I don’t get enough emails. You should email me! I’m firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’d love to hear what you think of these lessons. Ask a question, make a comment—I’m here to help.
Here’s one that just came in:
I am a long-time Thinking LSAT podcast listener and have been studying for the LSAT for the past 12 months. My most recent months of study have been through the Demon. At the moment I am feeling defeated and frustrated, and I hope you guys can provide words of encouragement. I took the test last November and scored a 163. After Christmas I began to study again and took the test this past April. I moved up only one point. I feel like a hamster in a wheel. I have the games down. I’m missing 2-4 questions on LR (lots of room for improvement there I know). And I’m missing between 6-9 questions on RC. I desperately want this to be over in August so I can focus elsewhere. My issue is not the number of hours I put in or my work ethic; rather it seems to be the way I am studying. I think part of the reason I am not improving is due to my comprehension speed on RC and partially on LR. Anway, I know I’m supposed to review one question at a time and understand the root of why I made two mistakes (picking the wrong answer and not picking the right one). I guess I am looking for words of encouragement or how I should best utilize the next two months.
Thanks for writing. I’m sorry you’re feeling defeated and frustrated. But I’m more of a tough-love guy than a words-of-encouragement guy. There’s a lot here that worries me. I’ll take it piece by piece.
I took the test last November and scored a 163. After Christmas I began to study again and took the test this past April.
A score of 163’s not bad—but this student wanted more. That’s great! But this student made several tactical mistakes.
The November LSAT was in the beginning of November. This student waited at least a month and a half—likely, two months or more—before resuming study. This flouts the advice we always give on the Thinking LSAT Podcast and at LSAT Demon. Law schools care only about your highest score, so there’s a big incentive to take the test multiple times. Students should plan ahead for multiple consecutive attempts. It’s a mistake not to study for three weeks while waiting for results. It’s an even bigger mistake to wait weeks or months after results come out to get back on the horse. This student skipped the February LSAT, which was a third mistake. I’m glad you’ve been listening to the podcast, studying with the Demon, and writing to us for advice. But dude—please take the advice we constantly give!
Once you’re ready for your first official LSAT, take each consecutive LSAT until you achieve a score that reflects your full potential.
I moved up only one point [to 164]. I have the games down. I’m missing 2-4 questions on LR. And I’m missing between 6-9 questions on RC.
Scoring 164 is a step in the right direction—congratulations on that. Baby steps are good! But this math doesn’t add up. If you’re perfect on games, minus 2 to 4 on LR, and minus 6 to 9 on RC, that should be a minus 8 (171) on a good day and a minus 13 (166) on your worst day. So, where’s the 164 coming from? Are you actually perfect on the games? Might you be a bit worse at LR and/or RC than you’re fessing up to? If you really want to improve, you can’t fall victim to wishful thinking. You need to be honest about your weaknesses and ask for specific help.
I think part of the reason I am not improving is due to my comprehension speed on RC and partially on LR.
“Comprehension speed”? That’s not something that a longtime Thinking LSAT / LSAT Demon student should say. It’s actually an oxymoron. “Comprehension” means “understanding,” and that’s not something that can be rushed. I bet your entire problem on RC (and, to a lesser extent, LR) is that you’re still thinking about speed, trying to rush to the finish, instead of actually understanding what you’re reading. This flies in the face of every last bit of advice we’ve ever given. Speed comes from accuracy. Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. I’ve written and podcasted about this over and over and over. See also here, here, and here. This is Thinking LSAT / LSAT Demon 101. If you actually understand what you read, the questions will get easier and you’ll start to go fast. Refusal to take this advice fully on board will forever prevent you from reaching your LSAT goals.
Stop reaching for speed before you actually understand.
I desperately want this to be over in August so I can focus elsewhere.
Oh no—this is the part that worries me the most. This student already skipped the February LSAT and has now also skipped June. He “desperately wants it to be over,” but he hasn’t taken the steps that would allow him to get it over with as efficiently as possible. And he seems to be ignoring the critical fact that the LSAT is the primary determinant of where he’ll go to school—and how much he’ll pay to go there. It’s the foundation of his legal career, and it sounds like he’s about to settle for a half-assed job. Can you imagine a building contractor looking at a cracked foundation, saying “welp, we’ve been at it for so long already,”—despite repeated, extended breaks—“and I desperately want this job to be over, so let’s just call it good”?
Settling for anything less than your best on the LSAT is building your legal career on a shaky foundation.
I understand the desire for it to be over. Nobody wants to live with the LSAT forever—except for me, of course. But we have to deal with what actually is, not what we hope for. You’re allowed to take the LSAT five times within the current and five previous testing years. Don’t make the tragic mistake of treating August as the be-all and end-all of your LSAT career. We’ve sent people to Yale, for God’s sake, who took the LSAT five times. Law schools care only about your highest score. If you’re not willing to exhaust your five attempts, are you sure you really want to be a lawyer? What is this “elsewhere” that is so worthy of your focus that you’re willing to settle for a mediocre LSAT, a mediocre law school, and a mountain of debt?
I’m sorry for the tough love, but if you’ve been listening to Thinking LSAT and studying in the Demon for a year, none of this should come as any surprise. Maybe you just needed to be told directly?