Monday, June 15, 2009

the lsat chonicles - test prep

Even though the results are not out for the June LSAT as yet, I wanted to write a little more about the test prep class I took and how it differed from when I was doing it on my own.

(I found this little gem after I started at Kaplan, and it was very helpful for both LSAT prep and law school admissions. I really couldn't find a more comprehensive blog about the LSAT anywhere else, and I really looked.)

I started my own prep late last year. I bought a Kaplan 2009 prep book and got it going with a friend. It was slow going. If I'd found Steve's blog at that time, I could have used some of the study methods he set out, but I was just plodding along.

I took a couple of prep tests in the meantime. One from and Kaplan and one from Princeton Review. I finished all the sections (there were no writing samples on these tests and only four sections) and scored the exact same on both. They were not bad scores for someone doing the test for the very first time but all of my work was instinct and not really based on any understanding of what I was doing.

Reading Comprehension was the easiest for me, but I read entire passages and absorbed everything. Logic Games and Logical Reasoning were pretty foreign and I wasn't always sure what I was doing.

I began to do some research into prep classes. I very quickly ruled out all but the big two. I chose Kaplan because the other one was just disorganized. They also didn't use real LSAT questions. I also went to a seminar they hosted and the woman kept pronouncing "recommendation" as "reeCOMendation" although she pronounced "recommend" correctly. That really grated on my every nerve.

I attended a couple of Kaplan seminars and was pleased with what I saw. I signed up for Kaplan Extreme and began my journey to law school in ernest.

I really got a lot out of the course. Every section was broken down and every question type identified. That alone was so much help. In the actual test, I found myself automatically identifying question type in LR and knowing exactly what to look for. Even better, I could rule out answer choices immediately.

I discovered a more constructive way to take the test. The word "triage" is now stuck in my brain. Tutor himself carved a space in my head for that because he never let us forget how important it was to take a minute and look at the games and RC passages and determine the order in which they should be done. At first I thought this was done by personal choice, but not so. By the actual test, it was automatic and became a part of time-management.

Not to say that there wasn't a pitfall. The LG section in the June 2009 test was no picnic and there was no way around doing what I did. I didn't finish and that killed me. I have no idea how I put that mess behind me and carried on, but I did. For the record, dinosaurs suck!

But there was no question I was better prepared for even that on the day of the test than people who studied on their own. The guy next to me and the number of people canceling their scores were evidence of that.

At the same time, being better prepared might not translate into a good score. Much like the politician in "The Suffrage of Elvira", I don't want to jinx myself. I have no idea how I did. Some mornings I wake up and feel very good about everything, even fucking dinosaurs. And other mornings I wake up and wonder if I should sign up for the September test now.