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Should I Cancel My LSAT Score?

October 6, 2013

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Today’s post comes from Ann Levine, president and chief consultant at Law School Expert. Ann is the former director of law school admissions at two ABA-approved law schools and the nation’s leading law school admission consultant. Law School Expert offers hourly and beginning-to-end consulting, and Ann has personally guided over 2,000 law school applicants through the law school admission process. Ann is also the author of the bestselling law school admission guidebook The Law School Admission Game: Play Like an Expert.

You have 6 days to cancel your LSAT score, and there is no advantage to canceling on the first day. Take your time, sleep on it, and see how you feel when the exhaustion has passed. And, when you wake up, here are some things to try to consider objectively before canceling your LSAT score:

Was this your first time taking the LSAT? It’s a bit safer to cancel a score when you still have two more opportunities in front of you. If this was your third time taking the test in 2 years, you have to be pretty sure the results aren’t going to be better than your previous scores in order to risk throwing away your last opportunity for a better score.

Was this your second time taking the LSAT? If so, you need to make a strategic decision about whether you can be ready in December. That will be your last chance for this admission cycle. And if you aren’t ready in December, or decide not to take the test for some other reason, you may decide to postpone your application cycle in order to maximize your chances of improving on your third LSAT attempt. I know there is a rumor going around that taking the LSAT three times is “bad.” It’s not “bad” if you improve your score, or if you can still submit applications in January. It’s only “bad” if it shows lack of judgment because your three LSAT scores are the same, or if you cancel your first two tests and everything rides on the third and then the third doesn’t go well.

How would you rate your anxiety level? If you felt no anxiety during the LSAT, there is something terribly wrong with you. Of course you felt anxious. The question is whether the anxiety interfered with your ability to perform on the test. For some people, a moderate level of anxiety actually heightens their awareness and focus. If you found yourself becoming distracted after a particularly jarring question, but within a few questions you recover, then you may not want to cancel your score: a new question type or insecurity over a response is normal. However, if it got to the point where you were totally thrown and unable to recover, even on a new section of the test, you may want to cancel your score.

Was lack of preparation the problem? Sometimes eavesdropping on other LSAT takers and hearing how much they prepared for the test, that they took ten timed practice tests and worked with a private tutor, can cause people to realize that they did not do nearly enough to prepare for the LSAT. If this is the case, consider that if you wait for your October score, you’ll only have a month to prepare for the December test—which isn’t a lot of time—but if you get started now, you’ll have two months to turn things around. Of course, you can prepare for the December LSAT without canceling your October LSAT score—or waiting for scores to be released.

 

 

LSAT Explanations — Free PDF

May 29, 2012

See below for free explanations to LSAT PrepTest 61

Until now, it has been difficult for students to get high-quality explanations to a lot of LSAT questions. The LSAC’s SuperPrep book has complete explanations, but to only 3 tests (and those tests are very old). Students who take  prep courses have gotten these materials for years, but prep companies have wisely kept their most helpful material for their $1,000+ prep courses rather than their $15 off-the-shelf books.

Next Step Test Preparation has released complete explanations for 10 of the most recent LSAT Preptests (52-61). These are the tests contained in LSAC’s 10 New Actual Official LSAT PrepTests” book. (You’ll need that book to get any value out of our explanations – but you should have that book anyway as it’s the cheapest source of recent exams).

However, some students will get dramatically better score increases from explanations than others. Here are the right and wrong ways to use LSAT explanations:

Wrong way: read a LSAT question, then read the explanation, then read the next question, etc. This approach assures that you don’t actually attempt the questions and are probably not internalizing either the patterns on the exam nor your own strengths and weaknesses.

Right way: Take a full, timed practice test. (You should be doing this at least 1-2 times per weeks). Then, after you’ve completed the full test, correct it. Look at every question you missed and figure out why you missed it. Then, and only then, look at the explanation.

The right way assures that you’re making your best effort to get everything right, then applying what you know on questions you missed, then, finally, looking at a professional explanation to crystallize that lesson in your mind.

Free LSAT Explanations

For LSAT Books readers, we’ve made available complete explanations for PrepTest 61, completely free. Keep in mind that you’ll also need PrepTest 61 from the LSAC — the test questions aren’t printed in our book.

Download Explanations (Opens PDF)

If you find this resource helpful, the complete book is available for purchase here: http://promos.nextsteptestprep.com/explanations-check-out/

Next Step Test Preparation provides complete courses of one-on-one LSAT tutors for about the price of a crowded lecture-style prep course. Email us or call 888-530-NEXT (6398) for a complimentary consultation.

LSAT Webinar Transcript

May 20, 2012

In May 2012 we conducted a free webinar for students interested in learning about the LSAT and the law school admissions process. The transcript follows for you speed-readers; the video can be found here: http://nextsteptestprep.com2012/05/16/lsat-webinar-part/ Enjoy!

Read more…

LSAT Webinar — Part 4

May 16, 2012

This is Part 4 of our LSAT Webinar, going over how to start preparing for the LSAT.

Here’s LSAT Webinar Part 1 if you missed it.

Next Step Test Preparation provides complete courses of one-on-one LSAT tutoring for about the price of a crowded lecture-style prep course. Email us or call 888-530-NEXT (6398) for a complimentary consultation.

LSAT Webinar — Part 3

May 16, 2012

This is Part 3 of our LSAT Webinar, going over how to start preparing for the LSAT.

Here’s LSAT Webinar Part 1 if you missed it.

Here’s Part 4 of the LSAT webinar. 

Next Step Test Preparation provides complete courses of one-on-one LSAT tutoring for about the price of a crowded lecture-style prep course. Email us or call 888-530-NEXT (6398) for a complimentary consultation.

LSAT Webinar — Part 2

May 16, 2012

This is Part 2 of our LSAT Webinar, going over the most frequently asked questions for students considering the LSAT and law school.

Here’s LSAT Webinar Part 1 if you missed it.

Here’s Part 3 of the LSAT webinar. 

Next Step Test Preparation provides complete courses of one-on-one LSAT tutoring for about the price of a crowded lecture-style prep course. Email us or call 888-530-NEXT (6398) for a complimentary consultation.

 

What do you actually do with a LSAT tutor?

April 26, 2012

 

Why might you want to work with a LSAT tutor?

Students generally choose to work with a LSAT tutor in one of two situations:

  • As a primary means of preparing to take the LSAT the first time
  • After studying for a time, either independently or after taking a prep course and not getting an ideal score
If you are just starting out, working with a LSAT tutor can immediately get you off on the right foot. You’ll learn methodologies effectively the first time because you have a personal coach to make sure you understand every concept before moving on.
When a student has already taken a class or self-studied and not done well, it can be incredibly frustrating. One of the biggest challenges is that students often don’t know what they don’t know. Some problems can be self-diagnosed, but others are more challenging. A LSAT tutor can help you figure out why you’re getting stuck, and help you overcome score plateaus.

What do you actually do with an LSAT tutor?

Here’s a sample of what a LSAT tutoring session looks like. (We do tutoring both online via video conference and in person, but it sure is easier to tape an online session!)

At nearly all sessions meeting with a LSAT tutor, you’ll accomplish three things:

  • You’ll have a short discussion on your overall progress. This allows you to make sure you’re focusing on the right areas. Generally, this is the result of your most recent practice test scores. You’ll also be assigned very targeted homework to focus on weak areas and to make sure you’re doing the right number of complete timed Preptests (15+ during the course of your studies).
  • You’ll learn and actively practice methodology. Depending on where you are in your LSAT studies, this can be a bigger or larger portion of your activities. If you are just starting out, several initial sessions will likely be going over methods for each question type, then drilling on those concepts to make sure you understand them. (If you’ve been studying for a while, you already know the basics). You will go over specific questions from the homework
  • Discuss any questions you have on your homework. This can be incredibly valuable. A great tutor doesn’t just explain the right and wrong answers (although for a lot of students that’s helpful). A great tutor goes the extra mile to make sure you understand the patterns in your mistakes so you can identify those same logical structures later on.
One of the common misconceptions is that a LSAT tutor just answers your questions about particularly difficult problems. While that’s part of it, it’s definitely not all the tutor does. His or her job is to take responsibility for walking you through the entire prep process, guiding you at every step. (This is why we never sell one or two hours of tutoring — that’s not enough to meaningfully create a relationship and move the needle on your LSAT score.)

What’s the difference between LSAT tutor and a class?

Students have vastly different experiences in prep classes versus tutoring. A prep class is pretty much like a college course; there’s one instructor and 10-30 students. Generally it’s lecture+question — meaning that it’s a lecture but the instructor will ask super-specific questions. (At big prep companies, the teacher’s book details exactly when to ask a question, what to ask, what the answer is, what do do if a student says a particular wrong asnwer, etc). While you can ask a question or two before or after class, you are mostly there to watch a pre-programmed lecture that’s presented identically to tens of thousands of LSAT students accross the country.

Working with a LSAT tutor is completely different. First, it’s paced for your needs. Every student is better with some concepts and has trouble with others. Your LSAT tutor makes sure that you understand every concept before moving on. Maybe more importantly, you can come back to concepts that are difficult down the road. (Even if you understand sufficiency vs. neccessity the first itme you hear about it, you may miss subtleties when you see those concepts on the hardest LR questions on a practice test).

You also get to form a partnership with someone highly invested in your personal success. Most prep course instructors are  great people who want their students to improve, but there’s only so much you can do for 25 students. Your  tutor, however, is a coach and a partner. They help keep you on track with your homework, can address your concerns about any issue, and generally help you manage the entire LSAT process.

Should you take a class and get an LSAT tutor?

Honestly – no. Nearly every student who does this ends up wishing they would have just done their tutoring. The reason is that a tutor can help you learn all the same basics as the class — but then goes well beyond those basics to give you personal guidance as you move forward. While lots of students take just a class and do fine, if you’re considering both you should definitely consider your LSAT tutor to be a primary prep mechanism.

Next Step Test Preparation provides complete courses of one-on-one LSAT tutoring for about the price of a crowded lecture-style prep course. Email us or call 888-530-NEXT (6398) for a complimentary consultation.

Low LSAT Score — Even After A Prep Course?

April 8, 2012

What to do once you’ve gotten a low LSAT score — even after one of the big LSAT prep classes.

In 2011, Next Step worked with several hundred students to raise their LSAT scores — after they had taken a prep class. I mention this so you know that 1) this happens all the time, so you’re not alone and 2) we have some ideas about how you can improve.

Usually, students know that their LSAT prep class isn’t working well for them as they are going. Most often, this is because the single pace of a prep class isn’t exactly right — specifically, a student is still struggling with, say, assumption questions while the class has moved on to something totally different.

Sometimes, however, a student will be doing fine in practice exams — but then bomb on the day of the exam.

Either way, it’s now on you to make sure you get a big score increase.

How to NOT increase your LSAT score after a prep course:

  • Taking the same LSAT class again (even if you can do so for free). This is why “score guarantees” that only let you take a course again are scams. The class didn’t work for you the first time. Remember that old cliche about the definition of insanity? That applies here. Sitting through 50 hours of the same lectures is not going to help.
  • Taking a very slightly different class from another company. While all the marketing will try to convince you otherwise, prep classes are more alike than different. Yes, it’s possible that you would get a better instructor (the key driver of student success), but there’s absolutely no way for you to know that would be the case. (Our all-time record for this is a student who had taken Kaplan, Powerscore, and Princeton Review and was still in the 130′s).

So, what are your good options?

  • Go through your class materials methodically, making sure you completely understand every element before you move on. If you have questions, ask a friend who is also studying.
  • Get some better books. You might want to check out our book of explanations for Preptests 52-61 on Amazon. The Powerscore books are also a good bet.
  • Get a LSAT tutor. A tutor helps you understand exactly where and why you’re falling short, then puts together a custom plan to help you improve. For hundreds of our students, tutoring has been the antidote to LSAT prep courses — we make sure every student understands exactly how to work a problem before moving on.

The most common concern students have with getting a tutor is that the student will have to re-learn a totally new methodology. That’s not the case. When our students begin with a tutor, we help them look at the methodologies they have been using and keep the ones that have been working. (Yes, that means that we’re fine if our students use Company X’s diagramming techniques — if they work for that student!) Moreover — to be blunt — if you’re in this situation, what you’ve been doing before wasn’t really orking, and you should be open to other options.

Every day, a student will call in who knows they need a tutor, but who doesn’t want to make the investment since they already sunk $1,400 into a LSAT class that didn’t work for them. While we see this as a good reason for future students to not take the prep classes, if you already have it’s simply an issue of sunk cost. (Remember Econ 101?) If doing well on the LSAT is still worth a major investment, it makes sense to look into this option.
 

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/proimos/

What is the LSAT? LSAT Test Basics

December 2, 2011

LSAT Test

This is part of our “Intro to the LSAT” series. Our regular readers who are far along in their studies can probably skip it, but if you are starting your LSAT prep we hope this post is helpful! ~ Next Step Test Preparation

The Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) is a half-day standardized exam required by all students attending American Bar Association accredited law schools. (You should not attend a non-accredited school if you want to have a serious career as an attorney).

While college graduates have taken tests before, they have likely not faced a standardized exam as challenging as the LSAT. Keep in mind that the LSAT is designed to rate and sort the nation’s most accomplished college grads. The curve is much steeper than in most college classes and certainly steeper than the ACT or SAT.

It’s hard to overemphasize the importance of the LSAT. Most estimates suggest that the LSAT and GPA are together by far the most impotent components of your application. Together they are referred to as law school “hard factors” as opposed to “soft factors” like recommendations, personal statements, and work experience. Although it’s hard to estimate exactly, hard factors are thought to be worth perhaps 90% of an admissions decision.

Students often overestimate their chances of admission based on good letters of recommendation, extra-curricular activities, or work experience. Good hard numbers qualify students to get into the “maybe” file of any given law school. Everything else in your application helps you get into the “yes” pile. Law schools can then look to soft factors to shape their class.

While you will no doubt read about outliers who were accepted to schools despite below-average numbers, these cases are rare and you should not bank on being one of them. (Schools also routinely reject applicants with above-average numbers if the other parts of the application are not excellent).

LSAT LSAT LSAT! What’s on the test?

On the day of your test, you’ll take an exam with 6 sections. Each section is 35 minutes long.

  • 2 sections of Logical Reasoning (LR)
  • 1 section of Analytical Reasoning (everyone but the LSAC calls this “Logic Games,” and we will do so going forward) (LG)
  • 1 section of Reading Comprehension (RC)
  • 1 unscored experimental section. This section will be either LR, LG, or RC. The LSAC uses this section to test questions for use on future exams. While it won’t be scored, the section will not be identified to you and, most importantly, will not be identifiable – there won’t be crazy question types or weird formats. That means you’ll have to give your best effort on all 5 sections on test day.
  • 1 writing sample. The writing sample can’t be ignored, but as it is not formally scored it deserves very little preparation time.

Logical Reasoning

Logical reasoning, 2 of your scored sections, is made of 24-26 paragraph-length arguments followed by a specific task such as:

  • Strengthen the argument
  • Weaken the argument
  • Find the flaw
  • Identify the conclusion

While many of the first questions will seem elementary, the difficulty curve quickly increases, and the hardest LR questions involve complex formal logic. Here’s an example of a more straightforward question:

John never does the dishes. He always ignores them or waits for someone else to do them. This may represent self-involvement or mere laziness, but in either case I don’t think John will make a good husband for Susan.

Which of the following is an assumption on which the argument depends?

As you prepare, you will learn strategies for each question type. Assumption questions can often be solved by asking, “What entity exists in the conclusion that did not exist previously in the argument?” Here, the concept of “good husband” is never really defined. The assumption must make a link between John’s laziness and his status as a bad husband (which is the conclusion).

Logic Games

The Logic Games section includes 4 logic puzzles followed by 23-24 questions divided among them. This is the section that worries students the most initially, but it’s also the section in which Next Step students have shown the most improvement. Smart students draw a diagram for each puzzle and work through the questions efficiently using inference and rapid process of elimination. Students sometimes make the mistake of over-studying for this section; just remember that LR actually counts twice as much in your final score.

Reading Comprehension

Reading comprehension looks a lot like the reading comp from the ACT or SAT, but you will find it to be much harder. There are 4 passages in each section with a total of 26-28 questions divided among them. Passages come from the social sciences, natural sciences, law, and the arts. The challenge will not be the topics, but rather how the passages are structured. Read our guide to RC in Part 2 to understand how to deal with this.

Next Step Test Preparation provides complete courses of one-on-one tutoring with an LSAT expert for about the price of a crowded lecture-style prep course. Email us or call 888-530-NEXT (6398) for a complimentary consultation.

Studying for the LSAT is your job

October 11, 2011

Today I want to discuss a key issue head-on that keeps many, many students from being successful on the LSAT. Over the summer, I’ve seen far more students than I would have liked see less success than they otherwise might have by not making the time commitment necessary for the LSAT.

I won’t belabor the point because most of our readers already know how important the LSAT is to law school admissions. The LSAT is worth roughly as much as your entire undergrad GPA. That means that it’s worth 4 times a year of study, 8 timees a semester of grades, 32 times a course (assuming 4 courses per semester), and 128 times as important as a paper (assuming 3 papers per course). Your mileage may vary, but any way you cut it this exam is critical.

Yet, even after we explain this to students, I keep seeing students under-prepare. There’s always a reason — a paper due, a work assignment, etc. Let’s be real — some people who study for the LSAT are just lazy (and probably won’t go on to a successful law school experience), but many more just leave the LSAT for last in their planning.

I think the reason why this is is that the LSAT has the longest feedback mechanism. While you get in trouble today for missing work or failing to turn in a paper, you don’t really get dinged for under-preparing until scores come back, and you don’t really feel the disadvantages of a lower LSAT score until your admissions and financial aid decisions come back.

The way to combat this, even for busy students, is to treat LSAT prep like a job. It should be blocked out on your calendar in big chunks, just like a shift at work or a college course. Then, you need to commit to treating it that way. Just like a shift at work, if you’re deathly ill you can call in sick. But you can’t call in sick because of great social opportunities, school work, or extra-curricular meetings.

There’s no way around it — students who prepare for the LSAT like it’s their job consistently get higher point gains, get into better schools, and get bigger aid packages. Make sure you’re one of them.

Next Step Test Preparation provides complete courses of one-on-one tutoring with an LSAT expert for around the price of a lecture-style prep course. Email us or call 888-530-NEXT (6398) for a complimentary consultation.