If you’re anything like me, you’ve found yourself scrambling to get an assignment done the night before it is due. Among those nights of panic and regret, you’ve probably also encountered the stomach churning realization that you’re not going to be able to complete your task on time. When I’ve been in those moments of desperate clarity, I’ve promised myself time and time again that I won’t procrastinate ever again–I’ll turn over a new leaf and stay ahead of my work. And yet, I keep finding myself in the same situation over and over again.
This scenario is somewhat akin to how I initially approached logic games and, to a lesser extent, the other sections of the LSAT. I would follow some of the methods I’d been taught, but then I’d try to take short cuts. Later on, I’d realize that I wouldn’t be able to complete the section in time because I’d been lazy up front–I hadn’t found the key deduction in a game or marked the right parts of a reading comprehension passage. I’d feel the same sense of dread and anxiety that I usually felt around 3am the night before a particularly uninspiring essay was due and I’d swear not to repeat the mistakes of history.
It wasn’t until I started actually implementing my “fox hole conversion” moments that I was able to improve my performance. I went back to turning off the timer and spending as much time as I needed fully completing my games models, passage mark-ups, and diagramming. I’m not going to pretend it was fun or that I ever stopped getting that nagging feeling that I needed to go faster and just dive in. But I did see results.
There is no excuse not to front-load your work on the LSAT. A thorough set-up is without a doubt, bar none, the best way to get through any question quickly and efficiently. Until you’ve absolutely mastered and completely internalized the process, you have no legitimate reason not to go through the somewhat painstaking process of thoroughly and completely doing the prep work for any question.
Unfortunately, like an addict returning to his old ways, I forgot this lesson when it came time to teach an LSAT course. I was working my through a game on a white board, answered a student’s question, and completely lost my train of thought. I have never had a longer minute of my life than realizing I hadn’t written down the process for the question I was facing. Let my suffering be an example to you–always front-load your work. It will help you understand better, work more quickly, and feel more confident.