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Author Topic: Thanks Guys! My LSAT Experience  (Read 7355 times)

Squish

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Thanks Guys! My LSAT Experience
« on: September 29, 2009, 01:40:32 AM »
I just finally made an account here so I could thank all you guys who post here for your insights on the LSAT as it helped me immensely to read this forum.

At the end of last school year I made the decision to drop my pursuit of a professional degree(Pharmacy) due to my growing unhappiness with the major choice. I decided to walk at the end of this year with a religious studies degree that was previously my second major (I know pharmacy and religious studies WTF) and apply to grad school of some type. Unfortunately I made the decision to switch majors quite late.

I made the decision to take the LSAT in September thanks in part to the information on this forum that it's really the latest you can take the LSAT and still get your applications in early.

I'd also like to thank the forum for scaring the crap out of me! After find out how much time most of you guys recommend for studying for the LSAT, I freaked out and really got my act together. Sadly my decision to take the LSAT didn't come until well into August. That being said, I really worked my butt off in the time I had. I was not enrolled in the fall due to my not needing the full year to graduate this year. I put in some solid 7-8 hour days of staggered study via prep books with a practice test every 2-3 days. Overall I'd say I put in about a month's worth of time but it seemed to have been just enough. I will point out that my goal was to be only somewhere over 160 so I obviously didn't need as much time as you guys aiming for much higher scores. Nevertheless, I thank you for scaring me into thinking I was way behind.

On the week before the September test I found my scores on practice tests dropping rapidly only a few days before the test. Once again the forum came in handy and calmed me down after I read a post about people getting burned out from taking too many practice tests in too short of time. I concluded that I was going through the same situation because I had convinced myself that more practice test meant better scores. I discarded that thought and preceded to take the last 3 days before the test off completely. Granted I cheated a little by rereading the logic games section in one of my prep books the night before and doing my first writing sample.

My main problem with test day was my tendency to get very nervous over minor things. This was a major thing obviously so I was literally shaking in my boots. Luckily for me I'm still living in my college town which happened to have a law school (Ohio Northern University) so i didn't have to go far which calmed me down somewhat. As is often my luck, I got next to no sleep the night before because of my nerves. I woke up about an hour early and had a good breakfast and listened to some music to calm me down before I left. It was approximately a 3 minute drive so I had plenty of time to get prepped. I got to the site a half an hour early and oddly almost immediately I calmed down. Being there early really did wonders for my nerves. In additon, I had a little luck involved with the test site location. The LSAT was being administered in the Pharmacy building and it just happened to be in a room I had taken literally a couple dozen tests in already during my college career.

Another little thing most may think insignificant calmed me down on test day. I decided to wear my fraternity letter's  that day mainly thanks to it being one of my few remaining clean T-shirts left after my "hermit period" of studying. Oddly enough the random choice turned out to be quite helpful. When I got to the site, I knew literally nobody in the test which didn't help my nerves. Oddly enough as I stood there, someone I didn't know walked right up and said "Theta Chi huh?" and I affirmed. He then proceeded to give me the fraternity's secret hand shake and introduce himself as a brother of the Akron chapter. Immediately I knew someone there. It's hard to explain just what being fraternity brothers feels like but it seems to immediately bridge the gap between strangers and turn them into instant friends. That happened here. Nobody had mentioned it before but having someone to chat with even just during the break seems to go a long way towards keeping your cool during the test.

Then came the test period. All the rules and regulations of the test I had read had me thinking it was going to be very serious and strict affair. I was pleasantly surprised to see this not entirely the case. Granted it was still as strict as one can expect of a standardized test but really no more strict than any tests I had taken prior. The proctor was fairly laid-back. It was also comical to see that only 28 people were signed up for the test at my location. It was funny to me because the room we were taking the test in seats 300! Despite rigorous spacing, we still only occupied a third of the room. The second comical effect of the test was when we were just filling out the preliminary information. Upon directions for the statement that must be written in cursive, several people got confused. One test taker even yelled out "Do we have to write this in cursive? I haven't written in cursive in like 12 years!". After the proctor responded, another taker yelled out "How do you make a cursive capital I? I forgot!". This helped to lighten the mood a bit. As stupid as it may sound I actually practiced writing this statement the night before the test after seeing it on the practice tests so it didn't phase me.

The test itself didn't phase me too much. My test order was RC-LR-RC-LR-LG. I pretty much aced the first RC section and it was one of the first RC sections I had ever really finished with much time to spare. Now as I hear on this forum, that section was the experimental section which makes me mad.I had been sure the experimental section wouldn't be the first. The first logical reasoning section made me uncomfortable for the first 10 or so minutes until I realized that I had been reading the statements before the questions which wasn't how I had studied to approach those questions. i corrected myself and should have done at least decently. The third section, another RC section angered me a bit. I was practically begging for the LG section at that point. I don't think I did nearly as well on that RC section as the first one and barely finished the section on time. That being said it didn't exactly feel disastrous. Either way I think I did better on those RC sections than in my PTs which is good since RC was definitely my weak point.

During the break after the third section I ate the milky way I bought at a vending machine before the doors opened. It occurred to me that the designer of this test format must have been the devil. One RC is enough info to discard but two RC sections and with two sections that counted afterward? That was just plain unfair! I do hate RC though so I'm probably biased.

I went into the 4th section on my hands and knees for a logic games section to come up for a change of pace but as you have already read, I was disappointed. The 4th section was LR again. Luckily, I didn't commit my approach mistake from earlier in the test and I finished the section with time to spare and a decent amount of confidence. Finally the fifth section came forward and boy was I rearing to go! I hit the section like a blitzkrieg and was pleasant to find that the games that were my strengths were the ones chosen for the section. The first games were easy in my mind. I almost passed up the now notorious "airplane" game due to its complexity (then come back to it) but noticed that there were only 5 objects to order and figured I'd give it a shot. I'll be surprised if I missed one on that game as I checked my answers on it after I finished the rest of the section. The final game was simple and probably my most skilled type of game (selecting classes) and I nailed that one too. I was a little angry though since I figured out the second to last question was wrong and went to change it but then time was called before I could. That being said, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if that was the lone question I missed on the LG section. Keep in mind I rarely finish the LG section so this was a huge upgrade for me.

In the end I figure that with the strength of my LG section I couldn't have done any worse than my practice tests which had me anywhere between 155 (during my burnout) and 161 depending on the day. Depending on the curve I suppose I may have done a bit worse but that's at the very low end. I estimate my raw score to be somewhere between 67 and 83. The hilarious thing was that I estimated this during the writing sample with the 10 minutes I had to spare. Question about that section: Is the writing section always 35 minutes? The samples I took only gave me 30 minutes. I thought that was odd.

In the end I look forward to receiving my score. I only really need around a 155 to get into my extreme backup school which is here (ONU) because I'm already a student here (and they let in a guy with a 143 last year) but if I could score over 160 it'd make me a lot more confident on getting into my first choices. My goal is to go to the University of Toledo (where I'm from) but I need a great score to get in there as my GPA is only a 3.1 (unless taking pharmacy courses somehow makes that look better). My parents both graduated from there which can't hurt but I'd rest easier if I had a score above their median. Either way I don't think I stand much better than a 70% chance of getting in.    
 
Continued...

Squish

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Re: Thanks Guys! My LSAT Experience
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2009, 01:41:01 AM »
continued...

Once again I'd just like to thank all you guys for your advice on studying for the LSAT as it proved invaluable. In return I'd like to share some tips I've come up with and/or found most helpful:

1. Don't take multiple practice tests in a short span of time. It WILL burn you out! Also, don't take any within 2 days of the test.
2. If possible, try to take a practice test in the room you know you will be taking your actual test. Familiarity can do wonders for the nerves.
3. Take more than a month to study! Assuming you already have some intelligence, you need not obsess over this test like its the grail but still leave yourself some time. Take a diagnostic test before you start studying to find your weaknesses and attack them. I found myself great at LR (-3 or 4 per section) before I even started studying but found myself weak at RC and LG. I focused on LG specifically and I think i nailed it.
4. Try to challenge yourself to do better every time you take the test and make sure you go over your wrong answers on PTs. I found that my studying took giant leaps forward when I made the LG section feel more like a real game. When I got answers wrong because of small missed info, I credited the test for outsmarting me and challenged myself to beat it the next time. After awhile, LGs became fun and I started to look forward to them on every test!
5. READ THIS FORUM! Congratulations, it looks like you already have one checked off ;) It's a great source of information and oftentimes you'll find people post about exactly the situation you are going through.

Anyway, this post is already way too long and probably doesn't belong in this forum but I'll post it now anyways. One question before I go:

Why the hell can't you use mechanical pencils on the LSAT?

Jeffort

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Re: Thanks Guys! My LSAT Experience
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2009, 05:04:16 AM »
Wow!  Great posts/thread you made. 

Very cool of you to take the time to do that and give back to others.  The world needs more people like you with your attitude, perspective and generosity.  You have my respect. 

I hope when scores come out you receive good news that will make you happy and be a good payoff to you for your efforts. 

As for why they prohibited using mechanical pencils to take the LSAT, I've been confused about the philosophy behind that policy change since it went into effect and have various competing theories.  Perhaps we should speculate about that and maybe even make a thread for the topic!

Some of my random theories:

-  So that angry frustrated test takers don't have possession of a super sharp pointed cylindrical object made out of metal or strong synthetic material that can be used to shank a proctor or fellow testee with in a fit of rage.

-  LSAC was tired of getting complaints from people about being distracted during the test by clicking noises around them. (the ADD/ADHD people tend to be of above average intelligence and make up a decent proportion of those seeking LS but are easily distracted and thrown off by little noises when trying to hyper focus!)

-  LSAC was lobbied by the lumber industry and by the companies that make old fashioned pencils but not mechanical ones to help beef up sales of wooden pencils and pencil sharpeners.   

-  The sharp point of mechanical pencil 'lead' punched holes in the bubble sheets of test takers that were angry, push down hard and use a lot of pressure bubblers causing paper jams in the scanning machines at LSAC headquarters (this relates to theory #1, but better to have holes in paper than in someones flesh!)

-  Cuz the SAT and other standardized tests banned them cuz a bunch of cheating HS kids wrote out cheat sheets and stuff on small strips of paper they rolled up and stuck inside the tube of a mechanical pencil a number of years back to get into college.

Anyone have other theories? 

Julie Fern

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Re: Thanks Guys! My LSAT Experience
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2009, 08:55:53 AM »
mechanical pencils accomodate terrorism.

Matthies

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Re: Thanks Guys! My LSAT Experience
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2009, 03:07:11 PM »

-  Cuz the SAT and other standardized tests banned them cuz a bunch of cheating HS kids wrote out cheat sheets and stuff on small strips of paper they rolled up and stuck inside the tube of a mechanical pencil a number of years back to get into college.

 


Your shitting me, seriously if people are smart enough to come up with these ways to cheat, then just study, I mean it seems like finding a new way to cheat takes more energy than just studying. I know for the bar we had to take all the lables off of any thing we brought in to eat or drink (or we were supposed to, but half the people did not seem to read the directions and only about half the protors enforced it). I guess maybe people put answers on the isnide of the lable on sosda or something. but geeze, too much work, just study!

PS OP great post thanks for sharing and welcome to LSD as a poster!
*In clinical studies, Matthies was well tolerated, but women who are pregnant, nursing or might become pregnant should not take or handle Matthies due to a rare, but serious side effect called him having to make child support payments.

Jeffort

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Re: Thanks Guys! My LSAT Experience
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2009, 05:14:29 PM »

-  Cuz the SAT and other standardized tests banned them cuz a bunch of cheating HS kids wrote out cheat sheets and stuff on small strips of paper they rolled up and stuck inside the tube of a mechanical pencil a number of years back to get into college.

 


Your shitting me, seriously if people are smart enough to come up with these ways to cheat, then just study, I mean it seems like finding a new way to cheat takes more energy than just studying. I know for the bar we had to take all the lables off of any thing we brought in to eat or drink (or we were supposed to, but half the people did not seem to read the directions and only about half the protors enforced it). I guess maybe people put answers on the isnide of the lable on sosda or something. but geeze, too much work, just study!

PS OP great post thanks for sharing and welcome to LSD as a poster!

Not shitting you, stuff like that happened with the SAT and other tests a number of years ago.

No kidding about simply using time and energy to study. I cannot understand the cheating mentality.  All the time and effort creating such schemes has to be much more than what it would take to just learn the stuff to perform well, plus the offenders get the guilt, fear and anxiety about getting caught and trying to keep their lies straight.  That is unless the offender is a sociopath.

They really have a bar exam rule in your state banning labels on snacks and drink items?  That is preposterous!  Peeling the label completely off a beverage bottle can be tough (How the heck would you glue it back on unripped after writing microprint stuff on the back?), plus, who wants to eat a stale dried out energy bar that has been out of the wrapper for a while? 

What's next? Naked testing?  Make everyone strip down in one room, then proctors issue each person a few pencils and a towel to put on the seat of their chair as they are herded one by one into the testing room? 

Just like in grade school, it only takes a few jack-arse hoodlums to spoil things and get everyone punished. 


Matthies

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Re: Thanks Guys! My LSAT Experience
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2009, 06:00:04 PM »
Yea and we had to take our watches OFF and put them on the desk. WTF I don't get that at all. That kind of screwed up my timing a bit becuase I instictly keep looking at my wrist, realzing my watch was not there, then looking down on the desk.
*In clinical studies, Matthies was well tolerated, but women who are pregnant, nursing or might become pregnant should not take or handle Matthies due to a rare, but serious side effect called him having to make child support payments.

Squish

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Re: Thanks Guys! My LSAT Experience
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2009, 10:44:52 PM »
LOL. Great Mechanical pencil theories! I was favoring the clicking sound theory before but you make great cases for the others.

I must say however that the pencil sharpener I brought allowed me to bring my wooden pencils to a very fine tip so I think the shanking is out as I could have just as easily stabbed somebody with the pencils I brought.

Another theory I have is that they don't want people using mechanical pencils because they don't want to let people bring extra lead which they would then have to add to the growing list of plastic bag inclusions.




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Re: Thanks Guys! My LSAT Experience
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2009, 09:22:41 AM »
When I sat for the LSAT I didn't even bring a sharpener. Instead, I had nearly 50 presharpened pencils.

Julie Fern

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Re: Thanks Guys! My LSAT Experience
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2009, 11:27:16 AM »
how long you been selling pencils for living?