If the GMAT is the oppressor, the LSAT must be Satan’s crafty minion—often deterring our applications to law school, and more egregiously discouraging our pursuit of legal professions. At least the GMAT is assessing competencies once learned, albeit very long ago. The LSAT aims to gauge our ability to think both logically and analytically, but not in a format once learned in an academic setting. Through their five-section endurance run, one who hopes to conquer this exam has to show a lot of stamina. Unfortunately, one exercises more stamina than affords you points since one of the sections (of course unbeknownst to you) don’t even count. Learning the LSAT language (because every standardized exam is its own unique language) is a manageable hurdle. Exercising that mastery in conjunction with time constraints is where you could run into a brick wall.
You know when you look at job postings, and one of the skills frequently requested is the ability to work in high-pressured environments. That’s the skill that is all types of required to succeed on that exam. Now, in my earlier posts, when I talk about the GMAT, I heavily insinuate that without the right score, you can’t get into the game. As for the LSAT, without the score, you can’t even get into the arena.
Although we praise Confessions as the most exemplary R&B collection of the 2000s decade, Usher titled it as such because it was his most personal work to date, as this post is mine.
I once was locked out of the arena. I stood locked out on a 159. And I say once locked out because the underlying premise of “locked out” is an attempt to gain access. I’m no longer seeking access to the law school candidacy. So today, I stand 95% liberated and 5% defeated. How can I not be defeated when you construct a life plan around attending law school and despite three attempts, no avail. And despite knowing now God has a different plan for me, it’s hard to remove the defeatist sentiment within. And I write not to evoke sympathy or sorrow. The goal is to emphasize the magnitude of the exam.
Let my defeat be your wake up call JD prospects! Get your life today, in this moment, in this hour, in this second. I applied with two Ivy degrees under my belt, and those few law schools I applied to had no reservation telling me “Nah, we good!” Will some of you have a natural affinity for the exam? Yes. But most of you unfortunately will not. And despite any dormant (some less dormant than others) cultural biases that may ensue, we can’t be salty at the exam. They argue the exam is the best out of its peers in actually offering a fruitful insight—a predictor of 1L success. Are there ways to strengthen your application besides the score? Yes, but you can incur a substantial risk trying to get in the game without it.
How to conquer the exam?
Well if I knew that, we would be having a different conversation? But I have a plethora of failures to share, so leggho.
- Sometimes we try and master technique first, and then master time. Try to do both simultaneously. Don’t wait until you feel your logical reasoning game is poppin’ to start timing yourself. I did that and it didn’t work for me. It could work for you though! However, try doing both simultaneously.
- There’s no one size fits all approach. Mix and match strategies! PowerScore is good for exercise but Kaplan has some tips too. Don’t sleep on Kaplan or other resources.
- Time is not your friend because the test is scheduled at those four times of the year, compared to most if not all other graduate entrance exams who’s test date is in your hand. You have to claim the time back by starting preparation as soon as possible and apply when you have the score. Law school is not going anywhere.
- Invest the time up front and hypothesize! So the LSAT is a smart bastard and it knows how to use syntax and diction to mess with your head. The answer choices are not your friend. Think of your job as eliminating the wrong answers instead of finding the right one. If you see the gap in the reasoning, and you know exactly how it would be strengthened and there’s a choice that matches your guess, by all means take it and move on. The same logic goes with all other sections. Take the time to deconstruct the passage and the logic game before tackling the questions. It’s worth it! The more time you spent going back and rereading stuff is missed opportunity to gain points. I let that exam waver my confidence every time, with the exam always emerging victorious.
And most importantly, don’t let anyone tell you, “you can’t.” As with the GMAT, I don’t want to impose restrictive standards on our ability to conquer the exam. But don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t go to CLS/HLS with a 164 (And please note 5 points kept me out the door, and yes God is still working on my 5% defeat/salty hybrid.) I’ve seen it done, more times than I can count, regardless of what’s published in their “Class Profile” stat sheet. Sometimes I think those stats sit there to deter us from applying. Don’t give them more merit than they’re worth. See your admit decision as 75% quantitative (UGPA/LSAT) with a slight edge to the exam and 25% qualitative (essay, resume, and letters of recommendation). I certainly don’t want you to count yourself out of the race because you don’t think your score can get you in the game.
IF YOU REALLY BOUT THAT LIFE, and don’t tell anyone I told you this, Northwestern has a JD program that takes a GMAT score! Now that’s if you happen to have a score just sitting. I wouldn’t take a test to apply to one school. That’s dumb. I know I alluded before I subscribe to a T7 (plus Georgetown because they run the DC game) mentality, but I understand it’s not feasible for everyone to get the LSAT score to attend one of those schools. I stand firmly behind not going unless it’s T14 though. But let’s say you end up getting into Duke. Apply to SEO Law (which everyone should regardless of what top school you go to), slay that interview, and you get you’re NYC firm and that can be your security blanket that carries you through your law school career and your first few years as an associate. We’ll dive into what I’m now envisioning as “The Right Security Blankets to Invest In” as we progress throughout the admissions cycle!