Manhattan Prep LSAT Blog

Negating Assumptions on the LSAT

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Learning to negate answer choices on the LSAT is a key skill if you are really looking to push up your score, for lots of reasons. I tend to think there are two especially important ones. First, assumption questions (and one of the most-related question type, flaw questions) are quite common, and many students find it’s difficult to get all of the most challenging assumption questions correct without using the negation test. Second, negation can be useful for thinking out counterfactuals on inference and strengthen/weaken questions – more on this another time. Today, I’ll be writing about how to negate in general terms. In another blog post, I’ll get into specifics. Read more

February LSAT 2010: Man vs. Machine

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The February LSAT gets a bad rep for no good reason.  I assure you, it’s just another LSAT (which may or may not make it worth a bad rep), but for one of my students the test was fine, but the test-center was awful.  After an unexpected re-assignment to a location in a galaxy far, far away, my student — let’s call him Luke — found himself in a large auditorium.  OK, that’s not so far out of the range of expectations.  But, these auditorium seats were not built for the LSAT.  The little flip-up desk seat was about half the size of the LSAT paper!  So, not only did the 80 or so victims in there have to deal with the LSAT, but they were subjected to a constant spatial-relations puzzle/dance-dance revolution game in which you scored points by being able to keep your test on the table so that you could actually  bubble in your answers.

Alright, perhaps he’s a whiner.  When I was a kid we had to take the LSAT in a pool, walking uphill.  But then partway through the first section – RC for him — the radiator started a John Cage piece.  Many a New Yorker is well-accustomed to falling asleep to the erratic — erotic? — banging of the building’s heating system, but apparently this one was so loud that the test-takers revolted and the proctors paused the test at the end of the section to bring in an engineer.  While the engineers calmed the angry beast, the hapless prisoner — at least those following the rules –were not allowed to go to the bathroom since this was not an “official” break.

At least 10% of the test-takers simply walked out of the room and canceled on the spot.  Luke tells me he couldn’t finish that first section, which is unheard of for him, though he totally rocked the rest of the exam.  Alas Luke, go and seek your LSAT destiny in June!  And for everyone else, read up on your testing site (and rate yours) on this test-center-ranking site.

LSAT Vocabulary

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//lsatblog.blogspot.com/2010/01/logical-reasoning-vocabulary-words.html

I just saw a good blog post listing vocabulary words that you should have under your belt for the LSAT.   Take a look and see if you really know all of them.  Thanks for the list, Steve!

LSAT Classes in Houston

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Houston, Here We Come!

Houston, Here We Come!

Hey, we’re ready to mess with Texas!  We’ve added a great teacher to our ranks, Joey Ndu!  He’s a true test whiz with years of teaching experience and a really great demeanor in the classroom.  He’s a natural fit with our team, as he works hard to get students to figure out things for themselves.

We’re looking for a class location around University of Houston, and we’ll announce when we’ve found our home.  Stay tuned, Texas!

P.S. Austin is next . . .

Doing well on the LSAT means no excuses

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As the February LSAT quickly approaches, I have been fielding many calls from worried and anxious students each day here. To be fair, test anxiety is real and we all want to excel in areas where we have invested considerable time, mental energy, and money. The LSAT and all of its test-takers are no different. However, what I have been recommending to students is to keep in mind the concept of attribution theory, especially for all you Type-A students out there.

What this means in lay-man terms is (pardon the language):  Suck it up. Know what you can and can’t control. Be honest about your skills and your ability to excel. Be prepared for the worst because Murphy’s Law is alive and kicking.

I realize that this is much easier said than done, but cultivate your own fearlessness. Successful people do not believe in external attributions. Successful people believe that their successes are a result of 3 things: Read more

Getting A Great Job After Law School?

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This past weekend the New York Times had a sobering article explaining that law school is “No Longer the Golden Ticket.”  Many people somehow assumed the the legal field was immune to the economic downturn.  “Well, Wall Street is dead for now,” people thought, “so I’ll go for law school.  Not as glamorous, but at least the money’s there.”

Turns out that big law firms are laying off big time and are not hiring many if any new lawyers.  In fact, we’re seeing a lot of resumes of law school grads that are looking for something to do during their “gap year.”  Overall, these folks are not making the Atlas cut, but many are quite bright.  Interestingly, often they’ve been hired by some law firm and then told to not show up for a year and instead do something community-oriented (and these folks receive half their salaries, which is still a nice chunk of change).  This sounds like a pretty good deal considering what many large law firms have young associates doing for the first couple of years (cue shot of Igor, the hunchback in old Frankenstein film creeping in the basement).  As we see it, the problem is that when the economy picks up and folks start suing and merging with each other with gusto again, law firms will probably pick up their half-way house hires and hold off on taking new ones for a year or so.  Basically, there’s a lawyer log jam.  [Yes, that sounds like the end of a good lawyer joke.]  Particularly since there’s been a 20% increase in LSAT test-takers this year! Read more

Should I Re-Take the LSAT in February?

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Good question! First off, we’ll be discussing this in our upcoming workshop in which we’ll review the December LSAT.

If you’re just looking to take an LSAT, it doesn’t matter which one you take — just take it after you’ve prepared!  But if you already have taken the LSAT and are wondering whether to re-take, there’s a lot more to say.  The question of whether you should re-take in June, Sep/Oct, or Dec  has one set of answers.  If you are wondering whether to re-take in one of those non-February months, take a look at some previous posts – should I re-take the LSAT & how to improve your LSAT score.   But for February you get a special set of answers just for you!

In general, the answer is NO.  Here’s why (and thanks to Ann Levine for some help on this one):

1. It’s hard to improve an LSAT score significantly in one month. Caveats: if you truly had a bad day on test day, and having such a day is completely out of the ordinary for you, sure, a re-test could conceivably show serious improvement.  But, so you know, most people don’t improve that much.  For example, the average person who re-takes the LSAT with a score between 150 and 160 improves only 2.4 points on the re-take (and the re-take improvement gets worse as you go up the score ladder).  For most people, those 2.4 points are not enough to significantly alter your application — and for most folks, those 2 and almost a half points definitely do not warrant a re-take because . . . Read more

Getting A Top LSAT Score

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Whenever I met new students I used to ask them what their “goal scores” were.  I ended up hearing “180!” a bit too often, so I switched to asking this: “What is the minimum score you’d be satisfied with (and not take the LSAT again)?”  This question provided a better sense of the student’s goals.   So, the true goal is to get YOUR top LSAT score.  We’d all like to get 180s, but it’s just not possible for us all to realize that dream.  If you disagree, I also have a bridge to sell you.

So, this strategy/pep talk is for those who are nearing LSAT game day and are not scoring a 180.  Let’s say you’re scoring 168-170 on your latest preptests, that means that you’re roughly missing 7-12 questions between the four “live” sections.  And let’s say you’re pretty strong with the games and RC – perhaps 1 wrong in each of those usually — but you miss 3 – 5 in each of the LR sections.  If we’re a 6 weeks from the LSAT, there’s no reason whatsoever to assume that you can’t improve on that, but if you’re 3 weeks from test day, it’s time to face the facts: you’re probably going to score within the lower range of your recent preptests.  So, at that point, if you’re not happy with such a score, do not take the LSAT!

If you are happy with that 168, then start practicing getting your top score.  This means that you should practice getting ~10 questions wrong.  Most importantly, practice making those 10 incorrect the 10 questions you find difficult.  In other words, don’t get easy questions wrong and don’t leave yourself rushing on tough questions that are within your reach.  Instead, take educated guesses on the really tough questions that you know — through experience — you’re probably not going to get right.  If you allow yourself to do that — instead of throwing 2-3 minutes after that question — you’ve bought yourself some time for the challenging question that is within your reach.

If you practice taking the test this way, you are much more likely to find yourself scoring at the top of your practice range instead of towards your bottom.

LSAT Nerd

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Nerds

In case you feel like you’ve become a serious nerd, look how bad it gets around here.  Chris Ryan of ManhattanGMAT and me.  (Reminds me of Rain Man. )

Is the February LSAT Harder?

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Chill Out

Chill Out

No.

Stop worrying about this sort of stuff — get back to studying for the LSAT.  While you’re at it, don’t worry about:

1. When your experimental section happens (sometime in the first 3 sections)

2. Whether it’s a good testing center.

3. The curve this year.

4. Whether to start with (A) or (E).

5. All questions emanating from reality shows, unless it’s an LSAT-related show, which to my knowledge, has not yet been developed.

With love . . .