It’s been fairly well established that when the economy is in a recession, LSAT test-takers dramatically increases. Who knows what the future holds in a post-covid world, but if previous recessions are any indicator, there should be an increase in how many people take the LSAT.
The question this article asks is: should you be someone who takes the LSAT?
Countless resources exist detailing how to ace or pass or nail the LSAT. I am not qualified to write that article. Technically, you can’t pass or fail the LSAT, but my score of 147 in 2010 was in the 33rd percentile, so classify that as you wish.
This is an article for people with an interest in taking the LSAT, but if they go about it as I did, should possibly reconsider.
This is how someone can almost certainly fail the LSAT … in 5 minutes.
What is a good LSAT score?
If you’re a relatively poor test taker, one of the first things you might try to do is figure out how many questions you can miss on the LSAT and still obtain an “average score.” I likely spent too much time trying to game what a good score for me would be, opposed to just trying to become fully confident as an LSAT test taker. I don’t recommend you make this same mistake.
FYI, The average LSAT Score is 151
About 150,000 people register to take the LSAT every year, with the average reported score being 151 out of a possible 180. In order to get an average LSAT score, you’ll need to miss no more than 25 to 30 questions out of a possible 100 questions.
How to fail the LSAT
You don’t fail the LSAT because you are stupid. You fail the LSAT because you don’t program yourself to think a certain way. The LSAT is meant to expose your testing insecurities. How can a simple law school admission test do that? Simple: it is EXTREMELY FAST and full of 60% fluff. It gets you to doubt yourself through convoluted word speak and number games and sets a timer to see how well you can block out the one thing every human is prone to: distraction.
That said …
Don’t Ignore the LSAT testing environment
Everyone tells you to take practice test after practice test, but there’s one thing you really can’t practice: the location where you’ll take the LSAT.
When I first took the LSAT, I arrived incredibly early, waited outside in the cold for about an hour, only to move into a testing room where at that point I just wanted to stave off the common cold.
The second time around was at a Hotel Ballrooom. I sat at a table for 90 minutes before the test even started as hundreds of people were checked into a room big enough for two medium-sized weddings.
You’ll be hungry. You’ll probably have to use the bathroom. It seems like it’s always cold in the room. You need to be confident that nailing the LSAT is a formality, or else these environmental factors are going to get the best of you.
…like they did me.
Don’t take an LSAT Study class
“Bad test takers” are basically people who aren’t confident with the concept of testing. Soft skills, communication, or writing might be their thing. But tests exercise a different muscle and often cause them to second guess their answers. What’s more, the LSAT is designed almost exclusively to get you to fight over two answers that are painstakingly similar.
LSAT study classes will help condition you to recognize the wrong answers in a way self-studying simply cannot. Not taking an LSAT course put me behind the 8-ball as I didn’t utilize the people who basically created the exam. I lacked confidence on test day and got smoked because of it.
An LSAT Study Course might not have been the panacea but it’s a widely available asset that at the very least could have given me 4-5 extra points and out of the “140s.”
Take less than 5 LSAT practice exams
At 3.5 hours, the LSAT is long. Add in the requisite LSAT testing environment I mentioned above, and you’re talking about a 6-hour day.
It’s simply just not conceivable for 80%-90% of us to get a good score on the LSAT without simulating a 4-hour test consistently. I probably took 4 practice tests and completed 3 of those. That might be enough for certain minds wired to understand convetional testing tactics. But that amount of practice tests is simply just not enough and my score reflected that.
How many LSAT practice tests should you take?
I can’t imagine someone taking 5-10 practice tests seriously and not getting at least an average score. You’re running a marathon. The only way to ensure you cross the finish line with a respectable time is to run a few before the real thing.
Not all LSAT tests are the same
For those that are not privy, the LSAT is offered four times a year. Each of those four tests is different than the others, which means certain tests will conceivably be easier than the others.
Focusing on certain strengths you seem to identify (e.g. logic games) while mailing in other sections (say Reading Comprehension) can cost you come test day. All it will take is getting a particularly hard set of logic questions to throw your “game plan” off. I’ve taken the LSAT twice, and while I didn’t do great, the logic games were considerably easier on one test versus the other. This is where taking 5 to 10 practice tests is imperative—you’ll not only better identify your strengths, but you’ll bring up your weaker areas.
Don’t create a rigid study schedule
There’s studying for the LSAT, then there’s creating a plan of attack. Think of it like you’re trying to lose 15 pounds in 4 months. It’s not going to be a last-minute crash course as much as it is sticking to a consistent schedule over time.
Of the 142,000 people who registered for the LSAT in 2019, 10,000 of those didn’t show up. Another 15,000 who took the test, didn’t want their score reported (they basically forfeited).
So perhaps the best study guide to passing the LSAT is the one that allows you to realize if the taking LSAT is really for you.
- Do you want to be a lawyer or do you want to go to law school?
In my experience, the LSAT is very much about how well you can understand and FOLLOW the rules. From what I know about being a professional lawyer, that is no accident.
- Are you someone “bad at taking tests”
The LSAT doesn’t draw on any real-world knowledge or your desire to argue and prove your merit as a truth seeker.
- Did you decide to take the LSAT less than 3 months ago?
Anything shorter than a 12 week LSAT study program is likely too short. I gave myself 10 or so weeks thinking that’d be enough time, but it’s simply too difficult to develop the test-taking skills in less than 3 months.
Taking the GMAT won’t give you an edge (the GMAT is mainly math-based). Having another grad degree likely won’t matter. 10 weeks means you have 3-4 weeks to become familiar with what sections encompass the test. Then 5-6 weeks to take at least 5 practice tests. A practice test
I’m obviously not an LSAT expert, Mike Kim is the best from what I’ve interacted with. Who knows, if I didn’t read his book, I likely would have done even worse.
Either way, hopefully my experience can resonate with enough people take the test seriously or else save your money and your Saturday.