Disclaimer: LSAC and me’s hella tight, so I’m not going to be discussing the actual content of the test, deductions, or stuff of that sort. Don’t post comments with said forbidden information, lest I blind you with science.
On Saturday I sat for the LSAT, and everything that I haven’t repressed is as follows. I’m going to try to not repeat exactly what Matt said, because I might not get paid if I do that. Needless to say, it was more fun than a barrel of monkeypox.
I don’t usually go over this in my classes, but one of the best ways to do well on the LSAT is to not have a migraine on the day of the test that started three weeks prior. Sadly, I forgot to do this. This should have been a good sign that taking the LSAT at this time wasn’t the best idea. But I was going to be Gods-damned if I would lose out on my $132. So I went for it. The rest is as follows.
The night before was awful. Plagued by insomnia, I ended up watching Deep Space Nine until 2:30 in the morning that, while highly enjoyable at the time, was promptly regretted when my alarm went off at 6:45 AM. It was further regretted when my alarm went off at 6:55, 7:05, and 7:15. (Also, I think everyone regrets Avery Brooks being cast in the lead role of DS9.)
After scarring my esophagus by shotgunning 9 cups of coffee, I went to the testing center. Luckily, even though I was on standby, I got a seat. Aside from my actual seat itself being cracked (for the sake of my own self-esteem, I’m going to assume that it was already like that before I sat down), the testing center was pretty awesome. There were big desks in a small room with not too many students. The lighting was a bit low, and by the time we were doing the writing sample it was rather hot, but I digress. We started impressively early. So props to the fine LSAT workers of the College of Alameda. Section one and my failure both began at 8:55.
Without being too crass or hyperbolic about it, it feels like I got a produce bag full of balsamic vinegar and rusty nails inserted into and then removed from my colon by a rabid marsupial that then bit my eyelids off. It was more terrible than the finale of Battlestar Galactica. The problem for me just came down to the first section, which was reading comp. The Excedrin had yet to kick in, and I would have had trouble focusing on a Family Circus comic, so you can imagine how trying to stay interested in intellectual property rights went. The answer is this: it went poorly. But by the time I was done with the reading comp I was pretty warmed up and the pain meds had kicked in, so stuff went better thereafter, but the damage was done. I’m sure the vast majority of my misses will have come from this section.
All in all, it was an interesting 35 minutes. My problems came from lack of focus, but in terms of difficulty of the passages themselves, they were all pretty average. This is actually quite strange; normally you get one that’s easy as hell, two that are moderate, and one that is a beast. I really thought that all four of these were all just moderate. (Although, in my opinion, the comparative reading passage was the easiest ever since they introduced the format back in 2007. But easy for comparative reading, not pure easy.) Also of note was the fact that they combined with their “Wow, science is fun” passage their “Yay for the non-Caucasian!” passage. Things must really be shaking up over in Newtown, PA.
This was followed by an experimental LR section. There was actually a really interesting Must Be False question about computer programmers that I’d love to talk about, but I don’t want to get arrested by the LSAT police. The third section was my first real LR section. I thought it was more on the harder side. I usually finish LR sections with oodles of time, but I only had a few minutes left after this one to go back and review answers.
After a sunny break involving long-forgotten cravings for cigarettes awakened from their dormancy, we reconvened for section four. Three students cancelled then and there. The proctor tried to convince them that they should at least see the next two sections, but they were insistent. They were also complaining about how their test-prep company had failed them. I repressed the urge to try to recruit them for one of my classes.
I got games for section four. They were pretty straightforward. None of all the old showstoppers that we’ve been seeing like the toy dinosaurs or the shuttle bus from hell. The first two were incredibly easy. The third game, involving airplanes, is the one everyone is talking about, but I didn’t think it was too terrible. One major deduction sealed the deal, and if you didn’t see it the first time through, they asked you for it in the second-to-last question on the game, at which point it became clear. The final game was the most tedious—an unstable in-and-out grouping game with easy rules, but busywork questions that make you want to introduce the back of your throat to the business end of a double barreled shotgun. The second-to-last question here was rough, but once you realized that all but two of the people kicked out multiple other people, it became a cinch.
My fifth section was another LR. Luckily by now the headache was a lot better, and I knocked the section out in 27 minutes. Part of this was obviously due to me feeling better, but I still think there was a considerable disparity in difficulty between the two LR sections. The questions that everyone seems to be talking about are about bears and volcanoes and meteorites (the excitement!), and if I recall correctly, they all came from the same section. There were actually two questions involving sodium intake: one that was pretty hard and one that was so easy that it was rendered difficult by its very simplicity.
Basically, I’d give the whole show the following:
Objective Difficulty Level: 6
Subjective Difficulty Level for Colin: 10
Objective Difficulty Level: 4
Level of Surprise at How Easy it Was: 9
What is Generally Considered Level: 180º
How hard was it?
That’s what she said.
No, but really?
8.5 for the hard one, 4 for the easy one.
Wow that’s really hard.
So all in all, it was a pretty standard test. Easy games, abnormally average reading comp, and slightly difficult logical reasoning. I think Matt’s predictions sound pretty sound, but I’d say it might be a tad bit less generous, maybe -10 for a 170 and -23 for a 160. But who the hell knows anyway. The Sirens’ songs might be calling you to cancel, but think long and hard about it. Base your decision on concrete data of things you know went poorly, not general feelings. If everyone who had a general feeling of doom cancelled, 46 people would end up actually getting scores.
Bonus Round 1: Predictions
With the first game, you were ordering years 601-605. I have a prediction. One fine day the LSAT is going to use years BC. This means that 2009 would be before 2004, if we’re talking about the bronze age. They’re always trying to find new and exciting ways to turn the proverbial screw, including not giving you enough space to write (June 09), and I would not be at all surprised if this happens.
Bonus Round 2: WTF was up with the Writing Sample?
The writing sample involved choosing between two locations to build an observatory, but, in real life at least, only a retarded dolphin would have picked #1 (which I wrote about). On the writing sample there are always pros and cons for each choice, but the scales are usually more or less balanced. I thought this was totally skewed in favor of the forest, and against the hill. Not that it’s bad if you picked #1 though; it actually might be even more impressive if you can argue for the “worse” one. I’m wondering if this is a trend, too; perhaps law schools are impressed if you can argue for something that is obviously wrong? Because that’s what being a lawyer is all about.