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My 99th Percentile LSAT Score Story: Branden Frankel

Droppin’ nines.

You may notice a theme in these stories, which is that many of the authors — current and former Blueprint LSAT instructors — started off with ridiculously high scores, and, rather than seeing a jump of thirty points to get into the 170s like many neophytes would need, it’s a jump of ten or fifteen points. I hear you, and, unfortunately, I’m once again going to give you a story that starts off at what many others would dream of as a test day score.

In short, my first diagnostic exam, back in the year 2001 — when most MSS readers were but a twinkle in a test tube’s eye (I kid, I kid!) — was 163. But, believe it or not, the struggle is real. I got a 168 on test day later that year, decided not to go to law school, came back five years later, got another 168, which I knew was well below my capabilities, and felt frustrated.

Why the frustration? Because, when I reviewed my exams, there were always more than enough questions that I could’ve gotten without a lot of effort, and, had I gotten them, I would’ve been well into the 170s, which was something that I demanded of myself.

That expectation, however, was exactly the problem. And here’s where I hope my story can be helpful to some of you out there struggling mightily to get your scores up. To put it bluntly, I was arrogant and knew that, given enough time, I could get any LSAT question right on the first pass. However, neither I nor anyone else is given enough time — whatever that means — and so the relevant question is less, “How do I get all these questions right?” than it is, “How do you use my time most effectively?”

When I struggled with a particular question on any of the sections of the exam, I would bang my head against it, knowing I could get it right. When reviewing the exam, I found that sometimes I got those questions right, and sometimes I didn’t. However, what I began to realize is that I was pressed for time on easier questions because I’d sunk so much time into the nasty ones, that I was getting those wrong.

My solution? Stop doing that. Don’t dump a whole bunch of time into a question. A point is a point, etc., etc. I found it wasn’t that easy, though, because, in the heat of the moment, I’d find myself doing the exact same thing, regardless of my intentions at the outset. I took practice exam after practice exam, scoring 168 practically every single time. It was like that score was a level boss that I just couldn’t beat. Then I crafted a system for myself to stop the insanity I was inflicting upon myself. My next diagnostic exam score? 177.

I instituted a specific set of rules for myself in addressing questions that forced me to move on rapidly. This works for any of the sections, but I’ll explain it in terms of LR. I’d read the prompt, then the stimulus, then eliminate as many answer choices as I could. If I couldn’t get to the right answer choice, I was allowed one more pass at the stimulus and one more pass at the answers, at which point, if I didn’t get it down to the right answer, I was required to circle it and move on.

The benefit was twofold. First, I wasn’t rushing through the easier problems that lay ahead anymore, and I was picking up the easy points I wasn’t before. I also found that, quite often, those problems that I’d gotten hung up on weren’t as hard as I thought they were. Instead, I’d made a reading error — very easy to do on a test that insists upon careful and literal reading — and, when I came back to it with fresh eyes, I’d see the reading error immediately and get the question right. When I was reading the same stimulus over and over again in frustration, I always made the same reading error over and over again.

So, hopefully this is of benefit to some of you. If timing is an issue, if you find yourself getting caught up in what I call the “Whirlpool of Death,” looping endlessly through stimulus and answer choices, this could be a game changer.