Articles published in November 2010

LSAT Burnout


It happens to all of us.

Folks, it’s that time of year. The weather is turning crisp, the trees are stripping down for the winter, 3rd grade teachers are changing their window decorations from cut-out turkeys to snowflakes, and LSAT students are burning out.

This is understandable. With such a high-stakes test, prepping for the LSAT generally goes past being a part-time gig and starts becoming an obsession. Yes, practice does improve your score, but there’s a limit. Watch out for the signs of burn-out:

– Your score is starting to droop – and not because of anxiety, but because of weary eyes and a wandering mind.

– You are taking tests but are not reviewing them. Mostly because . . .

– You are angry, deeply angry.

Alright, stop. Here are some suggestions:

1. Take a day or two off. Your brain may actually do better if you give it some time to settle and organize what you’ve learned.

2. Work out. Your brain is a muscle – it needs oxygen.

3. Stop drinking, sniffing donuts or whatever you do for recreation that happily or not impairs your brain functioning. Your brain . . . well, this one is obvious.

4. Change how you are preparing. Try studying with someone else. Try playing the LSAT Arcade. Try doing just 1 or 2 full sections each day for a couple of days instead of full practice tests. Re-do some old sections.

5. Get some sleep. If you’re exhausted, this can be more helpful as doing more work.

6. Create a schedule, and add in breaks. Watch a movie to unwind and let your brain relax.

7. Recognize that you cannot learn much more – these final days are for you to solidify what you’ve learned and get into a routine.

You’re almost there, so don’t sweat it if you’re seeing a dip in scores – instead, change up what you’re doing.  And don’t worry if you’re unable to get excited about the LSAT. Test day will bring adrenalin, which will help energize you a bit.

How to Decide Between Two Answers on the LSAT


If only it were this easy...

I just finished reading an interesting book, How We Decide, by Jonah Lehrer. One of the more interesting studies that he cites involved choosing between five posters. Three were humorous cat posters (i.e. the internet!), and One poster was a cute photograph of a cat cute cats, one was a Monet, and the fifth was a van Gogh. The folks in group A was simply asked to choose a poster to take home. Plain and simple. Group B was asked to do the same thing AND were asked to explain their decision. What do you think happened?

Group A tended to choose the Monet or van Gogh posters, while Group B went for the kitties. That’s interesting! And then, a few weeks later, Group B folks were generally far less satisfied with their choices than the Group A people. The hypothesis is that forcing people to explain their thinking led them to choose the poster for which they could more easily provide a reason. Apparently, it’s a lot easier to explain why we would want a cat in our dorm room than a Monet.

So what does this mean for the LSAT? One interpretation is that you should simply go with your gut. Sure, that makes sense. Don’t over think the decision – and definitely don’t think you can out-smart the LSAT. Instead, do what the LSAT is asking of you: make the inferences, grasp the argument, etc.

However, I think the more useful takeaway for the experiment above is that we should practice explaining why LSAT answers are right or wrong. Read more

A Practice Logic Game – Pat the Party Planner


We were saddened to realize that one of our Logic Challenges was looking suspiciously similar to a real LSAT game. While we try to make our games LSAT-like, we don’t like to have them feel like copies of real ones. So, we’ve replaced #25 with the following. Enjoy!

Pat the Planner is planning her perfect party. The party will go from 8 pm to midnight. During this time, 8 different musical bands—K, L, M, N, O, P, R, and Q—each of which has at least one member in one of the other bands, will perform, each for thirty minutes.

The following conditions apply

At least one person in band M is in both bands K and O.
At least one person in band R is in both bands N and L.
O performs before K but after M.
P performs before L but after N.
No musician can perform in consecutive time slots.

1. Which of the following could be the order of bands that perform, from first to last?

(A) M, N, O, P, Q, L, K, R
(B) M, N, O, P, L, R, K, Q
(C) N, M, P, K, R, O, L, Q
(D) Q, N, M, L, P, O, K, R
(E) K, N, P, R, O, M, L, Q

Read more

Do I Have Enough Time to Get Ready for the LSAT?


Time keeps on slipping...

Welcome to the panic room! Let’s start with a deep breath.

Those asking this question fall into a few categories, which we can broadly group as follows:

A. Test-day anxiety Annie

B. Novice Nick

C. Half-prepared Henrietta

We’ll start with Annie. She freaked out during the last LSAT. She was scoring decently on her practice tests, but lost her cool on the first logic game on test day (or perhaps the first LR section, or second RC passage, etc.). She definitely does have enough time to get ready, and here’s what she needs to do: 1 or 2 full-length LSATs per week. Time those tests like the pros (here’s a proctor), do them in various settings, and use an experimental section! Annie needs to review that LSAT deeply. (Here are some tips on how to effectively review.)

Let’s move on to Nick. Nick just began. He recently realized that his dream of opening a great Korean barbecue food truck has already been done, and furthermore, he’s allergic to kimchi – so he’s off to law school.  Nick needs to start by taking a practice test. Then he should look at the GPA and LSAT calculator to see what his chances are. If he’s over 15 points below the minimum he’d need for the two “easiest” schools that interest him, he probably needs to shoot for the Feb LSAT and applying for 2012 to give himself more time to prepare. Sorry, Nick! But, depending on what score band he’s at, if he needs only 5-10 more points, that’s within reason IF he fully devotes himself to the process! This would mean he does not work (and, let’s face it, it sounds like he’s free). His schedule would look something like this: Read more