Articles published in August 2013

Heads Up October LSAT Takers: A 30-Day Plan for You!

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With only 5 weeks left before the October LSAT, you may be feeling a little, okay hugely, overwhelmed. You need a plan!

Ann Levine, law school admission consultant at LawSchoolExpert.com and Matt Sherman of ManhattanLSAT, share what you should be doing in the 30 days leading up to the LSAT, in their upcoming Blog Talk Radio show.

Topics to be covered include:

  • How you should be spending your time
  • How many practice tests you should be taking
  • How many points you can increase your LSAT score in the next month

Where: Blog Talk Radio: The LSAT: A 30-Day Plan
When: Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Time: 12:00 pm PST / 3:00 pm EST
Why: Because you want to KILL the LSAT in October so you don’t have to think about taking it in December!

Don’t miss this event – set a reminder now!

We want to hear from you. Submit questions by commenting on this post, tweeting them to @AnnLevine, or chatting live during the show.

 

Obama Versus Martha Nussbaum: Law School in 3 Years, or 2?

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Obama Delivers State Of The Union Address To Joint Session Of CongressLast week, Obama surprised everyone a little by explicitly agreeing with those who have argued for years now that law school should be two years instead of three. The President and Harvard Law grad is in good company, including Samuel Estreicher at NYU Law, who has been a vocal advocate for the expendable third year. Law School Transparency’s suggested new models for legal education reform draw heavily on the same idea of trimming length to save costs.

Indeed, criticism of Obama for making the controversial (or not?) statement seemed to come from one direction: not from people who disagreed with him that law school should be shorter, but from those who thought he didn’t go far enough: instead of “talking” about changing the structure of legal education he should actually “do something.” And why not go further and make law school one year like the Brits? It all left me wondering–is stripping the third year so widely accepted now that it’s not controversial at all? Is there anyone arguing in favor of it?

I went in search of third year supporters. And guess who is one. Martha Nussbaum–University of Chicago Law professor and one of the most renowned legal scholars on the planet. Nussbaum and Charles Wolf, also from Chicago, argue essentially that such reforms risk making bad lawyers:

Electives typically are taken in the second and third years. Given the general courses that an accredited legal education must include, dropping the third year offers no time for interdisciplinary electives. The new wisdom is that this would be no loss … But lawyers who join firms also need to understand how society works if they aspire to be independent thoughtful leaders of their chosen profession, rather than passive followers of custom. In the life of the firm, a deferential model of lawyering (doing it because that is how it has been done) will further erode professional standards.

I’m not persuaded. The argument assumes that somehow the third year of law school is where one learns to become “independent” and “thoughtful” rather than “passive.” To me, these are the kinds of qualities that are instilled over time through interactions with teachers who teach these qualities through and in spite of whatever substantive material is being transmitted; there’s no reason one cannot learn from a torts professor to be an independent thinker but could from a professor in an environmental law clinic.

I’m curious what those of you who will soon be entering law school think.

Manhattan LSAT’s Social Venture Scholars Program

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Manhattan Prep is offering special full tuition scholarships for up to 4 individuals per year (1 per quarter) who will be selected as part of Manhattan Prep’s LSAT Social Venture Scholars program. This program provides the selected scholars with free admission into one of Manhattan Prep’s LSAT live online Complete Courses (an $1190 value).

These competitive scholarships are offered to individuals who (1) currently work full-time in an organization that promotes positive social change, (2) plan to use their law degree to work in a public, not-for-profit, or other venture with a social-change oriented mission, and (3) demonstrate clear financial need. The Social Venture Scholars can enroll in any live online preparation course taught by one of Manhattan Prep’s expert instructors within one year of winning the scholarship.

The deadline our next application period is 9/6.

Details about the SVS program and how you can apply can be found here.

Free LSAT Events This Week: August 26- September 1

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free greHere are the free LSAT events we’re holding this week. All times local unless otherwise specified.

8/27/13 – Online- Free Trial Class- 8:00PM- 11:00PM (EDT)

8/28/13 – Online – Free Trial Class– 8:00PM- 11:00PM (EDT)

Looking for more free events? Check out our Free Events Listings Page

Friday Links: Practice Exams, LSAT Scores At Top Law Schools, & More!

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iStock_000020275049XSmallHappy Friday! Here is a roundup of some of our favorite news articles and law school tips from the week:

Harvard’s Still Hard to Get Into, Law School Promises (The Wall Street Journal Law Blog)

Students wondering whether to take the plunge into law school may want to consider this: the evaporating pool of applicants could boost their chances of getting into Harvard.

LSAT Sanity: Stop Taking So Many Practice Tests! (Part 2) (jdMission)

What are the Do’s and Don’ts of getting the most out of your practice tests? Here is Part 2 of jdMission’s series.

Are Fully Online Programs a Viable Choice for Law Schools? (Lawyerist)

As everything has raced towards the virtual, including getting a degree online, law has unsurprisingly lagged behind.

LSAT Scores at Top Law Schools Hold Steady Amid Applicant Plunge (The Wall Street Journal Law Blog)

Given that the most competitive undergraduate schools are pumping out fewer prospective lawyers, you might assume that the nation’s top law schools are enrolling less competitive students.

Should The Obama Rankings Be Applied To Law Schools? (Above the Law)

Obama hopes to tie the Obama Rankings to federal financial aid: schools that perform well will have a larger pool of federal money to dole out to students, while schools that perform poorly will have less.

Did we miss your favorite article from the week? Let us know what you have been reading in the comments or tweet @ManhattanLSAT.

 

5 Ways of Thinking About Inference Questions

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Manhattan Prep LSAT - Five Ways of Thinking About Inference Questions by Mary RichterWe incorporate the latest discoveries in learning science into our LSAT course to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of your prep. Want to see? Try the first session of any of our upcoming courses for free.


On Inference questions, we take what we’re given and, based on it, find the answer choice that is most supported by it (or that “must be true” or “must be false,” or other iterations of these). This is a very different task than the one we face on Assumption Family questions in which we are looking for problems in the given text. On Inference questions, we are explicitly not looking for problems or gaps or holes. We’re taking the text as given—as 100% true, unquestionable. Then, based on all of that unquestionable text, we figure out what’s most likely also true—whether that’s the sentence in (A) or (C) or (E). Here are five different ways of thinking about this same idea.

1. It’s all premise. On Assumption Family questions, we identify the premise(s) in order to accept it/them as true; we don’t question their validity. In this sense, on Inference questions you can think of the entire given text as “premise.”

2. Even opinions are facts. If you see a blatant opinion like “tomatoes are the best food on the planet,” on an Inference question you must take it as fact. In other words, for the purposes of this question, tomatoes are the best food on the planet.

3. Don’t look for assumptions between stated claims. If you are told that “tomatoes are the best food on the planet,” and the next sentence of the given text reads, “Therefore, Annie should love tomatoes more than anything else,” you might be inclined to focus on the gap: just because it’s the best food doesn’t mean it necessarily should be her favorite…maybe she has unusual preferences! On an Assumption question, this would be an excellent strategy on your part. On an Inference question, you’re misguided; because you’ve been told that Annie should love them more than anything—word for word—and you accept this as true, it’s true. Don’t worry that the transition from the previous sentence was jumpy.

4. Smaller is better (or bigger is not better). Sometimes when I ask students why they didn’t choose the right answer to an Inference question, they tell me that “it seemed too close to what was already said.” This is a good thing; small inferences are what you want, while large ones are what you don’t. Don’t make big leaps away from it in order to feel like you’ve adequately “inferred.”

5. Think list of bullet points, not story. Here’s a little secret. I like to think of the sentences in the given text of an Inference question as bullet points rather than as a story or argument with an arc, even if it reads as a narrative. This allows me to treat every stated idea as equally true and valid rather than forgetting that I’m not supposed to assess them in relation to each other (see point 3, above).

Again, these are all ways of saying essentially the same thing—that the given text on Inference questions is, for better or worse, not to be questioned. So turn off that switch and make your mental list of bullet points.


Don’t forget that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person LSAT courses absolutely free. We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here. 📝


Manhattan Prep LSAT Instructor Mary Richter

Mary Richter is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in New York City. Mary has degrees from Yale Law School and Duke. She has over 10 years of experience teaching the LSAT after scoring in the 99th percentile on the test. She is always thrilled to see students reach beyond their target scores. At Yale, she co-directed the school’s Domestic Violence Clinic for two years. After graduating she became an associate at Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP in New York City, where she was also the firm’s pro bono coordinator. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Slate, and more. Check out Mary’s upcoming LSAT classes here.

Friday Links: 0L Orientation, Debt-Free Path to JD, & More!

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hot newsHappy Friday! Here is a roundup of some of our favorite news articles and law school tips from the week:

Weigh the Benefits, The Risk of Attending a New Law School (U.S. News Education)

Some new law schools are experimenting with new curriculums that allow students to have concentrations. But what are the risks?

Law Schools Devise Debt-Free Path to Degree (Politico)

Some law schools are exploiting the loophole that could lead to billions of dollars in written-off federal student debt.

A Life Outside Law School—Just Breath (Ms. JD)

Next week law school classes start up again, so this week is 1L Orientation. Here are some great tips for making it through that first week.

Which Law Schools Have the Best Return on Investment (Above the Law)

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the value of a law degree and ATL shares why degrees from some law schools are worth more than others.

Off the Beaten Path: First Lady Michelle Obama (jdMission)

Becoming a lawyer is not the only path you can take after graduating from law school. JdMission takes a closer look at Michelle Obama’s career path.

Did we miss your favorite article from the week? Let us know what you have been reading in the comments or tweet @ManhattanLSAT.

Those Pesky Quantity Terms

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By now if you’ve been studying for a while, either on your own, in a course or with a tutor, you’ve encountered the ubiquitous “quantity terms” scattered throughout the test: some, most, majority, etc. You may have been surprised to learn that “many” does not mean “most” and that “some” can include “all.” (You may even have slammed down your pencil at this discovery.)

The quirkiness of LSAT quantity terms can be frustrating when you first encounter it, but it isn’t as counterintuitive or labyrinthine as it initially appears to many (but not most). The key question to keep in mind at all times when it comes to a quantity term is: what’s its maximum, and what’s its minimum?

Here’s a useful guide. Once you commit this to memory, you should be in good shape to take down the LSAT on its own quantity terms (har har):

Term

Min

Max

Some/sometimes more than one all
Many/often/frequently more than one all
Most/usually/typically/ordinarily more than half (more than 50%) all
Majority more than half (more than 50%) all
Vast majority more than half (more than 50%) all
More often than not more than 50% of the time up to 100% of the time
Likely more than 50% chance up to 100% chance
Unlikely zero/nothing less than 50% chance
Not unlikely 50% chance or higher will occur up to 100% chance
Less than likely zero/nothing up to 50% (not more, but could just be at 50%)

 

Friday Links: Law School Grads in Biglaw, Prep for Law School, & More!

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Happy FridayHappy Friday! Here is a roundup of some of our favorite articles from the week:

5 Reasons Why a Sense of Humor is Crucial to Grad School Success (Grad Hacker)

A sense of humor is crucial to grad school survival, and this is true for a number of reasons.

Which Law Schools’ Grads Run Biglaw? An ATL Infographic (Above the Law)

In honor of Shark Week, ATL has created a fun infographic that reveals which law schools’ graduates are the big fish in Biglaw.

Learn to Read, Write Like a Law Student Before Classes Start (U.S. News Education)

Entering 1L in the fall? Here are some tips for how to learn new vocabulary and practice your writing skills before classes begin.

Few Minorities in Law School? Don’t Blame the LSAT, Prof Says (Daily Report)

University of Virginia School of Law Professor, Alex Johnson Jr., says many minorities misapply to law schools that their grades don’t qualify for.

How to Avoid Losing Your Mind in Law School (Business Insider)

Impossible exams, tough professors, and all-nighters will permeate the next three years. Here are some tips for staying sane in law school

Did we miss your favorite article from the week? Let us know what you have been reading in the comments or tweet @ManhattanLSAT.

5 Key Tips For Writing a Great Personal Statement

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For those of you who took the June test and for those of you taking October with plans to apply in the fall, you’re probably hard at work already on your personal statement, or will be soon. Here are the five most important things to keep in mind when it comes to writing a fantastic personal statement, if you ask me.

Personal Statement

1. Don’t skip brainstorming. The reason groups brainstorm, and the reason you should before you start writing your personal statement, is that it is the best way to get every idea “out there” instead of just going with the first thing that comes to mind. Why? Because believe it or not, the first thing that comes to mind is not necessarily your best idea. Before you pick up a laptop or pen and begin drafting, spend 15 minutes filling two to three pages with possible topics. Do not cross anything out. Don’t erase or delete anything. The point of this exercise is to come up with as many ideas as possible—however wacky, silly or strange it seems.When you finish, you will probably be surprised at how freeing the exercise felt. Now, you have a whole list of potential directions for your essay and are not locked into to any one or two.

2. It should be about you. Your personal statement is meant to be about you, not about your best friend, or your sister, or even how you think the world works. Of course you will include some discussion of the world around you and the people in your life to make your story clear and meaningful, but you should be writing much more about yourself than about anything else. Good questions to keep in mind are: how did you feel when X happened? How did it change you? What did you learn from it?

3. Talk about something that you learned. Stories about how you came to be who you are today are interesting. Stories about how you always were who you are today because you have not changed over the years are less interesting. “I have wanted to be a lawyer since I was three” may be true, but this kind of statement is not effective in a personal statement. Here is why. First, people like to hear about change, about discovery. They do not like to read about a lack of it. And second, generally, stories about how you came to realize your career choice do not take place in elementary school, or even middle school. You are just a kid then, and you think like a kid then. The only “kid” stories that should be featured in your essay are ones that help tell the story of how you became who you are today–and, for the vast majority of us, that’s going to include a heavy chunk of adulthood (or teenage-hood).

4. Look for connections that are not obvious. Have you had parallel experiences in your life that led you to a particular discovery, even though the experiences themselves seem unrelated on the surface? Or perhaps you expected Point A to lead to Point B, and it did. But then it turned out that Point B was not what you had anticipated. Rather than telling the first story that comes to mind because it feels like it has a nicely shaped beginning, middle and end, tell it the way it really did happen, and you could end up with something more honest, interesting and original. You will be shaping it in later drafts, anyway.

5. Don’t send it in without having someone else read it. Even if you are convinced it’s perfect, you should still have someone go over your essay with fresh eyes, because I would bet that it includes at least one typo you are missing. Once, in college, I pulled an all-nighter writing a paper. I submitted it at 9 a.m. the next morning then promptly crashed. I woke up a few hours later and walked to my desk, where the file was still open on my computer. I skimmed the first sentence. It had no verb. Are you thinking that means it was not a sentence? Yes. That is exactly what that means. My first sentence of my final paper was not actually a sentence. This is why you should have someone else review your work.

Check out the Telling Your Story column on jdMission’s blog for more.