Keepin’ it (nearly) 100.
On my way to the 99th percentile, I had three significant LSAT scores. My first practice LSAT, my first official LSAT, and my second official LSAT scores.
The First Practice Test
I took my first practice LSAT at a Starbucks. A friend of mine came along and also did a practice test. I didn’t know anything about what would be on the test, I just had some vague ideas about how it’s pretty hard-to-impossible to study for, so my first score better be good.
My first section was Logic Games. This was in the days when each logic game would come on a single page, so there was barely any white space to give you the hit that you should write something down. Not having any sense for how long 35 minutes was, I also reasoned that I didn’t have enough time to write anything down. It was a disaster. I answered the four Elimination questions and then basically gave up. The only reason I ran out the rest of my time and took the next section was because I didn’t want to leave my friend. I felt so stupid.
But then I did really well on Logical Reasoning and Reading Comp. These felt very familiar. I was a philosophy major and most of the questions my professors asked in class sounded like LR prompts. What’s the argument here? What’s the main point? What the weakness in this argument? And so on.
I scored my test and was pleasantly surprised to get a 161.
The First Official LSAT
I took my first official LSAT over three years after my diagnostic test. In the mean time, I had studied about 4 months right before the real thing. My study plan was totally freestyled. Before I took the test I had barely any systematic approach. To my great shame, I had actually not even taken a single full practice test to gauge my improvement.
I ended up getting a 170. Not bad, but I was a bit disappointed. I felt like if I could get a 170, I should be able to get a 173, which was at the time a score that was very likely to get me into some very good schools, whereas a 170 did not. So I decided to give it another go. Two years later. This made sense because this was at a time when legal hiring was extremely poor, and not going to one of the strongest schools was an unacceptable risk for me.
The Second Official LSAT
My second official LSAT came after about two years of working as an LSAT instructor for Blueprint. Blueprint really opened my eyes to just how much I did not know about the LSAT, and just how systematic you could be in your approach to the test.
By the time I decided to give the official LSAT another go, I knew everything there was to know about the LSAT. This time I also took practice exams, and they were spectacular. But I made a really silly mistake. I was only taking four section practice LSATs—the actual LSAT is always five sections.
On test day, I felt like I was having an awesome day. Logic Games? Killed it. Reading Comp? Killed it. But then I got to my 5th section—what turned out to be one of my two real LR sections. For some reason, I couldn’t concentrate. I kept thinking how well I did, and how happy I was to do so well and . . . And I ended up missing 3 questions on that section alone, and one on each of the other real sections. I think I had gotten so used to scoring my practice LSAT after four sections that part of me felt like I was already done while I was taking my fifth section. I’m still a bit embarrassed about that today.
It’s a bit crazy to think that 4 points on the LSAT can make a big difference in your admissions chances. But it can. And in my case it did. With a 174, I got into several school I didn’t get into before, and I happily ended up at Columbia. The LSAT is a real pain. It’s very stressful and at times the whole experience can feel absurd. But if you think you can do a bit better, my advice is to just retake.