Last week I wrote about the importance of accuracy over speed.
Not only does an accuracy-first approach fare better for today’s score, it also positions you for future improvement. No matter where you are in your LSAT journey—whether you’re just starting and trying to break 140, or you’re already near the finish line and trying to tack on another couple points for your 170-plus—the only thing you ever need to worry about is the question right in front of you.
In other words, don’t try to do the next one until you’ve gotten this one right.
If you’re careful, you’ll find that the vast majority of LSAT questions make perfect sense and are perfectly solvable. Consider this email we received last week from a current LSAT Demon student:
Reaching out for some mindset advice. I’ve been feeling myself really learning in the last month. I’ve repeatedly gotten 22/23 I attempt on LR, 24/27 in RC, and 20/23 on games. Last week I got a 167 for the first time after being stuck in the low 160s for a long time. However, I’m finding myself making excuses for doing well. I’m finding it difficult to believe I am doing as well as I am. Any advice on how to talk myself into believing that I’m putting in the work and it’s coming to fruition?
That’s right—the test has started making so much sense to this student that she has a hard time believing that it’s real.
It’s not uncommon. Once students commit to the idea that they can carefully solve each question, one at a time, the entire test opens up to them. Commonly, they achieve their first perfect section of games, after two or three months of study, and email me: “But that was an easy section, right?”
My answer: “Yep—easy for you, because you’re good at the games now.”
The big secret here: They’re all easy.
In a typical section of LR, there are maybe one or two questions that give an LSAT expert pause. And the expert still gets even those tougher questions right. Maybe we’re not in love with the correct answer, but the wrong answers are even worse. We refuse to pick any of those, and eventually we narrow it down to the right one.
Some logic games are more complex than others. But they all have one thing in common: On every logic game ever released, all of the required information is right there on the page. Once the information has been organized, there is no doubt which answers are right and which answers are wrong.
Reading comprehension, in some ways, is the easiest section of all. The only thing the test makers are ever testing here is “did you understand what you just read?” The passage is a collection of all of the right answers. The questions, for the most part, simply ask you over and over whether you understood the overall point of the passage. Every question has a correct answer that can be justified by information on the page. Again, it’s all right there in front of you.
The bulk of our points need to come from the easier questions that appear at the beginning of each section.
To score 150, on the most recent official scoring scale, you need 39 points—an average of 13 on each scored section. As I wrote last time, accuracy is far more important than speed. If you devote your entire 35 minutes to just the first 10 questions in each section, that’ll get the job done. You’ll get those 10 correct—they’re the easy ones, and you’ll have carefully solved each one—and you’ll have guessed on the remaining 15 questions. Those 15 guesses turn into 3 free points, on average. You’ll have done less work and gotten paid more—a total of 13 points on the section and a score of 150 on the LSAT.
When you can do this, you’ll start realizing how easy the test actually is. If you just take your time, you start getting 100% of the questions you attempt correct. Then you can think about the next step.
To score 160, you need 54 total questions correct on the most recent test. That’s an average of 18 per section. Again, the calm approach is the easiest. Do 16 questions with near-perfect accuracy, and guess on the remaining questions. There’s your 160.
At this level, you start to encounter some of the medium-difficulty questions that appear in the middle of each section. But, if you’re focused on accuracy, you realize that these questions, too, are actually easy. Yes, they require careful attention. But there’s only one answer that conceivably answers any question, and the four wrong answers are trash. When you do 16 questions per section, you still guess on all of the test’s hardest questions, but you beat over 75 percent of all test-takers on the 120–180 scale.
And you’re well justified in looking for more.
To score 170 (a score achieved by about three in one hundred), you need about 22 points per section. The easiest way to do this, by far, is to be perfect on the ones you attempt. You tackle some of the test’s hardest questions at this level, but not all of them—you’re comfortable with a few guesses at the end of each section because you’re confident that you’re going to get paid for all of the work you do. The hard ones require even more time and attention—if you try to rush, you’re sure to fall into carefully laid traps.
You should only consider each next step if you’ve built a rock-solid foundation on the step below.
To score 180 (a score achieved by maybe one in one thousand), you need to get virtually every question on the test correct. On the most recent scoring scale, you could make just a single mistake on the entire test and still score 180.
At every level, it’s critical that you are perfect at the beginning of each section. It’s much easier to make the leap from 150 to 160 if you never make mistakes on the first 10 questions. It’s nearly impossible to go from 160 to 170 if you ever make mistakes on the first 15. If you’re going to score 180, you’re going to need to be perfect on the entire test.
At every level, no matter what your long-term goal is, you should focus on accuracy on the questions you attempt. Otherwise, you miss the easy ones in a rush to tackle the harder ones.
Eventually, if you remain vigilant about your accuracy, you’ll have an experience like the one I shared at the top of this email. You’ll score higher than you’ve ever scored before, and you’ll do it without breaking a sweat. When you do, feel free to celebrate. It won’t have been “an easy test”—you’ll just have realized how easy they all are.
Thank you for your feedback on these LSAT lessons. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org—I’d love to hear your thoughts. Oh, and for the next four weeks, I’m holding a free April 2021 LSAT-Flex study group on Zoom. All you need is a Demon Free (or paid) account. I hope you’ll join me and help spread the word.
Next week, I’ll write about mastering the LSAT in just one hour per day.