We spend so much time at this blog talking to you — keeping you abreast of the latest law school admissions news, giving you LSAT advice, providing you some tips about law school applications. We never really ask you how you’re feeling. So … [slides up chair to you, turns it around so the backrest is nearest to you, and sits in chair backwards, leaning forward, arms draped over the top rail of the chair’s backrest, striking the archetypal “cool 90s teacher” pose] … how are you feeling?
Oh, right. I forgot you can’t really respond in this medium. But, at any rate, you should feel good.
I know, I know … that might sound a little crazy to you right now. The March LSAT is, frankly, distressingly near. Maybe the last practice exam didn’t go as well as it could have. There’s probably an item or ten on your study list that you haven’t had time to address. Perhaps just the thought of yet another Reading Comprehension passage triggers a dyspeptic feeling in your system. I’m willing to bet that, above all else, you’re ready to just get the damn thing, this test, over with.
It’s so easy, at this late stage in the study process, to focus on everything that’s going wrong or could be going better. It’s easy to lose sight on everything that went well in your study process. So let’s try to focus on the positives, for just a moment.
Remember that first practice exam you took? The one that convinced you the LSAT was written in some occult language, that logic games were some irresolvable puzzles, and that the distinction between right and wrong answers was basically nonexistent? Think about how far you’ve come since then. Then, you didn’t know how diagramming conditional statements could simplify the Logical Reasoning section. Or how consistently a few common fallacies were tested on that section. You didn’t know that making scenarios on games could help solve those supposedly impossible puzzles. You didn’t realize that a small change to how you look at answer choices could make the distinction between right and wrong clear. Now you do.
Sure, you probably wish you were a little better at all of those concepts. But … here’s a little insider secret … we all do, even those of us who teach this test. No one is perfect at this. We all, even the most experienced among us, occasionally get stuff wrong. The LSAT is an exceedingly difficult test, by design. Perfection isn’t an attainable standard for this test, so falling short of that benchmark shouldn’t make you nervous about how well you’re going to do next Saturday.
Instead, focus on all tools that you’ve spent the last few months acquiring, developing, and refining. Trust them. They’ll be useful on the test you’re about to take. I don’t know exactly what’s going to be on this test, but I can promise you that you’ll have seen the concepts that will be tested before. In most cases, many times before. Remember the lessons of those past questions, apply them the questions on the March exam, and you’ll do great.
The progress you made to acquire those skills was no small feat, by the way. Many people who have completed their legal education found studying for the LSAT to be the most challenging part of the process. To study for the LSAT, you sort of had to rewire your brain. You had to reframe words you previously took for granted, like “if” and “only” and “many” and “unless.” For that matter, you had to relearn what “took for granted” means. You had to learn to read all over again. You had to learn to stop making assumptions about what people probably meant, so you could better attack their arguments. You had to acquire a set of completely new skills to solve logic games. If you can rewire your brain to learn this exam, you can do anything in law school (And if you just instinctively diagrammed and took the contrapositive of that last statement, you’re definitely ready to take the LSAT).
By contrast, the rest of your legal education will look a lot more like everything you did before the LSAT. Law school? That’s just reading. You can do that. (OK, it’s like, a lot of reading, but still … you know how to read). The bar exam? It’s a long and arduous test, sure, but it’ll seem much more familiar to you than the LSAT did. The bar exam just tests your ability to recall and apply information, just like every other test you ever took … except, of course, the LSAT.
So, in addition to taking a moment to appreciate all your progress on the LSAT, take a moment to appreciate how you’re about to vault what many consider to be the most difficult hurdle on the path to becoming a lawyer.
Plus, the skills you acquired along the way might turn out to be useful in law school. Many statutes are written in conditional language, so recalling the basics of sufficiency and necessity might help you understand what would otherwise be arcane laws. Causation — well-trod ground on the LSAT — is a common element in criminal laws and torts, so you’ll be well-versed to discuss that issue. Familiarity with the common fallacies will help you assess the arguments made in legal cases and motions, when you’re called upon in class to do that. Logic games — well, those might not have a direct application in law school, but they probably made you a more organized and process-oriented thinker, which will certainly help you.
Or, if you’d prefer, you can simply forget about the LSAT after you take it. That’s cool too. Many people do that, and have happy and successful legal careers.
And even if — I know we’re trying to focus on the positives here, but let’s just say hypothetically, in the worst-case scenario — even if Saturday goes poorly, there’s always next time. We’ve talked about this before, but you won’t really be penalized for having more than one LSAT score. And if you’re still worried about having more than one LSAT score, and you know the test goes really, really poorly, you can always cancel your score. This test really can’t hurt you or your ambitions of going to law school.
So, take stock of how far you come, and imagine how far you will eventually go in the legal field, and use that to motivate you next Saturday. And most of all, good luck.
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