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The LSAT rubber meets the road.

I taught Lesson 13 to one set of students last night and will teach that same lesson to another set of students the day after tomorrow. In Blueprint world, that’s where we reach the end of new subject matter, and the rest of the course is devoted to shoring up understanding of that subject matter and the nuts and bolts of taking the test.

This period of transition is important, but it’s also jarring. No less important is the fact that it occurs each class very close to test day. To wit, at the time this post was written, there were twenty six days left until the September exam. So, here’s a brief rundown of what you ought to do:

Get conditional diagramming down cold. Somewhere around twenty percent of Logical Reasoning questions and just about every Grouping Logic Game require mastery of conditional diagramming. It’s highly recommended that you make flashcards with all of the sufficient/necessary keywords (if, only if, unless, no, except, etc.) and understand how to quickly diagram them and take the contrapositive. If you’re not comfortable with diagramming, there will be a (low) ceiling on your score, and, conversely, if you nail it down now, you will see your score go up. One last thing, plenty of diagrammable statements don’t have those keywords. You must learn to identify ways in which the LSAT says that something is necessary for something or sufficient to guarantee something.

Get prevalent argument forms and flaws down cold. Ever heard of Logical Reasoning or Reading Comprehension? Oh, you have? Well both of those are all about arguments. That’s the whole enchilada. You can either stumble through tons of statements trying to piece together what they’re saying, or you can learn shorthand that allows you to clear away all the linguistic underbrush in the LSAT and understand what’s important and what’s not about what you’re reading. Not only does this help you get the right answer to a question — which is, y’know, fairly important — it saves a tremendous amount of time. If you can look at an argument and say, “Oh, that’s just an Eliminating Alternatives argument!” then you already know what’s going on, regardless of whether you’re talking about sparrow mating habits or the composition of magnetic rock.

Diagnose your weaknesses. This one’s a little more broad. You should review your performance on practice exams and homework up to this point to see what particular Logical Reasoning question types, Logic Games types and Reading Comp passage/question types you have trouble with, and you should make a list of those things. That will help you understand what you need to focus on. But weaknesses aren’t limited to things that are quantifiable entries in the online score analytics. Do you have a block with particular subject matter? Do you find yourself spacing out instead of focusing? Are you addressing the common and totally normal anxiety that afflicts test takers. Note this stuff and make a plan to address it. You know yourself best, so think critically and creatively about how to do that.

Here’s what comes next. The very important pieces of LSAT success that have not yet been addressed in the class are timing and endurance. In short, you must be able to answer questions quickly enough to get enough right answers for the score you want, in 35-minute chunks. Not only that, you must be able to do it on section five just as well as you did it on section three. Part of this is creating a plan for attacking the exam that uses time smartly, often by skipping around a section to ensure that you’re picking up all the attainable points before addressing the super hard ones. The other part is taking a bunch of practice exams as well as doing a bunch of timed sections between now and test day so that you are comfortable with focusing intensely for more than three hours. If you’re in a Blueprint course, this stuff will be addressed in Workshop 3, which comes on the heels of Lesson 13.

So, good luck! Please keep in mind that there’s still plenty of room for improvement.