Why Aren’t My Practice Test Scores Improving?

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Hey, you baseball players out there – remember a year or two after tee-ball when your coach took you aside and told you that what you thought of as your graceful Hammer-of-Thor swing was, in fact, rubbish? And then you had to completely reconstruct your approach? Well, the process of studying for the LSAT is a little like that – here’s how.

The LSAT is a skills-based test with no prior knowledge required. This means that when you take your first diagnostic test, you’re naturally going to be coming up with strategies and methods and heuristics on the fly. This is great in the fight-or-flight circumstance that is that diagnostic test, but when you think about it, it’s obvious that the approach you conjure up under pressure is unlikely to be perfectly aligned with the most efficient and effective methods.

Thus, the first few weeks of LSAT studying usually require a lot of deconstructing. Just like with your swing, what feels right intuitively often isn’t going to be the best basis for long-term success. Often I encounter students whose individual approach does a good job at getting them up to, say, 70% accuracy on Logic Games. That’s no small feat, because LG is tough, but those students are rarely happy to settle with six or seven point drop incurred by missing 30% of their Games questions. Typically they need to scrap their method (while retaining the conceptual understandings cultivated its production) and begin more or less anew. They need to completely reconstruct their swing.

When you abandon a practice you’re comfortable with and adopt something foreign, it’s natural – even expected – to struggle initially. As a result, many students’ scores stagnate for a practice test or two when they’re doing the bulk of their learning. This can be frustrating, but remember that the LSAT is designed to test where you are, not where you’re headed. Rather than getting hung up on your practice test score, focus on how well you’ve been developing your LSAT skills: How are you at Grouping Games at the time of the test? How well can you identify the point on which the speakers disagree? Any individual practice test’s predictive power – meaning its ability to discern how well you’re setting yourself up for success in October or December – is pretty much nil.

If you, like many students, experience a period of no score increases early in your studies, it probably isn’t a cause for worry. Keep your focus on getting perfect at the fundamentals — on choking up on the bat.

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