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December 2010 LSAT Predictions

December 2010 LSAT Predictions

As the resident Miss Cleo of Blueprint, it is incumbent upon me to gaze into a nonexistent crystal ball and, somehow, magically foresee what will appear on the impending LSAT. So here goes again…

1. The curve will be easier than a limbo showdown with Yao Ming.

I gotta go with recent trends on this one. From 2004 through 2007, I made a habit of warning potential lawyers about the tightening curve. However, for whatever reason, that trend has reversed in the last two years.

If you are interested in reading more about why this might be happening, check out these articles from some amazing blog I stumbled upon.

Basically, there are three premises on which my argument is based: (1) the number of people taking the LSAT continues to be extremely high, (2) the economy, despite optimistic reports to the contrary, is still pretty rough and so people are flocking to law school and other graduate school without truly being committed to the idea, meaning there are lots of folks who aren’t studying like they should be, and (3) if there is ever a test with a slightly more lenient curve, it is the December test.

My conclusion is that the curve will be give you lots of room for error. It may not follow logically, but I bet it would be right for a soft MBT.

Here is my best guess as to what the curve will look like (out of 100 questions total).

175 92 (-8)
170 86 (-14)
165 80 (-20)
160 72 (-28)

So that is good news. Kinda. As you know, there are some very intelligent people who create the beast that is the LSAT and they do lots of due diligence to make sure that there is no “easy” test. However, you can take comfort in the fact that you will have some margin for error. If you totally blow a game or get stuck on a couple strengthen questions, don’t freak out. You can miss some, heck, you can even miss lots, and still get an amazing score.

(Quick aside: if you want to have a laugh, actually picture Yao Ming competing in a limbo contest with a fruity, umbrella drink in his hand. Maybe wearing a Hawaiian shirt and some bad pink trunks?)

2. Watch out for the order of the games.

I have spent a considerable amount of time over the last week breaking down and analyzing the October test. Approximately three weeks after that exam was given, a common complaint among students was that they performed worse on the games section than they did on practice exams leading up to the test.

When I broke open the exam, I expected to see a real bitch of a game (something akin to mauve dinosaurs in 2009 or the wood and mulch game in June 2010). To my surprise, it wasn’t there. The section contained four very common types of game and they all ranged from pretty easy to moderate in difficulty. However, upon further reflection, I realized what tripped people up about the section.

Which game was the hardest? The first one.

Which games were the easiest? The second and fourth.

Most students like to glide comfortably into games, maybe take on a nice, basic ordering game before you hit the monsters looming later in the section. The first game in October was a complex grouping games with a few twists (in each group, one person had to be assigned as the driver). When students gets stumped by the first game or even just take too much time, that is when they hit the panic button. After the panic button has been deployed, all hell breaks loose. Now you can’t even remember what “adjacent” means and you start cursing at the fact that your future rides on your ability to dissect a women’s track meet.

The second game on the October test, however, was a piece of cake. Six nurses, six spots, basic rules. This is the game LSAT dreams are made of, and this is the type of game you want to start things off. What’s the solution? Don’t feel like you must do the games in order. You don’t want to just start jumping around until you find names that sound friendly, but searching for basic ordering games might be a good way to start.

In terms of the types of games that you can expect, don’t look for anything crazy. Over the past five years or so, they have been incredibly consistent. There will be a 1:1 ordering game. In and out grouping will rear its ugly head somewhere in the section. My money is on a tiered ordering game with scenarios since there wasn’t one on the October test. And the final game will be some form of unstable grouping/profiling game. I guarantee it (not really).

3. Enter the land of weird Logical Reasoning question types.

The Logical Reasoning sections on the October test were very reasonable in terms of length and difficulty. However, there was an interesting twist, according to student reports: new question types!

Every few LSAT administrations, we hear the same rumors. LSAC has introduced some new, difficult, crazy, awful question types. Just wait until you see them, students will report. We at Blueprint then get excited at the possibility of something new and unknown. Then we at Blueprint are inevitably disappointed when the rumors are just that, rumors. There were no new question types, alas.

There were, however, some well camouflaged question types. This is a hurdle that the LSAT introduces from time to time. Rather than confuse you about the stimulus or trick you on answer choices, they will make it so that you don’t know the basic process of the question. If you don’t understand the question, identifying an answer can be a bit challenging.

My advice is to always allot an appropriate amount of time to classifying the question prompt. Sometimes, this is only a second, as when you are identifying a normal flaw or necessary question. But this can require more of your time and attention. For instance, take the following prompt from the October LSAT:

Which one of the following is most appropriate as an analogy demonstrating that the reasoning in the argument above is flawed?

If a student, in a understandable rush, simply thought this was “some weird analogy flaw thing” and began to read the stimulus, they would be at a serious disadvantage. However, upon closer inspection, this question is asking for an analogous situation that demonstrates the same fallacy that is contained in the stimulus. That is a familiar task, one that students have practiced many, many times on parallel flaw questions. If a student identified this question as a parallel flaw question, her chances of success would be great increased.

4. The test is going to be easy.

Not really, but I knew that would get your attention. The December test will be just another LSAT, some hard stuff, some easy stuff, and you will be much better off if you come to terms with that realization. You have done your preparation. If you took a Blueprint course, there will be no surprises. Go in confident and make it a good day.