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Author Topic: LSAT Forum FAQ - n00bs please read.  (Read 19230 times)

EarlCat

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LSAT Forum FAQ - n00bs please read.
« on: April 11, 2008, 01:39:12 AM »
This FAQ is in response to the increasing number of basic questions that tend to show up repeatedly on this forum.  I offer this as a helpful guide to new members (welcome) who may get their initial questions answered, and for regulars, who hopefully won't have to field as many common questions.  Much of the information below is simply my opinion, but I believe it treats each of the subjects fairly and accurately.  Nobody is forbidden from posting a thread about the below topics, but please check that there is not already a thread about the subject at least on the first couple of pages.  I will be locking duplicate threads in an effort to keep this a low-clutter/high-content forum.
--Earl

How long is my score good for?
Scores are reported for 5 years after the test administration date by LSAC, but most schools want a score that is from within the previous 3 years.

Should I self-study, take a class, or hire a tutor?
There are many different opinions on this.  Self-study is by far the cheapest option, followed by classes, and then tutoring.  Many people have gotten very high score improvements through self study.  If you are motivated and synthesize information well with no feedback, self-study may be a viable option.  LSAT classes offer structure, question and answer time, feedback, and often have diagnostic examinations with simulated testing conditions.  Some classes are as short as a weekend, and others offer up to 100 hours of classroom time.  Private tutoring should offer structure much like a classroom course, but tailored to your individual needs.  Some tutors also proctor preptests in simulated testing conditions.  Unlike a class, the one-on-one setting allows you to move at your own pace rather than that of the class.  This individual attention, of course, comes at a price.  Quality tutors tend to charge between $100 and $400 per hour.

Which prep course is the best?
Most LSAT content used in classroom courses is licensed from LSAC.  Just about every course uses real LSAT questions from most or all of the 50+ official PrepTests.  What this means is that there is very little difference among different courses' materials except perhaps their concept and answer explanations (which can vary in quality).  With this in mind, the quality of a course is overwhelmingly determined by the individual(s) instructing it.  Rather than relying on brand names, it's a good idea to seek out former students or interview the instructor before surrendering any money.

Should I take a weekend crash course?
No.

Should I time my practice?
There is a purpose for timed practice and untimed practice.  Untimed practice helps you improve on the actual content of the test--answering LSAT questions efficiently and correctly.  Much of your ability to move through the test faster is acquired through slow, deliberate practice.  Timed practice helps you hone your pacing--taking the optimum amount of time on each question/passage/game.  Some also claim that timed practice gets you used to the time pressure and helps build endurance and stamina so that you can stay alert throughout all 6 sections of the test.  Both timed and untimed practice are essential to your LSAT prep.  Untimed practice should be the majority of your focus early in your study, timed practice becoming more and more important as test day approaches.

ZOMG I can't wait!  When do I get my score???
Scores typically come out about 3 weeks after the test, before the deadline LSAC claims they will come out.  Until they do, STFU.

Is the [insert month] test harder than the [insert month] test?
No.  That's the standardized part of "standardized testing."  LSAC goes to great lengths to ensure that the LSAT is of approximately the same difficulty at every administration.  Bernie explains this far better than I do.

Should I take the [insert month] test or the [insert month] test?
The two major considerations when deciding what month to take the test are when you will be prepared and when your applications are due.  June is preferable for some students who might have plenty of time in the spring to study and wish to apply in the fall.  Others may have classes in the spring, but an open summer in which to study.  The Sept/Oct administration may be preferable for them as the results will still arrive fairly early in most schools' admissions cycle.  December or February results arrive late in most admissions cycles, and may warrant waiting to apply early in the next cycle.  Another minor consideration is that February's test questions are not released publicly. 

I got 145 on my last preptest.  Can I get a 170?
Maybe.  How hard are you willing to work?  Double that and you might have a shot.

Has the LSAT gotten harder?
No.  The LSAT has evolved slightly over the years.  Most notably, the games sections have tended to be shorter and several game types (mapping, switch-and-mutate) have not been seen in a very long time.  The reading comprehension section has tended to be longer, and they recently added comparative reading comp to that section.  Some claim that one part has become more difficult and another easier, but opinions about which parts these are vary widely.  In the grand scheme of things, this is not an important consideration because time travel to previous test administrations is not yet a possibility for the average consumer.  The LSAT is still a standardized test (see above), and its evolution has been very slow.  Certainly tests written in the last several years should reflect what you can expect from tests in the near future.