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February LSAT Recap: Sabbath Edition


Now that I’ve returned to my vices I can write this with a clear head. Wow. That felt good. The anticipation of taking the LSAT has been part of my every day life for the past 4 months or so. It seemed like only yesterday I was sitting on my friend’s couch playing Madden, the air as hazy as our minds, when I realized that life was fast passing me by. So I did it. I cleared my schedule and dedicated myself to studying for the LSAT once again.

4 months and 0 games of Madden later the big day arrived, conveniently, the day after the Super Bowl. As a Sabbath observer, my exam was on a Monday instead of Saturday. This was going to be a retake for me. I took the June 06 LSAT almost 4 years ago. Although it was also a Monday exam, the conditions of the exams were drastically different. In 2006, I took the LSAT in San Francisco in some ballroom with somewhere between 300 and 1000 people. I remember the moment after the proctor said, “You may begin Section 1 of the examination”, it was like the thousand test pamphlets opened in unison creating a sound like a wave crashing on the beach. Panic. I abandoned the methods I was taught and just fought to stay in the game despite my overwhelming nerves.

This time around, I finished my studying on Friday afternoon. In the next two days I read books, watched multiple movies, went to bed at 10 pm, woke up at 6am, napped, sat in the sun, worked out, ate lots of vitamin rich foods, and did virtually no thinking about the test. I knew that there was nothing more I could learn in those two days that would make or break me. The nerves began to set in sometime Sunday afternoon – somewhere between the time The Who’s child-porn-loving singer got off the stage and the Saints successfully pulled of an onside kick. I must have woken up 10+ times throughout the night. Every nightmare scenario possible ran through my head. What if I wake up too late? What if my car breaks down? What if I mis-bubble a section? What if a bird falls out of the ceiling? What if the person I sit behind ate 6 bean burritos before the test? Finally the morning came and I felt like crap, but what the heck, right?

After a balanced breakfast, some prayer, and an overseas phone call, I was ready. I drove to the test facility and waited in my car for a while. I reviewed my flashcards to remind myself I wasn’t a total idiot and then went inside. What a difference. There were 16 total people in my test room, a completely relaxed atmosphere. I was ready to go.

Section 1
Logical Reasoning. All I remember from this section was that somewhere along the way I was reading about gophers and laughing out loud. The section had a few tough ones in the beginning, but over all nothing out of the ordinary. I finished the section having left one parallel question in the dust. I managed to skim through and match up the logical force of the prompt with the conclusion of one answer choice and then time was up.

Deep Breath.

Section 2
More Logical Reasoning. This section felt more like the real thing. By now I was tearing through. I think I had 10 minutes left to take on the last 5 questions and review anything I had marked as strange along the way. There were some contrapositives I needed to unpack near the end, but the ample time made it much less daunting a process. I remember reading something about screen saver options at work and how they make workers less productive. It reminded me of the emails the Chief Operating Officer sends out to all employees at work reminding us that work time is not for downloading screen savers and desktop backgrounds. She always adds that failure to comply is grounds for termination. Which, although not a joke, still made me laugh.

Deep breath. Positive thoughts.

Section 3
Reading comprehension. First I checked how many questions I would be up against – 27. Then I broke down how many questions per passage. Inspired by the Saints’ onside kick and confident in my ability to predict question types and answer choices, I did the first, third and fourth passages (the lengthiest ones). With 7 minutes to go I attacked the second passage. Don’t try it at home, kids, but I managed to skate through the section taking the passages out of order. Overall, I think the reading comp was medium-hard. Doable for sure.

Break time – Make a trip to the toilet. Scarf down some trail mix (protein), a piece of fruit (sugar), and did some pushups (circulation). I was ready to rock.

Section 4
Another Logical Reasoning. There was only one particularly tough question. I think a company had to choose between some guy named Hansel and another named Gretel. Honestly, their names are a blur to me. They could have been named Siegfried and Roy for all I know. The only other question I remember was something about a bird and its flight balance. Not really sure what all that was about. The section was pretty straightforward, nothing out of the ordinary.

Deep Breath

Section 5
Logic Games. Finally, some reward for all the hard work. I still can’t believe they let us play GAMES on this test. Oh, the joy. It went like this – a 1:1 correspondence game about janitorial scheduling that filled the entire page and left pretty much no room for making diagrams, an unstable grouping game about making stained glass windows, an under booked tiered ordering game with conferences and company reps that worked itself out quickly if you could make the deduction, and another tricky little 1:1. All in all, I was pretty gassed by the 5th section and I had 2-3 questions for which I had to guess.

Throw my hands in the air in triumph! A sigh of relief.

Writing Sample
Who cares? Something about a house designed by some famous guy. As long as you write something that makes sense you’ll be fine. By this point the actual test was over so lots of people felt it was ok to take restroom breaks. I used every minute of it because I write slowly.

Four years later, what was so different? The skill-set to take on the LSAT relies on more than just taking a class. A course can give you the strategy to achieve success, but it takes far more than that to succeed come game day. The exam is more than just a test of logic, argumentation, and comprehension. It is a test of mental stamina and speed. For me, the process of training for the LSAT took a holistic approach. I needed to balance work, class, homework, sleep, healthy eating, and maintaining physical fitness. Not to mention I had to put down the kaleidoscope for a few months. The point is, second time round I learned that balance, persistence, and a positive attitude are the key to the LSAT.