T Nation

Preparing for the LSAT?

I just registered to take the LSAT in October. I took the pre-test thing in one of the LSAT prep books and scored a 154. For those of you out there that have taken this thing, how did you prepare? Did you use a prep book or do you have any tricks that helped you better prepare? I’m still playing hell combatting this short attention span of mine and that certainly doesn’t help on a test this long.

mike

I have no advice to give you.

Just wanted to wish you good luck. I’m sure you’ll do well.

If you can afford it, absolutely. The prep classes are great for teaching you how to take parts of the test (i.e., the games section). In addition to the prep class, practice, practice, practice. Increase your speed.

Good luck.

First thing to understand is that the LSAT (or any standardized test) doesn’t measure your intelligence in any way – it simply measures your ability to take the LSAT. Which means that best strategy is practice, practice, practice to build up speed and accuracy on the type of questions that routinely show up on the LSAT.

I def recommend a test-prep class for many reasons including it being a tiny investment in the grand scheme of three years law school tuition anyway. At the very least, make sure you order a ton of old tests and work through all of them.

[quote]chillain wrote:
First thing to understand is that the LSAT (or any standardized test) doesn’t measure your intelligence in any way – it simply measures your ability to take the LSAT. Which means that best strategy is practice, practice, practice to build up speed and accuracy on the type of questions that routinely show up on the LSAT.

I def recommend a test-prep class for many reasons including it being a tiny investment in the grand scheme of three years law school tuition anyway. At the very least, make sure you order a ton of old tests and work through all of them.

[/quote]

I used a bunch of practice tests. I got a few books, but found them to be pretty useless. You’ll figure out for yourself the best way to get through the different types of problems. The practice tests that I got were what really helped me out - they helped me figure out what was the fastest way for me to figure out the answers (especially on those damn logic puzzles).

Chill is dead on the money that you just need to know how to comprehend the four types of questions that the LSAT asks. To that end, testing yourself on those exact types of problems over and over is th best way to prepare.

Man, I could write pages on this. First, take the LSAT seriously. I wasn’t too serious about going to law school and, consequently, did not take the LSAT very seriously. I wanted to go to the good state schools in California or Arizona, which required anything from a 160 to a 165. I took a few practice tests and did 160, 162, 163. I concluded that I didn’t need to take a prep course and would just wing it.

On the day of, I totally choked on the test and scored a 156. Unfortunately, this excluded me from the top 50 schools, which really limits your potential after law school. Law is a VERY elitist profession and unless you are from the top 15 or 20 schools, you will have a tough road if you want a judicial clerkship, job in a major firm, or teaching position.

As such I HIGHLY recommend that you take a prep course. Those generally add 5-8 points to your score, as I understand it. That probably would have given me anywhere from a 161 to a 170, which would have changed my future drastically. Take the course!

If you can do a prep course I took this one and it was excellent.
http://www.testmasters180.com/

Stuff you’ll cover in a prep class like this:
-sufficient vs necessary conditions (big one)
-precise meanings of certain words in the test context, eg “some” means more than zero
-strategies for the games section
-other stuff I can’t remember

The big thing was that between their practice tests and work books I think we did the majority of questions which had been on LSATs for the prior 20 years.

[quote]chillain wrote:
First thing to understand is that the LSAT (or any standardized test) doesn’t measure your intelligence in any way – it simply measures your ability to take the LSAT. Which means that best strategy is practice, practice, practice to build up speed and accuracy on the type of questions that routinely show up on the LSAT.

I def recommend a test-prep class for many reasons including it being a tiny investment in the grand scheme of three years law school tuition anyway. At the very least, make sure you order a ton of old tests and work through all of them.

[/quote]

This is probably the best advice I have seen regarding the LSAT. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT let this test and its outcome affect your self-esteem. It says absolutely nothing about you or your skills as a potential lawyer. And yes, practice with old exams . . . a lot.

[quote]eic wrote:
Man, I could write pages on this. First, take the LSAT seriously. I wasn’t too serious about going to law school and, consequently, did not take the LSAT very seriously. I wanted to go to the good state schools in California or Arizona, which required anything from a 160 to a 165. I took a few practice tests and did 160, 162, 163. I concluded that I didn’t need to take a prep course and would just wing it.

On the day of, I totally choked on the test and scored a 156. Unfortunately, this excluded me from the top 50 schools, which really limits your potential after law school. Law is a VERY elitist profession and unless you are from the top 15 or 20 schools, you will have a tough road if you want a judicial clerkship, job in a major firm, or teaching position.

As such I HIGHLY recommend that you take a prep course. Those generally add 5-8 points to your score, as I understand it. That probably would have given me anywhere from a 161 to a 170, which would have changed my future drastically. Take the course![/quote]

While what you say is somewhat true, it’s not true for everybody. Yes, not getting into a top 50 school will probably affect your chances at going BIGLAW, but not everyone desires to practice that type of law anyhow. Furthermore, many big firms hire from the top 10-15% of regional schools, even those not ranked in the top 50 (more on that later, however.)

I know plenty of people who are working for the state or small firms and they love what they do. Sure, they’re not making as much money as the BIGLAW guys and gals, but, for the most part, their quality of life is much higher than people I know who work the 70-80 hour a week law jobs (not to mention better benefits, vacation, etc.) Getting into law for the money is the worst thing a person thinking about going to law school can do, anyhow.

To that end (and this is more directed to the OP), make sure you are going to law school because you really want to practice law. Statistically speaking, most law schools inflate their graduates’ employment and income statistics. Law school is VERY, VERY expensive, probably even more than med school - relatively speaking - considering the true pay of an average lawyer is probably around $40,000-50,000 (while med school may be more expensive dollar-wise, the average doctor gets paid much more, allowing them to pay off their loans faster.) Unless you either A) have saved up enough money to pay for law school already, B) have a fortunate family situation (money wise), or C) are one of the lucky few who actually will make the top 10-15% of your class, just know you will likely be in debt after law school for quite some time.

And lastly, regarding that top 10-15% of the class . . . EVERYONE goes to law school thinking they will make the top of the class. But just like the associate dean told the class when I first started law school (paraphrasing), “We can’t predict a lot about how you all will do this early in the year, but one thing is for certain . . . 90% of you will not make the top 10% of the class.”

[quote]CC wrote:

While what you say is somewhat true, it’s not true for everybody. Yes, not getting into a top 50 school will probably affect your chances at going BIGLAW, but not everyone desires to practice that type of law anyhow. Furthermore, many big firms hire from the top 10-15% of regional schools, even those not ranked in the top 50 (more on that later, however.)

I know plenty of people who are working for the state or small firms and they love what they do. Sure, they’re not making as much money as the BIGLAW guys and gals, but, for the most part, their quality of life is much higher than people I know who work the 70-80 hour a week law jobs (not to mention better benefits, vacation, etc.) Getting into law for the money is the worst thing a person thinking about going to law school can do, anyhow.

To that end (and this is more directed to the OP), make sure you are going to law school because you really want to practice law. Statistically speaking, most law schools inflate their graduates’ employment and income statistics. Law school is VERY, VERY expensive, probably even more than med school - relatively speaking - considering the true pay of an average lawyer is probably around $40,000-50,000 (while med school may be more expensive dollar-wise, the average doctor gets paid much more, allowing them to pay off their loans faster.) Unless you either A) have saved up enough money to pay for law school already, B) have a fortunate family situation (money wise), or C) are one of the lucky few who actually will make the top 10-15% of your class, just know you will likely be in debt after law school for quite some time.

And lastly, regarding that top 10-15% of the class . . . EVERYONE goes to law school thinking they will make the top of the class. But just like the associate dean told the class when I first started law school (paraphrasing), “We can’t predict a lot about how you all will do this early in the year, but one thing is for certain . . . 90% of you will not make the top 10% of the class.”[/quote]

You’re kind of missing the point of my post. I graduated #3 in my class at a top-tier law school, was Order of the Coif, and was Editor-in-Chief of my school’s law review (hence “EIC”). I could get a fantastic job at a regional firm, but even I have found it difficult to move into bigger markets which are generally dominated by young attorneys from the elite law schools and I could not have done much better at the school I’m from.

My point is that when it comes to making decisions about potential careers, the best advice is to keep as many doors open as possible. The best way to do that is to go to the best school possible.

If the OP wants to stay in a small geographic area and work for a regional firm there, there is no harm in maximizing his LSAT score and making a run at an elite law school. A regional firm in, say, Iowa would LOVE to have a kid from one of the elite law schools like Michigan. But it does not work in reverse; a kid who went to Drake would have a hard time cracking into the market in San Francisco, Chicago, LA, New York, etc. The OP may not want to work for “biglaw” at any of those locations, but he loses nothing (except the $1,000 or so dollars it costs for the prep course) by putting himself in position to do so.

I think that is something that a lot of people don’t understand about law and that is very unfortunate. It is virtually impossible to land a federal judicial clerkship, for example, unless you are from one of the top 25 schools. A federal clerkship will open a lot of doors that the OP may not realize he wants open until it’s too late.

Sorry to hijack but, if one was set on practicing law would it be best to start practicing for the LSAT as early as possible?

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.

Actually, I had a TON of success using the original Spike (2005-2007). Not sure how the current product compares, but it was an absolute God send.

My law school graded on a 9-point scale (not sure why).

9 = A+
8 = A
7 = B+
6 = B
5 = C+
4 = C
3 = D+
2 = D
0 = F

After my first year, I had a 7.25 and was ranked 17 in my class. I started taking Spike in the fall of my second year during intense study periods and before every exam.

I earned an 8.27 and was #1 for the second year, and #9 overall. I continued using Spike in that fashion during my third year and earned an 8.28 GPA and rose to #3 overall.

There were other factors involved, but I firmly believe that Spike was a big part of it. I have heard that many of the top students at elite law schools use Adderall, which is similar to Spike.

Definitely worth over preparing for the LSAT. I only did practice tests and scored in the top 1/3 taking the test. I often wonder how I would have done had prepared well and taken a prep course.

After you take the test and get your scores, think about applying early to your top choices. I really wanted to go to BC Law. I hand delivered my application on the last day of the application period. I got waitlisted …

By the way, taking the LSAT was harder than the bar exam. LSAT was mind bending.

We graded on a 12 point scale, counting minuses.

Based on my LSAT, I should’ve graduated in the basement. I graduated top 15%. If you have a crappy first semester (like I did), you can still climb to the upper ranks of the class (maybe Order of Coif, probably not grade-on to law review, probably not #1), but it takes a lot of work.

I took the LSAT once without much practice, got a lousy (for me) score - I’d literally never gotten below 95th percentile on a standardized test, and was generally 99th.

Anyway, I took a prep class to try to help up the score for a second try…first mock test, I scored something like five points higher than the first real test. Second mock test, three points LOWER.

Third mock test, eight points lower. I took the LSAT again, and got EXACTLY the same score as the first time. Plus, I missed the OU-texas game where OU beat texas 63-14.

The LSAT has almost nothing to do with law school success, just like law school success has almost nothing to do with law practice success.

My only advice is that if you are not going to a top tier law school, go to a school in the place you want to practice. I went to Oklahoma. OU graduates go to Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas.

They don’t go to Colorado, which is where I needed to end up. Colorado is full of CU and Denver law graduates. Breaking into the practice here was extremely difficult, and after four years I’m still trying to make the relationships you’ll already have with your classmates.

Biglaw v. Small/medium law…I was never into Biglaw - I want a life and kids at some point (although the money is sexy). I started with small law - four attorneys - and the problem with a firm that size is that if one attorney is awful, you’re probably screwed.

I’m now at a 23 attorney firm and I love it. 1800 billable a year is completely easy to do, and you can make a decent living and have a life.

Anyway. My feet are covered in mosquito bites and I am going to go sit in a tub of calamine lotion.

Practice like you will take the test. I have taken several aptitude tests, and my biggest mistake was while doing hundreds of practice problems, I didn’t practice scoring them on a bubble sheet - I usually just circled the answer in the book itself.

As such, I was finishing with good amounts of time to go back and review, which upped my score. But, on the real thing, the extra time taken to pencil in the bubble on the bubble sheet ate up my surplus and ruined my “comfort zone” I had expected in the last 5-10 minutes. It is surprising how those few seconds begin to become minutes over the period of a long exam.

So I’d say get a bunch of scantron sheets to score on when you do your practice problems. As such, you won’t be unpleasantly surprised like I was.

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:
Practice like you will take the test. I have taken several aptitude tests, and my biggest mistake was while doing hundreds of practice problems, I didn’t practice scoring them on a bubble sheet - I usually just circled the answer in the book itself.

As such, I was finishing with good amounts of time to go back and review, which upped my score. But, on the real thing, the extra time taken to pencil in the bubble on the bubble sheet ate up my surplus and ruined my “comfort zone” I had expected in the last 5-10 minutes. It is surprising how those few seconds begin to become minutes over the period of a long exam.

So I’d say get a bunch of scantron sheets to score on when you do your practice problems. As such, you won’t be unpleasantly surprised like I was.[/quote]

Good advice. Also applicable for the bar exam.

You are right. I absolutely missed the point of your post. I apologize. I wholeheartedly agree with you that the OP should take a prep course and do whatever else it takes to maximize his LSAT score (hell, I took two prep courses!)

I read your post very quickly (I learned a long time ago to never respond to a post after one reading; don’t know what the hell I was thinking.)

Where I messed up was reading your “top 50 law school” comment and thinking, “Oh boy, another person who thinks if you don’t get in the top 50, there’s no reason to go to law school.”

I see this way too often, and I thinks it’s a real shame that some people who really do want to practice law get turned away from going to law school because of people telling them things like that (I see now, however, you are not one of those people.)

While I’m a big believer in knowing all of the facts and what you’re really in for (hence, part of my post above), I also believe that a person who has a strong desire to practice law for the sake of practicing law (and not for the money) should go for it, no matter where they’re accepted.

[quote]pushmepullme wrote:
My only advice is that if you are not going to a top tier law school, go to a school in the place you want to practice. I went to Oklahoma. OU graduates go to Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas.[/quote]

Awesome advice, and that’s sort of what I was trying to say before. Many firms - even biglaw ones - hire from regional schools, including those not in the top 50.

Small anecdote regarding this:
I have a friend who went to Washington up in St. Louis (#19 according to the latest USNWR rankings, the one that most people follow.) My law school is in his home town, not a top 50 school, but still in the top 100 and very well respected in the area.

When my friend came back to interview in his hometown, the interviewers at one firm (maybe it was a couple, I can’t remember exactly) asked him why he went to Washington instead of his hometown law school.

He basically didn’t get the job because of it. And this firm is biglaw, one of the ones where first-year associates start around $160,000.

This is not to say that everyone wants to go biglaw or that biglaw firms only hire from regional schools. This is absolutely not the case. Someone from a T14 school is going to get the job over a regional applicant 99 times out of 100.

But, provided you are not going T14 or even top 25, going to school in the area you want to practice in can make a huge difference.

To prep for the LSATs…make sure you actually want to go to law school.

DON’T GO BECAUSE YOU CAN’T THINK OF ANYTHING ELSE TO DO!!!

Seriously, law schools LIE or selectively report the salaries/job offers of their graduates.

Do some research online, talk to some actual lawyers, and try to get a summer job at a firm.

The best thing that ever inadvertently happened to me was being put on active duty status and having to forgo law school. I don’t look back with any regret.

Look up Golden Handcuffs. Find out how junior associates are really treated. The bottom line of billable hours. Realize that your ability to write and understand grammar is 10x more important than an understanding of law.

Gents, I appreciate the help so far. I’ve been taking practice LSATs and put in about a an hour a day studying. My practice LSATs have been between 155-167. I still suck supremely at logic games, particularly grouping games.

Any last minute advice? I’m testing Saturday morning.

mike