Lots of people struggle with the LSAT, but few take the time to figure out what the real problem is. For each of the following scenarios, try to assess what the test-taker did wrong before reading further.
Scenario 1: Logic Games: An Unconditional “Must Be True” Question
The test-taker has notated all the constraints for the game correctly and made a few initial inferences. The second question is an unconditional “must be true.” He looks at choice (A), and doesn’t see why it should be true or false. He looks at (B) and feels the same way. Looks through his diagram and notes again but can’t make a determination. The element mentioned in answer choice (C) isn’t even on his diagram! He starts to panic, and thinks of going back to answer choice (A) and starting over, or double-checking if his diagram is correct…
What do you think? What did this test-taker do that was so wrong? Don’t read ahead until you have a guess. Read more
If you’re an LSAT forum poster/reader, you know that the good majority (almost all, in fact) of content-related LSAT posts focus on Logic Games and Logical Reasoning. This makes perfect sense. It’s easy to submit a post about a setup for a tough logic game, and it’s very easy to discuss the underlying logic present in one short LR question. LG and LR questions come in nice, neat packages. They are forum-friendly. Additionally, future LSAT test-takers seem to see and appreciate the immediate impact of a well-designed setup or a clever way to think about a piece of LR logic. The payoff is quick, and often immediate.
Reading comprehension, on the other hand, is messy. In order to have a serious, in-depth discussion about an RC passage, everyone in the conversation needs to be coming directly from a focused read of the passage. It doesn’t work to try to remember back to the passage, or to read a quick summary. For this reason, not many like to talk about it or ask about it. It’s inconvenient. Furthermore, there never seems to be a quick, easy payoff when it comes to RC. There’s not one inference that can be made to change confusion to understanding, there’s no quick gimmick that can be posted concisely to help someone become a better reader. There’s simply no quick fix, no immediate gratification. So why spend time on it? Most people don’t.
These are the people you are competing against. The better you do relative to them, the higher your LSAT score. Make their RC weakness your strength and you’ll put yourself in a position to gain upwards of 4 raw points on the field. Before you decide to make RC your LSAT version of a powerful forehand, you need to be in the right mindset. Read more
The first year of law school has been built up to near-legend. Journals, grades, awards, and job prospects often are determined in your first year, leaving you not a whole lot of time to get settled. Here are Manhattan LSAT’s 5 Things to Remember from those who have been through the halls of legal academia and lived to write about it:
1. More is not better. On your way to class your first week, you will almost certainly see your fellow students carrying around many books aside from your shared case law textbooks. Law outlines from Emanuel’s, Gilbert’s, and other study aid companies will abound, and you will think to yourself, “Hmm, I wonder if that outline is better than what I’m studying from? Maybe I should pick that up at the book store.” Before you know it, you’ll find yourself in a study supplement arms race, and your room will be filled with a stack of outlines in addition to your textbook and your notes. Do not succumb to this temptation! You’ll likely find that your notes are the best resource. Outlines and tests from your professor’s past classes, which your school’s law library will generally have on file, are also very useful. At most, pick up one commercial outline you like for each subject (they’re all the same anyway). A big stack of outlines will only distract you and wind up gathering dust in the homestretch. Read more
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“It’s confusing sufficient with necessary” is probably one of the phrases that LSAT students use most frequently. But what does that really mean? If you’re just starting out your LSAT prep, this conditional logic can be a bit confusing. So, here’s a basic lesson.
Let’s start with an example: Read more
As an LSAT teacher you end up explaining a lot of LSAT questions. We’ve actually designed our forums to focus on providing an easily searched bank of explanations to any LSAT problem – //www.manhattanprep.com/lsat/forums . (We figured we’d save a few trees by not printing an entire book of them, plus then all those studying on their own have a place to go.) I will say, however, that I’m always a bit cautious when I find a student asking for the explanations for an entire test. I always wonder – and sometimes ask – whether the student has reviewed the work on his own first. The best students first review the test themselves. A couple of tips on reviewing your work:
1. Mark which answers you can easily eliminate and which ones are tempting.
2. Note any problem that you find difficult, find yourself guessing on, or that you find takes too long.
3. When you review your work, review all the questions you answered incorrectly, and all those you noted above (see #2).
4. For the questions you review, ask yourself the following:
– Do I understand the question (this includes the stem and the stimulus, passage, scenario, etc.)?
– Why is the correct answer right?
– Why is each wrong answer wrong?
– How could I have approached this question differently? Is there a more efficient manner? Is there a more intuitive approach? Read more
A lot of folks struggle with timing on the LSAT. Clearly, if the test were un-timed, we’d all find it a lot easier. Since we have only 35 minutes per section, if you’re having trouble finishing on time, it’s important to address your pacing.
There are several reasons folks struggle with pacing:
1. Not enough full practice under time conditions. If you’re just starting out, your mind is probably not used to the pace at which it needs to work. I know that I generally equate a good read with a slow read — but that simply doesn’t work for the LSAT. You probably can speed up considerably by just telling yourself to speed up! From now on, every problem you try should be done with a stopwatch. Also make sure you’re throwing in full practice tests along the way. Don’t wait until you’re done learning all your strategies to work on your speed.
2. Ineffective strategies. Some ways of tackling problems would work just fine if the LSAT were untimed but breakdown under time pressure. For example, in logic games, writing out all the possible scenarios doesn’t work for the vast majority of games. In reading comprehension, you simply do not have enough time to do a full re-read. In logical reasoning, you can’t wait until you’ve read the question to start thinking critically about an argument you’ve already read — you need to be reading critically from the outset.
This problem turns up more frequently with folks who are not using a book to study with, though even those who are in a course can fall prey to this problem if they don’t do timed practice, which often forces them to realize that they must indeed use the strategies they’re learning about. Read more
From various questions I’ve received, I’ve created this flowchart to help folks organize their thoughts (and laugh):
Folks are starting to get their scores back, and we’re facing a volley of questions.
Should I Re-Take the LSAT?
The most common—of those who aren’t so excited about their score—is whether to re-take or not. That depends on a lot of factors, which we spelled out in the last blog entry. In short, if you’re not competitive for the schools to which you’d be happy to go, and you have legitimate reasons to think there are more points on the table for you, then go for it. But make sure you dig deep with your prep this summer. We’re going to spell out a few re-take or not scenarios in our upcoming Review the June LSAT Workshop.
The Dinosaur Game Explanation
The second set of questions is about how to solve the Dinosaur game. I could spell out a diagram and solution explanation here, but if you struggled with that, learning how to solve that specific game is not the issue. Plenty of people were able to nail that game, so how come they did and you didn’t? If you did a lot of prep work, then most likely the difference is that they were flexible in their approach and didn’t freeze up. There are a lot of overall lessons to be drawn from that game. If you’re interested in going over it with us, come to our Review the June LSAT Workshop and see what you can learn from that game.
Good question! As most everyone knows, many law schools are only honoring your top LSAT score. This tends to be more true as you descend the rankings, but there are also top-tier schools that claim to do this as well. I just attended a conference of pre-law advisors and admissions officers and learned that there is a lot of variety in approaches to applications. Some turn a blind eye to the problematic score, others try to figure out the “story” behind the multiple tests. One interesting fact is how little people generally improve between tests. While we’re clearly going to benefit from those who look at their LSAT score and decide they should have taken a course, for the majority of folks, they only improve a few points. To break that re-take score barrier, unless you either really did not prepare for your first test or you had a panic attack (or horrible proctor and testing experience), you’re going to have to dig deep. Whatever you did to prepare the first time did not work! Some issues to consider once you receive your score: Read more
If you took the June 2009 LSAT, or if you’re reading the blogs, you have no doubt be thinking about one particular feisty logic game. Since it’s bad form to talk about LSAT question specifics, let’s keep this extremely general.
From what my sources tell me about the especially tricky game, what made it particularly difficult was the number of issues at play. Basically, the LSAT took elements of various game types and threw them together. The diagram, therefore, provided few people the big break-through inferences they hoped for. This is common of more complex 3-D ordered numbering games. The takeaway is to prepare to be unprepared. Strict executors, as usual, are punished. LSAT logic games mastery is all about flexibility.
The other big issue that people reported was that there was not enough room on one game to write out all the diagrams. That’s a tough one! It goes to show you that you must practice with real LSAT questions — and without scratch paper. Practice writing small!
In a class I taught last night, I was very impressed with how the students showed how a generally “clunkier” strategy (spelling out scenarios to eliminate on a “must be true” question) actually worked extremely well for a certain question – it actually worked faster than a more “elegant” solution of following the inference chain. This sort of refusal to accept orthodoxy is ideal. The key to working on this is to re-play games in different ways. See if you can do it faster a different way. Don’t become a logic game dinosaur.
Try out this game to flex your muscles: //www.manhattanprep.com/lsat/lsat-logic-game-9.cfm and take a look at our LSAT Logic Game Strategy Guide to see some other tips: www.manhattanprep.com/lsat/lsat-books.cfm