Grinding from a 155 to a 172: an r/LSAT success story
Studied for 6 months, and studied each section sequentially.
First, he tackled the logic games with 7Sage. He found their method too extreme, so he ultimately developed a hybrid style and focused on being fast, adaptable, and accurate.
Then, he tackled logical reasoning with the LSAT Trainer. He found taking notes on the LSAT trainer to be helpful. But, he found drilling questions, reviewing them through LSATHacks and Manhattan’s explanations, and keeping track of it all in a spreadsheet to be crucial.
Finally he tackled RC, which he ended up just doing the note-taking strategy on. Honestly, it doesn’t sound like he really got a great strategy for RC.
He ended up doing 25 PTs at the end in 2 months, which he says was overkill. If he had to do it over, he would find a better mix between laziness (taking days off at a time in the first 3 months) and stress, like his 25 PTs. He thought going for a run and spending time in a sauna was great for destressing.
I started studying for the LSAT June 1, 2017 in preparation for the December 2, 2017 test. When I began my studies I was desperate for info to help start my journey. Since I used this subreddit a lot, I thought I would give back to the community with my own post. I am far from an expert, and probably made a lot of mistakes studying (like doing 2 PT’s in one day), but I thought sharing my process could be helpful anyways.
Ready for an essay?
After checking out 7Sage, /r/LSAT, and all the LSAT forums, I established a studying philosophy:
Perfect the LG section
Improve accuracy in LR through untimed sections and reviewing with a goal of -2/-3 per LR section
Improve LR timing with timed sections
Improve RC by focusing on reading speed and finding a section strategy that suits me.*
Leave at least 2 months for PT’s and drilling
Track all work with excel spreadsheets
I had 6 months to accomplish these 6 goals. I was armed with the 2016 LG Bible, the LSAT Trainer, and PT’s 1-82.
My LG studying was dedicated to 3 months. I did no LG drilling after I finished these 3 months, meaning my only LG practice came from PT’s.
I began with the LG Bible, which took me between 1-2 weeks. I used this strategy for perfecting my LG section. That took about 2.5 months. By the end I was averaging -0 on LG. All in, LG took me 3 months of dedicated studying to perfect.
Looking back on the LG section, I would say that keeping it simple is best. Have a nice, clear, diagram. Don’t kill yourself mapping out all the worlds, something JY from 7Sage likes to do. But don’t be robotic like the Bible. Find the flow that works for you. The ultimate goal of LG studying is being fast, adaptable, and accurate. I think it’s important not to blindly subscribe to a diagramming technique from one of the tutors/companies. My style was a hybrid of PowerScore, 7Sage, and Trainer.
I started studying LR immediately after my LG work finished. This was the beginning of September, 3 months after I began. I did the LR stuff in the LSAT Trainer and drilled UNTIMED LR sections from PT’s 1-20. I tracked my mistakes and took notes next to questions during my reviews. These notes consisted of identifying the conclusion, flaw, and why certain answer choices were wrong. Sometimes there wasn’t a flaw, and sometimes I got lazy and didn’t review. Keep in mind that I skipped some sections and PT’s on my journey from 1 to 20. All in, I would say that untimed LR and textbook work took me half a month.
Then I stepped up to timed LR drilling on random PT’s between 1 and 55. A lot of the sections I drilled timed were from here. I continued to track mistakes and take notes. A lot of my mistakes came from missing reasoning structure and rushing into the answer choices without reflecting on the stimulus and question stem (prephrasing, predicting answer, etc.).
While studying out of the Trainer during August I made a document that summarized a lot of the stuff from the Trainer. It had a page for each question type. I found creating and reading the document to be educational and helpful. I would come back to this document time and time again to make sure my LR strategies were well-tuned.
Unlike LG, which was my best section, LR was a bastard of a time. My timing was sloppy, and I had to work really hard to make this section work. I think the best thing you can do for LR is to thoroughly review your mistakes and understand what you’re doing wrong. To get a grasp of the correct approach on answers I missed I would look at the answer explanations on LSAT Hacks and Manhattan. This helped understand how I should be thinking for different question types. From my experience, LR improves with experience, and the key to experience is merciless drilling. All in, dedicated LR work took me 1 month, 0.5 month for learning and 0.5 month for timed drilling. I would continue doing timed LR drilling and untimed LR drilling between my PT’s later.
My worst section on my diagnostic, I was reluctant to start studying RC. I opened the LSAT Trainer and got going. I got 2 chapters in and put the Trainer down. I didn’t like studying for RC out of a book, so I didn’t. My major takeaway from the Trainer was to read for reasoning structure. I think the biggest thing for RC (for me, at least) is to find a strategy that works for you. It is a highly personal section. Some people take extensive notes, others read fast and leave lots of time for the questions. I eventually discovered I was the latter. Anyways, it was already October and I was averaging -0 on LG and -3 per LR section. My RC was bouncing around -6 after a few timed RC sections. I think studying for LR before RC helped my reading abilities.
As I said earlier, I had PT’s 1-82. I left 1-55 for drilling and 55-82 for actual tests. I never blind reviewed or did 5 section tests. In hindsight that was probably a mistake but I don’t think it made a huge difference. I used a bezel watch to time myself and used the 7Sage proctor app. I did roughly 25 tests in 2 months, probably another mistake – a very demanding schedule. I usually did 5-10 warm up LR Q’s before each test.
I didn’t really have a clear schedule going into studying, but this is how it turned out.
6 months total: 3 months dedicated LG, 1 month dedicated LR studying, 0 months dedicated RC studying, 2 months dedicated to 25 PT’s and timed and untimed LR and RC drilling.
My schedule turned out alright. If I had to do it again I would waste less time on LG (3 months was a little excessive). I was undisciplined and lazy, often going days without studying. This would allow for more dedicated LR studying and PT’ing.
I think the biggest thing I took away from this entire process is that mental health is key to the LSAT. I would find myself gripping the pencil too tight at times. I would get questions wrong and start getting anxious which lead to more questions wrong. The absolute best thing I did for myself was learn how to calm down and relax. For me the key was going for a run and jumping in the sauna. By finding this zen trigger, I could control my stress levels and went into the test confident. Avoiding test anxiety makes all the difference, so make sure you understand how you relax and watch your mental health. Also, try to visualize yourself in your test center – a common tactic for athletes is visualization.
Sorry for the wall of text, but I figured that if I could help one lurker in the future it would be worth it. I owe this sub a lot! I started with a 155 diagnostic and grinded my way to a 172 in December.
Thanks to all of you!