I started teaching the LSAT in 2008. I stopped in 2013. I’ve been LSAT sober for four months.
In my five years of teaching this most wonderful of tests, I got to know it pretty well. Between classes, tutoring, and manning the email helpline, I worked with literally thousands of bright-eyed students (well, they started bright-eyed, anyway). I’ve done every single modern LSAT question. Even the rare out-of-print ones, even the awful ones from the early 90s that made people seriously reconsider going to law school. I’ve done most LSAT questions multiple times, and many of them many, many times. I’m pretty sure I could recreate the mauve dinosaur game from memory. I can certainly tell you all about Noguchi’s positive light sculptures. And I’ll never forget about the possible link between curing herpes and smoking pot. The point is, the LSAT and I had a pretty close relationship. So to go from all-LSAT-all-the-time to quitting it cold turkey definitely made me a feel a bit conflicted, to say the least.
As anyone who has studied for the test can tell you, getting away from the LSAT is sort of like getting out of a relationship. For most people, it’s like dumping an emotionally abusive partner. They’ve wasted your time, they’ve wasted your money, and they’ve certainly made you cry, but through sheer willpower you got the better of them and vindictively kicked them to the curb. But something strange happens when you start to get good at the LSAT; against all common sense, and against your better judgment, you actually start to like it. I’ve seen countless students come down with this particularly masochistic type of Stockholm syndrome. The better you get at the LSAT, the more you respect it for the sophisticated and elegant test that it is. And after a while it even gets fun. Really.
However, by its nature, people’s time with the LSAT is short lived. You learn all about the difference between ordering and grouping games only to promptly forget that knowledge once you have a satisfactory LSAT score. But for those of us who teach the test, it’s a long-term relationship. And like any good relationship, it gets better as time goes on. Ask any LSAT instructor, and they’ll tell you that the release of a new prep test is an exciting event. Pathetic, we know, but it’s true. No crossword or sudoku could ever compare to the blissful satisfaction one gets from completing a particularly difficult LSAT Logic Game that’s hot off the presses. And by teaching the test, you get to know all of its ins and outs, you see the same patterns, you see when those patterns are subverted and changed. The fine people at LSAC may make your life a whole lot harder, but you have to at least give them their due for making such a good test (don’t worry, respecting them doesn’t preclude hating them, as well).
Because of all this, it was a little sad to leave my old lover behind. I haven’t even taken the June LSAT. Part of me wants to take it for fun, just this once, to rekindle the old relationship. But I won’t. At least not for now. I’ve toyed with the idea of not looking at a single LSAT question for six months or maybe even a year, and then taking the real thing sans studying. People always ask how much you lose when you stop studying for the LSAT, and I’d be interested to be a guinea pig for that. But for now the LSAT and I remain separated. And like with any healthy breakup, we know it’s for the best. We’re still friends. We just don’t live together anymore.
And who knows, maybe we’ll have another fling down the line.