Rachel Lindsay is a practicing attorney who once took the LSAT. And you, dear reader, are an aspiring attorney who will soon take the LSAT, Rachel Lindsay is also an aspiring married person, serving as the bachelorette on this season of The Bachelorette, the love story these depraved times deserve. And you, dear reader, may also be an aspiring married person? Either way, you definitely have at least a few things in common with Rachel. So every Tuesday, we’re going to be tracking Rachel’s romantic journey on The Bachelorette, and see what we can learn about love, loss, and the LSAT. Welcome back to the Logical Rose-ning Section.
Last time: The remaining guys took turns seeing the wonders of Rachel’s Dallas hometown and withstanding the protectiveness of Rachel. Eric was normal and sociable, Peter tried to play it cool, and Bryan displayed a thirst for their approval that not even the Rio Grande could quench. Rachel then took the guys on a trip to La Rioja wine region of Spain, where Eric picked up some late season momentum and Peter appeared to lose his pole position. The changing fortunes of the guys stoked some much-needed drama for the final episode, which leads us to …
… Oh yeah, the Men Tell All episode. The writing sample of The Bachelorette season. The unnecessary addendum to the proceedings that merely prolongs the inevitable. For The Bachelorette, the inevitable being a contractually-mandated engagement and publicity tour; for the LSAT, your constitutionally-mandated duty to drink as many alcoholic beverages as you can responsibly consume. Just like the writing sample, the real stuff is already done–the important selections have been made, the long journey across five countries/sections has been traveled–you’ve done everything you’ve needed to do to get a good score. And yet here we are, biding time.
So the writing sample was on my mind as I watched a two-hour special in which the also-rans of this season got one last moment in the spotlight to hash out differences, confront Rachel, and make one final push to secure the Instagram endorsements that will allow them to finally quit their personal training gigs. During the special though, I was shocked to see these guys actually give some worthwhile advice for completing the LSAT’s writing sample. Apparently, the Men really did Tell All, at least with respect to the most overlooked part of the LSAT.
If you don’t already know, the writing sample is always given as the final section of the LSAT. After 175 minutes of intense logical reasoning and critical reading, you’re given 35 minutes to write a short persuasive essay. The format is always the same: you must make an argument for one of two mutually exclusive options described in the prompt. You will also be given two criteria to consider when making the argument. You will be provided a series of facts that you can reference to support your argument. Just choose one of the two options and make your best case for it.
The essay you compose will not affect your final score, but it will be included as part of your law school application. Admissions officers will likely give the essay a quick read-through to make sure you didn’t completely blow it off and that you possess at least a decent command over the written word even when exhausted. Although you shouldn’t feel too much pressure when writing the sample, there are a few mistakes you should avoid, which the Men Tell All special helpfully illustrated to us all last night.
So let’s get into these lessons.
Lesson 1: Don’t spend too much time recapping the prompt
The essay you compose for the writing sample should be short, sweet, and to the point. Like a cake pop. If you spend the introduction of your essay repeating all the background information the prompt just told you, you’re wasting valuable time and space. And more importantly, you’re just going to bore the poor admissions officer tasked with reading your essay. That admissions officer will have read hundreds of those writing samples already, and will be, trust me, well acquainted with the facts.
At least as well acquainted as the poor blogger who has spilled gallons upon gallons of digital ink recapping this season of The Bachelorette. Even the casual fan of this program must remember the main plot points of this season–DeMario showed up with a so-called “side chick,” there was a feud between some guy named like Blaine or something and a failed comedian whose catchphrase was “Whablam” or whatever, there was self-proclaimed “country boy” (read: white person) who promised to have problems with “certain people” (read: not white people) in the house and proceeded to have completely self-made problems with those people, but especially with lovable wrestler/doting father Kenny.
And yet, this special dedicated what seemed like hours to montage after montage going over these very same plot points. Producers, our minds may or may not be permanently damaged by watching your trash reality shows, but at least trust that we can remember episodes we watched like, three weeks ago.
Lesson 2: Don’t show up with prepackaged lines
Seriously, don’t try to plan ahead for the writing sample by thinking of clever lines you could use. The prompt could be about literally any topic, so you have no idea if the lines you plan will be useful. Plus, you have more than enough to worry about studying for the parts of the LSAT that will actually affect your final score.
Just look at the guys who used pre-planned statements on the Men Tell All special to see how far those lines will get you. Take Adam, who clearly wanted to say something about Lucas, the failed comedian who said “Whaboom” a lot. Adam dropped the line, “There was so much ‘Whaboom,’ it should been ‘Wha-bye.'” Which is like a C- joke at best, and didn’t even elicit a polite chuckle from the audience. Or take Lee’s pre-planned defense to systematically starting fights with every African-American contestant: “I should have been a better friend.” Which didn’t make sense, given that no one suggested that he was a friend. Or even Fred, the poor guy who harbored a crush on Rachel since summer camp, whose heartfelt monologue to her was undercut by his statement clearly being written and rehearsed.
You’ll be able to write this thing on test day, no need to plan ahead.
Lesson 3: If you’re going to try to flex with big words, make sure you know what they mean and have heard them used before
Having a big vocabulary won’t get you into law school or prolong your fifteen minutes of fame, but that doesn’t stop LSAT takers and former Bachelorette contestants from dropping recherché word bombs on the writing sample and Men Tell All special, respectively. DeMario, for instance, defended himself against accusations of two-timing with the aforementioned “side chick” by referencing the lack of “ocular” facts that he and the “side chick” were ever actually a couple. “Ocular,” of course, meaning “related to the eye.” So, you know, eye facts. Those things we talk about every day and frequently use as proof that two people are in a committed relationship. DeMario was probably looking for “observable” facts, or even “empirical” facts, but tried to get too grandiloquent and took an L so obvious that any oculus could see it.
Don’t be DeMario. Use words you know.
Lesson 4: Don’t get too attached to either of the options–take some time to brainstorm
Your job on the writing sample is to pick a side and argue why it’s the better of the two options. There’s no “right” answer, of course; generally, the prompt to the writing sample will give roughly equal pros and cons for each choice. You should therefore simply pick the option that you think you can make the better argument for–the option that you feel most passionately about.
But passion can be a fickle mistress. Matters of the heart are tough. Sometimes one option seems so right, but halfway through writing the second paragraph of your essay–or, say, half-way through shooting the spin-off program Bachelor in Paradise–you’ll realize that you should have chosen another option. At that point, it will be too late.
So take some time brainstorming pros and cons for each choice before making your decision. This step will help you pick the right option for you and construct a better argument for that option.
The Bachelor producers surely wish they took more time in deciding which of these cast members would serve as the next eponymous bachelor. Dean, the most recently eliminated contestant, was given ample screen time during the Men Tell Special. And given the rapturous reception he received from the crowd, it was clear that he should have been selected as the next bachelor. In a camouflage-print tuxedo jacket and a polka-dotted pocket square that matched his socks, Dean looked like a star, a perfect protagonist for the next season of The Bachelor. And yet, when nominal host Chris Harrison (who, after a total of about 5 minutes of screen time this season, finally got a chance to cook this episode–shouts to you Chris, keep getting dem checks) announced Dean as a contestant in Bachelor in Paradise, you could feel the crowd collectively sigh.
A little bit of brainstorming and research would have gone a long ways for the producers of The Bachelor. Don’t make the same mistakes they did.
Lesson 5: Leave the bloopers out
The writing sample isn’t a high school math test, so don’t show your work. You shouldn’t include any outlines or notes or rough drafts that you may make. You’ll have scratch paper to mock up these notes. In the space LSAC provides to write your essay, you should only include your final essay. Obviously.
But if only someone told that to the producers of the Men Tell All special, who closed the night with a blooper reel of Rachel sometimes almost tripping and Josiah eating and some of the men putting on lotion. Some things are best left on the cutting room floor.
And with that you have everything you need to succeed on the writing sample. Or at least to be reassured that you maybe didn’t completely waste two hours of your life watching trash reality television.