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Studying for the LSAT / why i'm not into the new RC format
« on: February 15, 2007, 10:44:18 PM »
In a move that appears to slightly diminish the consistency of the LSAT, LSAC is now going to use a slightly different reading comprehension format.  In this format, two passages will appear, and the questions that follow will relate to differences and comparisons between the passages.  The new reading comprehension format can be seen in LSAC's practice test, starting on page 13 here:
http://www.lsac.org/pdfs/2007-2008/SamplePT07webrenumbered.pdf

This new format, while different from prior exams, is not a whole lot different from prior reading comprehension passages that present two viewpoints.  The questions relating to those reading sections are largely the same as the questions in the new reading comprehension question set.

Conceivably, this new format will make the LSAT more predictive of success in the world because much of law involves debates between two parties (defendant/plaintiff; Republican/Democrat, etc., etc.).  LSAC in fact indicates that testing the law school skill of comparing two competing views is a reason for having this new format.  The page with information about the changed format is here:
http://lsac.org/LSAC.asp?url=/lsac/changing-news.asp#LSAT_changes

But, LSAC could've continued testing in that manner with the prior format.  Maybe I'm a purist, but I don't think this change will make this standardized test more "standard", or even significantly better.  Students will have to purchase new study materials, perhaps visit LSAC's website to check out new information about the changes, maybe attend one of LSAC's fora, etc.  Students can't simply recycle 10 year old books with prior exams in them.  Hey, it's another reason to visit this forum & get the scoop!

If you don't mind a little profanity and gratuitous comments, on this board there's been a reasonably good discussion about this here:
http://www.lawschooldiscussion.org/prelaw/index.php/topic,82380.0.html

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Studying for the LSAT / the writing sample can only hurt, and not help
« on: February 08, 2007, 09:25:32 AM »
Here are some thoughts on a recent LSAC survey on the writing sample.  The fact that LSAC even did a survey on whether the writing sample is used AT ALL is further evidence that it doesn't help law school applicants.  Here are the numbers:

     How often do you use the current writing sample to evaluate a candidate’s qualifications for law school?
    Response     Count    % of Total
    Always    16    9.9%
    Frequently    41    25.3%
    Occasionally53    32.7%
    Seldom    41    25.3%
    Never    11    6.8%

the numbers above are at:
http://www.lsac.org/LSAC.asp?url=/lsac/changing-news.asp#Writing_Sample_Survey_Result

More than half of schools only use the writing sample AT ALL.  A further question is "When they do use the writing sample, how much of a difference does it make?"  Law schools operate as a group, with more of a "herd" mentality than you would think (this is why basically all the deans of law schools signed a statement critical of the U.S. News rankings).  They are all chasing after the same pool of undergrads.  The fact that more than half of law schools polled use the writing sample occasionally or less often is an indication that the rest don't take it that seriously when they do in fact take it into account.

Here's the zinger though: the U.S. News rankings don't take the writing sample into account.  This omission is what directly affects law schools.  A dean of the Univ. of Chicago lost his job in part because that school dropped a few notches on the U.S. News rankings one year.  I know of high profile schools taking concrete steps to move up the rankings (like sending out more applications, so that more people apply, so that more people get turned down, so that your selectivity rank in the rankings goes up).

Despite the fact that almost all deans signed the statement critical of the U.S. News rankings, I don't believe they are going to go against those rankings and use the writing sample over someone's LSAT score.  The most the writing sample can do is hurt a person when being compared to another person with the same LSAT score, and even then, it would be just one more factor among many others like work experience, undergrad major, etc.

LSAC puts the best picture on the results of the writing sample survey by saying:

According to a 2006 LSAC survey of 157 United States and Canadian law schools, almost all utilize the unscored LSAT writing sample in evaluating some applications for admission.

Almost all use the writing sample, but they don't use it in a significant way.  If you're an English major who enjoys writing, i wouldn't spend hardly any time on the writing sample.  If you're an engineer who hasn't written anything more than e mail with bad grammar, it would be good to practice the writing sample a little to keep yourself out of trouble.

Your LSAT score is the bottom line, and the writing sample won't change that.

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Studying for the LSAT / LSAT news
« on: February 05, 2007, 09:26:28 AM »
check out this collection of LSAT news:
http://comprehensivecolumbia.com/LSATnews/

The directory is here:
http://comprehensivecolumbia.com//newsdirectory.html

The place automatically pulls YouTube LSAT videos, although the LSAT filter allows some other stuff to also appear.  Over time it should get better.  The YouTube stuff is here:
http://comprehensivecolumbia.com/LSATnews/index.php?option=com_newsfeeds&catid=5&Itemid=33

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Studying for the LSAT / watch out for those LSAT changes!
« on: January 05, 2007, 05:47:54 AM »
If you think you may repeat the LSAT, think about repeating AND studying for a slightly different exam.  Below is an excerpt from an article describing the changes that the LSAT will undergo.  The entire article is at
http://www.theplainsman.com/front/gre_lsat_to_be_revamped

The writing and reading comprehension sections of the LSAT will undergo changes.
    For the writing section, currently the test randomly assigns one of two types of writing prompts — an argument prompt or a decision prompt.
   Beginning June 2007, when the changes will take place, the argument prompt will be eliminated.
   “Students only have to prepare for one type of prompt,” said Russell Schaffer, senior communications manager at Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions.
    The reading comprehension section consists of four sets of questions which are based on four passages.
    With the new test, three of the passages will still each have a set of questions.
    The fourth set of questions will require students to compare two shorter passages.
    In total, only six to seven questions will be changed, which amounts to three to six points on the test.









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Studying for the LSAT / how I learned to score in the top 1%
« on: December 18, 2006, 08:12:29 AM »
Visualization of exam problems was absolutely the key for my improvement on the exam. The best analogy is the graphic user interface of a computer. Users can understand windows and pictures on a screen MUCH better than they can understand the source code of a webpage (you can check source code of pages by looking in "View" in your browser and going to an option called "Source", or somthing similar to that). By visualizing the exam's problems you can understand complicated relationships MUCH faster and more accurately than you can by reading the text of the exam.

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