I have been contemplating for a while now when to toss/donate/sell my LSAT prep materials. I thought it would come after my first offer from Big City School of Law, but never got around to it. Now, after receiving my second offer from Capitol City School of Law, I felt comfortable expelling the materials from my library. It was bittersweet. I found it surprisingly difficult to rid myself of the materials I slaved over for hours, weeks, and months. Despite their uselessness to me now, I somehow felt attached. I tossed old scribbled practice tests which donned the words “I hate this,” “Why answer choice B!?,” “WTF!?” among other expletives. Boy am I glad all that is behind me! Used prep books will be donated to my undergrad’s library (naughty words and all), some unused materials were listed on amazon, and the balance went into a big pile which will be incorporated into a ceremonial bonfire!
Its been 102 days since I took the LSAT and ya know what? Life is good and I survived it. To be honest, waiting in anticipation for my score was actually more difficult than the actual test. Sunday you will be glad its over. The worst thing you can do is sabotage your own success – so don’t be nervous. Tell yourself that this test only determines whether or not you have to take it again. (DO NOT tell yourself it determines the rest of your life).
Remember, you prepared hard, your ready, so show ‘em what ya got!
- In a class lecture, when the professor makes an assumption without stating its premise that led to the assumed conclusion, you immediately try to search for the missing premise.
- When speaking with your friends, if you open your mouth, touch your tongue to the top of your teeth (as if to make the “L” sound) your friends immediately turn away . . . running.
- As soon as you get your midterm/final/any large exam you disregard the letter grade and immediately question where you ranked percentile-wise within the class.
- On a multiple choice test with answer choices A-D you panic because there is no “E” answer choice.
- You remember random facts from reading comprehension passages and logical reasoning stimuli. Usually, in the middle of the night.
- You go through lsat practice test withdraw . . . and kind of miss the challenge of spending four hours taking a test hoping to have scored even just one point higher than your best.
- You are certain you are actually a smarter thinker and process facts more critically post-lsat prep.
- You realize you have no idea what’s on television because you haven’t turned it on in six months – and you’re too far behind now to catch up with Grey’s Anatomy/Desperate Housewives/The Good Wife!
I’ve had a few requests to share my preparation strategy for the June, 2010 LSAT. I’m flattered that some of you want to know how I prepped, but remember, there are a lot of test takers (35% to be exact) who scored even higher than I. But in a nutshell, I read the Powerscore Logical Reasoning Bible, the Powerscore Logic Games Bible, and the Official LSAT Superprep. If you apply for, and are granted a fee waiver, the Official LSAT Superprep is free from the Law School Admissions Council. I studied entirely on my own without the aid of a prepcourse or study-buddy.
I was most concerned about the analytical reasoning (a/k/a “Logic Games”) portion of the LSAT because on my practice test I only managed to attack two games, and answered correctly about half of the questions I attempted (lets just say it was single-digits). So I read the Powerscore Logic Games Bible first, and then I purchased logic games organized by game type through Cambridge LSAT. I spent about a month working on mastering each logic game type, and then panicked when I realized I was only two months away from the LSAT. So I took a bunch of timed practice tests, and got frustrated. (I would recommend waiting until you’ve fully acquired or at least learned the skills needed to do well on the LSAT before jumping into timed practice tests). I then took a few untimed practice tests, and this really improved my score. I also went back through the Powerscore Logical Reasoning Bible and made flashcards to help me remember the different question types and the strategies for each individual question type. Powerscore actually sells flashcards, but I find that by making them on my own, I’m learning the material while creating the cards, and while testing myself.
All together, I took fourteen practice tests, only four of those were untimed. The rest were strictly timed with 35 minute sections, but most only included 4 sections (the unscored experimental is the fifth section, not necessarily appearing fifth, but it is “a” fifth section).
In hindsight, as I previously mentioned, I wish I would have spent more time learning the skills before jumping into timed tests and getting frustrated. Also, I wish I would have spent more time reviewing my practice tests and really determining which question types I’m struggling with and forcing myself to realize why a particular answer choice was incorrect (or in LSAT speak, “uncredited.”)
One of the most key tips I can give anyone who is self-studying is to make a syllabus or schedule of assignments and deadlines that must be met. If you don’t think you can hold yourself accountable, have a friend check in on you. Ideally, you know someone who is also studying for the LSAT and will understand how serious it is that you stay on track. Also, do not ever think you do not have time to prep. Remember, I work full-time and take full-time classes. I got up early (sometimes 4:30 a.m.) to begin my day. A friend of mine in cyber world also has a crazy schedule and one of the ideas he had was that even if you do not have time to take full, timed practice tests, if you can just take even one timed section every day, from Monday through Friday, you will have completed a full test in a work-week. Of course, it is important to at some point sit down and take an entire test in one sitting to get the idea of the timing and how exhausting it can be, but this is a great way to make progress in under an hour each day (if you also take the time to review each 35-minute timed section).
I’m torn. Don’t get me wrong, I’m ecstatic about my 155 which quite frankly was a total shock. But now that I have calmed down, I realize that I did even better than I ever thought possible. I don’t want to seem greedy, but am I capable of even more? For the last 48 hours all I can think about is whether or not I should retake. A lot of people on message boards and in cyberspace tell me I should retake. But those who know me IRL are telling me to be proud of the score I got and start putting my efforts into drafting my personal statement, requesting letters of recommendation, etc. I am within the range I need to be in to be a competitive candidate for the schools I want to go to with my current scor.
All of my life, when dealing with difficult decisions I like to weigh out the pros and cons (maybe this is a Libra thing), so here it goes:
Possibility of scoring higher which could mean the ability to apply to more schools and possibly making my reach schools my target schools. This could also mean anchoring scholarships at my current target schools.
- Continuing to practice my analytical reasoning and critical thinking skills which will come in handy for law school. I really do believe that prepping for the LSAT has actually made me smarter and think in a different way than ever before.
- Deep down - (and this is a secret, so sssssssh) I kind of miss prepping for the LSAT. I love the challenge, I like to test my limits and improve my new skills.
- I know I didn’t spend enough time learning the skills of the LSAT prior to jumping into practice tests. I know there is still untapped potential in there somewhere. Heck, I only finished the Powerscore Logical Reasoning Bible 3 weeks before the lsat. Had I spent more time actually practicing those skills, I would have likely done even better.
- Now that I have a LSAC fee waiver, I would not have to pay the test fee.
- My guess is it really won’t take “that” much more additional prep to improve my score at least a few points.
- I may always wonder if I could have done better.
- Fear of not scoring as high, or even worse, scoring lower.
- NO way can I continue my summer school schedule with 3 intense 6 week classes and prep for the LSAT. The only way I would not go insane is if I decide to drop 1, maybe even 2 of my 3 summer classes I’m enrolled in which will begin the week of July 5th (so I’ll need to decide fast).
- All of the law school applications for the schools I intend to apply mandate that I list all future LSAT registrations. An admissions counselor at one of my target schools told me that when the school sees that I will be taking the LSAT in the future, this keeps my file from being “complete” until after that LSAT score is in. So, while I may be applying super early to help strengthen my chances, my file won’t be considered complete until early November when the score is released.
- I really do not want to sit for that damn test again.
Yesterday around 2:30 there were reports of June 2010 LSAT takers receiving their scores. My feelings toward receiving my score went from “oh please just give me the darn score” to “oh wait, no, I’m not ready, not yet!” I checked my LSAC.org account and my pop-up link buttons turned from green to grey and then the “email score date” changed from June 28, 2010 to June 25, 2010. But like it or not – it came. And I’m one happy girl! I received my score around 5:00.
My best ever timed practice test was 153. My score on test day . . . . .155!!! A 155 marks the 64th percentile. I have no idea how I pulled it off (but hey I’m not asking questions!) In fact I was so surprised,I thought maybe LSAC had made a mistake, so I rushed to check my account online and it was consistent. I’m very thrilled and this should get me into the schools I want to go to. I think 155 is pretty good considering I started at 143 and was very limited for study time with work and school. I told myself if I got a 155 I wouldn’t retake, and as such, it is unlikely I will retake the exam.
I also got up the nerve to tell two attorneys at my firm what I was up to. They seem genuinely excited for me which is a huge relief. One even offered to write a letter of recommendation for me attesting to my stellar legal skills and experience and dedication to the firm over the last five years.
In a big way, this is very emotional for me. I have had so many naysayers in my life tell me that law school (or just college for that matter) is for smart rich kids and I certainly do not fall into that category. I’ve been told to brace myself because I’m chasing a dream that will not come true. (In my head I’m flipping off all those people right now). In a way, I’ve always felt like the underdog, and this is definitely a victory for me. Basically, this short clip of the movie “Rudy” pretty much sums it up.
Thanks for all of your encouragement and I am so delighted to be moving on in the admissions process and closer to achieving and accomplishing my dreams. 2 years ago, I never would have thought any of this would be possible.
It is possible that my score will be released tomorrow. Typing that made my heart flutter. I also have a 3-hour chemistry final tomorrow morning. It will KILL me to not be able to check my blackberry for 3 hours while taking the exam and I will be very distracted by the thought of the possibility of that fateful email being just two inches away from being read (since my bberry will be tucked away in my purse). If the score is released on Friday that is no good either. My firm has brought in a team of Microsoft Word 2007 experts since we are making the transition next week. Being stuck in a large conference room with most of my immediate supervising attorneys (who do not even know I took the lsat) will be problematic. My blackberry is a personal phone, not work, so I can’t have it with me and doubt I can hack into the computer experts laptops to pick up our wifi connection without anyone knowing. Ugh. Really, I can think of a hundred inconvenient ways/times to get my score. This makes me wonder if I really do not want it at all. Time will tell.
Prior to the lsat, I had a reoccurring dream that I was sitting in the test center scribbling away in my booklet on test day and my teeth kept falling out. It was really disturbing. Post lsat, I have been dreaming of the day I receive my score. In one such dream, I receive the fateful lsac email containing my score, only I can’t see the score on my blackberry, all I see is a bunch of numbers and symbols but can’t make sense of any of it. In another reoccurring dream, I am looking at my LSAC account online and first see the section-by-section breakdown of my score results, I see the numbers 9, 9, 12, and 13. I’m really bad at math. It takes me a little time to add this up in my head. Yet in my dream, I automatically knew this meant my raw score would be 43. How is it possible that what would take me a good minute or two awake, took me no time at all and made perfect mathematical sense in my sleep? I hope this wasn’t a premonition, which has happened to me before. Often, when I dream of something that later happens, I recall the dream and realize that there is no way I would have arrived at a given conclusion in my conscious state of mind. In looking at some of the more recent preptests, if my raw score was 43, I’d be sitting at a 141 – several points lower than my initial diagnostic. This is frightening.
I should only have about another week to go. I hope it passes quickly and I hope I have good news. The earliest I will know my score would be this Thursday, June 24th, and the latest would be Monday, June 28th. I have never been a patient person, and this time in my life is no different.
Not quite a week ago, I calmly entered my test center with my plastic zip-loc baggy in tow and ego in-check. I am still so surprised at how calm I really was. I slept great the night before, felt good about what I was about to undertake, and did the best I could to breathe easy. One thing that really helped me to remain calm was that I kept telling myself “this test administration simply determines whether I have to try again in October.” As opposed to “OMG THIS IS GOING TO RUIN MY LIFE!” (See the difference?)
Some things that I think helped my day go smoothly:
I already visited the test center a week prior and boy was I glad. Turns out my test center location has TWO buildings with the same name. I had originally visited the wrong building and custodian pointed me in the right direction. I was also able to see my test room, this helped me to visualize all week-long my surroundings.
The day of I left literally two hours early. I packed my lunch so that I could arrive ridiculously early and sit under a shade tree and breathe in the fresh air to help myself relax. I never felt rushed and my heart rate never went up due to last minute panic.
I packed my zip-loc baggy the night before with my awesome tri-conderoga pencils made by Dixon. These pencils are AMAZING. They have a tri-shape which is very comfortable, but most exceptional is the soft rubbery grip. The eraser is nice and they sharpen well. I also double-checked that I had packed my driver’s license (and verified the information matched my lsac ticket which I also made sure was packed).
Another thing about the plastic zip-loc baggy, as I walked from the parking lot to the middle of campus to my test center, I found it extremely comforting to look around at the 100′s of test takers toting their plastic zip-loc baggies. It was really neat to see others who were obviously there for the same purpose as I and I knew I was not alone.
I ate a nice, filling lunch a half hour before entering my test center. I chose a chicken breast with wild rice and chili which gave me lots of protein and good carbs to keep me going. I also packed a banana for snack time and during the break I walked laps around the test room to get my blood going.
Some observations of others who did not prepare:
First of all, why would anyone sit for the lsat without having seen the test? When the proctor would say we could turn to section whatever, read the instructions, and begin, most of us would immediately begin struggling (there is no point in reading the instructions assuming you have already seen them in the last gazillion practice tests you took to prepare for the real thing). But nevertheless, a lot of test takers sat and read the instructions. Three test takers walked out in the middle of a section, and when we returned after break, a good 1/4 of the test takers were gone.
Right before the proctors were about to begin, (and after we had all been checked in and assigned our seats) a group of ladies said they must use the restroom. This is against test center rules. Once you are in the test center, you may not leave until the section has begun. Surprisingly, the proctor actually allowed the group of girls to go (before the test was handed out) which meant the other 100 or so of us had to wait for them! This was ridiculous – clearly those ladies did not read the rules and were not prepared.
Another test taker did not bring a writing instrument – she thought they were provided to us. A second test taker brought one pencil and no sharpener.
Overall I felt it all went well but I do not want to make any predictions. I left the test center feeling confident that I had done my best. I even finished the entire logic games section which I have heard from other test takers were especially difficult.
The official score release date is Monday, June 28th, but Steve at the LSAT Blog has listed the past lsat score release dates and it appears the scores are always released a few days prior to the official date. It is likely the sore will be released as early as Thursday, June 24, 2010. You can bet I will begin checking my email frantically and refreshing my lsac account page constantly beginning next week (for the fun of it, of course!)
I have not yet removed my sticky-notes from my bathroom mirror which contained tidbits from the Powerscore LSAT bibles and I haven’t burned my lsat prep books yet. I’m not sure why the hesitation, I hope I’m not subconsciously telling myself this isn’t over yet! But deep down I know I’m a competitive person. I’m mostly competitive with myself, and if I think I can improve my score by retaking in October, its very likely I will do it all over again.
In a desperate attempt to distract myself from thinking about the long countdown left until I learn the fate of my lawyerly future (ie. lsat score release day) I began to think about the many things the LSAT sounds like (ie a disease: “The LSAT” ala Legally Blonde; or potentially a spanish term for sitting “el sat” ala my ditzy bff) I began to wonder if even the über privileged have to deal with this stressful, complicated, ridiculous, standardized test. After all, what’s so “standard” about privileged celebrities?
Selena Gomez (who by the way is only 16!) was spotted with an LSAT prep book in an airport.
Chris O’Donnel just completed his 1L at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles.
Alec Baldwin recently spoke to Harvard Law School students about the perceptions of gender bias on family law matters (afterall, he IS quite the expert in this issue!) and there has been some speculation that once is his 30-Rock contract is up he would likely return to school to earn a graduate degree.
. . . .and of course, we can’t forget Elle Woods who landed a 179!