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is it always best to take the diagnostic test first?

BerserkeleyBerserkeley Alum Member
in General 56 karma

….Can I take it in the middle of my preparation when I am more confident?


  • GoatAdvocate_0L_SLSGoatAdvocate_0L_SLS Alum Member
    269 karma

    I'm of the opinion that the diagnostic is more harmful than informative when one takes it without ANY prior studying. It's kind of like doing an American Ninja Warrior course for the first time in your life. Is it going to suck? Probably. Is the diagnostic indicative of your potential? No. Does it tell you what you need to know? Not really. You haven't studied for the LSAT before, assume you know nothing. Why do you need to bomb a test to reach that conclusion?

    Point being, it's totally fine if you study a little bit first to understand the foundational mechanics of the LSAT. When you first start out, you don't know what you don't know. After gaining some background, you'll actually know how to address your deficits.

    And when I said it was harmful, I mean psychologically. Having a low first score hanging over your head whilst studying can really drive up anxiety and drive down confidence.

  • teechj117teechj117 Alum Member
    edited May 2021 290 karma

    Agree. Depending on your personality, it may do more harm than good. Even if you nail it with a decent score, it could hurt your study habits if you develop an ego about it. Some things about this test may come natural, but mastery and application of the lessons from CC are entirely different than natural prowess, and you're bound to hiccup when applying them with time.

    PTs should be a measurement of your personal study milestones, and where to go from there if you feel lost about what to focus on next. The diagnostics is a trial-by-fire way of telling you how much you don't know at the onset. It's supposed to be a blow to your ego, so don't fret. There's always room for improvement, and that's a beautiful notion.

  • WoodsCommaElleWoodsCommaElle Monthly + Live Member
    379 karma

    Hey @Berserkeley ! When I first started studying, I made a deliberate choice to not take a diagnostic. What good would it have done? If anything, I think it's a better idea to take that diagnostic PT after you move out of the CC - at that point, it'll give you a better indicator of the areas where you're weak and strong.

  • bunnyfriend7bunnyfriend7 Alum Member
    191 karma

    I honestly think the importance of a cold diagnostic is overstated. Unless you've never taken a standardized test before in your life, I don't see the benefit of sitting down for a timed test that you have absolutely no idea how to approach (I remember trying to do logic games in my head lol!). Plus, a diagnostic score also may influence how much studying you think you need to do: my diagnostic was a 159, which made me think I would only need a couple of months to start consistently breaking 170. I was wrong lol. Just go through the CC, do practice sets, old sections, and then when you're ready start doing timed PTs. I didn't start getting familiar with patterns on the test for a while, and I don't think a diagnostic helps speed up that process.

  • lsatplaylistlsatplaylist Alum Member
    5244 karma

    I'd vote for learning the skills first, but every one of us is individual. Let's say a motivated student with good study habits takes a diagnostic and gets a low score--now they're going to potentially have a loss of confidence that isn't helpful. Also, if someone isn't familiar with the test, I'd argue that the review isn't going to catch as many errors as a person would see later on.

  • tahurrrrrtahurrrrr Alum Member
    1106 karma

    It's definitely not a hard and fast rule that you must take a diagnostic first. I do think, however, that there's something to be said about understanding your thought processes under timed conditions before you start really studying. It's kind of like getting a preview of the test, which as long as you're not fixating on the score, may actually help you process the core curriculum better. A lot of the concepts in CC, at least for me, made more sense because I had seen the test first.

    But if you think you'll get more out of studying first then trying the test, do what's best for you!

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