The Morning Cometh: The February 2018 LSAT Recap

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As we do for every LSAT, we’re here today to give an instant reaction to the February 2018 LSAT. For the nondisclosed February exam, we can only give a brief recap based on the whispers we’ve been hearing. If you took the exam this Saturday, hopefully this breakdown will allow you to reflect on the exam you just took and hopefully provide some measure of consolation that many others also found certain parts of the exam difficult. If you didn’t take the exam yesterday, but are studying for June or beyond, hopefully this discussion will give you insight into the LSAT trends we’re seeing.

The February 2018 LSAT marks the start of the new year for LSAC and law school hopefuls — sort of. Based on some calendar chicanery from LSAC, they’re actually saying the new year is the start of the new year is in June 2018. It’s a long story, but sort of relevant for today’s purposes.

According to the pseudo-Gregorian calendar LSAC is apparently using, the February 2018 exam is actually the last exam of the 2017-2018 year. So yes, the national nightmare that was 2017 is still ongoing, at least according to LSAC, which has annexed February post-hoc for 2017.

Now, we’ve observed several trends from the previous exams this “year.” An increased prevalence of Disagree questions, for one. Comparative passages about the law on Reading Comp. Straightforward logic games and a complete absence of crazy weird games. And, spoiler alert, the February 2018 exam was by and large a continuation of those trends.

So, consistent with LSAC’s made-up 2017-18 year, the writers of this exam are still riding the wave of the June, September, and December 2017 exams. Does that mean that, once the new year starts with the June 11th exam, the test writers will ride a new wave, maybe one that includes crazier games and fewer passages about the law? Or will they continue with the trends we’re observing from last year? If there’s one thing I’ve learned covering LSAC’s whims this last year, it’s that it can be a capricious, tough-to-predict institution.

At any rate, let’s talk about what we’re hearing about the February 2018 exam. Below you’ll find our section-by-section breakdown …

Logical Reasoning

According to the reports I’m hearing, the February Logical Reasoning sections were apparently pretty consistent with the year’s previous LR sections. The usual caveats apply to our coverage of this section on these Morning Cometh posts — it’s really tough to glean a clear picture of the Logical Reasoning sections after the test, since test takers tend to forget these short questions almost immediately after reading them. It usually isn’t until the test gets released to the public — which, for the February exam, is never — that we can get a clear picture of the section.

That being said, reports suggest there was the typical smattering of Flaw, Strengthen, Necessary, and Soft Must Be True questions. I’m also hearing that there were, consistent with the September and December, quite a few Disagree questions. It seems like the LSAT has a new starting five of its fav question types. Study up on Flaw, Strengthen, Necessary, Soft Must Be True, and Disagree questions because they, cumulatively, will have a big impact on your score.

As far as memorable questions on Logical Reasoning goes, nothing seems to stick out, other than a question about the vampire myth being a result of rabies … or maybe rabbis, according to this Reddit post.

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If anything is surprising about this section, it’s that I’m hearing from most test takers that it was the hardest section of this exam. In particular, I’m hearing that there were several brutal Sufficient questions in one of the sections. Now, this challenging section may have been the experimental section. But even if it isn’t, this is still good news. Usually, only one of the sections stands out as the hardest to most test takers. If that section is Reading Comp or Logic Games, that can be a little disconcerting. After all, a punishingly difficult or brain-scrambling passage or game can have a huge impact on your score. As many as 8 questions might be thrown away if you bomb a tough passage or game. However, a couple of difficult questions in Logical Reasoning would only have a marginal impact on your score. In other words, don’t sweat a tough Logical Reasoning section.

Reading Comprehension

The February test overall was consistent with the prior tests, but if any of these sections was especially predictable, it was Reading Comprehension. Most test takers said this was a manageable section, in large part because each passage was reminded them of older passages they did during their studies.

The first passage was about Alain Locke, and how he incorporated two approaches into his pedagogy of African American studies. To some test takers, this passage was very reminiscent of the passage from the June 2000 test on the two approaches Thurgood Marshall balanced to overturn the “separate but equal” doctrine in Brown v. Board of Education.

The second passage was on the defense mechanisms beetle larvae use against ants after a cottonwood tree is felled by a beaver. This one sounded very dense and jargon-laden, but its structure reminded some of the December 2012 passage on “secondary substances,” defense mechanisms plants develop to help them repel insects.

The third passage was, get this, a comparative passage about the law. Yes, that’s the fourth consecutive test — going back to the June 2017 Reading Comp section — to feature a comparative passage about the law. This one was even about copyright law, a subject broached by the last LSAT’s comparative passage.

Finally, the fourth passage was about whether it would be enriching for the public to debate politicians’ lies. Test takers didn’t identify an analog to this passage from past exams, but … I mean … we’ve all been living passage four for the past year.

Unlike the June or September 2017 exams, I didn’t hear too many people complain about the difficulty level of this section. It seems like the test writers are relenting, if only a little bit, in how challenging they’re making Reading Comp.

Logic Games

Finally, just like the February, June, September, and December 2017 LSATs, we got another batch of straightforward games on this test. The LSAT went through a fairly outré phase with its games from 2015 to 2016, when it would include at least one head-scratching game per exam. But after a year of exams without such a game, it seems like the test writers have moved out of its experimental period and into a more grounded, predictable phase of the LSAT.

Pretty much every exam features a basic ordering game. The one on this exam, game three, sounded pretty fun (an adjective used by LSAT instructors and LSAT instructors only to describe logic games). It required test takers to piece together the chronology of a museum burglary, based on reports of when an alarm rang, when the lights went out, when a man and woman were observed, and so on. The most astute detectives reported that making scenarios cracked that case wide open.

Unstable grouping games are also a fixture on recent exams, and it sounds like game four fit the bill on this exam. That game involved placing students into one of three different economics classes. There was a minor twist in this game, according to most test takers I spoke to, which involved whether one of the classes had a prerequisite. I’m hearing that simply diagramming accurately the rules involving the prerequisite courses was sufficient to ace this game.

I’m a little less clear on what games one and two involved. It seems like most were able to get through those games quickly and easily, without many memories to report. I mean, I didn’t hear any complaints about them, so they must have been manageable. The first game involved determining the seating arrangements of students, as far as I can tell. The second apparently involved arranging five different classes in an upper lecture hall and lower lecture hall.

So the Logic Games section capped off a “year” with a mixture of understandable ordering and grouping games, a distribution of games that has been the name of the (logic) game of 2017-2018.

Conclusion

Those February test takers who used the last three or four tests as a practice exams would have been exceedingly well prepared for the February test. Overall, I’m hearing fewer complaints about the difficulty of this exam than what I heard back in December, so I would speculate that the “curve” of this exam is going to be a -10 or -11 (meaning you could miss 10 or 11 questions and still get a 170) — not that we’ll ever learn what the curve this exam is.

So now what? If you still feel like it went poorly, you may consider canceling your score. You have a few days before you have to make that decision. Before electing to cancel your score without seeing it, try watching this video.

The LSAC’s official cancelation policy can be read here. According to LSAC, you have until 11:59 pm EST on the sixth day after the exam to cancel using your LSAC account. In layman’s terms, you have until Friday at 11:59 pm EST to cancel. Take the next few days to think it through. Sleep on it. Consider whether the section you blew was the likely experimental section. If you still want to cancel, you always have the six exams LSAT will administer in the new year 2018-2019, starting with the June 11th exam.

If you think you did well on it, celebrate responsibly.

If you have any additional thoughts, feelings, or concerns about the exam, please drop a comment below!

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