How I went from 152 to 176 in 2 months working full time! Reddit LSAT debrief.
He studies 3 hours every day no matter what, even though he works full-time.
He loves the LSAT Trainer and the Logic Games bible. Reading it and doing the exercises helped him a lot.
For LG, his most controversial thing is that he skips questions and comes back to them (doesn’t seem crazy to me, but what do I know). Other than that, he advises 7Sage and drilling.
For RC, he skims, then goes to questions and finds the exact answers within the passages. When in doubt on hard questions, he crosses out everything that’s wrong. He never writes anything. His other key is that he gets engaged in the passages, argues with them in his head, and refuses to be bored by them.
For LR, he finds the conclusion and argues against it (he’s an argumentative guy).
His final takeaway is that the LSAT is formulaic. If you find the formula, you solve the LSAT.
So, yesterday, I got my second 180 on a PT and since my average for the past two weeks is around a 176, I figured that I have enough experience to give my two cents on studying for the LSAT, since I feel pretty confident in getting above a 170 at least. (Disclaimer: since I’ve never taken the actual thing, there is always the possibility I’m totally wrong. Take everything I say with some grains of salt)
Nevertheless, I wanted to answer some of the questions I’ve seen on this page with things other than what everyone else says to do. Some of the stuff I say might be controversial; you’re welcome to completely ignore me, I just want to help and what I say I do is what I actually do.
When I first took the diagnostic 2 months ago, I barely knew what the LSAT was and didn’t know any of the subject areas. Not surprisingly, I didn’t do so hot and I realized I needed to totally reformulate my approach. I spent a month doing nothing but going through the LSAT Trainer and LG Bible and did not do a single PT. Next time I took a PT, my score increased 15 points. I blind reviewed that, looked back at my source materials, and took more PTs. Haven’t scored below a 170 since.
The LSAT Trainer- This teaches you everything you need to know. Read it, do the exercises, and you should see great improvement. You also learn the terms and what LSAC is looking for.
PowerScore Logic Games Bible- Helps with LG a lot, especially if you are like me and LG is by far your most troublesome area.
LSATHacks- Review all your wrong answers here. Site is amazing
7Sages- Same as above but for LG
I’m going to break down my beginning advice by section with what I do for each one. My breakdown of percentages is probably not correct, but it’s semi-accurate for me.
For Logic Games: When I first did this part, I failed. I got something like 7 questions right and I ran out of time. My advice here isn’t particularly deep, it boils down to read the LSAT Trainer and the LG Bible, pick a way of diagramming that works for you and then do about 50 million LGs constantly to drill speed into your head. Everything else people said, like the 7Sages method, does work really well.
The one thing I do that might not be kosher, but generally works for me, is that I refuse to get bogged down in games. Missing 4 questions throughout because you made a wrong educated guess is way better than only finishing 3 games total. Move fast and I skip questions a decent amount because I don’t allow myself to waste something like 4 min on one question if I still have entire sections outstanding. My goal is to finish all the sections with about 7 minutes left to go back over problem questions. This does not always work. The last game I did, I finished with 3 seconds left. LG’s are the only section where I really feel a great amount of time pressure.
For RC: RC was my strongest section to begin with, and now I try to get -0/-1 always. The thing you must understand about RC is that the answer for 24/27 questions is inside of the passage. That means 24/27 points are easily accessible if you have time to look thoroughly for them. I’m an extremely fast reader, but I think that spending a minute to get a sense for the point and structure of a passage is all you really need before you head into the questions.
What I do is I try to skim the passage quickly, in less than a minute usually. With this skim, I can usually pick up on the author’s tone, the general reason the passage was written, and have a decent idea of what is going on. I then start answering the questions, using my base knowledge of the passage to guide me to answers that look possibly right. With the extra time I have banked, I can then find the exact lines supporting every answer choice. With this method, I usually finish all of the passages within 25-28 minutes and then can go back and check anything I was not sure about, etc. Most important is not to get bogged down in something you don’t know.
Also, for RC questions, about 25/27 times, 3/5 answer choices are totally wrong. Like, if you have a base knowledge of the passage, you can cross out 3/5 questions every single time, just by reading them. For the really, really hard questions, you have to cross out all answer choices because the right answer doesn’t make a lick of sense. Get used to crossing out answer choices.
Some people say to write on the passage, and if that works for you, you should do it. Personally, I’ve never written a word on a passage or drawn a line or anything. I find it a waste of time when I could better use that time ensuring that answer choices are present in the passage.
Finally, people get bored in RC. It’s easy to be bored; the passages are about stuff no one cares about and can be dense. I also think they are edited to make less sense than a normal person would write. My method of getting around this issue is to fake passion in every single article. I argue with the writer in my head, get engaged in proving them wrong, or etc. A good way to improve this skill is to go to your facebook, find your most liberal friends that constantly post articles about sex, post-constructivism, art, Jacobin Mag, stuff from Vulture, you get the point. Read everything they post and then get into a conversation or an argument with them. Doing this, I learned how to force myself to care about these subjects and prepared to read more stuff like this on the LSAT.
I also read voraciously. It can only help.
LR: The stuff I said about RC applies somewhat here. Get interested in the topics they are talking about, because if you are in a debate mindset, your brain is already coming up with ways to find ways the other person is wrong.
Personally, as exercise for this section, I read Jacobin Mag and come up with reasons why every article makes no sense, and try and figure out what the actual conclusion of the article is, since it is usually hidden under digressions about the evils of imperialism or the military industrial complex. Helps so much with the way LR questions on the LSAT are written.
What I do is I read the question and immediately look for the conclusion. When I do this, I dont think to myself “what is the conclusion,” but rather say “Why the hell did the author even write this?” I then move on to the question stem to see what I need to look for in the answer choices and what I can cross off as totally irrelevant. With the easier questions, this process takes about 15-20 seconds, enabling me to bank time to really think about the later questions more in depth, which have trickier conclusions and answer choices.
The stimuli generally have a lot of excess garbage in them. Look for words like however, therefore, etc., because 9/10 times the next statement is the conclusion. I try and finish the first 15 Questions in 15 minutes. This leaves plenty of time to really think about the harder questions and things I skip on my first go around.
Conclusion: The LSAT is a really formulaic test. If you can read faster and cut excess time by doing things automatically in your head (like coming up with ways the argument is wrong), without actively thinking about it, you will do well.
I’ll end with this. I work full time about 60 hours a week. The only way I study is at night, after a full day of work. This means I cannot make excuses. When I say I will study for 3 hours, I study for 3 hours. Last night, I got home at 11PM, worked out, and then studied for the LSAT till 5AM. You can’t make excuses to yourself if you have limited time. Keep grinding.
I’ve been getting a fair amount of questions about how I did so I figured I’d give an update for anyone reading this now.
I took the September 2017 LSAT and received a score of 176. I got -0 on Logic Games and Reading Comprehension and something like -5 on Logical Reasoning. Overall, I was fairly happy with it, although looking back at the exam, I really think I should have gotten 2 more of the LRs right, they were not particularly difficult questions. In hindsight, I would not have focused so much on Logic Games and created a more standardized method of doing LRs, as it probably would have helped greatly for the extremely challenging questions. To conclude, I’ll be attending Columbia in the fall and good luck everyone, feel free to shoot me any questions you have.