, Jill or Christie?
I think it can also be a great way to showcase your interest in a particular school. So if there is an affinity group that aligns to the diversity that you're talking about, feel free to make note of that in your diversity statement.
You know, note the student organizations or opportunities at the school that interest you because of your identity. Law schools really like to see that you are interested in contributing to the community once you attend their law school.
I would also add, a lot of times the things that make us diverse are often also the things that are motivating us and driving us to go to law school or to succeed in law school. And so, you know, tying these things together, that's a part of why we're here tonight, to talk about creating a cohesive application package.
Each different piece of your application is like a puzzle piece, and the more that you bring those things together and they layer upon each other, it creates a nice, clear picture for us about who you are, what's motivating you to come to law school, why now is the right time, and where you see yourself going, how you see yourself contributing to a law school community.
And so as you kind of think through utilizing different optional statements, you know, how does your diversity statement build upon your personal statement? If they're about the same thing, then you've lost an opportunity, but if you can take a facet of yourself that's a part of you that makes you you and gives you the perspective that you're going to bring into the classroom, that part really makes sense as your diversity statement. And then you can kind of utilize another story that's kind of proximate to your diversity statement, but not directly overlapping.
What does an admissions officer, and maybe I answered part of this, Elizabeth, but I'm going to still ask you the question anyway, what does an admissions officer hope to learn from a diversity statement?
Yeah. So I think you definitely touched on some of that already, Tajira. But I think we want to see how your background and experience has made you stronger, potentially, what you've learned from it, how you've gone through these different experiences or have this background that can be an asset to not only yourself, but also the community and the legal profession as a whole, knowing that people might look really the same on paper when it comes to numbers, but being able to glean some different information about an applicant that might not have fit within a personal statement.
So we're thinking about building classes, not simply on numbers, but diversity of experiences and backgrounds. And I think the diversity statement is a great way to get information that might not have a place in other parts of the application, but be able to make an applicant seem more whole, as we're doing this kind of holistic review process.
Great, thank you. Jill, what are addenda?
So addenda are optional statements that you can submit that will provide additional context to something on your application. So, for example, if you have quite a large jump in your LSAT scores, we may ask ourselves why, what happened there? And so you may let us know that you decided to use test resources provided by 7Sage or that your testing environment changed over the summer.
If there is a gap on your resume, feel free to let us know why. Perhaps you were traveling, perhaps you were injured or ill. The last thing we want is to be left with questions about an application. And so addenda are there to help provide the answers to any questions that admissions officers may have.
Anything to add, Elizabeth or Christie?
I think the only thing I might add with addenda is if there's a question mark anywhere in your application, that if you feel like an admissions officer might ask what happened here, and it's not somewhere in another place in your application, I think this is where an addendum could potentially be helpful.
Great. And so, with that, you mentioned taking the LSAT more than once and having a drastic jump. If I don't have a drastic jump but I did take the LSAT more than once, do I have to write an addendum? Christie?
No, I would say if there is no big jump, then it's not necessary, and you've taken it more than twice. I guess the only time maybe, I mean, even then, I would say no. If there's no discrepancy between the scores, then I would just leave it, leave it quiet, and because we can interpret what that is.
Also, you know, I always tell candidates, go into the LSAT with a mindset that you are only taking it once. I think that's a helpful mindset to go in because you want to go in feeling completely prepared.
But often that is not the case. Most candidates take the LSAT, I'd say, two times on average, two to three times maybe. So, you know, I would say, and this varies for each school, but I would say if you take the LSAT five times or more, we may ask ourselves some questions.
So if I've taken it five times, I should write an addendum then?
Again, it varies for each school, but it would be helpful, because if you've taken it five times and there's no change in scores, that's another question that I may be asking myself, you know, are they changing their test prep? What is their goal? Why are they taking it so many times? These are questions that I would be asking myself if I was looking at quite a large number of LSAT scores.
Great. Elizabeth, when is it best to write a GPA addendum?
I think there's several different circumstances where a GPA addendum might be helpful. I think if there's a pattern of Cs throughout a transcript, or Cs or lower, I think that's helpful to include, you know, why on these particular ones.
But I think if there's also trends, so if you had a rough start and then you took a little while to hit your stride, I think that's helpful to put it in context, but I also think there's a really fine line between an explanation and an excuse. So in writing a GPA addendum, making sure that you're just providing the facts and not trying to excuse away behavior, but, more so, saying this happened, here's how I learned and grew, and this is how it led me to be the student I am today.
One place where, and some of the consultants might disagree, sometimes we'll see people switching from pre-med to pre-law. For me, that doesn't necessarily require a GPA addendum. I can look at your transcript and I can get a really good sense, based on the number of applications I've read over the years, if someone has made that switch.
So if you have orgo and biochem or calc one semester, and then the next semester you're switching to political science courses, I understand that switch and also kind of take potentially lower grades for those pre-med classes into account without you including additional information in a written addendum.
Now, I know that at least one instance was mentioned, but are there other instances, outside of an LSAT jump or kind of a GPA dip or change, where it might make sense to go ahead and write the addendum and kind of proactively answer a question?
I think maybe this is the one you were thinking about, but a gap in your resume where it's not clear what you were doing for three months or more, you know, you might explain unusual circumstances, and some of the applications will actually ask you to or require you to write an explanation for any gap that's longer than three months.
Any others that come to mind, Elizabeth? Jill?
I was also thinking if you took some time off of school, but I think I mentioned this earlier, if there's any kind of question marks on an application, so gap in resume, just other kind of personal circumstances that you think might glean something, it's helpful to have all that kind of written in advance, where some schools, as Christie mentioned, will ask, is there a gap on your resume? Explain. Did you take time off of school?
So instead of kind of writing it on the fly, as you're filling out these applications, that you have everything prepared, and then you can discern in an individual application, okay, do I want to include this or that? Having it pre-written, so you feel like you're putting your best foot forward and answering all these questions on the applications.
And I completely agree. I think, you know, the hard part is, there's not a ton of time, as Christie mentioned, you know, we're reading through applications relatively quickly. There's not a lot of time to kind of go back to an applicant and ask them questions.
And so, as we're reading through these applications, if we're left with a bunch of question marks, it's really hard to get to a favorable decision. If you can proactively, you know, just kind of look at your application, think about, you know, okay, as they're reading through this, what might they have concerns about?
What might they be curious about? Where are the gaps, or are there any kind of holes here? If there are, those are good opportunities for you to kind of give us that context up front because the fewer questions that I have at the end, the easier it is for me to go ahead and make that favorable decision.
So the next question is about "Why this school?" statements. So some schools allow for "Why X school" statements. When would you advise an applicant to write one, or should everyone? Elizabeth?
I think if a school allows for it, you should write one. In a lot of cases, if they say it's optional, with the exception of maybe a diversity statement, I would say optional isn't really optional. But if a school doesn't ask for one, I think it's okay not to include one, that I would much rather spend time in the 7 to 10 minutes I have at an application reading through what we have asked for as an institution versus what the applicant is like, well, I'm going to throw this extra thing in.
So if a school says, "Why X?" they really want to know why you're interested in their specific school, what program, potentially clinics, alumni, faculty you're interested in. These "Why X" statements, they want to know that you've done the research and have a genuine interest in the school. But if a school doesn't ask for a "Why X" statement, I don't believe that you'll need to include one.
Jill? Yes, I agree with Elizabeth. Something that I want to note as well. You know, one of the biggest mistakes I see with the "Why X" statement is that candidates may often just tell us facts. "I want to go to X school because this clinic does this type of work." Well, we know that, but how do you want to be involved in it? What, you know, what kinds of things do you want to bring to your research with this particular faculty member? How will this tie into you?
Something else I think that can be helpful and that students don't often think about, you know, it is okay to include external reasons for one of the reasons why you want to attend a particular school. So, you know, if you have a spouse that has a job in the same city as this law school, feel free to include that information.
If you have family members there, if you are an ice skater and there is a particular ice skating rink that you will go to because it is close to this law school, you know, it is okay to include that information. Don't feel discouraged. Intrinsic and extrinsic factors are okay to talk about.
Christie? Yeah, I mean, I totally agree with all of that. I think the most important thing is you find out about the school, either, you know, hopefully you can visit, you can attend law school forums, you can talk with admissions officers, friends, alumni who go to or went to a particular school, and then you, it's really important for it to be genuine. And the way you do that is by tying it into the things that you love to do and what you can see yourself doing at the law school based on what you've done in the past or what you hope to do.
Those personal connections really do make a "Why X school" statement stronger, and, you know, if you're not able to visit campus, maybe you can do a virtual tour or maybe you can sit in on an info session.
All of the faculty is listed right on the website. If there's a specific program that you're planning on listing within your "Why X school" statement, is there a faculty member that you can reach out to, to talk about their research or how that particular program is impacting the local community?
There's ways for you to create personal connections to the schools that where you think that there's a really good fit, and seeing those personal connections helps a law school admissions officer see that you actually really have thought about how it fits, how you fit within their community and how you might contribute in the future.
So, in addition to diversity statements, "Why X school" statements, and addenda, some schools also offer their own optional essays to supplement applications. Does it look bad if I opt not to write any? Elizabeth?
I think that it does. Schools are asking for you to submit these optional essays because they want to make sure that you have a sincere interest in their school.
So again, if a school is asking for something, even if they say optional, with so many applicants out there who've taken the time to say, yes, I'm interested in this school, for me, if I was asking for something and someone decided not to do it, it would make me feel that my school wasn't as much of a priority as potentially other schools they're applying to.
Jill? Absolutely. And you know, you have limited real estate with a law school admissions application. So, you know, please take any opportunity that you have to showcase your writing skills, showcase your personality, and showcase your interest in that particular school.
Anything to add, Christie?
Along those same lines, I would say, you know, in order to show your personality, like some of these optional statements, I'm thinking of Columbia's fun facts and Georgetown's, one of the options is a top 10 list. I mean, that's a great way to showcase something else about your personality that they might not know, you know, so they can get a sense of who you are aside from your interest in law.
I will say, working at Columbia, the fun fact was always something that I made sure to read. It was always like a little, like a special treat to be able to read that part. And I was always, I always appreciated when somebody took the time to write a thoughtful fun fact.
I really want to drive home the point that, you know, these optional statements are extra opportunities. If a school is giving extra opportunities to learn more about you, take every opportunity that you have. If you think about, you know, the fact that law school is the start of your legal career, well, then your law school application, pretend that's your first case and you're the client, you know?
So are you going to really advocate on behalf of yourself by taking advantage of all of these opportunities to let them know who you are and what you're about? These statements really are meant to give a really clear picture. And so it, as I was saying earlier, these are just additional puzzle pieces that make the big picture even more clear.
And so my final question before we get to Q&A is for each of our panelists, and it is, is there any strategy that you recommend an applicant employ when deciding which optional statements to write? And I'll start with Christie.
So I would say a diversity statement, if you have a valid diversity factor, number one, and then just as you were saying, any optionals that allow you to show another side of your personality or background would be great. Another piece of the puzzle to show us, you know, the whole picture of who you are.
But in terms of tackling, like in terms of the order that I would go in, I would say personal statement, diversity statement, "Why X" essays, and then the other, maybe fun kind of.
Jill? Yes, I agree with that order as well. I touched on this in the beginning and it's included in the title because it's so important, but really having it be cohesive is something that I think is incredibly impactful.
So making sure that whatever is discussed in your statements are reflected in your letters of recommendation, the courses that you've taken, the organizations that you've been a part of, the work that you've done, your personal statement, your optional statements, your diversity statement can also tie into "Why X."
We just want to make sure that this is all a cohesive package and that it makes sense.
Great. Elizabeth? And I think along with that, you're also showing that through your application how you'll be successful as a law student. So I'm thinking of applications I've read where applicants have had a little bit of a checkered past, and that ties into their transcript and their GPA addendum.
And it's spelled out in the personal statement. And sometimes with these applicants, they spend so much time talking about what happened in their past that I lose a little bit of who they are today, where what I want to see, yes, I want to see that they've grown from their past and that's not who they are today, but sometimes I lose a little bit of how they're going to be a great law student because they spent more time explaining what happened in the past than who they are today will help them in the future, if that makes sense.
And so, again, making sure it's cohesive and well rounded, but also thinking about, how will this application show an admissions office that you're ready to kind of tackle the rigors of law school?
That's great. And I would add, you know, one of the things that we're always looking for as we're reviewing applications is to determine, after graduation, how is this person going to contribute to our community? Are they going to be somebody who sticks around and, like, really is ingrained within our community, they're going to volunteer or they're going to mentor, they're going to donate.
They're going to do any number of ways that they can kind of contribute, whether that is in hiring later on, whether that is in, you know, really being a part of and helping to build programs or even come back and teach. Has this applicant thought about the different ways in which they intend to really submerse themselves in a specific campus community when they're talking about fit?
All of those things really play a part. And the other great thing about optional statements are, you know, as an admissions officer, like you can see how much effort someone puts into an application when they're doing all of these optional statements, when they're taking all of those opportunities and really running with them versus the person who, you know, just kind of gives you the bare minimum.
There's no way to really know then with that person, are they really serious? Because they didn't necessarily show me that in their application. So I'm going to leave that there and we're going to get to our question and answer period. But first I would love to thank my panelists, Elizabeth, Jill, and Christie. Thank you so much for your answers and for your candor tonight. I think this has been a really fun conversation.
We're going to open it up to questions. And so, with that, I will bring up our first person. And it looks like I'm bringing up Tanisia.
My question is when it comes to the "Why X" statements, I know some schools will ask for them and I wanted to know, because a lot of other schools, they, in the personal statement, they'll like a small, maybe like a tidbit of why you want to go to that school.
So in the event that a school asks for a "Why X" statement, should you still include that small tidbit in the personal statement?
Elizabeth? So I think that if a school is asking for a separate "Why X" essay, if you're potentially providing different information for both, you could, although I think I would err more on just including a"Why X" and not including the tidbit, but if you are including something about why you want to go to a law school in your personal statement, I urge you to make sure it's cohesive.
Sometimes I'll read a personal statement, and it's a really strong statement. And then at the very end, they throw in a paragraph about, "and I want to go to this law school because," and it almost takes away how impactful the personal statement is because they threw something in at the end that doesn't quite fit.
So just make sure it's cohesive if you're adding it at the end. But if a school is asking for a "Why X," I don't necessarily think you'll need it in both places.
Great. Does that answer your question, Tanisia?
Yes. Thank you so much.
Okay. And so the next person I'm going to bring up is Nathaniel.
Hi, thank you so much for taking my question, and thank you for all this great advice. So my question is about a resume addendum due to COVID. So I'm assuming lots of people, or I guess law schools understand, you know, that people may have been unemployed for more than three months due to COVID. And I just wanted to know if you all thought it would be a good idea to submit an addendum for that.
Yes, so I would say, hopefully you can say what else you did during the time when you could not find a job. Yeah, so I think it would be if you have something that you can point to, that you did productively with your time, yeah, I mean, I would say yes, that would be something that I would like to know. Hopefully you were not just doing nothing, even if it was just reading interesting books that got you more interested in, you know, XYZ, I think it would be helpful to know.
Thank you, Nathaniel. Okay, I'm bringing up Jaylin.
Hi, my name is Jaylin. Thank you for hosting this event. It's very helpful. My question is, in addition to the traditional three-year program, some schools also offer an accelerated two-year JD program for foreign law school students.
If I qualify for both and I want to apply both simultaneously, will this hurt my application, because I'm concerned they will think my goals are too big. Thank you.
Any panelist. So, you know, just speaking based on my experience with Cardozo, I know they have a two-and-a-half-year program or a three-year program. You can start in May versus starting in September. With that program, you had to decide which one you were going to apply to. You could not apply to both.
But I don't know the specifics, if it's the case that you can apply to both at the same time with Pepperdine, then I don't think it would affect your chances. You know, you're just saying, I would do either program and I'm happy to do either program because I really want to go to your law school.
But I would definitely check in with Pepperdine or whatever school that has separate programs like evening versus daytime programs, whether you can apply to both simultaneously.
Sometimes the application itself will limit you. It depends. So I worked at Southwestern and they had a two-year accelerated program, but their application cycle was completely different than the standard JD application cycle.
And so for Pepperdine, it may be that they're both on one application and you can rank. If they're separate applications in the LSAC system but the application period is open at the same time, you're actually only going to be able to submit one of those applications. That's a rule in their system. So I would get clarification specifically from Pepperdine about their application.
Thank you for answering my question.
Thank you so much for joining us. And next I am bringing up Dalia.
So my question is I'm a minority and, obviously, being a minority on these type of applications is like a big flag. But my question is, with regards to your diversity statement and your personal statement, where do you draw the line with, like, I'm a minority, so I've been through, like, crap in the South. Where do you draw the line with regards to that specific thing? So like, obviously, diversity statement is like hardship, but for personal statement, how do you separate that?
So, no one is saying that you have to separate these things out. When it comes to your personal statement, can it be about an experience that you had that you experienced simply because of your background? Absolutely. However, when you're trying to create a cohesive application, you're trying to build one thing on another.
And so, like, your diversity statement then can still be about you being diverse, but maybe instead it gives a picture of what it looks like with your family seated around the table or something that is important in your culture. It doesn't have to necessarily touch on the same facet of your diversity in the same way.
And so, like, when you're kind of thinking about these things, your personal statement, you're either telling a story or you're giving us anecdotal information, or you are providing law schools with kind of a lengthier version.
And so, you know, while your diversity is 100% a part of you at all times, you have different facets to you as a person, and you have tons of stories to tell. And so it's just a matter of determining, okay, when it comes to my personal statement, I think I want this one to be about this.
And then for my diversity statement specifically, because I want to talk about the perspective I'm bringing to the classroom, I want to talk about, you know, how my family does this together, and it's important to us because this, and I intend to bring that with me through law school and find others who, hopefully find others or create community even where there is none. And that looks like something because I also built that community while I was in college, et cetera. Does that make sense?
Yes. Yeah, it does.
Okay, good. I'm going to bring up one more, and then for anybody else, please go ahead and ask us questions on Twitter. Our account is 7Admissions and use the hashtag 7SageonCH. So the last question is for Cindy.
Hi, I'm Cindy. Thank you for doing this. It's been very helpful. So my question is I took the LSAT the third time in January, but I had a score dip. It was quite a large one, it was a five-point dip. I'm wondering if I should include an addendum explaining this, or it's actually not necessary since it's quite common to see those score dips if you take the LSAT several times.
Elizabeth. So a five-point dip is within a score band, generally. Most people score within like four to six points of when they're taking the LSAT. But I think if you're thinking about an addendum, you'll think about the reason why. So if there were circumstances that affected the LSAT performance, and there's been a lot of technical issues with the LSAT-Flex, if you were sick, things like that, I wouldn't potentially include an addendum.
But if there weren't other circumstances besides for you just happened to score a little bit lower that day, then I wouldn't necessarily include an addendum. Again, you're trying to provide an explanation of what happened and if you can't really have a circumstance for an explanation of it, then the addendum might fall a little flat.
Okay, but is retaking the LSAT again a better solution, since if I can bring my score back to my normal level, does that help?
I would have you think long and hard about taking it again because you can score higher, but you can also score lower. And so you need to be really, really, really confident that your score is going to improve.
But also know that that means that's yet another score that the admissions office is going to have to consider. Now, the highest score is the one that's reportable, but once you have, you know, a handful of scores, it becomes harder to discern which one is an accurate reflection of your abilities. And so you want to be really careful about continuing to retake.
Okay, thank you.
Thank you so much. And thank you to everyone who joined us this evening. Again, to my panelists, thank you so much for joining us this evening. You're wonderful. And everyone have a wonderful night. Thank you.
Hi, it's J.Y. again. Thank you for listening. As always, if you're studying for the LSAT, applying to law school, studying for your law school exams, or studying for the bar, come visit us at 7Sage.com. We can help.
That's it for this episode. Take care of yourself and see you next time.
Having broken my suspect, I felt the sense of accomplishment. Ray was a drug dealer and my job was to get his supply. Confession in hand, I asked Ray to become a police informant in exchange for leniency. Most people in Ray's situation either jumped at the chance to save themselves or took offense at the idea of turning on their friends.
But Ray had different priorities: "I just want to get out of jail in time to see my son graduate high school." Hello, and welcome to the 7Sage podcast. I'm J.Y. Ping. A few months ago, we interviewed 7Sager Daniel about going from a 157 to a 172 on the LSAT. But that wasn't the only challenge he overcame in the application process.
Daniel had a complicated educational trajectory, a low GPA, and some major character and fitness hurdles. In today's episode, 7Sage consultants David and Nora talk to Daniel about his admissions journey.
Daniel, Nora, thank you so much for joining us. Daniel, I wanted to talk to you about your admissions process, and you worked with Nora from 7Sage, who's here as well. So maybe you can both just introduce yourselves.
Hi, I'm Nora and I'm a consultant with 7Sage, and I'm excited to be here.
I am Daniel. I was a client of Nora's, incoming law student at Cornell Law School.
That's so exciting.
That's right. Now you just get to take it easy. Do podcasts all day until school starts.
I was going to say it until September.
I'm trying my best to relax in the, probably, the last downtime I'll have for awhile.
That's right. So Daniel, you are what they call a nontraditional student. And if you've never heard that term before, it's kind of a bogus word. It really refers to anybody who is not coming, you know, straight out of college, or maybe out of college and then after a couple years in the workforce.
But Daniel, you had a career. Actually, you had more than one career, and I'm wondering if you can just give us sort of a capsule of your background before we start.
Yeah, sure. So I guess you could say I'm nontraditional in a few different respects. So, like you said, I had a career prior to applying to law school. I was a police officer for just under 10 years, and prior to that, I was in the military for a few years.
In addition to these previous careers, I'm a bit older than your, I guess, typical law school applicant. I'm 41, if I remember it correctly, 41. And my undergraduate education was also not very typical, kind of pieced together over the years, close to two decades, spanning some community college classes, some online courses, and eventually finishing up my undergrad degree here at the University of Hawaii.
Daniel, why did you decide to work with an admissions consultant?
So this was my second admissions cycle. I initially applied to law schools in 2019. I wasn't very informed about the process, you know, what goes into a good application. I didn't really know what to expect, given my nontraditional background, and then just kind of applied very, very broadly.
It must've been 40+ schools. Wasn't sure what I was doing, really, what was going on, what kind of outcomes I could expect. Towards the end of that cycle, as I became more informed, I kind of realized that I didn't really know what I was doing, and I could probably expect a lot better outcomes if I enlisted the help of someone that did, I guess, which is why I contacted you, David. I think that was around May of last year.
I think we spoke a couple of times. Your application had a couple of special challenges. So, one thing we've already touched on, you are a nontraditional student, which is not necessarily a detriment in its own right. But your education history is complicated. On top of that, you had multiple LSAT takes, about as multiple as you can get, and then you had some character and fitness issues.
And so I want to talk about how you addressed each of those in your application, maybe starting with the PS. And I'm going to ask Nora the first question. So, Nora, when you started working with Daniel on the personal statement, what was your approach? How did you even begin to look for a topic?
So when I first started working with Daniel, the first thing I did was I looked at what he sent in last year. Thought about that as sort of a jumping-off point. And I asked Daniel, you know, to talk to me about his thoughts about that application, and also to send me his notes for this next one to sort of see where he was coming in from.
And he sent me a 13-page document that was sort of a brainstorm, but I think it was a 22-year-long story that this document spanned. And so the first question was figuring out, well, which part of this story do we want to tell?
Something that I see a lot from applicants is, you know, when you think, well, why do I want to go to law school, it doesn't start a year before you apply. It often starts a really long time before you apply. And as you tell the story, you have to look to your history to say, well, this happened, and this changed my next decision, which, you know, helped me make my next decision, and on and on.
And the challenge for a lot of folks is to figure out, well, which part of this is relevant for the personal statement and which part of this is too much context? Where's the frame? And we toyed with a few different ideas. We thought, I remember, Daniel, your first personal statement was about your time in the military, right?
Yes. Yes. And that was the one from the 2019 cycle. But when I asked you, "Why do you want to go to law school? Why do you want to be a lawyer?" what you told me had a lot more to do with your job as a police officer and how your sort of growing disillusionment caused you to start to think about a different way that you could intervene in people's lives to help them.
And so when I thought about that purpose, then the question became like, how do you work backwards to figure out, you know, where did that feeling start, and how do we, how do we tell the story of that? And we ended up focusing in on the last few years that you were a police officer.
Yeah, Daniel, did you know going in that you wanted to write about something else, or did you feel like there are too many possibilities and I really have no idea?
Yeah, more the latter. You know, that direction that Nora provided was, like, so important. I couldn't have done it without her. So essential. Even my initial personal statement from the previous cycle, I really didn't have any clue how to write a good personal statement, what kind of things I should be talking about, even what an application reader would be looking for in terms of a good applicant, like what they would admit to their school.
And that document that I sent Nora was just me kind of putting in, like, anything that I could think of that, you know, like, hey, maybe this would be good, maybe this idea. These are some things that I wrote about last year, which I was horrified to read again. I can't believe I submitted this thing.
And Nora told me, I think she was just kind of, I think she was just being nice to me when she's like, "That always happens when you read your stuff again." I think it was horrifying. But she was able to just give me that direction that I needed. Like, what are you trying to accomplish here? What are you trying to do with this personal statement?
I mean, you're telling a story, but what's the goal, right? Like if you're trying to show admissions that you would be a good law student, that you have the potential to succeed. I guess, why do you want to be a lawyer? Why do you want to be an attorney? What drives you to study law?
And I kind of, I don't know if I left it out initially in my first attempt to get into law school, but I hadn't addressed it, I think, directly enough. That's something that I definitely needed.
Daniel, would you feel comfortable reading it out loud? Not the whole thing, but maybe just the first paragraph and one more sentence?
Yeah, sure. Ray's posture slumped as if his admission of guilt had left him somehow deflated. My police training allowed me to recognize his emotional cues in the interrogation: defiance, defensiveness, deception, fear, and now resignation.
Having broken my suspect, I felt this sense of accomplishment. Ray was a drug dealer, and my job was to get his supplier. Confession in hand, I asked Ray to become a police informant in exchange for leniency. If he provided me information on his supplier and fellow drug dealers, he could face lesser penalties.
Most people in Ray's situation either jumped at the chance to save themselves or took offense at the idea of turning on their friends. But Ray had different priorities: "I just want to get out of jail in time to see my son graduate high school." I was trained never to connect emotionally with suspects and to instead project empathy tactically, like a baton or an armlock, as a tool to gain compliance. But Ray's answer resonated with me in a way I did not expect.
How did you get to the idea of writing about Ray in particular?
I think I had brainstormed a couple ideas, maybe two or three of them, if I remember correctly. And we had explored them, just kind of getting a rough idea of what it would look like, how much development, how much additional work it would take to kind of take each individual idea and make it into a viable topic for the essay.
And I think that story that we settled on was just the one that was the most applicable, I guess, to my situation, and the evolution of my, you know, thought processes and my time in the police force, maybe like the most representative story of what actually led me to leave law enforcement to go into law studies.
Nora, did this story come out of the brainstorm?
Yeah, so what was interesting was brainstorming with Daniel, Daniel, you're a really good writer and you're really good at picking moments, especially, that moved you in some way, that made you think. And I think the first thing that came out of the brainstorm was the series of different moments, the series of different sort of microstories.
And every time we talked, the story of Ray came up, and it started to feel like it held a lot of weight, specifically when we were talking about your decision to pursue law, and reading it, it makes sense. This is a moment where you're working with someone who your training allowed you to recognize these different emotional cues and to feel like you had sort of broken your suspect, which was supposed to be success.
But you felt conflicted, because though you'd gotten the confession, it didn't feel right to you. And I think you were surprised by your own reaction to that interrogation, felt like this really interesting turning point in the story, this moment where you realized that your priorities were different, perhaps, than the priorities of your department.
What I admire about this essay is that it's working both as a story that stands up on its own, and as a document that helps us make sense of your entire application. It anticipates some of the questions that admissions officers might have about why you ended up getting your undergraduate degree so late.
It anticipates some of the questions they may have about why you left the police force, and it provides a really compelling counternarrative to something that they might just conclude if they were only reading your character and fitness addendum.
So it does all of that, but it never feels abstract, right? You began with that paragraph that really paints a portrait of somebody, and it always feels very lively and specific. Did you know you were doing all this or were you just trying to follow the trail?
I think I have Nora to thank for most of that. I think it's ended up being, like, just beautifully engineered, all those different aspects. And I think I was a beneficiary of her experience, you know, that definitely was essential, if not the primary factor that led to, like you said, how it just kind of performs all of those different functions, all in one essay.
I guess I couldn't say that I was even aware that we were doing all of that at the time, until we got towards the end, where everything started to kind of get solidified, the content and the sequence of everything, and when we start to kind of fine-tune the content.
And then Nora would explain to me, you know, like, this language works better, this language better conveys this idea. Just kind of helping me put words to my thoughts, I guess, because I tend to be all over the place when it comes to that.
Nora, I guess I'll ask you the same question. Did you know that you were doing all of these things or were you just trying to tell the story?
So I saw this common thread, Daniel, throughout your documents that, you know, starting back in what you wrote about your time in the military, where you started to think, "I want to be working to help people. I want to be working to change people's circumstances for the better, and I feel like what I'm being told to do doesn't tally with that. And I feel frustrated because, you know, I'm following these instructions and the outcomes I'm seeing aren't the outcomes that I'd expect to see."
And I saw that in your writing about your time in the military and in your writing about your time as a police officer. And in some ways, I think, you know, so we get to this problem, right? Like you're in these careers where your goal is to help people. It's not working. What do you do?
And I think a really important part of any personal statement is to look to the future, not to just say, "I identified a problem and I'm frustrated, but I want to do things differently." And so when you look back to the things that you tried to do as a police officer first, you know, you try to apply this new knowledge that you gained studying psychology to your work in narcotics, right?
You start sending people to rehab instead of arresting them. You start counseling people to interact with suspects in kinder ways. You implemented a Narcan program, and that was, I think, the first of its kind in the way of law enforcement?
That's right. So you started to work to make these changes, and you realized those changes, they're not doing what you want them to do. You're still working, you feel, in the wrong context. And so then enter law school, right? Enter the sort of future part of the statement where we say, well, why are you telling us all this? What's the point?
And the point is the future. And the point is what you want to do now, now that you have had this experience, that you tried in these ways. And it leads you really nicely into this sort of ending that's not just, you know, here's why I left law enforcement, but is really, here's how I'm going to take what I've learned and use it to enact real change.
Let's turn now to the diversity statement, which is really successful, I think, for a lot of the same reasons, but it's interesting because it's not what I would think of as a traditional diversity statement.
Before we actually discuss it, Daniel, I'm going to put you on the spot again. Again, you don't have to say yes, but I think you are a good reader, and I'm wondering if you would just read us the first paragraph.
Yeah. Yeah, sure.
Okay. First paragraph. I joined the army when I was 17. I asked the recruiter for something dangerous and ended up a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division. I expected a challenge that would help me find direction and purpose. But while training for war fighting taught me about leadership and gave me confidence in my ability to overcome adversity, it did not prepare me for the realities of a combat deployment, something that would transform my views on poverty, equity, and the effects of US military interventions.
Thanks. One thing that I'll point out right away is that the style is really different. You began your personal statement with an anecdote. I sometimes call it a cold open because we're in a scene and we don't know exactly what's going on. We figure it out as we go along.
And this one is sort of the opposite. This one is almost like an abstract of the essay you're about to give us. It tells us what the essay is about, and it sort of leads with the conclusion, and then we're going to loop back and get to this conclusion. We're going to learn how it transformed your views on poverty, equity, and the effects of US military interventions.
But my first question is, why did you choose to write a diversity statement about your experience in the military?
We went back and forth on this, I think, for a while, you know, whether I should even write a diversity statement and whether this would be a viable topic for one. I think we just ended up deciding that if it's just a matter of writing about, hey, I was in the military, you know, maybe that might not have been as useful a diversity statement.
Just talking about things that maybe an admissions officer would just kind of assume if you saw someone had military experience, like, okay, this person is, maybe has some leadership experience, has some experience working in difficult environments, critical-thinking skills, that kind of stuff.
But as we explored the topic more, I think it became apparent that there were different things that I could talk about, specifically with this deployment to Afghanistan that we addressed. It helped me learn something, I guess, just about the way that the world worked, you know, external to my reality to that point.
Yeah. I actually think that it complements your personal statement beautifully, and it really reinforces, for lack of a better word, your brand. You have a brand as someone who risked himself personally, first in the military, then in the police force, to fight bad guys, only to realize that, in your own words, it's not that simple.
That's what your DS is about. That's also what your PS is about. And so we see the common theme: you're fighting bad guys, and then you realize, wait a second, this binary of bad guys versus good guys is a little too tidy. It is no longer a satisfactory model of the world.
And you set out to learn more, first by going back to college, and now you're going to law school. So I think it's doing a lot of work for you. Those two essays are reinforcing each other. Nora, how did you go about helping Daniel figure out what might be a good topic for the DS?
Yeah, so like Daniel said, it was really hard. We went back and forth a lot about whether he should do a DS because in some ways we were operating on a less-is-more principle, right? You only want to submit writing that serves your application positively, right? Like don't make people read more pages unless there's something that you can tell them about yourself that you feel will really fit and serve your narrative.
And the more I heard Daniel talk about being in the military, the more I thought this really, yeah, like what you said, David, this fits into this overall way that your life has gone, Daniel, where you end up in these situations where you're supposed to be, you know, fighting the bad guys and you realize, this is way more complicated than I thought it would be.
And really, I think what we worked to highlight in the diversity statement was the sense that Daniel's a really good critical thinker. And I think the question was like, how do we sort of use this story to show that, to show the way that you had this experience and it helped you rethink where and how you trust authority, where and how you trust institutions?
And then you say this in your essay, it's a view that's guided you through your career in law enforcement and afterwards, right? That you, that you're interested in asking the difficult questions and not accepting the status quo, and then challenging things that you feel are wrong wherever those things happen to come up.
Daniel, do you like writing?
Not particularly. I guess the best way to put it is I don't mind it. It's never been something that I thought I was particularly good at.
Do you know about how many drafts you did for each of these essays?
I believe it was 13 or 14 drafts for the personal statement and maybe a little less for the diversity statement, maybe 10.
Wow. That's a lot. Were you making substantive edits the whole time or were you sort of getting the basic shape of it, and then refining it?
More the latter, if I remember correctly. We started off with a lot more content and then just kind of refining it, getting rid of anything that wasn't really useful.
Nora, can you talk to me a little bit about that process?
Yeah. So, at the beginning, I think for most of your essays, Daniel, we would usually do a big overhaul. I always feel bad at that step because I have to send you an email saying, "Okay, this is a great essay, but you have to change the entire order, add three paragraphs."
But after the first few rounds of overhaul, when the essay really finds its form, then it becomes about tweaking the language, about adding details, about thinking about, you know, what details are actually serving the story and what details are there because you grew attached to them in the writing.
And that's one of the hardest parts, is figuring out, like, what sentences do you need to chop? Because especially when we're talking about diversity statements, you know, you want this to be a page or less, double-spaced. That's not a lot of room. And that was something that I was very strict about. It was like, we cannot go over a page.
You know, we often ended up cutting sentences in half, you know, really whittling things down. But the idea is, you know, how can you as quickly as possible say what you came there to say? And how do we add the sort of flourishes, the details, the stuff that's going to make it compelling to read without making it feel redundant or lengthy?
Yeah, I distinctly remember we were talking about maybe ideas or even wording that I would get just kind of attached to throughout the creation of the essay. And when it became apparent that it didn't work, thankfully, I had you to kind of just insist on, you know what? I get that you like this, but it may not work. It may not suit our purposes, or that there may be a better way to do this.
I may or may not have attempted to sneak some of those back by you again. But you were very vigilant, thankfully.
Something we say a lot in writing is, "Kill your darlings." You know, the things you got the most attached to are sometimes the things that need to go, or the things that need to find new homes. And there were moments where you'd say something really well, and I feel like we should keep that somewhere, somehow.
And then it might, you know, there were a few times where language would reappear in like a supplemental essay for a school or, you know, half of your personal statement used to be about your time in the military, and we were able to sort of rescue some of that language and bring it into the diversity statement. So, kill your darlings, but revive them too.
Yeah. I don't think anything is ever wasted when you cut it. It comes back in some form. But now I'm getting karmic.
Daniel, can we talk about your character and fitness issues? To the extent that you feel comfortable, can you just give us an overview of what kind of issues you were writing about?
Yeah, so I had a lot, actually. Quite a lot. That is part of the reason why, in my first cycle, like I said earlier, I didn't really know what to expect, what kind of results I could expect, or even if I would be able to get into any law school at all, let alone one that aligned with my career goals.
So I had some juvenile arrests. I had quite a few traffic citations over the years. My exit from the military was not the ideal discharge. It was an other-than-honorable discharge, which is something you don't quite hear about as often, I believe. It's not a dishonorable discharge, but it's also not an honorable discharge.
So something kind of went wrong along the way, basically, which is not the ideal thing to have on your record. And then my exit from the police department from law enforcement also coincided with an arrest. I was arrested on some erroneous charges that were actually never charged, but, you know, nevertheless, I did have an arrest, a recent arrest, which was in June of 2019, on my record.
And you wrote to me that your other consultant, Scott, who couldn't join us today, helped you figure out how to frame these issues. Could you just tell me a little bit more about that? What was the general approach?
So my initial approach, the approach I took in the previous cycle, was to, and I think my character and fitness then, it must've been at least two pages long, but just kind of go into as much detail as possible, kind of like explaining, you know, why these things happened, you know, what my perspective was in these incidents, what I learned about them, trying to show like, hey, you know what, but I've grown as a result of this.
Not that any of it was disingenuous, but Scott kind of took a look at everything and he just let me know like, hey, you know what? One, this is too much; two, you want to be candid. You want to be succinct, you know, just, the purpose of this is to disclose what happened, to be up-front and honest. This is what has happened to me, and to just go from there. Convey all the relevant information, and at the same time, give yourself the best shot of a positive outcome.
Was it ever hard to find the line between saying too little and saying too much?
It was for me, which is why I am extremely grateful for both Scott and Nora's guidance through all this. It was for me because I think there was an element just throughout my application materials, there was like an element of maybe searching for vindication or, you know, being able to kind of prove myself.
You know, justifying the actions that I had taken, my reasons for doing things. And I think even in one of our conversations, you also told me the same kind of thing, or it's like, you're not trying to take a stance or pick a hill to die on here. You know, you want to just convey that you are a good applicant, you'd make a great law student, you know, kind of just use that as your entryway into law school, to do the things, to accomplish the things that you want to do.
When I read your character and fitness addendum, what struck me was, one, the extreme succinctness, but two, they felt almost naked. And the reason I think that they felt naked to me is that there was this complete absence of defensiveness, which I think ended up working really well for you. It did not sound like you were protesting too much and it ended up conveying the sense that you didn't have anything to hide.
Yeah, and I think that was one of the focuses in just kind of refining this content, is to just make it as up-front and honest as possible.
Daniel, who did you ask for letters of recommendation from, and did any of these considerations, you know, your character and fitness addenda or your unconventional path to law school, play a part in your thinking?
As far as my recommender selections?
Yeah. Yes. So one of my recommenders was a previous supervisor in the police department, is a detective in the division that I worked for. So, given that that was my most relevant recent professional experience, I guess it would already stand to reason that I would get a recommendation from someone there.
But at the same time, speaking with Scott, you know, we decided that it would also be useful to just kind of not counter the character and fitness issues, but to just add more context to the work that I had done as a police officer. And then my other two recommenders, I think I ended up using three letters of recommendation, were from professors in my psychology program.
Yeah, that's good. Everyone's different, but in general, academic recommendations count for the most. And your academic work was relatively recent, so I would think that that would help assuage some possible concerns about your academic history, the fact that, like you said, that your undergraduate career spanned about 20 years.
Yeah, I remember when we started putting applications together and I saw how the end form that it generates, where you get that PDF that your completed application spits out, and I could see the education section. It must've been like two pages long. That's kind of concerning, like, is this going to be a problem? But it worked out, worked out okay.
The last thing I want to ask you about is just how you chose what schools to apply to, and then how you ended up choosing Cornell.
Yeah, so I wanted as much portability, I guess, as possible, and I wanted to go to a school that would give me options as far as what kind of law I practiced, what kind of job I eventually got. You know, I have an idea of what I want to do, you know, which, that's the whole direction of my application. I'm interested in public interests, policing reform, those kinds of things.
But at the same time, you know, I think I can just assume that, I'm not even in school yet, right? So, as I'm going through law school, it would be very likely that, you know, my career goals would evolve as I learn more. So, with that in mind, I decided to apply to just the top 14 schools. The cycle previous, I had gotten on some waitlists for schools in that range. Based on that, and my current career goals, and the numbers, the test scores that I ultimately got, that settled on the top 14 schools.
This has been really informative. I wonder if we can leave this conversation with a piece of advice from each of you, maybe specifically geared towards nontraditional applicants.
I guess I would say something like your past difficulties don't define you and they're going to limit what you can do only if you allow them to.
What about you, Nora?
It's a good question. I think figuring out what it is that you want your story to do, where your story ends, and then where the future is too. I think a lot of nontraditional applicants struggle to figure out how do I summarize my schooling, my career, and my life in a couple short pages in the succinct way that must be a lot easier for someone in their early twenties, just out of college, you know, hasn't done a whole lot yet.
And I think really figuring out, like, how do I focus on the past enough to give a context for who I am, but also remember to focus on the future, focus on where you want to go and how those experiences will inform that work, I think that's really important.
That's great advice. Well, thank you both for joining me, and Daniel, I really hope that you enjoy your last summer of freedom for awhile.
Thank you. I'm trying my best.
Hi, it's J.Y. again. Thank you for listening. And as always, if you're studying for the LSAT, applying to law school, studying for your law school exams, or studying for the bar, come visit us at 7Sage.com. We can help.
That's it for this episode. Take care of yourself and see you next time.
Hello and welcome to the 7Sage podcast. I'm J.Y. Ping. And on today's episode, David talks to a student named Adam, a Chinese national who went to school in America. With the help of 7Sage consultants Dan and Selene, Adam overcame his anxiety about writing in English and put together a winning application, ultimately getting an early decision acceptance to Penn Law.
Adam, thank you so much for talking to me today. It's a real honor and a pleasure. Can you start by telling us more about your background? Just a little bit about growing up and what led you to apply to law school?
Sure. So I came to the States around 11 years old, and my mom, she came over as a post-doctoral fellowship in Cincinnati. Since then, I was just growing up in Cincinnati in a public high school. While I was young, I was just really interested in history and social science.
In high school, I developed a habit on reading historical documents. I also got really interested in the AP social science categories, especially AP history, US history, European history. While doing some research all the way in high school, I was thinking that, well, law school may be a way out for me since I'm so interested in the legal aspect of this whole atmosphere.
And then I went to Ohio State University, and studying, majored in finance and political science, and along the way, I just worked hard in college, and then decided to apply to law school in my, end of my junior year, beginning of my senior year.
And why did you decide to work with a consultant?
Coming from China, I understand where my weaknesses are. My reading and writing skills are still far behind my speaking and listening. So I think that writing has always been my weakest point in all my abilities. To make sure that I had a good application, I just had to work with a consultant from 7Sage.
And partly because it was also my, I worked with 7Stage on LSAT prepping. I took the course and after that, I decided to, you know, give it a try on the 7Sage admission package. And I think that, overall, the price was really affordable on my end. I think that mostly what I need is the editing and then some directions on applications, but it turns out a lot of things were beyond what I expected. And we can talk about that in a bit.
Oh, great. To be clear, are you saying that you were nervous about the essays?
Yes. I was very nervous about my writing skills. I really need to clarify some of my thoughts. When I write, I tend to write a lot of stuff, and I tend to lose track on what I'm writing and I tend to not get them together.
And, you know, I just have a whole five page of what I want to say, but I couldn't wrap them up in a neat format or in a neat fashion that's suitable under a good personal statement. And that had been my problem since high school. And because I majored in finance, my writing skills weren't really catched up along the way.
And I think that you started working with us before you got your final LSAT score. Is that right?
Yeah, I actually started very early. I started contacting you guys all the way back in February, I think, in February of last year, because I wanted to get an early hand on. I know it's a really popular service and I think I really needed that help, so I decided to enroll very early.
And then luckily I was paired automatically with Dan and Selene. Dan was my advisor on writing and Selene was my advisor overall on my application. And I'm very happy about that early-bird package, I think. Well, not a package, but early-bird advantage.
So tell me about your LSAT trajectory and what you were thinking along the way in where you wanted to apply.
Actually, I started prepping in the beginning of 2020. I think that may be a little bit late, but I started prepping in, I think, January. But after a couple of PTs and scores came out, I took my first exam, I think, in August, and the score was a 159. Wasn't really on par with what I was thinking.
For four years, I'd been think about applying to T14s, that's what my family wanted and also what I personally wanted to achieve. And so I wasn't satisfied with the 159, and I contacted Selene, who I'd been contacting ever since February. And she said, "Well, let's do a retake." And so I did sign up for the September one as well as the October one to make sure, because there's a timing gap between the signups and actual scores come out.
So after 159, I signed up for the September and October. And so after two more months of studying, after the September score came out, I got a 167 and I was very happy about it, I shared with Selene. And since this year, I've been notified by Selene and also looking through Reddit and other sources, that this is a very competitive cycle, and looking back, it is.
We decided that there's still some improvements for the cycle, and so I decided to give it a try in October again. The score came out to be 164. It wasn't really what I expected and I was pretty let down. So I emailed Selene and had a call with her. And so we decided that this cycle is very competitive and why don't we start early?
And so we decided to focus on our application materials, essays, and optional essays as well. So we decided to use that 167 along with my college GPA to just start our application. And then I started working with Daniel ever since then.
How did you decide where to apply, and where did you apply?
Like I said previously, I decided to apply to T14s after I did some research. I wanted to achieve a top-tier law school because my dream was going through capital market, that's what I studied in undergrad, and through international capital market trade along Asian Pacific, as well as the New York sites. So I applied broadly, as recommended by Selene. I applied broadly to all T14s besides Yale.
And also I added some safeties, including Boston University and my alma mater, Ohio State. And so that's how I applied it. And what I was thinking of is that, with my GPA and my LSAT, I could at least get some admissions in T14s and be ready for my backup safeties, if it's a really super competitive cycle.
And I think that you applied early decision twice, right?
Correct. That was a strategy that we formulated together. And also because of my three scores, it was up and then down, it's like an up shape. So we feared that it might not be a good sign for my overall application. Even though they only take the highest scores for the statistics, it's still presenting a bad sign for my applications.
So what we decided is that, luckily, because they have different ED times, we decided to apply Columbia ED first, in early November. And then we said wait and see how the score comes out, because they said it will guarantee the decision will come out in the end of December.
And so we'll decide if, based on that application, whether I'll apply to a second ED. And so, because Columbia also faces a very competitive cycle this year, they deferred me, which wasn't really a yes or no decision. They deferred me back to April.
And so I realized that my time is running short, so I emailed Penn right after that, and I said, "Please add me onto the ED II applications." And then they responded to me in early January when they were back in the office. So that's why I had two EDs. And also because Penn was my top choice, actually, among all, in the beginning, but I just decided to reach a little bit higher just to see if I can win a lottery.
So I applied to Columbia ED first and then waited for Penn for the ED II program, since I still had the time. I think the deadline was in mid-January.
Selene, I have a question for you. How did you approach the question of where Adam ought to apply?
Well, I think that he should have applied broadly because of the nature of the cycle and what was going on in the world and within admissions.
I felt like he had an interesting file. There are a number of very attractive factors that I saw in his application. Given what he wanted to do, it kind of made sense that these internationally known law schools should be his focus. When a candidate decides to apply ED, they are indicating to the admissions committee, "You are my top choice. I'm willing to bind myself to you and come if you take me."
Columbia, I think, made sense because it's a very well-respected program. It would carry him far internationally. Given his background, given his interest in finance, going to school in New York City made sense.
Columbia has excellent placement within corporate law and they had the early ED program, and that if he did not get the results that he wanted, then, you know, we could see what other programs he could turn to. And Penn had this second ED program. Penn has Wharton next to it, and he is interested in finance. So that's kind of how it seemed to make sense to us.
Yeah, just a small clarification. I have talked to some people who think that ED, or early decision, means simply applying to law school early. ED means that you apply to a school and you agree to go to that school if you get accepted. Often ED applications are due early in the cycle, but there are some schools, like Georgetown, that have early decision deadlines as late as March, actually.
So ED just means that you are applying to a school and agreeing to go there if they admit you. And you can only apply to one ED school at a time. But if you're canny, like Adam, you can apply to one ED school, and then if you don't get in, you can apply ED to another school.
Before we talk about your essays, Adam, which it sounds like you were the most nervous about, a question for both you and Selene. Did you have an overall strategy for how to approach your applications? Were you thinking, "This is what I want to convey to the committee," or did you take the pieces of your application one at a time and just say, "How can I write the best essay? How can I write the best addendum?" et cetera.
We started contacting very early on in this stage and I had all my available information to Selene, including my resume, and what my experiences are and my thoughts on the essays.
But, you know, overall, we decided that I'll tackle my LSAT first, but then once my LSAT score comes out, we'll formulate our strategy based on LSAT score's timeline. So, at 159, she recommended me to retake, and at 167, we started actually working on the application materials and targeting our schools, as well as formulating our overall strategy on the applications.
And especially it turns out that the 164 comes out, that's when we actually get into the serious talks on the decision timelines and what we want to present to each of the schools.
That is all true. I remember that it was pretty important to me that, given what I saw in his application, that we present Adam and his strengths, like figure out what his strengths are.
What does he have to offer a law school community and try to bring those strengths out in the materials, whether it was emphasizing his international experience in law, in leadership, in his resume, and also trying to make him distinctive in the way he expressed himself in his personal statement.
Had we not done that, it would have been sort of easy to look at his file as just a really, really impressive GPA, and a 167 with kind of a bell curve LSAT history. And I did not want him just to be evaluated on his numbers. So I thought it was important that we present the fact that he has