The Morning Cometh: The September 2017 LSAT Recap

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As we do for every LSAT, we’re here today to give an instant reaction to the September LSAT. We’ll do a deeper dive into the exam once LSAC publishes it, but for now, we’re giving a brief recap based on the whispers we’ve been hearing. If you took the exam this Saturday, hopefully this will allow you to reflect on the exam you just took and 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 December or beyond, hopefully this discussion will give you insight into the LSAT trends we’re seeing.

On Saturday, what will almost certainly be the largest collection of law school hopefuls to assemble this year woke up to chase their proverbial paper boat of law school dreams down the street, leading them to a storm drain testing center. These law school hopefuls could have lost that paper boat down the storm drain, taken hostage by an evil, shape-shifting clown called the LSIT. Or they could have safely retrieved the boat before it washed down the drain, instead encountering a familiar, less scary, and predictable entity called the LSAT.

So was the September exam more LSIT or LSAT? Let’s take a look, section by section …

Logical Reasoning

Fortunately, we’re hearing a lot of reports that this was a straightforward Logical Reasoning section. Nothing too crazy, out of the ordinary, or unfairly difficult, according to many. Among the notable trends that our little birdies are reporting involve some difficult diagrammable questions; a glut of Resolve, Explain, and Disagree questions; and the usual splattering of Strengthen questions.

Every exam has an LR question or two that haunts test takers, like the terrifying visage of Pennywise the Clown. On my LSAT, taken roughly 100 years ago today, it was a question about bear migration in a nature preserve. For this exam, we’ve heard many reports of an oddly-phrased Strengthen EXCEPT question (introduced by asking which answer choice would “LEAST strengthen” the argument) about whether Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale was a rip-off of an ancient Greek play. There have also been numerous reports about a somewhat hilarious sounding question about dive-bombing crows being observed by caveman mask-wearing researchers (?). Even with these strange questions, most students reports aren’t that these questions were especially evil or onerous — just a little strange and off-kilter.

So in all, it seems like the psychometricians who write this exam made a relatively straightforward and manageable set of Logical Reasoning section. So, in asking whether this section was LSIT or LSAT …

Verdict: LSAT

Reading Comprehension

If Logical Reasoning was predictably straightforward, Reading Comprehension was predictably brutal. Basically everyone said that this set of passages was especially tough, with the comparative passage taking a figurative bite out of every test taker’s arm.

That said, the passages covered tried and true Reading Comprehension topics, such as environmentalism, Native American cultural identity, a judge’s role in jurisprudence, and grand philosophical theories and -isms. It sounds like the first passage was all about the economics of foresting, the second on radio and the internet’s impact on learning Native American language, the third a set comparative passages on “judicial candor” and judge’s beliefs, and the fourth on Marxism and Freudianism’s historical determination. All of which sound like a rollicking good time.

So yeah, if you’re studying for a later LSAT, don’t neglect Reading Comprehension. Make sure you develop a good system for reading and understanding these passages. Because, like a clown that has sensed fear in the hearts of children, the terror inflicted by this section shows no sign of relenting.

Verdict: LSIT

Logic Games

Unusual logic games are very similar to Pennywise the Clown. Like Pennywise, they show up approximately once every 27 years to feast on young people’s fears. They can take wild configurations, like a game involving the transmission of computer viruses. Or a game involving the trading of various buildings. And, also like Pennywise, they prefer to feed on the fearful and unprepared.

But, also like Pennywise [SPOILER ALERT … SORT OF], an unusual game won’t hurt you if you don’t abjectly fear it. If you enter a Logic Games section without fear or trepidation, you can complete any game the test writers can devise.

And it seems like an army of Bill Denbroughs and Beverly Marshes entered this Logic Games section without fear, and were rewarded with what many are referring to as one the easiest games sections they’ve seen in a long time.

Every game involved ordering or grouping principles, so there were no strange curveballs in this section. It sounds like there were a couple 1:1 ordering games — one on food specials and the other on films. It seems like there was a tiered ordering game about witnesses and interviewers. And finally, an unstable grouping game that asked you to assign presentations to students. Reports seem to indicate that scenarios helped a lot on these, giving students a quick way to roll through the questions.

Verdict: LSAT

What Now?

So in all, this seemed like a manageable LSAT, a very difficult Reading Comprehension section notwithstanding. Hopefully you feel like you did great! If so, take a well-deserved victory lap.

If you’re not sure if you got the score you desired and are considering canceling it, try watching this video first before making your decision.

The LSAC’s official cancelation policy can be read here. According to LSAC, you have until 11:59 pm Eastern on the sixth day after the exam to cancel using your LSAC account. Which is a confusing way to say that your deadline to cancel is Friday. So you still have some time to think it through. Sleep on it. Consider whether the section you blew was the likely experimental section.

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

2 Responses

  1. Philip says:

    I took in june and got a low 160s. I was prep testing at near 169-172 on the last few PrepTests aside from one outlier 3 weeks before the exam that I got a low 160 on. However, on this exam I was feeling better than june till before the break( I did 2 real sections (LR and LG) before the break). Now I realized for an easier game I misread a rule which may have impacted by LG score from perfect (I am quite confident, unless I misread something else, I got everything ‘correct’ or maybe 1 careless mistake) but then it turns out I misread a rule and that could have costed me up to 5 points. I was hoping to get a high 160s because my GPA is 4.0 and I think for most T14 schools I would have been well served with a high 160s but now this -5 on games may have costed me a higher score and could be another low 160s again or even below 160. This is also because I have no idea how RC went but I may have gotten -7 to -9 because the last two passages on judges and grand theories were confusing for me; on good RC passage days I have gotten -3 and on bad days as high as -9. For LR on good days I get perfect and on bad days I get -5 per section; i think the actual exam leans closer on a bad day but that said there have been PrepTests where I thought I did poorly on LR and ended up doing well and the reverse is also true so I don’t think my gauge for LR is that accurate.

    I think I am going to re-take December because it seems like it would be a “waste” of my GPA to not try the LSAT again. Basically my question is this: Would not cancelling hurt and getting a December score hurt me? My reason for cancellation centers around a single game and I don’t think my LR RC were superb either because I have had PTs where I walked out feeling better with LR and RC. At the same time, I have no idea what my LR and RC is like or even how fatal the misreading of the rule was. Would you suggest there is a detrimental effect to not cancelling it and if it does turn out to be lower than my June LSAT to write an addendum to explain what happened? Or would it be better to cancel now since I will retake it in December?

    My other option is to apply now with my june (or september) score to an early decision school that is “nicer” to a high GPA and lower LSAT.

    • Hi Philip,

      Although all schools will receive every LSAT score you register, and the average of all your LSAT scores, the vast majority of law schools (even some of the schools at the very top, like Yale and Harvard) will simply use your highest LSAT score when calculating your Academic Index. And even some schools that typically average multiple LSAT scores will use the higher score if there’s a significant enough disparity between the two scores (usually 6 points or more), although that school will expect the applicant to provide an explanation for the increase in the explanatory essay. Here’s a rundown of how many schools treat multiple LSAT scores, for your reference.

      On the other hand, all schools will see the lower score, and most schools will say they will “consider” the fact that an applicant has multiple LSAT scores. In other words, although the lower score will not affect your Academic Index (which is really the most important part of your application), it could still have a small impact on your chances of admission. How much weight is placed on a “low” LSAT score will vary from school to school.

      In short, it’s always better to apply with one LSAT score, although it’s not fatal to have more than one. It’s even better if you have a good explanation for why a score went up significantly.

      If you do decide to cancel, that will not affect your application. Having one cancellation is not an issue for admissions officers — they know that everyone has bad days, that there may have been testing irregularities beyond your control, etc.

      Hope this helps. Good luck!

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