At Blueprint LSAT Prep, we hear a lot about the LSAT, but one word that is not frequently used to describe it is “fun.” Now, we try to make the LSAT as enjoyable as possible – but at the end of the day, the LSAT is still a test that takes up half the day, matters a lot, and can on occasion be less-than-fascinating.
But it could be – and was – worse! Lest you think I’m grossly exaggerating in the way your parents and/or grandparents do (“back in my day, I had to walk twenty miles through blinding blizzards – uphill, in my bare feet – to get to school”), the LSAT used to be a six-hour slog, with some seriously bizarre sections.
In this episode of Count Your Blessings, You Young Bucks #firstworldproblems, let’s go over some of the old sections that will make you grateful that you only have to deal with Logical Reasoning, Logic Games, and Reading Comprehension (and your writing sample, technically). (For examples of the questions, check out this PDF starting at page 36.)
In this section, you had to read a short passage, then answer data evaluation questions and data application questions. With the data evaluation questions, you were given a set of facts pulled from the passage, and you had to determine if each fact was a Major Objective, Major Factor, Minor Factor, Major Assumption, or Unimportant Issue. So, if the passage was about Jimmy’s decision to purchase insurance from X major carrier over Y major carrier and Z small carrier, then you had to categorize the five facts given to you. This sucks because who can keep track of all these things when you can barely maintain enough interest in Jimmy to figure out a single factor?
Obviously, with data application, you had to apply the data from the passage to the question. For instance, you’d have to determine which were reasons behind a decision Jimmy had made, and it could be any combination of I; I and II; I and III; I, II, and III; etc. And you thought strengthen and weaken questions were bad – test-takers of old had to navigate answer combinations.
In data interpretation, you had to interpret data that was presented in the form of graphs, tables, and charts. For instance, you might get six pie charts on the favorite foods of the people of India, China, Canada, New Zealand, Russia, and Sweden, and then you might have to answer questions on which was the most popular food if you combine all the countries, or which was the most highly represented food in three of the countries.
A lot of law students, lawyers, and law-career-leaning types hate math. If you’re one of those people, can you imagine having to deal with graphs and turning that into something mathematical in order to answer a question? And, when it comes to the LSAC, anything with charts and diagrams is an opportunity to display a diverse range of ethnic and cultural groups (Logic Games, anyone?), so can you imagine what they’d do with a whole slew of charts and diagrams?
Here, you were presented with two groups of figures, and you had to determine what characteristic the first group had in common that none in the second group had.
This honestly doesn’t sound too bad, but, when you’re in your third hour, I can just imagine all the shapes looking the same or combining into a big blur.
Directed Memory/Reading Recall
You thought the Reading Comprehension you deal with now is terrible? Imagine having to answer all the questions without looking back at the questions. There was also a period when you had to wait some time before you could even get to the questions.
How would you even prepare for this? Just start reading magazines and quoting them to friends verbatim, consequently losing all your friends and giving you even more time to devote to the task of memorizing everything you read?
This separate section actually never made it to the official test and was only an experimental section. You were tested on general society, the reasoning being that a good lawyer was one that had an awareness of culture. I’m including this, because I know I would have killed at this section (my constant IMDBing of every actor in all the movies and shows I watch mean that I am remarkably accurate at guessing the ages of celebrities and naming the major works they’ve been in). Unsurprisingly enough, this section was dropped because admissions officers weren’t using it in their admissions decisions (I don’t see why not).
There were even more terrible question types on the pre-modern LSAT test, so just imagine what the LSAT of the future will look like. My hope is that there will be something like the tests in Harry Potter, where you have to deal with an examiner directly. I’m betting on Transfiguration, where you’d have to use logic to convince your examiner that, no, the desk is actually a pig.