Saturday, September 30, 2006

Back in Session

I stopped posting last month when it occurred to me that if I found myself sitting at my desk at home with enough free time to write a column, then I ought to be spending that time studying for the LSAT. So I did — and today, I took the test.

When I took the Kaplan course in the spring, I couldn't raise my score above 170. That pissed me off. Maybe it's childish, but I felt like the test was 'beating' me; so I postponed my test date from June until September and I drew up a new preparation plan using Kaplan's extra materials (which included 12 full-length tests and every LSAT section that's ever been released). The good news is, I succeeded. In every practice test I took in recent weeks, I scored above 170.

Then on Friday, something broke. I froze in the middle of a logic game section. It was probably a mistake to drill myself on the day before the test; I should have just let my confidence ride and taken the day off. But I calmed myself, I finished the test, and I reminded myself that I had been working hard and achieved solid progress. I reassured myself with my sincere belief that chance favors the prepared mind.

LSAC rules prohibit disclosure of specific details about the test before its official release, and I'm not dumb enough to publicly disregard that warning on the World Wide Web — but there's a good story here, and if I remember, I'll tell it after the test's release. The bottom line is, Pasteur was right: Chance does favor the prepared mind, and sometimes it's damned uncanny to see that principle in action.

I've often said that you can't rehearse for a studio recording by playing live gigs. That little red light changes the dynamics of the entire system — and the same was true here. I don't feel like I did as well on this test as I have at home, although the conditions were otherwise identical, because there's something about Test Day™ that you just can't replicate. But that's OK. My preparation paid off; I'm certain that I scored better than I would have otherwise, and what's more, I felt prepared.

As I left the building afterward, I remarked to another student, "That's something we'll never have to do again, for the rest of our lives." That's a satisfying feeling. I'm not sure I broke 170, but I'm confident that I did well. The scores will be released in 3–4 weeks, which gives me time to arrange my letters of recommendation and polish my personal statement. In the meantime, study break is over. I'm back.


At December 04, 2008 12:10 PM, Blogger Stephen said...

What I redacted:

The second section of today's test was a logic game section, and I bombed it. I mean, I positively bombed it—probably half my answers in the final game were pure guesses. That's good enough to score above 160 (provided I held together on the other sections), but not 170. When the proctor called time, I took a deep breath and hoped that second section would prove to be experimental.

Every LSAT consists of five sections. The scored sections consist of one logic game section, one reading comprehension section, and two logical reasoning sections. The fifth is an unscored experimental section, which usually appears either second or third in your test booklet. It could be a logic game, or it could be something else. So if you have two logic game sections, then one will be unscored—and if one appears as Section 2 while the other is Section 4, then the former is probably unscored. But if the experimental section is something different, then you've only got one chance to get the logic games right.

So having bombed Section 2, I crossed my fingers and hoped to see another logic game—and wouldn't you know it, I opened Section 4 and that's exactly what I saw. The games weren't simple and I didn't ace it, but I did markedly better. And that just might have been enough.


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