Manhattan Prep LSAT Blog

Speeding Up On the LSAT

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A lot of folks struggle with timing on the LSAT.  Clearly, if the test were un-timed, we’d all find it a lot easier.  Since we have only 35 minutes per section, if you’re having trouble finishing on time, it’s important to address your pacing.

There are several reasons folks struggle with pacing:

1. Not enough full practice under time conditions. If you’re just starting out, your mind is probably not used to the pace at which it needs to work.  I know that I generally equate a good read with a slow read — but that simply doesn’t work for the LSAT.  You probably can speed up considerably by just telling yourself to speed up!  From now on, every problem you try should be done with a stopwatch.  Also make sure you’re throwing in full practice tests along the way.  Don’t wait until you’re done learning all your strategies to work on your speed.

2. Ineffective strategies. Some ways of tackling problems would work just fine if the LSAT were untimed but breakdown under time pressure.   For example, in logic games, writing out all the possible scenarios doesn’t work for the vast majority of games.  In reading comprehension, you simply do not have enough time to do a full re-read.   In logical reasoning, you can’t wait until you’ve read the question to start thinking critically about an argument you’ve already read — you need to be reading critically from the outset.

This problem turns up more frequently with folks who are not using a book to study with, though even those who are in a course can fall prey to this problem if they don’t do timed practice, which often forces them to realize that they must indeed use the strategies they’re learning about. Read more

LSAT Re-take Considerations & How to improve your LSAT score.

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From various questions I’ve received, I’ve created this flowchart to help folks organize their thoughts (and laugh):


Take with a grain of salt, but not too much

The June 2007 LSAT Results – The Dinosaur Game

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Folks are starting to get their scores back, and we’re facing a volley of questions.

Should I Re-Take the LSAT?
The most common—of those who aren’t so excited about their score—is whether to re-take or not.  That depends on a lot of factors, which we spelled out in the last blog entry.  In short, if you’re not competitive for the schools to which you’d be happy to go, and you have legitimate reasons to think there are more points on the table for you, then go for it.  But make sure you dig deep with your prep this summer.  We’re going to spell out a few re-take or not scenarios in our upcoming Review the June LSAT Workshop.

The Dinosaur Game Explanation
The second set of questions is about how to solve the Dinosaur game.  I could spell out a diagram and solution explanation here, but if you struggled with that, learning how to solve that specific game is not the issue.  Plenty of people were able to nail that game, so how come they did and you didn’t?  If you did a lot of prep work, then most likely the difference is that they were flexible in their approach and didn’t freeze up.  There are a lot of overall lessons to be drawn from that game.  If you’re interested in going over it with us, come to our Review the June LSAT Workshop and see what you can learn from that game.

Should I re-take the LSAT?

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Good question! As most everyone knows, many law schools are only honoring your top LSAT score.  This tends to be more true as you descend the rankings, but there are also top-tier schools that claim to do this as well.  I just attended a conference of pre-law advisors and admissions officers and learned that there is a lot of variety in approaches to applications.  Some turn a blind eye to the problematic score, others try to figure out the “story” behind the multiple tests. One interesting fact is how little people generally improve between tests.  While we’re clearly going to benefit from those who look at their LSAT score and decide they should have taken a course, for the majority of folks, they only improve a few points.  To break that re-take score barrier, unless you either really did not prepare for your first test or you had a panic attack (or horrible proctor and testing experience), you’re going to have to dig deep.  Whatever you did to prepare the first time did not work! Some issues to consider once you receive your score: Read more

June 2009 LSAT – Logic Game Tips

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If you took the June 2009 LSAT, or if you’re reading the blogs, you have no doubt be thinking about one particular feisty logic game. Since it’s bad form to talk about LSAT question specifics, let’s keep this extremely general.

From what my sources tell me about the especially tricky game, what made it particularly difficult was the number of issues at play. Basically, the LSAT took elements of various game types and threw them together. The diagram, therefore, provided few people the big break-through inferences they hoped for. This is common of more complex 3-D ordered numbering games. The takeaway is to prepare to be unprepared. Strict executors, as usual, are punished. LSAT logic games mastery is all about flexibility.

The other big issue that people reported was that there was not enough room on one game to write out all the diagrams.  That’s a tough one!  It goes to show you that you must practice with real LSAT questions — and without scratch paper.   Practice writing small!

In a class I taught last night, I was very impressed with how the students showed how a generally “clunkier” strategy (spelling out scenarios to eliminate on a “must be true” question) actually worked extremely well for a certain question – it actually worked faster than a more “elegant” solution of following the inference chain. This sort of refusal to accept orthodoxy is ideal. The key to working on this is to re-play games in different ways. See if you can do it faster a different way. Don’t become a logic game dinosaur.

Try out this game to flex your muscles: //www.manhattanprep.com/lsat/lsat-logic-game-9.cfm and take a look at our LSAT Logic Game Strategy Guide to see some other tips: www.manhattanprep.com/lsat/lsat-books.cfm

Final LSAT Tips

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June 8th is just a few days away, and people are often asking for final tips about test day.  Here are a few to add to the mix:

1.  Easy does it.  Don’t take any preptests within the last two days.  The brain is a muscle, let it rest.  Take a few timed sections on Saturday, a few untimed on Sunday, and watch a stupid movie on Sunday night.  On Monday morning, re-do one easy logic game on your way to the test center to get your brain moving.

2. Pack-up the night before.  Get all your pencils sharpened, print out the ticket (and make sure your printer doesn’t cut off any part of the ticket), and find that analog watch your dad gave you years ago.  Make sure you know how to get to your testing center – there’s nothing worse than freaking out on your way to the test.  Plan to arrive early and to enjoy a coffee outside while you do a crossword puzzle or something that is fun and slightly intellectual.

3. Eliminate, eliminate, eliminate, eliminate.  On all but the easiest problems in LR and RC, you should generally eliminate 4 answers.  If you’re going down the answer choice list, and (B) seems to be the answer, act suspicious – assume you’ve been duped – and go and look at the rest of the answer choices, seeing if you can eliminate them.  It’s too easy to “shut down” your brain once you think you’ve found the answer.

4. Move along.  If you are stuck on a question, take comfort in the fact that most everyone around you is probably struggling with that question too!  Some of your neighbors will spend 4 minutes on that one question, and others will move on and devote time to questions they can tackle.  Those who move on probably will do better and keep their cool.  So, make an educated guess, bubble it in, circle the question number, and move on.  If you have time, come back to it. Read more

Manhattan LSAT vs. Kaplan LSAT

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The most obvious and important difference between Kaplan and Manhattan LSAT is how each company ensures teacher quality.

Teacher Quality
Kaplan generally requires LSAT instructors to hold a 163 or higher on an LSAT, which may be administered by them, while we require our teachers to have a 99th percentile score (172 or higher) on an officially-administered LSAT.Kaplan’s does offer an “LSAT extreme” class for which teachers must hold a 95th percentile score (166). I think that says it all about the score requirement issue.All of our teachers must have a top score.

Selection
But, as we’ve seen many times in auditions, scoring well on a test is one thing, being able to teach others how to get to that level is another.We’re extremely careful about who we hire.Here’s a break-down of the audition process: Read more

The LSAT Essay: What It Is and How to Write It

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Manhattan Prep LSAT - The LSAT Essay: What It Is and How to Write ItWe incorporate the latest discoveries in learning science into our LSAT course to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of your prep. Want to see? Try the first session of any of our upcoming courses for free.


If you’re like many LSAT test-takers, the thought of writing a timed essay on an unfamiliar topic makes you feel a bit queasy. This is understandable. However, a little familiarity and preparation can go a long way. Let’s discuss the logistics of the essay section, and then we’ll talk about some strategies for organizing and writing your LSAT essay. Read more

LSAT Study Tips

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Top Five Tips for Studying for the LSAT

1.       Practice As You Play. Don’t go into test day with only one or two practice tests under your belt. Make sure you do a minimum of five practice tests – and do those under actual timed conditions with only one short break between sections three and four.  Since the LSAC (the company that writes and administers the LSAT) adds an extra, experimental section to everyone’s test, make sure to add in your own extra section to simulate the actual length of the exam.

2.       Wrong Isn’t Everything. Most students only review the questions they answered incorrectly on their practice tests.  Instead, as you take your practice test note the questions that give you trouble or take too long.  Give those questions extra review along with the ones you get wrong.  In short, if you’re not confident about your answer, consider it a “mistake,” and learn from it.

3.       Work from Wrong to Right. For the logical reasoning and reading comprehension sections, note which answers you can easily eliminate, and leave unmarked those which are somewhat attractive to you.  When you review your work, go back and figure out why each tempting wrong answer is wrong.  There are only so many ways to create an attractive incorrect answer.  Learn the different types of wrong answers and you’ll find it much easier to eliminate them going forward.  Top test-takers generally focus on eliminating wrong answers since the correct answer may be far from ideal but be the last one standing.

4.       Play it Again. One of the most under-utilized study techniques for logic games is to re-solve them a second and third time.  When you face a tough game, review it soon afterwards to consider what you wished you had done.  Figure out the diagram you wish you had made and what inferences did you overlook.  Then let the game sit for a week and then try it again.  This can dramatically improve your speed.

5.       Give it a Break. The 3-day marathon before test day isn’t the best idea!  Don’t take any full-length practice tests within the week preceding test day.  Your brain is a muscle, and it needs to rest.  The last few days should include only a couple hours of practice work, and the night before, watch Legally Blonde to get your mind off the big day.