Happy New Year from Most Strongly Supported and Blueprint LSAT. New Year’s Resolutions are mostly a parade of self-delusional promises we make to ourselves before summarily breaking them, but this year, that’s going to be different. We promise — at least with respect to your LSAT studies, if you plan on spending part of your 2018 studying for one of the LSATs being held this year. Here are the resolutions you need to make to yourself now to make the most out of that aspect of your new year.
I know very little about creating and maintaining a healthful exercise regiment. But I know some people who do. And these people talk about two things incessantly: (1) In January, the gymnasium is annoyingly full of new-year-new-me types who will be gone by February; and (2) you gotta get your reps in.
Reps, of course, being an abbreviation of the word repetition, a derivation of the word “repeat,” based on the Latin word repetere, which translates to either “to seek again” or “to attack again” (depending on how philosophical or bellicose the Romans were feeling, I guess).
And if we’re going to extend this into a strained analogy about the LSAT, you should be getting tons of reps with your LSAT studies. But this shouldn’t just mean mindlessly doing a series of questions, one after the other, with the pale hope of making improvements.
Instead, you should be repeating yourself — reviewing and re-doing past Logical Reasoning questions, Reading Comp passages, and games in order to seek insights into those questions to help you attack them again with more aplomb. Maybe you did a logic game without doing scenarios, but you got stumped on some of the questions and the whole thing took a little too long? Try it again, this time with scenarios, to see if that helps you out. Or maybe you did a game with scenarios, and the scenarios helped you answer the questions, but it took way too long to finish? Try it again, this time without scenarios.
By repeating yourself, you’ll figure out the best approach to those questions, and you’ll be better able to go straight to that approach on the test day. Getting your reps in 2018 will only make you stronger.
Eat More Vegetables
Other than the periods when I lived in the boujee parts of LA, most people I’ve known have expressed a real aversion to eating vegetables. In my hometown of San Diego, for instance, people survive mostly on a diet of craft beer and California burritos, as though their childhood prejudice against broccoli calcified into an adult eating habit. These stubborn people need to make New Year’s resolutions to eat more healthfully.
The only other place I routinely see such an obstinate unwillingness to do what is healthy and good is in my LSAT students’ aversion to practicing Reading Comp. Which is understandable. These passages aren’t exactly the breeziest reads. But by ignoring Reading Comp, these students basically surrender any chance of getting better on a section that accounts for about 27% of their final scores.
So resolve to buck that trend in 2018.
Eat your vegetables Do your Reading Comp. Start by doing two Reading Comp passages every day. This is eminently manageable. Develop a good system of tagging the passage that will reveal the structure of the argument in the passage. Try to identify the author’s attitude towards the topics and the arguments. Practice finding the commonly used rhetorical devices, like causal statements and examples, that will help you answer questions. Then bump that up three passages a day once you start getting a little better. Then bump it up to four. Then start doing the passages timed, giving yourself 35 minutes to complete all four.
After a nutrient-rich diet of Reading Comp, your mind on test day will better able to tackle a section that has only gotten more challenging on recent exams. So much better than the children surrounding you in your test center, their minds slow and dull from their sugar- and red meat-laden diets.
Learn a New Language
Yes, if you can, learn a language that will allow you to communicate with more people and, maybe, allow you to provide legal assistance to underserved communities once you become an attorney.
But for our immediate and LSAT-related purposes, the language you need to learn is the language of sufficiency and necessity. These words form the basis of conditional statements, the most common type of statement on the LSAT and the key to getting many Logical Reasoning questions right and to unlocking many deductions in the Logic Games section.
And the best part is that it’s not a terribly difficult language to learn. It’s based on words, such as “if,” “all,” “only,” and “unless,” that you already know. But it’s still a learning process. A process of memorizing vocabulary — the words that tell you which conditions are “sufficient” and which are “necessary” — and learning syntax — how to diagram conditional statements and use them to make deductions.
So take the time to learn this language. While your friends who learned French will consider their ability to order a baguette in Paris while only receiving mild sneers from their server an “enriching” experience, you will literally be made richer through the higher LSAT score you will earn and commensurate higher earning potential you will possess.
Engage in Self-Care and Positive Thinking
Finally, a more serious note. One of the first things I always show my new crop of students is the score distribution of the LSAT. If you haven’t looked at one of those before, it can be really staggering to see, for instance, that the getting the median score on the LSAT involves missing almost every other question on the test. Or that cracking into the upper echelon of scores will still involve missing about 1 in 10 questions.
In other words, it’s important to know from the jump that the LSAT is an objectively difficult test. You will be getting many, many questions wrong. In all likelihood, way more than you are accustomed to. There will be times — probably many times in fact — that your study process will feel frustrating and fruitless.
Unfortunately, you can’t change how difficult the exam is. But you can change how you respond to the difficult patches of your study process. You can choose to treat every missed question, confusing passage, and blown game as a learning opportunity — a way to diagnose what went wrong and to prescribe a course of action to make sure it doesn’t go wrong again. You can remind yourself that, although there is undeniable correlation between LSAT scores and 1L performance in general, your individual LSAT scores (especially your practice exam scores!) are not determinative of how well you’ll do you in law school or as an attorney.
And when you feel like the study process is really dire, take a break! You’ll need to do the sort of things that make you happy to balance out the occasional frustration the LSAT will deal you. Positive thinking, self-care — resolve to remember to engage in these throughout your study process. Doing so will make your 2018 happier, healthier, and, ultimately, more productive.