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Studying With Rod Taynes: 11 Weeks Until the LSAT


Welcome, all you fellow June LSAT test takers, to another fun filled edition of “Studying for the LSAT…with Rod Taynes”. If you read my first post, you know that I took my baseline practice exam last week, and am now beginning to dive into the Blueprint course with the first couple of lessons. Now, there are obviously many job perks that come with working at the Blueprint office while studying for the LSAT, and I’m not just talking about the fully stocked fridge and the marble shower (which I use right after my morning workout and anabolic steroid injection, but before checking the e-mail). No, the fringe benefit I’m talking about is the ability to tap into the plethora of LSAT knowledge and advice that Blueprint founders Trent and Matt have accumulated over time.

You might think this would be easy — but Trent is a tyrant. The first month I worked at Blueprint, I was forbidden to look him directly in the eye. My second day on the job, he threw a piping hot Starbucks latte in my face because it had skim milk, not 1%. Still, as someone who wants to ace this exam, I will endure this abuse to gain his LSAT wisdom and impart it to the readers of MSS. Now, anyone who has met Trent knows that these stories are completely ridiculous and an obvious joke (he doesn’t drink Starbucks; he has his own espresso machine). Nonetheless, Trent recently mentioned what he considers one of the biggest mistakes that LSAT students make. Since the guy runs a pretty sweet LSAT test prep company, and has a solid decade of teaching the exam under his belt, I figured that I would heed his advice.

Many students, Trent explained, underestimate the importance of the first few lessons. Lessons 1 and 2 introduce relatively straightforward concepts like diagramming conditional statements, the contrapositive, the common diagramming mistakes, argument structure, and an introduction to logical reasoning and games. However, all of the more advanced questions on the LSAT build upon these foundations. For example, you could do everything else correctly on an advanced logic game, but a simple diagramming mistake can lead to all sorts of false deductions and wrong answer choices that the good folks at the LSAC will provide for you, like evil psychics. Master the concepts of Lessons 1 and 2 and outsmart the evil psychics, write this down.

I thanked Trent for the advice, he said “You’re welcome,” and then threw another latte in my face. I was sure that somehow this would pay off later…

Must Be True Questions:

With must be true questions that require a lot of diagramming, I get through them much faster when I realize that the topic really doesn’t matter. The stimulus can be talking about the evolution of bones in fish, the financial problems of family members, or male woolly monkeys — yet they are all simply testing the ability to diagram conditional statements. I will leave you with the following MBT example:

Unless West Virginia beats Duke in the Final Four, Rod will win the Blueprint office pool, and a grand prize of $100. The only way West Virginia can beat Duke is if Da’Sean Butler scores at least 20 points. If Da’Sean is not wearing his lucky Nike sneakers, he will not score more than 15 points in the game.

Which of the following must be true?

A) If West Virginia beats Duke, Rod wins $100
B) If Da’Sean scores 45 points, Rod does not win the Blueprint office pool
C) If Da’Sean wears Reebok sneakers, Matt does not win the Blueprint Office Pool
D) If Da’Sean wears his lucky Nike sneakers, he will score at least 15 points
E) Trent will fire Rod for this week’s blog post

With proper diagramming, and avoiding all of the common fallacies, you will note that (C) is the only answer that must follow logically. You can also make a pretty good case for (E). I hope everyone’s studying is going well.

See you next week…

— Rod