Your Instincts Can Betray You on the LSAT
- May 04, 2017
- General LSAT Advice, LSAT
Gather ‘round, children, and let me tell you a parable:
Once upon a time, there was a very smart LSAT student. This student took her diagnostic test, got a solid score, and dutifully began to work through the lessons of her Blueprint LSAT course.
As the lessons went on, her instructor kept pointing out certain techniques that the student ought to be using—but the student realized that she was getting the questions right even without using those techniques, because she could usually just figure out what answer choice seemed the most right.
Since her own methods were already working just fine, it seemed like more trouble than it was worth to implement her instructor’s methods. So the student kept figuring out questions based on what answer choice felt right, and her score continued to climb.
As the LSAT approached, though, the student realized that her score had stopped rising. She began to despair. Not knowing where else to turn, she journeyed seven days and seven nights to reach the LSAT guru, who lives on the highest peak of the farthest mountains.
“Oh, LSAT guru, please help me!” she said. “It’s two weeks before the LSAT and my score isn’t changing at all.”
The LSAT guru looked down from her perch, cleared her throat, and said, “Well, are you always following the method?”
“No!” said the student. “But I’ve never needed to! I get most things right anyway.”
The guru gazed down benevolently and said: “My child, you must follow the method! Diagram all conditional statements. Always anticipate the answer before moving to the answer choices. And remember: wax on, wax off.” Then she disappeared in a puff of smoke, never to be seen again.
Anyway, I just found this parable on a stone tablet and thought it might be relevant to some of you. Pretty wild, huh?
But in all seriousness, a lot of smart students tend to fall into this trap. As we go through the course, particularly since we start with easier questions, the students find that they’re able to accurately answer the questions just by going with their gut.
However, as the questions get harder, these same students frequently find that they’re getting those questions wrong. That’s because you might be able to figure out an easy question based on instinct, but the harder questions are intentionally written to trick you based on those instincts.
That’s why it’s important to practice the methods early in the course, even if you feel that you could find the right answer based on what feels right. As you get into the trickier questions, answers that “feel” right often end up being wrong, and you’ll need to be able to differentiate between the wrong and right answers when that time comes.
We get it—relearning how to approach questions is hard, and reviewing questions you got wrong to figure out exactly what’s going on is even harder. But the more you practice, the better you’ll get, and you’ll find that you end up getting questions right much more consistently—and you won’t even need to make the arduous journey to the LSAT guru’s perch in order to figure that out.
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