Manhattan Prep LSAT Blog

Doing well on the LSAT means no excuses

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As the February LSAT quickly approaches, I have been fielding many calls from worried and anxious students each day here. To be fair, test anxiety is real and we all want to excel in areas where we have invested considerable time, mental energy, and money. The LSAT and all of its test-takers are no different. However, what I have been recommending to students is to keep in mind the concept of attribution theory, especially for all you Type-A students out there.

What this means in lay-man terms is (pardon the language):  Suck it up. Know what you can and can’t control. Be honest about your skills and your ability to excel. Be prepared for the worst because Murphy’s Law is alive and kicking.

I realize that this is much easier said than done, but cultivate your own fearlessness. Successful people do not believe in external attributions. Successful people believe that their successes are a result of 3 things: Read more

Getting A Great Job After Law School?

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This past weekend the New York Times had a sobering article explaining that law school is “No Longer the Golden Ticket.”  Many people somehow assumed the the legal field was immune to the economic downturn.  “Well, Wall Street is dead for now,” people thought, “so I’ll go for law school.  Not as glamorous, but at least the money’s there.”

Turns out that big law firms are laying off big time and are not hiring many if any new lawyers.  In fact, we’re seeing a lot of resumes of law school grads that are looking for something to do during their “gap year.”  Overall, these folks are not making the Atlas cut, but many are quite bright.  Interestingly, often they’ve been hired by some law firm and then told to not show up for a year and instead do something community-oriented (and these folks receive half their salaries, which is still a nice chunk of change).  This sounds like a pretty good deal considering what many large law firms have young associates doing for the first couple of years (cue shot of Igor, the hunchback in old Frankenstein film creeping in the basement).  As we see it, the problem is that when the economy picks up and folks start suing and merging with each other with gusto again, law firms will probably pick up their half-way house hires and hold off on taking new ones for a year or so.  Basically, there’s a lawyer log jam.  [Yes, that sounds like the end of a good lawyer joke.]  Particularly since there’s been a 20% increase in LSAT test-takers this year! Read more

Should I Re-Take the LSAT in February?

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Good question! First off, we’ll be discussing this in our upcoming workshop in which we’ll review the December LSAT.

If you’re just looking to take an LSAT, it doesn’t matter which one you take — just take it after you’ve prepared!  But if you already have taken the LSAT and are wondering whether to re-take, there’s a lot more to say.  The question of whether you should re-take in June, Sep/Oct, or Dec  has one set of answers.  If you are wondering whether to re-take in one of those non-February months, take a look at some previous posts – should I re-take the LSAT & how to improve your LSAT score.   But for February you get a special set of answers just for you!

In general, the answer is NO.  Here’s why (and thanks to Ann Levine for some help on this one):

1. It’s hard to improve an LSAT score significantly in one month. Caveats: if you truly had a bad day on test day, and having such a day is completely out of the ordinary for you, sure, a re-test could conceivably show serious improvement.  But, so you know, most people don’t improve that much.  For example, the average person who re-takes the LSAT with a score between 150 and 160 improves only 2.4 points on the re-take (and the re-take improvement gets worse as you go up the score ladder).  For most people, those 2.4 points are not enough to significantly alter your application — and for most folks, those 2 and almost a half points definitely do not warrant a re-take because . . . Read more

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!