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Rod Taynes’ October 2010 LSAT Recap: Location Does Matter


Hello out there to my fellow October 2010 LSAT comrades. I sincerely hope that everyone is in relatively good spirits now that the exam is behind you and you have had some time to decompress. I would like to share my own LSAT experience with you, as well as compare this administration with the June administration (without ruffling any feathers over at the LSAC about their intellectual property, of course).

I signed up to take the October LSAT in Orange County because Saddleback College was the closest “Blueprint Certified” testing site that had availability. Since I live in Los Angeles and didn’t want to wake up at 5:15 AM to take the LSAT, I promptly booked a $99 hotel room at a gorgeous Courtyard by Marriott in Mission Viejo. I arrived at about 5:00 PM on Friday evening, I demanded their finest linens and my free breakfast certificate and I went straight to the penthouse suite (see: 5th floor, non-smoking room). I relaxed, watched some postseason baseball, and went to bed at around 10:00 PM.

I must say that I strongly preferred having the LSAT in the morning than in the afternoon. I arrived at my testing center around 7:45 AM, and I saw about a dozen students with #2 pencils and snacks, so I thought it was safe to assume that I had arrived at the right place. Then I saw that these students had graphing calculators. And their parents were dropping them off. And they were 16. (Doogie Howser, J.D.?) Yes, ladies and gentleman, my first deduction of the day was not on a logic game, rather, it was at 7:56 AM in a parking lot when I realized I had arrived at the SATs. Now, it turns out that I already took the SAT….6 years ago.

The good news is that I had arrived 45 minutes early and was not losing my cool. After talking to three very nice women, I found my way across the Saddleback College Campus and checked in. For anyone who is taking the December LSAT, you should know that your testing site DOES matter. In June, I was in the back row of a huge auditorium that had poor lighting. This time around, I was in a small, 30-person college classroom with plenty of space and plenty of lighting. Our proctor moved things along quickly, and it was a far better experience.

Now, for the actual LSAT:

I opened to section 1: Reading Comp. I was wide awake with a fully balanced Courtyard by Marriott breakfast in my stomach, what could possibly go wrong? I got through four very typical LSAT reading comp sections. There was a little United Nations human rights, a little African-American “transnationalism”, a passage about whether a forgery of a painting style can be considered great art, etc. I felt pretty confident about this section. My strategy was to pretend that each passage contained some of the most interesting, amazingly-written material of all time. I mean, I distinctly remember writing several exclamation marks in the margins to reflect my enthusiasm for the United Nations’ definitions of human rights. Surprisingly, this seemed to work.

I opened to section 2: Reading Comp, Part Deux. I tried not to be thrown off by back-to-back reading comp sections, and I think I was fairly successful. In retrospect, I didn’t mind getting all the reading comprehension out of the way early. One could argue that truly acing a reading comp section requires the most sustained focus of any of the sections, and I was happy that I didn’t have to deal with another reading comp section in, say, section 5. So far, I was feeling very strong, and did not feel tripped-up or flustered by any specific passage or concept.

Section 3: I love me some logical reasoning. In my opinion, this LR section was about as stereotypical as an LSAT section gets. We had some dinosaur extinction, some nature vs. nurture, and an asteroid impact. I worked through this section with a nice, steady pace, putting a star next to two or three questions that I wanted to return to. I finished the section with about 2 minutes remaining, went back to those two or three questions I wanted to review, and then time was called. Break time. I was feeling very good about what had transpired so far, AND I had a protein bar to eat AND I knew that there was exactly 1 logical reasoning section and 1 game section remaining, what more could I ask for?

Section 4: Logic Games. This is my least favorite section. I still do not understand why. I must say that despite Matt and Trent’s advice not to study the day before the LSAT, I did two timed Logic Games sections in my hotel room the night before. I got 42/46 questions correct, which was a huge confidence boost. On the actual exam, it didn’t go that well. What’s worse is that they were fairly straightforward games. With logic games, it always comes down to the same thing for me. If I get a couple easy games up front and steadily work through all the questions and make all the key deductions, my confidence is high and I usually ace the last two games. If I get tripped up by one of the first two games, I start to feel the time pressure, and let’s just say things get messy.

Section 5: Logical reasoning, Part Deux. Despite being disappointed that I did not crush the games section like I know I am capable of, I did not let that affect my performance in the last LR section. Again, I was able to get through the entire section with a little bit of time to check my work. There was also a question that is getting a little bit of buzz because some are considering it a “new” question type. It involved an analogy about a cook, some antibiotics, and bacteria (mmmm). This combined some elements of ‘Describe’ questions with elements of ‘Parallel’ questions. Ultimately, I didn’t think it was very difficult, but I can understand how it could have caught people off guard.

All in all, I felt pretty good leaving the testing center. I don’t think that it will be a particularly difficult curve, and I predict I scored somewhere in the 160s due to that games section. I’d love to hear all of your thoughts out there in LSAT land about your experience last Saturday, and see if any of you mistakenly took the SATs (and if so, how your score improved from 2004).

– Rod