Three Lessons from Game of Thrones for LSAT Newbies

BPPross-lsat-blog-game-of-thrones-tips

Soo … that Game of Thrones premiere last night, right? All those reunions? The part with the dragons? The scene in the crypts with the news? Bran being kind of an awkward weirdo? So much to take in, especially after the show’s been away for almost two years.

Yeah, I know there was other stuff going on this weekend. Golf, basketball, Coachella, early spring days full of fresh air and verdant fields. Also, wasn’t this the weekend you were finally going to start studying for the LSAT? Maybe you even took your first practice exam, and the results were about as ghastly as that message the Night King left last night? Yeah, if that happened, I can understand why you might feel a little guilty fixating on Game of Thrones, since you got a veritable … um … wall of LSAT materials to start studying.

It’s OK that your attentions are on the show right now. In fact, there’s a lot of wisdom about studying for the LSAT that can be gleaned from the show. Now, I’m not saying studying for the a Law School Admissions Test was what George R.R. Martin had when he created this intricate world, or what David Benioff and D.B. Weiss concentrated on when adapting that world for the screen. And I’m willing to concede that connecting the LSAT to this show is a stretch roughly the size of the Narrow Sea itself. But, you know what, I’m still thinking about last night’s episode. And, even though you’re still a little shook from that first practice exam, you’re still thinking about last night’s episode. So, we might as well try to divine some pearls of wisdom from this show, while our attentions are still on it.

So, with all that said, let’s look at three quotes from Game of Thrones, and see what they can tell us about slaying the most fearsome foe of them all: The Night King Ramsay Bolton the Great Masters of Meereen Tywin Lannister Joffrey Baratheon the LSAT.

1. “If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.”

… Just kidding with this one. Studying for the LSAT can, obviously, have a happy ending. Even if you don’t get your target score, the mere fact of not having to study will feel positively mirthful. So, let’s get onto the real quotes …

1. “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.”

… OK, OK, I’m still kidding. The LSAT is not a life-or-death affair, even if it may occasionally feel that way. In fact, you’ll be better off if you take some pressure off yourself. You can study for the LSAT for as long or as short a period as you’d like. You can take the LSAT as many times as you need. Law schools no longer really penalize applicants who have more than LSAT score, so a single bad score isn’t going to keep you out of law school. When you play the game of the LSAT, you win or you wait for the next exam, really.

OK, so enough of yanking your Maester’s chain, let’s finally get to real quotes …

1. “Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.”

This line, spoken by undersized and then-underestimated Tyrion Lannister and directed to protagonist Jon Snow, is all about embracing your identity as one of the “cripples, bastards, [or] broken things” Tyrion would later reference. That first practice exam may have shredded your confidence a bit, so you too may be feeling like a “broken thing.” Embrace that feeling — accept the fact that you, to borrow another quote from the show, “know nothing.” Embrace the fact you don’t have the stuff get the LSAT score you want, at least for now.

Sure, that probably sounds like weird, fatalistic, and counter-intuitive advice. But look at the second part of that quote. By recognizing the fact that you are in the early stages of your studies and don’t currently have the tools to earn your target LSAT score, you can begin to accept that you are a work in progress. And if you can accept that, you can move past the “broken” feeling you experienced after the first practice exam.

Plus, embracing the fact that you know nothing will help you in the next stage of your studies. The LSAT is a very difficult exam, and involves dealing with information in a way that doesn’t come naturally to many people. Those who embrace, early on, that they know nothing are forced to start learning all the tools and methodologies that can help them make sense out of these questions. They gradually develop the skills necessary to hit their target score. Although it involves a lot of effort, they eventually experience a huge score increase. Those who do not embrace that fact continue to use the same approach they used on the first practice exam and experience, at most, marginal improvement throughout their studies.

So embrace that you’re broken right now. Accept that you have a lot to learn. And once you’ve gained the skills necessary to do well on the exam, don’t forget how far you’ve come.

2. “Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder.”

Studying for the LSAT involves a good deal of chaos. In all likelihood, you’ll be getting more questions wrong than you’re used to. Again, it’s a difficult test, by design. Sometimes, just figuring out why certain answers are wrong and others are correct is going to feel chaotic.

The best LSAT students adopt the perspective of the conniving Littlefinger, the source of this quote. Every question you get wrong isn’t a pit to wallow in. It’s a an opportunity to learn … a rung on a ladder that you’ll climb on your path to enlightenment … or, a better LSAT score, at least.

For each question you get wrong, there’s a lesson. Maybe it was a little trick the answer choice pulled — like using absolute rather than relative language. This test repeats the same tricks over and over again, so learning from that mistake means you won’t make the same mistake on a future question. Or maybe the lesson is that you need some more review on certain important concepts, like diagramming or the common fallacies. Remember to treat the chaos of these questions as learning opportunities, and we can promise that you’ll experience a happier ending than [VAGUE QUASI-SPOILER AHEAD] Littlefinger did.

3. “There is only one god, and His name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to Death: ‘Not today’.”

This quote, from a wise and puckish sword instructor, is related to the aforementioned chaos. There are going to be times when you’re ready to throw in the proverbial towel, to give up on your LSAT studies — to say, “Sure, whatever, today is good” to the God of Death when He comes for your LSAT study plan. There are certain setbacks that nearly everyone preparing for the LSAT experiences — whether that’s a demoralizingly low practice exam score at the worst time, a day in which nothing seems like it’s going right, or a concept that just doesn’t make any sense to you.

These moments are, unfortunately, all but inevitable when studying for a test this difficult. But it’s important to realize that they are just momentary setbacks, and not reasons to end your studies and lose all the progress and momentum you’ve built up to that point. Those who relent to these God of Death moments in their studies usually just end up having to study longer, since they spend so much time relearning material after they give up. Remember, any setback you experience is completely normal and can be overcome. Say “not today,” when you face these moments, and you’ll, unlike [AGAIN, A SORT OF “SPOILER” AHEAD … MAYBE] the aforementioned sword instructor, live to fight another day.

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