Deep Existentialism: Why the LSAT Exists
- Sep 15, 2010
At this point in your LSAT studying, there’s a halfway decent chance you’ve already cried a couple of times. You’ve probably become a much angrier driver. You’ve almost certainly had more conversations about the direction of your life during these past few months than you’ve had throughout all the lazy, drunken days of college.
That’s all within the bounds of normal, but according to me, all that stress and turmoil boils from one question: Why does the LSAT exist?
Me, I always want to know why I’m doing something before I do it, which is probably a good indication as to why I live a life of uninhibited indolence. So to do you all a favor, I’m going to try to clearly describe why the LSAT exists, and why you have to take it to go to law school.
I’m tempted to answer “because life is hard” but, if I have one guiding principle in my life, it’s that I always try to avoid making myself sound like an old man in a Western. So, let’s dive in.
Let’s make sure we all understand something at the get-go: for whatever reason, the LSAT is the number one indicator of law school success. That’s why the thing exists, and that’s why it’s never going to go away. What we’re going to get into here is why that is the case.
First, the argument that the LSAT doesn’t test anything you need for law school is more or less moot as far as I’m concerned. You could make the argument that the intensive reading comprehension you do on the test is great preparation for the intensive reading of nonsense you’ll do in law school, but you could also make the argument that reading an Economist article does the same thing. Law schools could just assign required reading lists for the summer before law school or something (hello, 9th grade). But I’m willing to go either way on that. As for logical reasoning, I’m pretty sure none of that has any relevance to the law, because most of the people who wrote our laws were idiots who wouldn’t recognize a contrapositive if it grew hands and bitch slapped them. We’ll not discuss logic games, because we all understand how clowns being fit into a car applies to law school.
Long story longer, I don’t assign much significance to the idea that the LSAT tests any kind of knowledge base or way of thinking that is applicable to law school. Or at least, I don’t think the correlation between LSAT skills and law school skills is strong enough to explain the much more obvious correlation between LSAT success and law school success.
But there’s one thing people seem to miss when they’re discussing the LSAT: how mind-numbingly, painfully hard it is. To do well on it, unless you’re just one of those naturally awesome individuals who could take a standardized test blind-folded, you need to study. And you need to study really, really hard. Probably harder than you’ve ever studied for anything.
That’s the equalizer, kiddies. The LSAT tests your ability to work like a dog, and so does law school. Law school means a ton of reading every night, hours and hours of writing and rewriting briefs, and more or less the most time-consuming work of your life. By showing you have the ability to excel on the LSAT, you’re showing law schools that you can at least focus for three months on a course of study. The ability to intensely focus on something is the key; it’s not the stuff you’re focusing on.
For what it’s worth, I imagine success on the MCAT would be an awesome indicator of law school success as well.
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