Articles published in 2009

Getting A Top LSAT Score

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Whenever I met new students I used to ask them what their “goal scores” were.  I ended up hearing “180!” a bit too often, so I switched to asking this: “What is the minimum score you’d be satisfied with (and not take the LSAT again)?”  This question provided a better sense of the student’s goals.   So, the true goal is to get YOUR top LSAT score.  We’d all like to get 180s, but it’s just not possible for us all to realize that dream.  If you disagree, I also have a bridge to sell you.

So, this strategy/pep talk is for those who are nearing LSAT game day and are not scoring a 180.  Let’s say you’re scoring 168-170 on your latest preptests, that means that you’re roughly missing 7-12 questions between the four “live” sections.  And let’s say you’re pretty strong with the games and RC – perhaps 1 wrong in each of those usually — but you miss 3 – 5 in each of the LR sections.  If we’re a 6 weeks from the LSAT, there’s no reason whatsoever to assume that you can’t improve on that, but if you’re 3 weeks from test day, it’s time to face the facts: you’re probably going to score within the lower range of your recent preptests.  So, at that point, if you’re not happy with such a score, do not take the LSAT!

If you are happy with that 168, then start practicing getting your top score.  This means that you should practice getting ~10 questions wrong.  Most importantly, practice making those 10 incorrect the 10 questions you find difficult.  In other words, don’t get easy questions wrong and don’t leave yourself rushing on tough questions that are within your reach.  Instead, take educated guesses on the really tough questions that you know — through experience — you’re probably not going to get right.  If you allow yourself to do that — instead of throwing 2-3 minutes after that question — you’ve bought yourself some time for the challenging question that is within your reach.

If you practice taking the test this way, you are much more likely to find yourself scoring at the top of your practice range instead of towards your bottom.

LSAT Nerd

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Nerds

In case you feel like you’ve become a serious nerd, look how bad it gets around here.  Chris Ryan of ManhattanGMAT and me.  (Reminds me of Rain Man. )

Is the February LSAT Harder?

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Chill Out

Chill Out

No.

Stop worrying about this sort of stuff — get back to studying for the LSAT.  While you’re at it, don’t worry about:

1. When your experimental section happens (sometime in the first 3 sections)

2. Whether it’s a good testing center.

3. The curve this year.

4. Whether to start with (A) or (E).

5. All questions emanating from reality shows, unless it’s an LSAT-related show, which to my knowledge, has not yet been developed.

With love . . .

Law School Rankings

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A recent article in the National Law Journal raises some critical issues about the effects of US News & World Report’s annual rankings.  What I found most disturbing are some of the tricks that law schools play to increase their rankings (accepting students as part-timers, hiring graduates so those grads are not unemployed), and the ranking’s effect on how law schools spend their money is disheartening.  According to a GAO study, tuition at law schools has risen because of the need to hire top faculty amidst an increasingly competitive market.

If you’re on the fence about where to set your sites, one thought to consider when you’re facing the rankings game is whether you’d like to be in the top 10% of the 20th school on the list, or in the bottom 10% of the school ranked number 8.   Your ranking within your class can make a difference in terms of your experience at school and how potential employers view you.

The December 2009 LSAT Results

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Well, we won’t know scores for some time, but we’ve started getting some feedback from our students.  We stay away from talking about LSAT content to respect the testing process, but we’ve had students saying that it was a pretty standard LSAT for them.  A common report goes like this: just wanted to say I felt extremely prepped and ready for the test yesterday.  A great relief to walk in there and really be “surprised” by nothing.

Here is another nice letter: //www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=98343&p=2271246#p2271246

As a warning to future LSAT-test-takers, I heard from a few students who felt they did not do their best because they found themselves pressed for time.  Even if you are great on your timing on practice tests, the reality of taking the LSAT can make you act differently.  That’s why I sometimes recommend practicing with 34 or 33 minutes per section.

On another note, turns out that LSAC will be a bit slow with sending back scores this time.  Even the LSAT elves need to take time off during the holidays.

If you’re interested in reviewing the LSAT with us, we’ll be hosting a review workshop in about a month, so stay tuned.

December LSAT – Final Tips

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The LSAT is less than a week away, and people are often asking for final tips about test day.  Here’s my best of:

1.  Easy does it. Don’t take any full preptests within the last two days.  The brain is a muscle, let it rest.  Take a few timed sections each day up until 3 days before the LSAT, a couple untimed two days before, with a bunch of review of work you’ve already done.  And the day before just re-do LSAT sections you have already done.  On the morning of the LSAT, re-do one easy logic game on your way to the test center to get your brain moving.  Caveat: if you know you’ll do better with momentum, go right ahead and get momentumming and go crazy on the LSATs the week before.  Some people like to do a six-section LSAT a week before test day to make 5 sections seem easy.

2. Pack-up the night before. Get all your pencils sharpened, print out the ticket (and make sure your printer doesn’t cut off any part of the ticket), and find that analog watch your dad gave you years ago.  Make sure you know how to get to your testing center – there’s nothing worse than freaking out on your way to the test.  Plan to arrive early and to enjoy a coffee outside while you do a warm-up section, or a crossword puzzle or something that is fun and slightly intellectual. Read more

June 2007 LSAT Video Explanations

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We’re very excited to announce that we have posted video explanations for the June 2007 LSAT logic games.  You can see them here: //www.atlaslsat.com/logic-games-recordings.cfm or on You Tube – //www.youtube.com/user/atlaslsat#p/u.  Dan and Mike put a lot of time into coming up with truly useful recordings.  Granted, we’re much more about teaching — i.e. making students think — than presenting solutions, but when you’re studying, it’s obviously useful to see how someone else solved a game (particularly how one of our super nerdy curriculum developers did it).  If you’d like to see explanations for the entire game, check that out on our forums: //www.atlaslsat.com/forums/

For our students, we’re developing video explanations for some of the toughest games in our course HW.  Unfortunately, we have to restrict those to our students in order to respect LSAC’s copyrights.

The June 2007 LSAT is a great way to get your feet wet with the LSAT.  However, make sure you take it under timed conditions!  If you’d like to get a copy, as well as some of our resources associated with that test (including a spreadsheet that will analyze your answers), take a look here: //www.atlaslsat.com/lsat-practice-test.cfm

Have fun and good luck!

What makes for a good LSAT Teacher?

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One of the most interesting parts of my job is to watch candidates audition.  I’ve written previously about our audition process:

first stage – phone interview –  knocks out about 30-40%,

second stage – online audition – knocks out about 70% of those who make it there

third stage – in-person audition – knocks out about 90% of those who make it there

In case you’re auditioning or just curious, I’ll tell you the top three reasons we reject teaching candidates:

1. Lectures. Folks who have taught for other test prep companies usually lecture instead of teach.  This makes sense since many of them have mostly taught in large lecture halls, where Socratic teaching isn’t necessarily practical.  But, with our small classes, we need folks who know how to teach through questions and discussion.   We have a bunch of reasons why we think lectures are not effective for mastering the LSAT; for one, students don’t have to do a lot of work during a lecture.  More on this later . . . Read more

LSAT Weaken Questions – Logical Reasoning

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Weaken questions can operate in a few different ways. Let’s look at some examples.

Sep 09 Exam, Section 4, #2

Here’s the basic logic given in the argument:

You can always keep your hands warm by putting on extra layers of clothing (clothing that keeps the vital organs warm).

THUS, to keep your hands warm in the winter, you never need gloves or mittens.

This argument is a sound argument – no flaws or assumptions. If you have another option for keeping your hands warm, then you never truly need gloves or mittens.

In this case, the correct answer actually attacks the main premise. The correct answer says that sometimes (when it’s really really cold) putting extra layers of clothing on actually is not enough to keep your hands warm. Notice how this contradicts the premise. So, to weaken an argument you can attack a supporting premise.

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LSAT Classes in Irvine and in San Diego

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We’re very excited to announce that we’re launching classes in Irvine and in San Diego this month!

If you’ve poked around on our site, you know that we are VERY picky about who we hire.  In the final stage of our 3-stage audition we fly each candidate to NY, even putting him or her up in a hotel (not the W or some other shmancy place, but DEFINITELY something with a door that locks and a bed with at least one pillow 🙂 ).  I bring this up because in this rather costly stage we reject over 90% of candidates — and that’s after the first and second stages, which have knocked out about 30 and 50 percent respectively of the folks who reach each of those (and all of that is after a resume filter eliminates a bunch).  When you pay one of the highest salaries in the industry, you get to be choosy.

My point?  We’re very excited to have found Matt Sherman, a seasoned pro.  He even started his own successful LSAT prep company at one point — writing the books, curriculum, etc.  He knows the LSAT like he knows the back of a grape.  (Read his bio and you’ll get that reference.)

So, Southern California, prepare yourselves!  We’re landing and we expect you to do some work.  Look here to sign-up to see what Matt is all about: www.atlaslsat.com/lsat-locations.cfm