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Everything I know...

Lucas CarterLucas Carter Alum Member
edited August 2020 in Sage Advice 2798 karma

As I begin law school at Cornell next week, I have felt increasingly compelled to reflect on my LSAT journey. I spent 2 years tirelessly grinding, putting my entire being into the test. To say that there were highs and lows would not do the feelings of each justice -- the lows made the world feel like it had ended and the high (getting my goal score) is a moment that I will never forget. Anyways, my experience was likely somewhat unique and I would like to share what I learned in hopes of streamlining your success.

1. Find an LSAT Buddy

Your family and friends will never understand this test. You need someone to be able to vent to and commiserate with. You need someone who you can text when you get wrecked by a timed section and you feel like the world is ending and you should re consider your entire future. You need someone to call you out when you are being lazy about your reasoning for eliminating or picking an answer choice. Blind reviewing with someone forces you to articulate your beliefs which makes them vulnerable and you will be more likely to challenge or change them. A study buddy will help you see questions and ideas in ways which were not possible by your life experiences and biases. Find someone you click with and you will lift each other to new heights. I ended up spending 100s of hours talking to and ultimately became close friends with my 7sage study buddy!

2. Growth= Stress + Rest

We get better by pushing really hard, letting ourselves recover from that stress, and ultimately growing from it. The secret is that the growth requires a resting period. If you only push, you simply just burn out, and risk losing your gains because your neurosis will create a loss of confidence and all kinds of negative feedback loops. So.... the key is to push really hard, take some time off, and then jump back in. If you plan the time off, you have control. Otherwise, burn out will force you to take time off and that is not fun. Go hard for a few days (or study sessions), forget the LSAT exists for a day or 2, and then jump right back in. This will keep you fresh and motivated. The rest period gives you a chance to cease the stories and biases you tell yourself. Burn out is simply when those stories and ideas seem so real that they weigh us down to the point where we cannot think rationally.

3. A Journal will keep you Sane

The biggest determiner of your growth will be what changes you make from day to day. A journal helps you to reflect on your current state and brainstorm ways to evolve. Don't try to hold it all in your head; when you write it down, it becomes real!
After you finish any section (timed or untimed) immediately record what went well, what did not go well, how you felt, and how you can improve next time out. Before taking the next section, look back on your prescriptions and go into the new section with the intention to implement what you learned. You will begin to notice recurring themes and you will be able to see and remedy them. Don't rush through your reflection-- LSAT success is a function of who can evolve best!

4. Meditation

Meditation shows you what your mind is like without thoughts or typical programs of consciousness running. Knowing what this is like allows you to recognize when thoughts and moods arise. This is relevant to the LSAT because sensing stress or fear at its onset is super important. If you catch it early, you can nip it in the bud before it snowballs. We are all prone to not understanding say #8 on an LR section, thinking we are out of our league or not good enough, reading #9 in that stressed out state, and getting even more stressed. This generally builds on itself until it comes to a head and you are left doubting everything and not able to think rationally at all. So meditation will help you to better understand and deal with life and stress as it happens to you. This will allow you to build a better inner dialogue. and perform better under timed conditions.

I am big fan of Sam Harris' Waking Up app. It is philosophical yet practical and accessible, and it avoids the corny feeling of Headspace or Calm.

5. Do not Underestimate Novelty

Ever heard the expression "Just Sleep on it" ? This is so oft used because it works! Our thought processes and conscious experience are determined by our inputs. If you keep your inputs the same and are stuck in routine, your results will not change. I cannot tell you how many times I was completely stuck and feeling hopeless on an LR question, did something else (like run, go on a drive, listen to music etc. ), and returned to see the question with perfect clarity. Under timed conditions this is why we skip. It gives us a chance to let our neurons slightly re arrange themselves and approach the question with new eyes. Novelty destroys the stories we tell ourselves which hold us back. Change your routines often, step out of your comfort zone, and try new stuff! If nothing changes, nothing will change.

6. LG is a Muscle

Unlike the other sections, the more LG you do the better you become at it. Practice trains you to make inferences sub consciously and quickly. I found that even taking a few days off would make me slower and clunkier. Get your reps in and stay fresh!

7. Untrained Intuition is Very Dangerous

Some of the worst atrocities ever committed were done so because people truly believed things for very bad reasons. Trusting your intuition is essential on this test, but you first must make sure it is warranted. The work you do in BR and untimed sessions are what trains your intuition. You are training your machinery under the hood to be able to fire efficiently and effectively when called upon. Challenge yourself to always write out why you think what you think. Lots of times ideas "feel" right in our head until we are really forced to write or articulate them. Your BR score is a decent indication of how much you can trust your intuition. When you are satisfied with it, see how you do with timed work. Find where your intuition fails you and fix it during BR--- rinse and repeat until you improve! Here is an example of my written explanations:

8. Being Well- Read Matters..... A Lot

Having a basic understanding of terms in Science, Philosophy, and Art is massive. Being able to visualize and understand such topics means you can spend more time analyzing arguments and structure and less time confusedly parsing grammar. The people who do well on this test without much prep are the ones who are already familiar and versed with such topics. For example, JY triple majored in Economics, Political Science, and Philosophy-- He was pretty much bred for this test! The good news is that you have plenty of time and resources to catch up. I saw big returns on my efficiency and performance from doing more outside leg work. Below is a list of my favorite resources: -- Articles on Art, Philosophy, and Literature which are written in a very similar way to RC passages. Reading a few of these a day will make you an RC god. --- A Youtube channel which does visual explanations regarding questions on philosophy and science. They do a great job of simplifying complex ideas and making them digestable. Youtube playlist on improving critical thinking. They do a nice job of explaining logic and the science of argumentation in a non LSAT related light.

Philosophize This Podcast-- Accessible way to learn about famous philosophers and ideas. Nearly every episode covers a topic that has been brought up on the LSAT.

Informal Logic Textbook --

This book gave me my greatest LR gains. It discusses the science behind why we reason, discusses the underpinnings behind informal logic, and provides many many examples. This is far beyond the concepts tested by the LSAT, but it will challenge you and sharpen your conscious thought and logical reasoning. An old LSAT test writer said on the LSAT Unplugged Podcast that he used this book as inspiration to write LR questions.

9. Speed Reading is a Myth... but Mastery of Grammar is NOT

Trying to read faster will make you worse. Be wary of anyone purveying this advice. The key is to understand what you read more effectively and efficiently. Especially in RC, what you are reading is something that author spent a lot of time working on and perfecting. It is like a prized musical piece to them. Being a master of Grammar helps you read the notes just as they were intended to be hit and get into the rhythm of the writing, as if you had direct access to the author's thoughts. I became a much smoother and confident reader after learning the "why" behind grammatical markings and use.

To do so, it is important to truly understand the function and usage of commas, colons, dashes, semi-colons, and other markings of writing. Some resources to get you started:

Note: I also found it useful to check out some basic concepts from linguistics. Check out some tree diagramming videos on Youtube and learn to see the elements of a sentence. This will help you to break down abstract, difficult language when the LSAT throws it at you.

10. You know the importance of sleep + nutrition + exercise... Stop ignoring it.

These things are all inter connected. If one is lacking, the others will begin to lack and eventually you will lose your ability to think clearly. You cannot expect to score at an elite level on the LSAT and not take care of other facets of your life at an elite level.
This should convince you:

11. Tune out Dogma

You will find all kinds of people with "secrets" to the LSAT and supposed necessary conditions to success-- Be skeptical! Think about success in undergrad: Everyone had their own approach; some were much more effective than others, but the only right way was the one which worked for you. So stop listening to Webinars, Podcasts, Reddit, and other resources looking for the magic solution. Just keep grinding, trying things, and seeing what works for you. I do understand the irony of me giving advice yet also telling you not to take advice from those who offer it (Lol!)

My favorite dogmatic myths:

-Later PTs are harder
- Later questions are always harder than earlier ones
-You should take a PT a week
-You aren't ready until you have PT'd your goal score 19 times and waited 6 years
-RC is not easy to improve on

If you believe these things ... they will be true!

Happy LSAT'ing and enjoy + embrace all parts of the journey :)


  • WilliamCKWilliamCK Member
    10 karma

    This is great, thank you for posting!

  • Heinz DoofenshmirtzHeinz Doofenshmirtz Member
    481 karma

    This was beyond helpful. I'm so grateful! Congratulations on Cornell and good luck. You deserve it all!

  • 180Lesketit180Lesketit Member
    74 karma

    Thank you! Congratulations on Cornell!

  • FHChick99FHChick99 Alum Member
    185 karma

    This is awesome!! Thank you, and best of luck at Cornell!!

  • OG bear7OG bear7 Core Member
    33 karma

    Thank you this was great info and encouraging!

  • 41 karma

    Thank you for this! Congrats and good luck at Cornell!

  • spinosanspinosan Alum Member
    187 karma

    this is one of my new favorite posts i've seen, especially with the myth: "You aren't ready until you have PT'd your goal score 19 times and waited 6 years." I was dying dude.

    But seriously, thank you for this!

  • 375 karma

    Thank you for taking the time to write this! Really grateful for this and really appreciate your explanations doc.

  • yeahniceyeahnice Core Member
    123 karma

    Everything stated here is probably the truth and nothing but the truth. It's something that I can also testify to. Its comforting to see someone say it and believe it to remind me of that. Thanks for this!

    That last part though.. the myth.. the later PTs being harder, I'm trying overcome it but I just can't seem to get that misconception out of my head. Did you struggle with LR post 70s? Or were you consistent throughout? If you did suffer, do you know what you did to get out of that zone? I'm taking the test next week and it's something that has placed me in sort of a slump.

  • fruitjamfruitjam Member
    70 karma

    Congrats on Cornell! Thanks for the post :)

  • Confidence150Confidence150 Alum Member
    1417 karma

    Thanks for sharing. Best wishes on your law school journey!

  • lexxx745lexxx745 Alum Member Sage
    edited August 2020 3190 karma

    I love the advice! I will disagree a tiny bit on speed reading is a myth. There are activities that ingrain and improve your skill at reading faster, like collegiate debate. Also, if you think about it conceptually, if you improve your comprehension skill by reading more and more, it should take you less time to understand something. And therefore, you should actually read faster, by virtue of understanding better. And even Ben and Nathan from Thinking LSAT think reading a little faster can actually help you understand. Otherwise, all the other advice is great! Good luck! I loved reading your posts when I started my journey.

  • jcho1234jcho1234 Member
    108 karma

    Thank you

  • Hopeful9812Hopeful9812 Member
    872 karma

    Thanks so much for sharing this & good luck at law school!!

  • goforbrokegoforbroke Core Member
    319 karma

    Lucas this is amazing! Thank you for taking the time to share your hard-earned wisdom. As I read through your list, so many times I found myself saying, "Yes! I experienced that too!" I wanted to point out one or two here but I basically agree with everything. Best of luck at law school!

  • goforbrokegoforbroke Core Member
    edited August 2020 319 karma

    @lexxx745 Maybe @"Lucas Carter" means speed reading as in those courses and tricks people talk about where you can read a whole page in 3 seconds (or something similar). For me, what you describe isn't "speed" reading, it's just better reading and something we should all be working on :smiley:

  • kilgoretroutkilgoretrout Alum Member
    795 karma

    I love this, thanks for the wealth of tips.

  • lsat_suslsat_sus Core Member
    1417 karma

    This needs to be on the 7Sage podcast / blog.
    @J.Y. Ping!!

  • yoderyoder Core Member
    60 karma

    You are an angel. Great advice. Sending to all my lsat buddies

  • Lucas CarterLucas Carter Alum Member
    edited August 2020 2798 karma

    Thanks for all of the kind words. I will possibly follow up with some more posts like this in the coming weeks. There is so much to be learned from the content and process of the LSAT. It is a wonderful sport of the mind and spirit.

    @yeahnice said:
    Everything stated here is probably the truth and nothing but the truth. It's something that I can also testify to. Its comforting to see someone say it and believe it to remind me of that. Thanks for this!

    That last part though.. the myth.. the later PTs being harder, I'm trying overcome it but I just can't seem to get that misconception out of my head. Did you struggle with LR post 70s? Or were you consistent throughout? If you did suffer, do you know what you did to get out of that zone? I'm taking the test next week and it's something that has placed me in sort of a slump.

    Hey, don't worry too much about difficulty! At the end of the day your job is to read words on the page and analyze arguments. That part will never change. You belong here and can do this! Go be great!

  • mk90u90u0ymk90u90u0y Core Member
    29 karma


  • tuuliacandidotuuliacandido Alum Member
    23 karma

    Congrats! What helped you improve in RC?

  • grace099grace099 Alum Member
    132 karma

    Thank you so much for this !!

  • mrowley91mrowley91 Alum Member
    203 karma

    Congrats on Cornell, and thanks for the great advice!

  • ak-fre-cak-fre-c Member
    10 karma

    great advice. taking all of this to heart!

  • goforbrokegoforbroke Core Member
    319 karma

    @"Lucas Carter" You say, "I spent 2 years tirelessly grinding, putting my entire being into the test." Does this mean you were studying for the test full-time for 2 years? Or were you also in school/working? If so, how did you balance everything?

  • Lawyer LoochLawyer Looch Alum Member
    105 karma

    Thanks you rock!!!!! Congrats on Cornell

  • lawschoolapplicant2021lawschoolapplicant2021 Free Trial Member
    18 karma

    @"Lucas Carter" you are an angel. So candid and supportive. I have been looking for a study bubby for sometime now after my previous study buddy got the ideal score she was after. I found it was a world of difference to have someone who understands and can bring a new perspective. I wish you the best of luck at Cornell!

  • @"Lucas Carter" where did you find the book on "informal logic textbook"?

  • noonawoonnoonawoon Alum Member
    3481 karma

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom~

    If you don't mind me asking, what did you put for "who influenced you to apply to Cornell" in your app lmao

  • Alice003Alice003 Live Member
    691 karma

    Congratulations, Lucas! Thank you so much for posting this article here! It is extremely helpful! I wish I could afford the tutor fee to hire you. I read your other posts too and they were excellent too! Thanks again!

  • JerseyLife49JerseyLife49 Alum Member
    95 karma

    Wow, thank you so much for imparting all your wisdom upon us!!! This is beyond amazing of you. Congratulations on Cornell, and best of luck!!

  • You're a Sherpa my Ivy league attending friend... Definitely going to check out those links/

  • MIT_2017MIT_2017 Alum Member
    edited September 2020 470 karma

    I want to emphasize number 4. I got a 176, and I believe meditation played a large role. I think a lot of people might read through this list and see #4, think "huh that's interesting, maybe I'll try that sometime..." and then never follow through. But you'd be cheating yourself.

    There are a bunch of insights to gain from meditation, but from my experience, there is one particular insight that I think is particularly helpful for LSAT takers (and it doesn't require several months of commitment to meditation, as many of the other insights do!): meditation helps you actively clear your mind. This provided me 2 main benefits:
    1- I would meditate prior to going to sleep. Somehow, after a short 10 minute meditation, I found it much easier to go to sleep and not have LSAT-related thoughts and stress keeping me up. This is obviously beneficial for a lot of reasons, but it made working full-time and studying 2-3 hours consistently each night much more manageable.
    2- When I was PTing, I noticed the ability to clear my mind for as little as 10-15 seconds would allow me to reset and continue on the test unphased, even if I just got rocked by a section or particular question. Of course, you might think you're "good enough" at doing that now. But I think most people who meditate regularly would beg to differ. Meditation makes this so much easier to do this.

  • GoalgetterGoalgetter Member
    41 karma

    Wow, thank you so much for posting this! Good luck at Cornell.

  • RomigellerRomigeller Core Member
    7 karma

    This is incredible thank you so much

  • RaceTo180RaceTo180 Member
    130 karma

    I appreciate you mentioning meditation, a concept of Hinduism, the oldest religion in the world. I would also add Yoga to your meditation point as no Yoga is complete without meditation. Yoga doesn't have to be what people in the west follow such as Beer Yoga or some weird contraption, Yoga is just stretching your muscles and relaxing rather than doing something unnatural.

    I feel so glad that the concepts of Hinduism, meditation, is prevalent in the west. And no, meditating is not appropriating Indian or Hindu culture, you can do it

  • darrenmnelsondarrenmnelson Live Member
    22 karma

    Bookmarking this

  • BlueRiceCakeBlueRiceCake Member
    edited July 2021 302 karma

    Thank you! This is going to be really helpful. This post gave me reassurance that I'm on the right track. I really appreciate that you included links for good grammar books, I've been searching for some for a while

    Also Congrats on Cornell!

  • JusticeLawJusticeLaw Member
    194 karma

    This is so..... wonderful. Thank you. A friend of mine graduated from Cornell. I hear it is a great school.

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