The LSAT Lessons of Hanukkah

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Tonight is the fifth night of Hanukkah. The story goes that back in the second century B.C., after the Jews re-conquered the temple in Jerusalem from Greek forces, there was only enough oil to last one night. That oil miraculously burned for eight nights, and that miracle is what Hanukkah is all about.

Here’s the lesson for those studying for the LSAT: you, too, can make one day’s worth of material last for eight days. Especially if you’re retaking, you may feel like you’re short of LSAT practice tests. If you’re doing them the right way, you can stretch them farther than you might think.

First, you take the practice test. It’s tempting to check your answers, get your score, and try to do better. Patience. You need to make this test last, and you’ll get much more out of it that way.

Before you check your answers, try any questions you weren’t able to get to because of time. They won’t count toward your score, but it’s better if you look at them before you see the answers. While you do that, look back at the questions you answered but weren’t sure about. Now that the time pressure is off, can you figure them out?

Then, check your answers. But don’t rush straight into looking at explanations. Give yourself a chance to figure it out for yourself. Now that you know that B is the right answer and D is wrong, can you figure out why? LSAC writes the test to make the answers defensibly right or wrong. There’s a reason there, and it falls to you to find it.

Once you’ve given figuring the answers out your best shot, it’s time to check out the explanations for anything you’re still not one hundred percent sure about, even if you got it right. Your goal should be to really wrap your head around these questions. You’re not really done until you feel like you could explain them to someone else.

Finally, go back to the questions that really gave you trouble. If it’s a game, try it over again. You’ll kind of remember it, but that’s okay. The goal is to reinforce the thinking you’d have to go through to solve a similar game in the future. For Logical Reasoning and Reading Comp, talk yourself through the passage or stimulus, and talk yourself through the steps you’d want to take to answer the question. Your goal is to prepare yourself for the next similar question you see.

Most important, eat latkes throughout. Who cares if you’re Jewish or celebrate Hanukkah? They’re delicious.

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