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Messages - Jeffort

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Studying for the LSAT / Re: Read Question Stem first or after Stimulus?
« on: December 06, 2009, 08:09:34 AM »
This question directed at the top scorers 170+. Powerscore guidelines stress the reading of the stimulus first before reading the question stem. However, Kaplan advises the reading of the question stem first before reading the stimulus. I currently use the Powerscore method, however, I do see some advantages of using the Kaplan method of reading the question stem first, particularly on complexly worded stimulus questions. I'm just wondering which method the top scorers use and why?

I believe that reading the stem before even glancing at the stimulus is a mistake and that it can and does frequently bias ones focus and narrow the perspective of ones mind while reading, interpreting and analyzing the content of the question. 

I've heard the typical justifications for reading the stem first and the gist of most of them is simply 'so you know what you are looking for when you read it'.  That justification is silly since what you are ultimately looking for is the credited answer choice down below AFTER having carefully read, understood and analyzed the content of the stimulus and evaluated the answer choices to find the credited choice that has the logical relationship to the stimulus in a way that satisfies the parameters of the question stem. 

Your main focus when reading an LR question or working on any other section type should first be to carefully and critically read and make sure you understand the substance of the material the question stem asks you about.  How can you properly respond to a question stem if you are not already familiar with the material it is asking about? 

In other words, what you are ultimately looking for is which one of the 5 offered answer choices satisfies the question stem in terms of how it relates to the presented material.  By reading and analyzing the stimulus carefully and critically first with an open mind you should be better prepared to analyze the answer choices, once you get to them, to be able to effectively compare how they relate to the stimulus in relation to the task dictated by the stem and be better able to select the credited response.   

It simply makes sense to be familiar with and know what you are being asked about before hearing and trying to respond to a question about it.

I can't resist. Where? And why isn't he practicing law.
Or I should say, Jeffort, Where? And why aren't you practicing law?
That's a question, not a condemnation.

Was trying to post a response earlier but got distracted with phone calls and stuff.

Yes, I applied to and was accepted by many top tier Law Schools.  I attended and graduated from USC (University of Southern California) Law School. 

While in LS and for many years after I graduated (took the bar and passed first time, but never to get licensed because I fell in love with teaching LSAT prep along the way instead) I worked as a consultant/independent contractor/behind the scenes guy, (which means I did a ton of the work, research, strategy and writing) for many high profile serious criminal cases working with numerous high profile criminal defense attorneys.  I worked on serious high stakes criminal cases on the defense side with Robert Shapiro off and on over several years as one example. 

One day while in the middle of a criminal court jury trial involving 19 felony charges against the client that I was and had been a member of the defense team for ~3 years that I started working on while in LS, I was bored in the courtroom hallway waiting for lunch break to end for the trial to resume. 

I thought about the LSAT and decided to inquire about teaching students to pass on my knowledge and experience since I actually love the LSAT and think it's fun!  So, while sitting outside the courtroom on lunch break I made a phone call from my cell to one of the quality reputable prep providers to inquire about teaching opportunities. I didn't ask for the job but ended up with an interview a day or so later with the owner (Robin Singh).  I was hired, went through training and was teaching my first live class within a week or so.  I had just called to ask and inquire about possibilities and how it works out of curiosity and shortly after I was teaching a 30+ person class. 

I loved it from the first second and immediately realized that I have a passion for teaching this stuff and enjoy it much more than doing legal work.  It's pretty much as simple as that in large part. 

Due to some life crap that came out of nowhere these past few weeks, I've decided not to take the Monday administration of the Dec. 2009 LSAT.

Is it too late to get a refund, even a partial one? More importantly, what happens if I don't show up and get marked "absentee?" Is this bad to have on my record?

What's the best way to handle this? Should I show up to the test and fill out the cancellation form (that would be the 2nd cancellation on my record, the 1st one being almost 3 years back)?

I'm thinking I'll be putting off my application for an additional year, so I'm afraid an "absentee" or another "candidate cancel" might look bad on my record. What do I do so as not to hurt my future chances at getting into the school of my choice?

Showing up and canceling is better than not showing up and getting an 'I'm a flake' absentee mark on your score report.

It's past all the deadlines to postpone your test date or cancel the registration or get a partial refund. 

Since you are registered and pretty much boxed in with your available options, show up and take it knowing that you are most likely going to cancel the score.  It would allow you to get a trial run of the actual test day experience so that you are more conditioned and know what to expect next time.  That can help a lot in terms of you being able to be calm cool and collected and thinking straight next take and don't panic/freakout/have a brain freeze up/whatever due to the test day environment, pressure, stress and anxiety.  It would be good real practice in real circumstances for you and would prevent you from having the frowned upon absentee mark on your LSAC report that LS's use to evaluate you.

I can relate to unexpected life crap popping up and interfering with important things at the worst times.  The week before a June test I first registered to take crap suddenly hit the fan and I officially and completely broke up with and broke off my engagement with the girl I had been together with for 4 years. 
Needless to say, I was an emotional wreck during that week before the test administration and not anywhere close to being able to think and focus on the test in a pure logical way that is essential to achieve a good score.

I forced myself to go, took the test and canceled (a lot of the time while taking that June test I was thinking about my then Ex fiance instead of the test questions). Then I Re-took the following October test, was well prepared, calm as a cucumber, and knocked it out of the park with a near perfect score. 

For me, having taken a previous administration helped a lot with my state of mind when I re-took it in terms of handling and dealing with the pressure, anxiety and stress of test day to not let it rattle me and 'throw me off my game'.

I finally took my first prep test. I thought I'd post my results, and later when I take the LSAT, I'll post my final score.

There's no telling yet whether my improvement will be encouraging to people just starting out, but I thought it might be helpful for people just starting out to hear some success stories.

Does anyone remember their first score? If so, I'd love to hear how much you improved. I'm sure other newbies would be interested too. I was looking for a thread like this when I discovered this site.

I scored a 152 on the June 2007 prep test, my first crack at a whole test - 63 correct out of 100. So much for my suspicion that being a programmer would make me a natural on the Logic Games section - only 7 correct out of 23. 15/25 on the first LR, 20/25 on the 2nd LR section, 21/27 on the RC section. Overall, I'm pretty happy with the results. I scored higher on RC than I expected, and the LG score doesn't worry me too much. I think I can improve a lot once I read the PowerScore book.

One question about the PowerScore books. I know they use real LSAT questions, but I'd actually like to read about the different types of questions in the LG section and see examples, but I don't want to use up questions from real LSAT tests. Is every example in those books a real LSAT question? Actually, on the LG section, I don't think I'd remember the correct answer because the answers are typically lists. But on the LR and RC sections, I'd probably remember the correct answers.

I just remembered, today is an official LSAT test day isn't it? I feel for you guys that are taking the real deal while I write this. Hope you're doing well.


Starting with a 152 on your first full timed practice test is a good sign in terms of your abilities and improvement potential.  Significant improvement with proper prep is very much possible.  Even LSAC advises students to prepare for the LSAT in order to achieve ones maximum potential score.

I may have already posted this.  On the first timed LSAT practice test I took cold with zero previous prep and with no idea whatsoever about what was on the test I scored a 151 or 152, forgot which of those two.  My final score on an administered LSAT that counted was 177, so significant improvement is achievable.  Granted, I worked my arse off over many months to improve and achieve that score.  It didn't come easy and I experienced lots of ups and downs in the process leading up to the real thing. 

Being a programmer (I am too), you might be over complicating your approach to and analysis of the logic games and related questions and thinking they are more complex than they actually are.  That section was my nemesis during study/prep time and kicked my butt many times because I was over thinking/complicating my analysis of them, not simplifying things properly for a while and wasting a lot of time while doing ones for practice.  After fighting with the LG's a lot (and at times wanting to throw the books out the window or set them on fire!) I refined my approach and mastered them. 

It ended being my best section, I only missed one question, the first question of the section, that was easy and I lost that point because I was nervous, scared of the section and accidentally mis-bubbled my answer on the score sheet.  I had determined the credited response but my hand did a dyslexic or whatever thing and filled in the wrong bubble. 

Since then and in the following years (especially once I began making a living teaching and tutoring people for the LSAT), LG's are simple to me.  They are super formulaic with many repeating patterns and constructions of recurring game types, logical structures/relationships, and predictable types of incorrect answer choices that are offered. 

In sum, since it is a standardized test, by definition it has to and does follow and repeat the same patterns and types of logical circumstances each time to consistently measure students aptitude with the measured skills time after time.  Each new test form just does it with a different veneer in terms of the subject matter/topics/stories/etc. in the questions to overlay and test the same set of core skills. 


However, for admission purposes, having only one good reported score on your record looks much better to admission committees than having multiple reported scores.

What about a couple of times where you were supposed to take the test but didn't and thus have no score, only marks of a cancellation and/or being absent? Does a high score then look any less impressive?

A high score on your report is what it is, they don't subtract points from it due to a cancellation or other administrations on your record that have no reported score.  However, schools are free to take that stuff into consideration and interpret it however they want when evaluating an application/you to decide 'do we like this person, would he/she be a good law student?  Should we admit this applicant?' 

Pulling a no-show when registered for the test and then having an 'absent' note on you score report makes you look like a flake, unlike how it looks when you take the test and then cancel the score.  One or even two cancellations on your record is not a huge deal, people have bad days, but if you have multiple canceled scores, you should address it in an application addendum with a good explanation.  If you have multiple absentee/didn't show up marks on your score report, that looks bad and raises red flags in the minds of admission committees and is something that absolutely needs to be addressed in an application addendum.   

Succeeding in Law School requires a lot of work and is very demanding with many tests/assignments and non-flexibile deadlines, so if your LSAT report gives an indication that you were flaky/irresponsible about taking one single test multiple times, it indicates to adcomms that you would also be that way in LS and are not cut out to be able to handle and fulfill the rigorous/demanding responsibilities necessary to perform well and succeed in Law School. 

I'm scoring in the mid 160's on my practice tests right now, which I'm okay with.  Yet, I'm afraid that on Saturday, with the anxiety and all other factors, I may fall below 160.  If I don't feel like I did well on Saturday (and is later confirmed by a poor score), should I take it again in February so that it will be submitted for this round of applications?  Or would it look bad to have taken the lsat twice in a row? I would really hate to wait until next year to apply. Advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

If you are completely committed to applying for fall 2010 admission to a Law School, don't score up to your maximum potential on the test this Saturday and retake (after having prepped more and better) in February, you need to check out the deadline dates of the schools you want to apply to. 

Some LS's will hold your application and consider a February score for evaluation and possible admission that application cycle, but many will not because of how late in the application cycle February LSAT scores are released.  Check with the schools you are interested in to determine whether they will consider a February 2010 score for fall of 2010 admission.

Having two LSAT scores on your LSAC candidate report is not really as big of problem like it used to be given the major policy change a few years ago with how schools are ranked that now allows schools to report to the ranking places just the highest LSAT score of admitted students rather than being required to report the average score of a student that took it multiple times.

However, for admission purposes, having only one good reported score on your record looks much better to admission committees than having multiple reported scores.


Please drop your hater attitude, it's not cool.

Um . . . NO.  The people you're grooming around here ought to know that you're the typs of guy who's here today, gone tomorrow.  Why not explain what happened?

Remember this thread? 

The one where you pulled up stakes and bailed out on people who you were "helping"?  Why not come clean?  If you're a licensed attorney, what in the heck are you doing in a place like this?    Your antics make you seem unstable and getting a 177 is no big whoop.  Hell, Spitzer got a 180 and look at what a schmuck he turned out to be.

Ehh, your claim that I'm a here today and gone tomorrow type of guy is false and you are incorrect in many other ways with your accusations.  I've been here on this board pretty much non-stop since I registered this account in 2006.
Take a look at the 'Most time online' box in the LSD stats at
I do not and have not had the 'auto refresh' feature some browsers offer turned on.  That's real active time dude. 

I've hid nothing from anyone and firmly believe in a policy of truth.  Yes, as I alluded to in my previous post in this thread, due to business circumstances, last year I was commanded and required to immediately delete all my ~8000 previous posts as a condition of employment. 

As I said, I regret having agreed to that and having done it, it was not what I wanted to do.  Spending many days last year deleting all my previous posts was like watching part of my life flash before my eyes and I hated doing it.  It was very painful in many ways to have to manually d-dub all that stuff I had written and posted here and on other boards to provide quality free assistance to students preparing to take the LSAT and seek LS admission.  Like I said, it will not happen again.

I'm no longer working for TM, therefore the condition that required me to delete all my posts and that restrained me from posting free LSAT and LS advice here and on other web sites is no longer in place.  That's why I'm now back doing my thing to, for free to users of the boards, help students improve their LSAT scores and gain admission to quality Law Schools. 

I wish I could tell you more about the details and events in my life over that last ~1.5 years to satisfy you and put an end to your hostility towards me but I cannot due to personal privacy reasons as well as confidentiality agreements. 

Simple bottom line: There is no conceivable reason I can think of to justify you being hostile and aggressive towards me for posting and providing quality LSAT and LS advice to students on discussion boards free of charge as I previously did and am now doing again.  You put the word 'hater' in your username and seem to be proving that to be an accurate description of yourself, but IDK, I've never met you or talked to you on the phone or in person, so who knows, maybe you are a cool nice guy in person.

Studying for the LSAT / Re: what to do?
« on: December 02, 2009, 04:08:59 AM »
Simple things like proper nutrition (fruits, veggies, vitamins, especially B complex vitamins, carbs, protein, etc.), proper and regular sleep pattern, some moderate cardio exercise like a mild jog or some time on the treadmill or something at the gym (but not tons of time on it that will drain you and require recovery time). 

...coming from a guy whose sole source of nutrition is beer and cigarettes.  ;)


But no, I take my vitamins and get in other good stuff daily.  Sushi is my favorite, those Japanese people have figured out great tasty nutritional blends over the centuries.  Plus, I've got and keep drinking little bottles of a generic version of Ensure.  Seriously, I survived off pretty much just Ensure and Taco Bell for about a week when I took and passed the bar exam years ago. 

I must admit though, those little vanilla flavored Ensure things go well with a beer and a smoke!

Studying for the LSAT / Re: Sept 2009 LSAT
« on: December 02, 2009, 03:45:09 AM »
Hi everyone....I really need advice on what to do here. I took all the diags months ago and have been retaking them. lsac finally mailed me the september 2009 lsat. Should I take it tomorrow? I wont take a whole diag, I just wanted to take it in timed sections, 2 sections here and there or should I save it in case I take feb's test....

thanks guys ???

Whoa, back up a bit.  Based on your description it sounds like you are doing the non-effective 'churn and burn' routine of just repeatedly taking timed PT's and not putting much time into study and review of the underlying concepts being tested or figuring out your errors.  Stop doing that.   

Practice can make perfect provided you get the basics of the concepts and good techniques to apply ingrained into your brain.  Just taking a bunch of timed tests and sections over and over will not suffice to help you to improve your score much.  Timed practice is NOT learning time.

Study and review the underlying logic/concepts/patterns that recur in each test as well as the good techniques to apply in order to select more credited responses to achieve a higher score. 

Just simply blowing through a bunch of tests and questions timed will not do that, you need to refine your understanding of the concepts and improve your analytical approach to get better at applying your developing skills to questions to improve.

Slow motion study spending time reviewing the concepts, techniques and questions you have attempted in order to put it all together is essential to improve your score.  You must analyze and dissect many questions carefully and in detail to get to the point where you 'see the light', so to speak.

Studying for the LSAT / Re: What Test Should I Take To Get A Baseline Score
« on: December 01, 2009, 06:37:03 PM »

No hard feelings here. I understand the need to keep the information here untainted.
There's too much at stake.

I'm definitely not planning to take the Dec LSAT. I'm looking at next June at earliest.
I learned a hard lesson in the perils of under-preparation as an undergrad - I have a 2.6
GPA to prove it. If I do this, I'm going to do it right, and try to put at least 200 - 300
hours of prep time in.

Thanks for the heads up on the authenticity of prep materials. The Powerscore books
seem to get mentioned here a lot. Do they use real exam questions?

Since you've been teaching for many years, maybe I'll take you up on your offer to answer
questions. I'm most confident in my ability to do well on the Logic Games section, because
I've been doing software development for many years. So I essentially solve logic puzzles
for a living. I know the Logic Games on the LSAT are a very specific kind of logic puzzle,
but what I'm saying is that I feel like I probably have the aptitude to do well there with
enough practice.

What I'm not confident about is the Reading Comprehension section - I read like a 5th grader:-)
Well, maybe an 8th grader. In your experience, is it possible to make significant improvement
there? I know it depends on the individual, but can you give me an approximate range of what
you've seen as far as "number of questions improved by".

What about Logical Reasoning? I think I'll be alright there, but it seems like a cross between
reading comprehension and logic, so I'm not so confident. What do you typically see there as far
as number of questions improved by?

While we're at it, I might as well ask the same question about Logic Games. What kind of improvement
do you typically see there? I'm not looking for a money back guarantee - just a ballpark idea of what
kind of improvement people see. Maybe I should start a new thread in the admissions forum asking this

btw, anyone have any advice on how to search this forum. Has anyone had luck using google and providing
the site name? I'm going to try that right now and report back.
I'll try "lsat shill ptoomey site:"

Just busting chops Jeffort - hope to hear back from you.
Thanks for all the info.

Glad to hear back from you ptoomey and that our minor 'spat' is water under the bridge so to speak. 

Planning ahead and prepping to take the June 2010 LSAT, especially given your other life responsibilities you mentioned sounds like a good idea.  That would give you time to really dig in and get ready for it as well as balancing everything else you have on your hands. 

Yes, the PowerScore books and classes use authentic licensed LSAT questions.  As for self study books for prep, the PS books are by far the best.  I've read and reviewed all of them and compared them to most of the other ones out there over the years. 

Yes, improving your performance on the RC section is very much doable but it is typically the hardest section to improve ones score on, with one of the main factors behind that being that since it is the most boring and tedious section, students tend to avoid it and not dedicate time to practice and review it during study/prep time. 

The logic game section is typically the easiest to improve upon for most people that hit it head on since it is extremely formulaic. 

I suggest that you resist and delete from your mind the thoughts that invite you to spend time comparing yourself to the averages of previous test takers while prepping to try and predict your future improvement/score.  Instead, use that mental power and time you have available to dig into the materials and work on doing things to improve your score.  Statistically, an average represents a group of people, not an individual, and is not a good way to base your decision about how hard to study and work to improve your final score on the real test day. 

Most people (with rare exceptions) totally suck and end up with a low score on the first full real timed LSAT PT they take.  That score is just your baseline/starting point going in cold and is meant to be used to guide your focus in terms of weak areas and strong areas in order to guide your study focus.

Many many people have improved substantially from first timed practice test to final test day score due to dedicated proper study and instruction.   I'm one of those people.  The first full timed LSAT PT I took, going in cold without any prep and no clue about the substance of it and just showing up with some pencils to the first day of a prep course I scored a 151 or 152 (forgot which) and my final score on an administered LSAT that counted is 177.

Basically, you have to want it, put in the work, and fight for it using quality resources and spending a lot of time studying, reviewing and practicing everything unless you are one of the super rare 'naturals'.

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