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Predictions for the January 2019 LSAT

  • by Ross Rinehart
  • Jan 21, 2019
  • LSAT


For the January exam, we’re going to switch our typical predictions post up a little bit.

For the past few years, we’ve jokingly made hyper-specific and ridiculous predictions for each LSAT that, unsurprisingly, were not borne out by the actual exam. The “joke” was that making actual predictions on the LSAT was a fool’s errand, since you won’t know exactly what the Logical Reasoning questions, Reading Comp passages, or Logic Games would be about. And, even if you did, that knowledge wouldn’t be of much use. So, we’d make a few winking, sort-of-inane predictions, and then remind students that as long as they were comfortable with the concepts that get tested on every LSAT, they’d do great, irrespective of what would end up showing up on the test.

Buuuut … as it turns out, people about to take a very important exam would like to have some idea about what will be on said exam. Who could have guessed that? So we’re going to take a bit more honest and forthright approach to January’s predictions. This is officially the truth corner, where we tell the truth.

Except — here’s the thing — the January test is nondisclosed, which means that it’ll never get released to test takers or test prep companies. So we can’t check whether our predictions — no matter how truthful or “hilarious” they may have been — were accurate.

Plus, prior to last year, the only nondisclosed LSAT every year was the February exam. Before 2018, LSAC would release three of the four LSATs administered each year, and keep one nondisclosed February exam for itself. LSAC did this to have a bank of usable, unreleased exams to give to international test takers, those who observe Sabbath and take the LSAT on a different day, or in case it had to administer a make-up test for whatever reason.

But then LSAC changed up its test schedule in 2019. On top of the usual four exams, it threw in a July test for good measure. And that July test was nondisclosed, just like the past February exams. And when that July test came, they didn’t make a new, previously unused nondisclosed exam. They simply re-used an old February exam (the February 2014 exam, to be specific). And people were not happy about this. Their argument: those who took the February 2014 exam had an unfair advantage. An obvious counterpoint: those few people who spend over four years studying for the LSAT probably need every advantage they can get.

Anyway, looking ahead to the new schedule in 2019, we realized that LSAC would no longer hold a February exam. We could no longer pinpoint the exam that we knew would be a new nondisclosed exam. And we noticed there would many more nondisclosed exams on top of the July 2019 test. In 2019, the January, March, July, and October exams will all be nondisclosed. And that means that — unless LSAC is somehow able to almost double the volume of tests they produce every year — some of these will also be recycled nondisclosed exams. Probably a majority of them.

So, the big prediction for January — really the only one that matters — is whether LSAC is going to give you a new, previously unused nondisclosed exam (like they did for past February exams), or if they’ll again recycle a past nondisclosed exam (like they did in July 2018).

Our prediction: this January test will be a new nondisclosed exam. It’s essentially taking the place of the usual February exams in the 2019 schedule. Plus, if LSAC is going to administer this many exams every year, they’ll eventually have to replenish the supply of fresh nondisclosed exams. They can only draw from the well of past February exams for so long.

So what’s going to be on this presumably new exam? Well, this is the honesty part we promised: we can’t say with certainty. We don’t possess any inside knowledge or clairvoyance or even particularly keen gifts of foresight. But based on what we’ve seen on the recent exams, here’s what we can guess:

On LR, there will be a lot of Strengthen and Flaw questions. And you can expect a lot of those Strengthen questions to be of the Strengthen Principle variety. You won’t see many Implication questions, but almost all of them will be Soft Must Be True questions. You should diagram about 10 questions, and well over half of the questions will involve one of the common fallacies. There will be one fallacy in particular that will show up over and over again. In the spirit of our old super specific and unsubstantiated predictions, let’s posit that the exclusivity fallacies will rear its ugly head multiple times throughout both LR sections.

On Reading Comp, you’ll get at least one passage about science and at least one passage about the law. The remaining will be about some combination of social sciences, history, the arts, or culture. The comparative passage will be, in all likelihood, the most difficult passage of the bunch and an objectively challenging and dry piece of content.

For Logic Games, expect a 1:1 ordering game and a tiered ordering game. You’ll also get a grouping game of some sort — the smart money is on an unstable grouping game, but one of the other games could show up too. The fourth game will either be another ordering game (probably involving some principles of distribution), another grouping game, or a combo game. I mean, I basically just told you to expect all the games you’ve spent the last few months practicing, but, as I said, these are honest and forthright predictions.

Of course, we might be wrong about the prediction that the January test will be a new nondisclosed exam. In that case, LSAC will draw from a past February exam. We’ll assume they’ll want to keep it recent but not too recent, so we’re guessing it’ll be the February 2012, 2015, 2016, or 2017 exam. The February 2013 and 2014 exams were the last ones used, so probably not those. Maybe do some internet sleuthing about those exams. Be aware, you won’t be able to figure out that much. LSAC has rules that prevent anyone from getting too specific in their post-exam commentary for this very reason. But maybe that research will give you a general sense of the difficulty level you’re in for and the scintillating subjects you’ll see in your Reading Comp passages.

Either way, if you have the basics down, it won’t matter whether the test is new or old. Instead of using this last week worrying about what might be on the exam, brush up on the skills you know get tested on all exams. Get some practice diagramming conditional statements, and making deductions with them. Review all the common fallacies, and practice identifying them on Flaw, Parallel Flaw, and most Operation questions. Study up on causal relationships, particularly how to strengthen and weaken them. Do some final Reading Comp passages, and really focus on recognizing the author’s attitude and conclusions. Go over when to make scenarios in ordering and grouping games.

And since everyone loves a curve prediction — even on a nondisclosed exam where the curve isn’t released — I’m seeing a -10 curve. Honestly, I hope I’m wrong about that one, though.

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