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October 06, 2002

LSAT Recap

The LSAT is over. Been there, done that. Don't ever want to go there or do that again. Ok, it wasn't that bad, but not the most fun you could have for $100 on a Saturday morning.

If you took the LSAT yesterday, you might be interested to know that the third section was experimental—the Kaplan people have done a survey that says so (you may need a password or cookie to access that), and this agrees with what I learned from other test-takers after my test. My test went like this: Logic Games, Logical Reasoning, Logic Games, break, Logical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension. Since I had two logic games sections before the break (and since the LSAT only has one scored LG section), I knew one of them was "experimental." After the test, I talked with people who only had one LG section in their test, and they remembered games that I remembered from my first section. This means they didn't have my third section at all, which means it was not scored. Does that matter? Maybe. If you thought you did poorly on the third section, you can now rest easier knowing it didn't count.

The Kaplan summary says the games were as follows:

  • A loose Sequencing game that involved the order of eight clowns.
  • A challenging Hybrid Grouping/Sequencing game in which instruments were matched with musical selections, and then put in order.
  • A Matching game in which job candidates were placed in one of three positions: sales, management, or production.

I don't remember the fourth one either. I did virtually no work on the hybrid game with the musical selections because I ran out of time, but it looked like fun. ;-)

The Reading Comprehension passages were:

  • A challenging Law passage explored the basis for legal authority, and drew a distinction between "institutional" and "intellectual" authority—that is, authority derived from precedent and that derived from self-sufficient reasoning.
  • The Humanities passage discussed the ethical education of medical students. Specifically, the author argued for the inclusion of narrative literature to supplement the tradition ethics curriculum. [This was actually a very cool passage—I'd love to find the source and use it in my intro. to fiction class to give students a new perspective on the value of reading narrative fiction.]
  • The Social Science passage addressed Abram’s theory of sociological history. The passage contrasted historical approaches which emphasized the contributions of individuals, and those which primarily emphasized contingencies of circumstance.
  • The Natural Science passage investigated the process of controlled burning of forests by Native American populations before the arrival of Columbus. [This one completely fried me, for no good reason. I simply couldn't concentrate on the passage, so the questions all seemed to be asking for crazy-obscure tidbits and inferences, which meant I had to re-read big parts of the passage multiple times, wasting a ton of time. It was really awful, and the only explanation I have is I was getting excited to be done, and also mentally tired.]

Also: 53% of Kaplan's survey respondents said the LG section was most challenging, followed by the RC section at about 35%. 78% said they had to guess or leave some questions blank in one or more section (I'm one of them). It's pretty clear that the 22% who didn't have to guess on anything are going to be in the top 20% of scores, and bully for them.

What else? My proctors were not very strict. I could have flipped through my test several times to see what each section was, and no one would have cared. (This information could have been helpful to indicate in advance which section was not scored, but oh well...) At the break I talked to someone who had done exactly this. Also, they were only sort of being strict about the "stop work immediately when we say or you'll be issued a warning" rule. Several people must not have stopped, and had to be told a second time, but no one got any official warnings out of it or anything. Anyway, you probably can't count on super-lenient proctors at every administration of the test; this was just my experience.

I guess if you read this before some future administration of the LSAT and you're looking for tips, my advice would be this: The test is long, and it's not over until it's over. I started to get excited after the break by thinking things like "Only an hour and I can be done with the LSAT forever!" But I still had a section or more to go. Take lots of full practice tests beforehand under conditions as real as possible so your body and mind will be drilled on the length of time you need to stay focused on the test. Once my mind started to wander like that, I know my answers became a lot less certain.

Overall, I left feeling like this was either the worst or the best of the LSATs I've taken. I think the games went better than usual, but I'm concerned that the LRs and the RC section were not as strong as usual. The RC section in particular seemed much more challenging than normal, so that doesn't bode well. The writing sample? What the hell is that for, anyway?

Now for the next steps: Letters of recommendation, transcripts, making sure I'm signed- and paid-up with LSDAS, and deciding where the heck to apply. I'm told three years in Hawaii could be very nice....

Posted October 6, 2002 09:57 AM | law school

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