As Blueprinters around the world from Des Moines to Afghanistan begin their studies for the October 2010 LSAT, the first of many obstacles looms large. Laying in a supply of number 2 pencils? No. Saying goodbye to your significant other for all intents and purposes for the summer? Hopefully not. Understanding the significance of the first practice exam? Check.
Your first practice LSAT. This rite of passage has been responsible for inflated egos, vicious self doubt, and innumerable trips to KFC.
Whether you’re online or in a classroom, Blueprint LSAT students begin their course with a practice exam. For you non-Blueprinters studying on your own, we recommend beginning your course of study by taking a practice LSAT. June 2007 works well since it has the modern comparative reading and is free on the LSAC.org website. Can’t argue with free.
Beginning your study with a practice LSAT is a good idea because it provides a baseline from which to track your progress as you prepare for the test. However, beginning with a practice test, as with so many things in life, comes with a dark side. We’ve seen our students turn a first practice exam into a measure of self worth or, equally disturbing, believe it to provide a range past which their score cannot increase.
In order to address these issues, here are several precepts to keep firmly in mind regarding your first practice LSAT:
1. You are not the sum of your LSAT score. Scoring a 132 on your first test does not mean you are doomed to a job with a hair net and name tag. It means you’re not yet familiar with the test. Having trouble figuring out whether the car with the sunroof gets a super wash? Well, you haven’t learned how to do that so don’t panic just yet.
2. On the flip side, scoring a 160 on your initial practice LSAT doesn’t mean you’re finished. You’ve got some natural aptitude for the test, but don’t let that translate into a failure to learn better methods. Sometimes students who score well on their first test don’t want to relearn approaching the LSAT because their way has already served them well. But unless you’re scoring in the 99th percentile out of the gates, you can learn a better way to approach the test. Remember Tiger totally relearned his swing after winning his first Masters. Of course, he has to pay Elin 100 million, but that’s a different story.
3. Your first practice LSAT does not define how much you can increase your score. Blueprint has an average 10 point increase per student. And we also have students who increase their scores by 20 points or more. We’ve found score increases depend largely on how much effort students put into their homework outside of class. Sadly, sitting through the videos or in class alone is rarely enough for a large increase, so hit the books!
The lesson to take from this? Take your first practice exam with a very large grain of salt. Preferably one from the KFC double down. A chicken sandwich where the chicken stands in as the bread and the filling is bacon and cheese? As glorious as an initial practice LSAT score, kept in perspective.
By Jodi Triplett, who highly recommends the breaded version of the double down.