The Morning Cometh: The January 2019 LSAT Recap

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For most of you reading this post, you probably didn’t spend this weekend watching a meaningless football exhibition, or being hoodwinked by a network into thinking a highly publicized televised production of a popular musical was actually live, or being reversed psychologied into running for president. Most of you — being a smart and motivated type — probably elected to spend four or so hours of your weekend holed up in a test center, taking the the first LSAT of the calendar year 2019. And, if you’re still plugged in enough to note that all football exhibitions are, technically speaking, somewhat meaningless; that any televising of a live event involves at least some tape delay so none are, technically speaking, live; and that you can’t, technically speaking, make psychology into a verb, then we’re sure you did great on said exam. Your attention to detail is beyond reproach, and that definitely served you well on the test.

But no matter your attention to detail, everyone feels at least somewhat concerned after finishing a real LSAT. Even if you took dozens of practice exams before the big test, you’re now deprived of the option to receive your score back instantly, as was custom for all those practice tests. All you can really do is ponder how well you did. Many fixate on whether that one section that went slightly worse than the others was the experimental section. Many hope and pray and dream for a forgiving curve. Many wonder if others had as much difficulty completing that one logic game, or the one Reading Comp passage, or the one LR question about — you know, it was like vitamins and swimmers and tomatoes, or something?

So, for all of you left wondering how the exam went, that’s where we come in. We’ve spoken to students and read all the internet scuttlebutt, and now we are prepared to talk about last weekend’s LSAT. But … [voice deepens to a quiet, serious tone; eyes flutter nervously from left to right] … you know, LSAC might be watching us, right now. They could have hidden cameras installed around us. The phones might be bugged. We are living in a panopticon of their making. So we can’t get too specific with how we break down this exam. I don’t have the answers to any specific questions, nor could I give them out if I did. We can’t even give out too many details on the types of games or passages that were on this, lest we incur LSAC’s notorious wrath.

But there are a few things we can talk about. Like the difficulty level. And people who took this exam mostly agreed that the Logic Games section was the most difficult of the bunch. But not crazily, impossibly difficult. All of the games were ordering or grouping games — there wasn’t anything seriously strange that had test takers in a panic. Mostly, the reports suggested that the games were generally a little trickier than normal, made more difficult by some hard-to-parse rules.

Ambiguous-sounding rules were, unfortunately, a problem for many on the last LSAT — the November 2018 test. We don’t know if consecutive tests with ambiguous rules are an unhappy coincidence or part of a larger trend. Or if, perhaps, the writers of this test suddenly and mysteriously got worse at writing. But we do know that it’s always a good idea to double check each rule in a logic game. If there is an ambiguity in the wording of a rule, there’s usually a clarification in the introduction that can help you out. Anyway, that’s something to keep in mind for those who are planning to take an exam in March or beyond.

The games themselves involved ordering computer installations; arranging differently colored statues and pillars from shortest to tallest; determining the investment, loan, and mortgage departments in the east and west branches of a bank; and assigning traditional, modern, or luxury apartments to a few different floors on a building. For the record, the reports indicate that it was the last game with the ambiguous-seeming rule. That game also sounded like it had nine players to deal with — a larger-than-normal number of variables that might have further complicated that game.

We can also talk about the topics of the Reading Comp and LR questions. Reading Comp dealt with some tried and true topics the LSAT can’t get enough of. Copyright and trademark law, for one. The ethics of comparative medical research, for another. Oh and indigenous groups and astronomy, two seemingly distinct topics that this exam found a way to blend together into one passage. The most consistent complaint about the Reading Comp section was that the comparative passage (which was about two playwrights working in cultures other than their own) came first — a sneaky move, since that passage usually appears third or fourth in a section. Overall, Reading Comp didn’t seem overly difficult. Just the normal, quotidian difficulty of most recent Reading Comp sections.

Over on LR, Marie Antoinette, windmills, a colorful stone axe, e.coli in cows, and some dude named Smith were the most consistently referenced question topics. And, in a shocking-if-true twist, there were zero questions about dinosaurs, according to some.

We’re also allowed to predict the curve of this exam. Which not only involves quite a bit of speculation on any test, but is a sort of a futile exercise for a nondisclosed test like this one, since the curve will never be released. But, because many test takers use these predictions to determine whether or not they should cancel their score, we may as well give our best guess. Since there were multiple things that felt tricky to the test takers I spoke to, I don’t expect a particularly harsh curve like a -9 or -10 (meaning, you could miss 9 or 10 questions and still get a 170). But I wouldn’t expect a very forgiving curve like a -13, either. Although some of games were difficult, there wasn’t anything truly baffling, and I didn’t hear that any of the passages were completely indecipherable. Usually it takes an incredibly difficult game and an incredibly difficult passage to raise the curve into the -13 range. So I predict a -11 or -12 curve for this exam.

In sum, there may have been some difficult parts of this test, but those may be at least somewhat offset by a slightly forgiving curve. Barring any test center disasters, I don’t think there’s any reason to expect your score to be substantively different than your practice exam scores. If those diagnostic scores were around your target scores, it’s celebration time. If you want to live in a drunken and debaucherous state until the score release date of February 15, well, that is certainly one way to pass the time.

If, on the other hand, you’re thinking about canceling this score, you have some time to make this decision. You can read up on LSAC’s official cancellation policy here. Of course, it wouldn’t be the LSAT without overcomplicating a relatively simple idea. The official cancellation policy according to LSAC: you have until 11:59 pm EST on the sixth day after the exam to cancel using your LSAC account. To make that a bit easier to understand: you have until Friday, 11:59 pm Eastern to cancel. So sleep on it. Take a look at this video, if you need a little consultation from Blueprint co-founder Matt Riley.

Before canceling, you should also be aware that nearly every law school will simply use your highest LSAT when constructing your academic index, or whatever calculation it uses to assess you as an applicant. Although law schools will see every score you got on the LSAT, the vast majority of them won’t hold having multiple LSAT scores against you to a significant degree. For most test takers, our recommendation is don’t cancel. Choose to receive your score, just on the chance that you’ll be happy enough to with the score that you don’t have to study for the next exam.

No matter your ultimate decision, congratulations on finishing this exam. Hopefully, this blog is the last thing you’ll read about the LSAT, for at least a little while. If you decide you’d like to take another shot at the exam in March, we’ll be here for you, ready to help.

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