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Author Topic: ESL LSAT test taker/ begging for help/advice on reading materials  (Read 3278 times)

zhopasruchkoi

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Hi everyone!

Iím preparing for the test and currently am trying to get used to text in english; it is quite difficult since itís not my first language. The plan is to read lots of complicated  material (like Scientific American, Wall Street Journal, Economist).
Question: what periodicals you find most suitable for my situation? I cant get through all of them obviously, so Im asking for the one or two that would cover appropriate variety of topics (from science to politics) and would have an advanced level of language (ie what native speaker would consider as "advanced" and/or "difficult" ;))

Thank you for your help/

blairchuckalways

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Re: ESL LSAT test taker/ begging for help/advice on reading materials
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2008, 01:07:06 AM »
Hi there,

I know how difficult the LSAT can be for non-native English speakers; my mom tried to take a test as an ESL and even though she intuitively nailed questions that required hard logic and all games on her diagnostic, she bombed both RC and many LR not for a lack of comprehension, but I think due to a lack of being able to pick up subtle nuances in the language that are crucial to success on the test.

I think your best bet is to read read read as you've suggested, plus use good LSAT prep materials and try your best. I know this isn't magical advice, but I really think it's the only thing you can do right now.

If you decide to apply and your score falls below a school's 25th percentile, emphasize your ESL status and demonstrate your law school potential by highlighting your success in other areas. If you're a solid student with an interesting background and loads to offer + submit an app that is grammatically perfect + manage a decent score on the test, I'm sure you'll have a good shot.

Best!

zhopasruchkoi

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Re: ESL LSAT test taker/ begging for help/advice on reading materials
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2008, 10:08:43 PM »
Thank you very much! Its nice to feel the support)

zhopasruchkoi

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Re: ESL LSAT test taker/ begging for help/advice on reading materials
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2008, 10:35:15 PM »
This person at least replied and was trying to be helpful, whereas you just stirring the crap. Better answer my question (if you can).

blairchuckalways

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Re: ESL LSAT test taker/ begging for help/advice on reading materials
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2008, 10:51:28 PM »
I had no idea how my advice came off as an "application Led Zepplin" (I don't even know what that suggests), but if you don't speak English natively, then the LSAT IS more difficult for you, period, and for reasons that you cannot control (well maybe, you, Chuck, decided to be useless prenatally, I'm unsure).

This merits discussion on an application; it's not an excuse (nor should you sound whiny about it), but rather an explanation for your score that schools can and should consider. If you've done other incredible things, like setup an effective NGO in another country or won a major fellowship or even dedicated yourself to a unique craft, then yes, Chuck, I think you may emphasize these skills to show your greater potential as a student, scholar, and overall human being. Any law school that overrides a lifetime (or at least college term's) worth of great experience and talent because of a poor test score influenced by circumstances out of your control is not worth your time.

That said, if you score 40 points below a school's 25th percentile, or some inordinate number of points lower, be reasonable in your expectations. Schools might consider your ESL as a mitigating factor for a score that's max 5-7 points lower than normal, but I wouldn't expect sig. help on anything much lower than that.

blairchuckalways

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Re: ESL LSAT test taker/ begging for help/advice on reading materials
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2008, 03:24:59 AM »
Okay, good advice Chuck, except many times ESL students will understand the grammar/syntax/language structure/spelling, but still not understand the nuances of a language or the impressions sets of words can make. Anecdotal but not irrelevant example -- my mom, as an ESL for her entire life, still has trouble differentiating between adjectives that are extremely similar in dictionary definition, but that have different connotations that may not be clear unless you're completely fluent in the language.

Assuming that OP may not reach fluent proficiency by a near-future testing date, I'm just giving suggestions as to what s/he should do when applying if the score is not so great. It's up to the school to decide whether the ESL factor mitigates a less-than-perfect score.

So -- OP, definitely be AS advanced in the English language as possible, in the way Chuck describes. However, maybe read high-level novels to get a sense of how words can apply in contexts different than straight academia.

I'm not trying to give the OP a cop-out, but I frankly can commiserate with his/her experience having seen it firsthand myself. English is one of the trickiest languages in the world, I think, with all its word usage variants. It's hard enough for many non-ESLs to figure out what the hell a question/RC passage means; I'm just trying to help out an OP who might have an even more difficult time by no fault of his/her own.

lunagirl

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Re: ESL LSAT test taker/ begging for help/advice on reading materials
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2008, 03:03:06 PM »
I am 100% agree with idapie18. I am also ESL student, in fact I've started speaking English only about 5 years ago. Still, I managed to graduate US college in top 3% of the class and I am pretty sure I will be able to handle law school as well. And yes, LSAT is three or maybe five times harder to handle for ESL students. And it has NOTHING to do with the knowledge of English grammar, vocabulary, or punctuation. For everyone with ESL it takes more time and attention to comprehend RC passage or long and witty LR question and grasp all those little details and nuances of language which comes naturally to native speakers but ESL speaker had to learn and memorize. Once again, it's not about the level of your English, it's about the EXPERIENCE to handle it very fast and efficiently under the LSAT time pressure.
I know a lot of people who are not native english speakers as and still graduated law schools and became successful lawyers. And it makes sense to try to explain to the admissions of a law school that your LSAT is lower that their average not because you dumber than other applicants, but because it takes you a few more minutes  to read the RC passage than other applicants for understandable reasons.   

Matlock!!!!

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Re: ESL LSAT test taker/ begging for help/advice on reading materials
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2008, 05:46:03 PM »
My question for the OP is have you taken a sample test yet and when are you taking the actual LSAT?  (if you're already at a 160 or above and shooting for above 170, the following probably doesn't apply)

I'm currently enrolled in a class with a #of ESL students and they are having success with the methods we have been given. ie.. identifying the key words and paying more attention to purpose and structure as opposed to specific passage details. (for most of the science passages, I may as well be an ESL myself!)

If you are not taking the upcoming December LSAT, perhaps a class would be helpful for you as well.  It's helped me!! 

If there's one thing America needs, it's more lawyers.  Can you imagine a world without lawyers?                         |
-Lionel Hutz

quepasa

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Re: ESL LSAT test taker/ begging for help/advice on reading materials
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2008, 06:24:29 PM »
I was (will be?-still considering 3rd time re-take) an ESL  LSAT taker too. It would be more correct to call myself ETL (English as Third Language) test-taker.
Taking a TIMED test presents an extreme challenge for a non-native speaker. In simple words, it is like you have 10 answer choices instead of 5, or in my case, it is as I have 15 answer choices to process to chose the right answer in less than 2 minutes. The active word bank in  your brain is twice bigger than non-bilingual speaker has, so naturally it takes more time to pick up the right one.
All the tests in the secondary school system have special accommodations (additional time) for non-native speakers. It is based on a significant scientific research. ELLs definetely need additional time to have in an equal opportunity as native speakers.
about LSAT...no accommodations there  ;D  Non-native speakers just need to be few times faster, smarter, stronger than a native speaker for the same score.
Hard, but doable. Go for it, pot with handle.

quepasa

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Re: ESL LSAT test taker/ begging for help/advice on reading materials
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2008, 08:40:39 PM »


So -- OP, definitely be AS advanced in the English language as possible, in the way Chuck describes. However, maybe read high-level novels to get a sense of how words can apply in contexts different than straight academia.

good advice

I recommend "Edgar Sawtelle", David Wroblewski. The language is rich; Wroblewski is like Leo Tolstoy of 21st century.