Now that final exams are (hopefully) over it’s time to finish up the last of those law school applications. When you finally get to sit back and relax for the
holidays, take a moment to catch up on a few of the top law school stories from the week:
Telling Your Story: A Well-Rounded Application (jdMission)
Mary Adkins shares some great advice on how to structure your law school application to best convey yourself as a well-rounded applicant.
Weigh the Benefits, Disadvantages of Attending a Non-ABA Law School (U.S. News Education)
This week U.S. News explains why a school without American Bar Association accreditation might be a good fit for some students.
Sometimes the best gifts are the most practical gifts. While it’s usually more fun during the holidays to give and receive silly tchotchkes like this one here, or here, you can trust that you (or your pre-law giftee) will appreciate something more useful in the long-run. So whether you’re jotting down your own holiday wish list or buying for an aspiring lawyer, consider some of the following gift suggestions:
1. Black’s Law Dictionary (Standard Ninth Edition)– This is the gold standard for the language of law and a must-have for all pre-law and law students.
3. Dual Monitors– Having two computer screens in law school can be extremely helpful, particularly when it comes to legal research & writing (LRW) and outlining.
5. Vitamins– Being sick is bad. Being sick in law school is really bad.
We hope everyone is surviving final exams and working to polish those law school applications! If you’re looking for some good reads this weekend, be sure to check out our roundup of law school news and advice.
Tighten Your Writing: Heed the Six Signs (Attorney at Work)
Looking to spruce up your legal writing skills? This post from Attorney at Work will teach you how to keep your writing clear, concise, and to the point.
This week Slate shared a document from Abraham Lincoln, which historians believe is a set of notes that Lincoln made in preparation for an 1850s-era lecture to a group of law students.
jdMission talks about how and why it’s a good idea to get acquainted with legal writing before you get to law school. It’s also important that you go to the actual legal source, rather than summaries presented in the news.
Sometimes I find myself telling people (er, myself?) that I’m not writing my novel to make money. If that were my motivation I’d almost certainly write about vampires or shades of colors. But hey, if my novel sells a million copies, and I get to retire at 30, who’s complaining?
Here’s the thing: just because I’m not writing a book in order to make money doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen. This personal example is now becoming uncomfortable for me so I’m going to move on.
Logical reasoning questions can sometimes hinge on understanding this difference. I’m talking about the difference between being motivated by a certain goal and actually achieving it, even though it wasn’t your motivation or primary motivation.
Say I’m stranded on the far end of a deserted island and have to trek a hundred miles by foot to the nearest small society of humans, picking berries I hope aren’t poisonous along the way, befriending my hand to fulfill socialization needs. When I finally get there and yell, “There is a group of us stranded on the other side of the island!” and someone says, “You lost weight. You look fit,” will I say, “No, I didn’t! That wasn’t my goal!”? No, I’ll say, “Yeah, I’m sure I did because I was starving.”
Just because it wasn’t my goal doesn’t mean it didn’t or can’t happen; and just because it does happen doesn’t mean it was my goal. These are separate things.
Be careful for this distinction on the LSAT. For a couple of examples, see Preptest 66, section 4, question 22, and Preptest 42, section 2, question 15.
Here are the free LSAT events we’re holding this week. All times local unless otherwise specified.
12/10/12 – New York, NY – Free Trial Class – 6:30-9:30 PM
12/10/12 – Online – Free Trial Class – 8:00-10:00 PM (EST)
12/10/12 – Online – Free Games Intensive Trial Class – 8:00-11:00 PM (EST)
12/15/12 – Santa Monica, CA – Free Proctored LSAT – 6:00-10:00 PM
Looking for more free events? Check out our Free Events Listings Page.
In Lean Times for Law Schools, an Opportunity (The New York Times Deal Book)
Thinking of applying to law school? Stats show that applicants who score well on the LSAT may have a better shot at getting into a top-tier law school and receiving a generous financial aid package than in years past.
There are a number of reasons why you should not lose contact with your undergrad professors after a class ends. If you’re planning to apply to law school, perhaps the most practical reason is that you may eventually want to ask them for letters of recommendation.
A Possible Head Start for Law Students (The National Law Journal)
One of the top stories the law school news this week discusses whether third-year law students should be allowed to sit for the bar before graduation. Proponents at the University of Arizona argue that this change will give students a head start on the job search.
Like any good marketer, I try to keep my ear to the ground to make sure I’m aware of the relevant pre-law/LSAT prep chatter that is happening out there on
the interwebs. One bastion of such pre-law babble is the inimitable (if not insane) Top Law School Forums.
A recent thread started by a forum user called “piney” provided some insight that I could not have written better myself, in a thread called “My advice to future test takers”. I was so impressed with the advice that I reached out to the author in order to get his buy-in on me sharing his advice on our blog. Turns out his name is Michael C. and he was fine with us sharing his astute insights with you all. Thanks, Michael!
We know Michael is a smart, credible, intelligent guy because he studied using Manhattan LSAT books (hehe). Here are his insights, with a bit of commentary from me in italics (you can read his thread in full here):
1) Get used to an analog watch. With the stop watch, I knew exactly how much time I had spent on each question and how much time I had to go. That’s not as easy to calculate with an analog watch, and the proctor won’t write a stop and finish time fo(r) you on the board. You get a 5 minute warning, which is really only enough time to panic if you have an entire logic game left because you couldn’t keep track of time.
Most students will score 2-5 points lower than their PT average on test day. There are loads of theories as to why this is — nerves, crappy proctors, etc. — so why not prepare in a way that will make you as comfortable as possible on test day? To me, this includes getting comfortable with your timing mechanism. So important is the whole watch thing that there is an entire company, LSAT TIMER, that sells watches calibrated for 35-minute intervals specifically for taking the LSAT!
2) When I practiced, I made the mistake of checking my answers after each section right away. This usually put me at ease, because of the five or six questions I was unsure of, I usually got most of them right and moved on to the next section with confidence. You won’t be able to do that on the test. The doubt and uncertainty you have about your performance accumulates with each section, and you lose confidence very quickly. By the third section, I started to worry I might not even be able to apply this cycle (I’m 27 right now, so that’s a big deal for me). I have no idea whether I scored a 175 or a 165, and that anxiety will stay with me until January.
Again, it’s important to follow game-day protocols while practicing. Some level of test-day anxiety is unavoidable, but you can eliminate aspects of it by being diligent in your practice habits. Perfect segue to advice nugget #3…
3) Take preptests in uncomfortable and unfamiliar environments, not your dorm room or library. If you can, take your test in a classroom with no windows in a building you’ve never been in before. That’s what test centers are like.
Manhattan LSAT offers free proctored exams at our locations across the country. If we have one in your city, consider signing up. It’s free!
4) Don’t expect your proctor to put you at ease. The strictness of the procedures makes you anxious from the start. You realize LSAC trusts no one and automatically assumes you’re there to cheat the system. Expect to have an excentric (sic) and snippy PhD watching your every move for 3 hours, and a large group of Saturday morning volunteers who don’t know the procedures and can offer no help.
This is not a one-off experience; I constantly hear tales of the proctor from hell. Expect the unexpected on the proctor front.
5) Don’t wait until December to take the test like I did. If this had been June, I could have told myself during the test that I had two more chances to get a higher score. But when I started to worry I was doing badly and knew there was no chance of redemption, I became depressed very quickly, and this probably hurt my performance.
This is a nice piece of long term advice for those of you reading this blog as part of your pre-planning efforts. Knowing you have an administration or two “in the bank” in case you don’t do well can sometimes go a long way in calming your LSAT nerves.
The December LSAT is tomorrow! Best of luck to everyone taking it and don’t forget to check out our archive for Three Things You Should Do to Prepare for LSAT Test Day (And One Thing You Absolutely Should Not). Today is a day to relax so put down the prep books and check out some of our favorite articles from the week:
Law School is Worth the Money (The New York Times)
The dean of Case Western Reserve University’s law school makes his case for why students should not be discouraged from attending law school
2012 What’s Hot and What’s Not (Attorney at Work)
Trying to decide which area of law you want to practice? Attorney at Work turned to information from clients and leaders in the legal profession to compile a list of legal sectors that are really heating up (and some that are cooling down).
In the week before the LSAT, I’m always inclined to write last-minute tips, but I’ve done that already and you can read them here. This week I want to offer a tip both for those of you cramming a few last days of study in before Saturday and those of you beginning to prepare for the February test.
The tip is: don’t study badly.
A friend who tutored the LSAT for years used to tell her students that the worst thing they could do is study while doing something else: watching TV, listening to music, tuning out a conversation (that you’re not really tuning out, because how possible is that, really?). Her tough-love line was, if you aren’t going to study well, don’t at all. It’s worse to develop bad habits and associations around the test than it is just to study less.
I’ve come to see her point. When I talk to people who don’t understand why their scores aren’t going up, it often goes like this. They tell me that they study all the time! They use the strategies! They have read the guides cover to cover and highlighted! But then I hear, well, sure, I have Pandora on. I study during Project Runway–but I’ve seen them all before so it’s not even like it’s suspenseful! I just like having it on in the background?
You know what I say to this? Auf wiedersehen, 170+.
When you devote half your attention to a task, you’re saying that that task doesn’t demand your full brainpower. This may work when you’re talking to your mom on the phone and washing dishes, or reading Gawker and keeping an eye on the phone to see if that certain person texts, or cleaning your roommate’s toothpaste off the sink while plotting his “accidental” demise, but the LSAT isn’t a stubborn clump of Colgate or a story about your Uncle Clifford’s mystery mole. It’s an endurance test designed to challenge the best and brightest minds intellectually, emotionally (anxiety is probably the number one issue students want to discuss one-on-one) and physically. You don’t train for a marathon by stopping every two miles to update your Facebook status, and you can’t successfully study for the LSAT by half-heartedly committing to your preparation.
Easier said than done, I realize. Believe me–I spent twenty years doing exactly what I’m saying you shouldn’t. I wrote college papers to Michael Jackson denying he’s Billie Jean’s baby daddy and Bono’s stalking. Do you know when I stopped? When I was studying for the LSAT. I had already graduated from college when I learned that I wasn’t going to get by on half-braining it, because when I did, I missed twice as many questions as when I found a quiet space and focused. That remains true today.
So close the door to your bedroom–your dog will be fine–get a big, bright lamp and a little pair of bright orange ear plugs if you have to, and set a reasonable goal: I’ll do this for thirty-five minutes. One section. See what a difference it makes. And good luck.
Here are the free LSAT events we’re holding this week.
11/27/12 – New York, NY – Free Trial Class – 6:30-9:30 PM
11/27/12 – Online – Free Trial Class – 8:00-11:00 PM
11/28/12 – Washington, D.C. – Free Trial Class – 6:30-9:30 PM
11/28/12 – Irvine, CA – Free Trial Class – 6:30-9:30 PM
11/28/12 – Los Angeles, CA – Free Trial Class – 6:30-9:30 PM
11/29/12 – La Jolla, CA – Free Trial Class – 6:30-9:30 PM
Looking for more free events? Check out our Free Events Listings Page.