Why the LSAT is Useful, and one Canadian Newspaper is not
- Aug 04, 2010
- LSAT, Odds and Ends
I think we can all accept that the LSAT is a ridiculous test. The subject matter of individual questions in logical reasoning can range anywhere from tree-dwelling kangaroos to weird syllogisms about well organized people. The skills tested in logic games are skills that no one will ever use again unless they are trying to seat seven people into nine seats on a plane while keeping in mind the abject hatred of those seven people for each other. Reading comprehension is really boring.
This is all, as the pretentious would say, axiomatic.
But is the LSAT pointless? Recently, a Canadian online newspaper asked why the great land of Canadia, home to mounties and maple trees, would eliminate the MCAT from medical school consideration while maintaining the LSAT as one of the principle determining factors for law school admission. The writer, Laura Drake, then postulated that the LSAT actually doesn’t test anything needed for law school/legal work.
Of course, as an employee for a leading LSAT preparation company that you should really check out because it’s awesome, we’re great people, and some of our instructors even smell OK, this got my dander up.
The LSAT doesn’t always seem like it’s on point, I’ll grant you. It’s hard to determine what the hell the point of anything is, in a truly existential way, when you’re sweating beads of blood trying to figure out if the third dinosaur can be mauve (mostly because we all know dinosaurs didn’t exist). But there is a method to all of it.
Logical reasoning, even when it is teaching you odd things about monkeys and the speed limit change in the 1970’s, is testing your ability to make logical connections and identify fallacious reasoning quickly and accurately. It’s not so much that you’ll be doing a lot of that in law school (in fact, the first time you bring up a contrapositive, you will be summarily executed), it’s just that logic is one of the many pillars (along with graft and random nonsense) upon which the law is based. So studying for logical reasoning is basically taking the place of a rudimentary logic class, because the test makers know that you took neither Logic nor Latin in college.
After careful consideration, I’m going to differ from most LSAT proponents and say that logic games test absolutely nothing you will need for law school. You could make a crap argument about logic games testing organized thinking, just like you’ll need in law school, but I’m not you, and I won’t do it. However, I will make an even more specious argument: logic games test your ability to learn new things. Look, by the time you’re a senior in college, napping your way to a liberal arts degree, you haven’t learned anything new since Pre-Calculus. The LSAT is just trying to make sure your brain hasn’t totally atrophied.
I’d love to explain why reading comprehension is directly applicable to law school because it involves reading long, dense, boring passages just as the law is nothing but long, dense, and boring pieces of writing, but I feel that if I try to, it’ll be like sucking down three Ambien and two shots of Jack.
As a larger whole, the LSAT tests your fortitude. Doing well on the thing, unless you are just a test-taking GOD (like me), requires an actually unhealthy amount of studying. You know what else requires an unhealthy amount of studying? Law school. The LSAT is the greatest predictor for law school success because it tests your ability to drive yourself insane studying. If you can do it for the LSAT, odds are you’ll be able to do it in law school.
You’ve got me as far as the writing sample goes, though. Still don’t know why the hell that’s on there.
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