In my last post, I framed the LSAT as a mental athletic contest. Your objective isn’t just understanding the material on the LSAT, it’s also performing when you have to perform. Most LSAT prep programs don’t spend any attention on the second of these, and that’s one reason why people’s scores often fall on test day—not just a little bit, but dramatically. You have to approach some basics correctly. You have to know your opponent, know that there are rules and know the defense (that is, what are they throwing at you). Here, I want to talk mostly about the last of these.
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The LSAT is a game. It has rules established by the LSAC and the LSAT plays by them. I am convinced that the failure to appreciate the LSAT as a sport damages LSAT performance. To succeed on the LSAT, you have to do two things successfully.
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The LSAT is a hard test because the writers are very good at writing tests. What makes it hard is just that—not that it’s complicated because it’s not. The writers have a clear theory of argument in mind and they stick to it; no tricks, no sneak attacks, no changing of the rules; they play by the rules. The simpler your approach, the better. Simplicity has two virtues: it makes you both more accurate and more efficient..
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With a little under two weeks to go before you walk into the room to take you LSAT, you should be at a certain stage in your preparation. To finish your preparation in the best way, there are things you should and should not be doing so that you’ll be at your best on test day.
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When I first started Advise-In Solutions, one of my first blog posts—and advice I’ve given to countless prospective LSAT re-takers since—was about the factors you should consider when thinking about whether to retake the LSAT if you were not satisfied with your initial score. The general points: avoid confirmation bias, and avoid thinking you are an exception to the data without clearly understanding why you think so.
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Two weeks in front of the LSAT, if you’ve properly prepared for the test, it's time to consolidate what you’ve done and fine-tune it; it’s not time to innovate or develop entirely new strategies. The reason is integral to the demands of the LSAT. A test-taker needs to have two related but distinct abilities...
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Advise-In’s very first blog post was about simplifying the LSAT. I warned about the “blizzard of paper” that LSAT study guides and programs produce, which make studying for the test more difficult rather than easier. There are too many decisions to make and each one of them takes you away from the words on the test page, which is what you need to focus on during a pressurized exam day.
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LSAT success depends on two things: understanding the content of the test and executing that understanding time after time after time. It is astonishing how many LSAT prep courses and study aids focus only on the first. The result is that a lot of LSAT takers feel like they knew the material better than they could show in the actual test. That’s because the second key to success—test-taking—is ignored, and the result is that test takers leave a lot of points on the table.
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At Advise-In Solutions, we counsel our clients not to pay attention to the readings of tea leaves about the LSAT that are all over the internet. It’s a fool’s errand because it takes your focus away from doing what you need to do—prepare for the 20 or so question types the LSAT has used for over 25 years now. Guessing at how many assumption questions they’ll ask, whether there will be more main point questions than there were last test, etc., which some LSAT advisors talk about endlessly, doesn’t help you. You’ll be wrong as often as you’re right. You need to be prepared for each question type and be prepared for the test environment. That’s all, and it’s a lot.
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More on our primer on the types of Analytical Reasoning (logic games) questions you might encounter on the LSAT…
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