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Author Topic: Should I Wait?  (Read 2387 times)

mellowguy

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Should I Wait?
« on: December 03, 2009, 08:28:09 PM »
At this point, I am pretty certain I am not going to do well on Saturday's test. I've done where I need to on some, but probably not enough, individual sections, but I haven't taken that many full length tests. I just took one today, but I was so disgusted I stopped grading it and tore it to shreds. Unless I magically got all of the questions right in one LR section, I think I was bound to get a worse score on this test than I have ever gotten before.

I just don't see the point in sitting for the test on Saturday. It was already going to be hard to get into school with my overall GPA being so low (I switched majors way after I should, which killed me). I've already delayed this test a few times. I sat for it once but canceled, since I knew it didn't go well. My report says one absenteeism and one cancellation. If I sat for it, I'd almost certainly cancel. I know a good score is possible, but not probable right now, so again, I don't see any reason to take it right now.

This sucks, primarily because I'm eager to get going with the rest of my life and am tired of seeing not only my peers but everyone younger than me advance. But as I said, I'm already a special case with the low GPA, and in order to have any shot at a good school, I'd need to do well on the LSAT.

I'm clearly doing something wrong, since I've taken the same class twice and have used many testing materials. But I know I am smart enough to master the skills necessary to do well. I'm just not there yet. So while I don't want to wait, I think it's best, since it's going to increase the chances I do well on the test. Plus, it'll put more distance between me and my overall poor GPA and could give me more of a chance to stand out by making my application distinct in some way.

Nobody can ever be certain they are fit for something until they try it, but I'm pretty sure I want to do this, so it only makes sense to try to maximize my chances. Unfortunately, right now at least, that seems to involves waiting.

What do you guys think?

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Re: Should I Wait?
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2009, 09:44:15 PM »
What is your current score range?

mellowguy

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Re: Should I Wait?
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2009, 10:07:42 PM »

It seems like you are trying too hard to get a high score and you should set your bar lower.  And sorry to say it, but if you have already taken two lsat classes and the concepts are still not being absorbed, then I think you may not be up to the task of ever doing well on the lsat.  The lsat is a hard test and you should consider choosing another profession if you are unwilling to go to a low-tier law school. This is just the sad reality of it all.

I took the Power Score class twice, but basically a year apart. The first time was in the spring of 2008, the second time was this past spring.

It's not that I don't understand the concepts. I'm better at some than others. The assumption questions are starting to click more, but I'm stronger at other types. And it's not that I don't get them at all. I just miss them more than other questions, often when I narrow it down to two and pick the wrong one. And on the logic games and to a lesser extent the reading comprehension, timing is the issue. A lot of times, if I spend some extra time, I can get all of the logic game questions right, but of course I can't go beyond 35 minutes on the test.

Unfortunately, I did a lot of what one other poster described as churn and burn, rather than emphasizing understanding why I didn't get them.

I know it's a hard test, but it's not an intelligence test. As one of the teachers of my class said, it's a skills test, and if you hit a wall, you need to change your routine to get better. It's not that I expect to get a 180 with some extra practice. But if you look at the scale, you can get a lot of questions wrong and still get a great score. A couple of extra questions in each section by working on timing alone in the logic games shots me up by a lot, so in my mind, it makes sense to wait.

ryanjm

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Re: Should I Wait?
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2009, 10:20:40 PM »
What are you scoring? I agree with your teacher that there are skills that can be learned to boost your score, but your overall score does correlate with intelligence as well. I don't know any stupid people that got a high score by learning skills.

If you've taken multiple classes and studied for months and months, and you're still scoring low, it might not be the skills that are lacking, but simply the ability to process information quickly, which is one measure of intelligence. I'm not at all implying you are stupid, but are you trying to get a 170+ or something? Not everyone can get a 170+, no matter how much they study, because it does take a measure of pure intelligence and ability to process info really quickly.

mellowguy

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Re: Should I Wait?
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2009, 11:00:59 PM »
OP - you should also by now know which questions tend to take up most of your time.  Learn to skip those questions and go back to them.  This is particularly key in the LR sections.  If you struggle with time at all, skip the parallel reasoning questions and return to them at the end.  In the LG section, skipping the second question of a game and going back to it, for example, can also help with time because the rules of the game become better absorbed as you move along in the questions.  If the last question of a game is difficult, as is often the case, just skip it, cut your losses, and move on to the next game. There is typically one question of every game that is the absolute time killer.  The test makers want to see if you can be smart and cut your losses.

I'm getting better at the timing issue, but I'm not there yet. Slowly but surely, I feel as if I am getting better. I just feel like if I continue to work on the timing and the few weak spots I have left, I'll do better. Again, I don't think I'm going to get a 180, but I think with a 165, I'd get into some good schools even with my overall low GPA.

Let's put it this way. I've gone through four schools that I've thought about applying to, and all of them would still take applications with the February LSAT. Am I hurting myself by continuing to delay the test so that my application is read later? I'm sure of it. But at the same time, getting a score lower than I am capable of and having it reflect poorly on me won't do me any favors. If my biggest issue is time, and on two sections it is, then there's no reason why I shouldn't continue to work on that. The games, for instance, aren't exactly the same, but they are similar enough since they are based on similar concepts that it should get easier and easier.

Or, more succinctly, if I am not ever going to get it, a couple of extra months of practice won't change that. But if I can get better, and I am sure I can, that could make a massive difference.

mellowguy

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Re: Should I Wait?
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2009, 11:58:18 PM »

I'm getting better at the timing issue, but I'm not there yet. Slowly but surely, I feel as if I am getting better. I just feel like if I continue to work on the timing and the few weak spots I have left, I'll do better. Again, I don't think I'm going to get a 180, but I think with a 165, I'd get into some good schools even with my overall low GPA.

Let's put it this way. I've gone through four schools that I've thought about applying to, and all of them would still take applications with the February LSAT. Am I hurting myself by continuing to delay the test so that my application is read later? I'm sure of it. But at the same time, getting a score lower than I am capable of and having it reflect poorly on me won't do me any favors. If my biggest issue is time, and on two sections it is, then there's no reason why I shouldn't continue to work on that. The games, for instance, aren't exactly the same, but they are similar enough since they are based on similar concepts that it should get easier and easier.

Or, more succinctly, if I am not ever going to get it, a couple of extra months of practice won't change that. But if I can get better, and I am sure I can, that could make a massive difference.

Do you find the LR sections the easiest?  I find it the most difficult to finish on time...LG and RC I can finish with about 1 minute left.  I think if you can finish the LR section on time with pretty good accuracy, then you have a case for future improvement.

Are you saying that you won't take the Dec LSAT even though you are registered for it?  I highly suggest you take it no matter what since a cancellation is probably no worse in the eyes of adcoms than an absence.

You should also still consider what I said about skipping questions and returning to them later.  This is a proven technique, and if you are actually aiming for the 160 range and not the 170+ range, the technique is crucial.  For 170+ you can still implement this technique, but it is, of course, more difficult.

Could you PM me the schools you found that accept the Feb LSAT?  I may resort to that too, but we should understand that even with a ~165 LSAT, our chances of getting in with a Feb LSAT are really low.

Best of luck!


I remember reading the Power Score site when I was taking the class and it said that it's better to have a cancellation followed by a high(er) score rather than a low(er) score followed by a higher score since the schools don't really assign a motive to a cancellation. It's not a number to them, while a low score is. (Those weren't the exact words, but that was the point.) They said multiple cancellations isn't good and could very well require an addendum, but (a) I'm not sure being absent is looked as the same thing--it's not counted towards three times in two years you can take the test by LSAC, according to an e-mail I received--and (b) unless you have a really high number of cancellations, something higher than five, are they really going to care if the end result is a higher score they can use to juice their rankings? Wouldn't it be sufficient to say, more elegantly, "Hey, I signed up for the test and sat for it, but I could tell I didn't achieve my full potential. The final score shows what I am capable of..."?

There are a few problems in the LR that are giving me issues. One is assumption questions. I'm starting to understand them better by dissecting the stimulus more thoroughly, but I'm not great at it. It's not that I can't finish the majority or even all of the problems. I just have some rough spots.

I'm not really sure why our chances are that much lower at all schools if we take the February LSAT. Some schools, like Cardozo, have a much later than normal priority deadline of April 1, but even at a school like USD, which has a February 1 priority deadline, is it going to make all the difference in the world? Why would the school have rolling admissions if it didn't think it'd make sense for some students to use it? If the school really wants you, it'll take you. It's probably worse for someone like me, because of my overall low GPA, but it's a risk I probably have to take to have a shot at all.

Besides, and take this with a grain of salt, as I don't have much to back it up with, but as you go lower and lower down the US News list, I suspect it's less and less of an issue. Not that I'm bashing those schools, mind you; I'm just suggesting that the relatively less competitive a school is, the more lenient it is.

I could tell you the schools I am apply to, but I haven't finalized my list yet.

ryanjm

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Re: Should I Wait?
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2009, 12:45:55 AM »
Yeah, it's better to wait and do well on the test when you're ready than to take it when you're not. But based on your past experience with the test (3rd time registered w/no score), and the number of prep courses and materials you've looked at already, I guess most people here are just wondering if you'll _ever_ be ready. As in, if you can't score 165 consistently on practice exams, does that mean you'll never be ready? It's just strange to hear the amount of prep you've done, and yet you feel you're still not ready. GL in February regardless, just don't beat yourself up too badly if 165 just isn't going to happen no matter what you do.

mellowguy

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Re: Should I Wait?
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2009, 01:16:37 AM »
Yeah, it's better to wait and do well on the test when you're ready than to take it when you're not. But based on your past experience with the test (3rd time registered w/no score), and the number of prep courses and materials you've looked at already, I guess most people here are just wondering if you'll _ever_ be ready. As in, if you can't score 165 consistently on practice exams, does that mean you'll never be ready? It's just strange to hear the amount of prep you've done, and yet you feel you're still not ready. GL in February regardless, just don't beat yourself up too badly if 165 just isn't going to happen no matter what you do.

Here's the thing: I may have prepped a lot, but that doesn't always mean it was smartly. In fact, I'm guessing a lot of it was stupidly done. I should have focused specifically on a few questions that I was usually getting wrong, but I never really took the time to do that. And of course on the reading comp, I always planned to practice more but never did until recently.

I actually looked at an older practice test scoring break down from when I took one of the classes. This is when I did quite poorly and only answered 33/50 on the LR section. Now, I've got a strategy in mind which involves me missing up to 10-12 questions on the LR, no more than 3 wrong on the RC, and essentially giving up on one logic but getting the majority of the questions that I take the time to look at correctly. (Based on looking at a lot of scales, depending on the particular test, you can get 15-20 and still get a solid score in the 160s. On some more extreme tests, you can get around 25 wrong and still do pretty well.) If my base is around 33 questions, and I was getting the majority of assumption questions wrong, getting 3 more right, for 5 out of a possible 6, means that I am already that much closer to my goal.

On some practice sections, I was getting enough correct, but that wasn't happening frequently enough. It needs to happen more before I become confident enough to take it.

I understand what you are saying, though, but as I said, I don't expect to get a 180. I just think it's possible to get, say, a 165, based on the margin for error and the fact that my biggest problems are with timing and with certain questions.

Did you already take the test? If not, good luck to you, too!

mellowguy

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Re: Should I Wait?
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2009, 11:09:05 PM »
I strongly think you should take the test tomorrow, if for nothing more than to get practice for the February LSAT.  Two absences in a row is no better than an absence followed by a cancellation.  When an adcom sees two absences, it's pretty clear what the reason is for missing those tests.  You have already paid for the test and you only get a partial refund for absences I believe.  Any miniscule gain you get in "elegance" with two absences, is far outweighed by the benefits of actually getting the real test experience.

In fact, I think absence / absence / score is far worse than an absence / cancellation / score.  If I recall correctly, you currently only have one absence, right?  Even if you take it tomorrow, you still have two shots in the following year.  You don't need any more than that.

And believe me, for schools that have an early Feb date, a February LSAT will significantly decrease our chances.  That is a certainty.

I strongly think you should take the test tomorrow, if for nothing more than to get practice for the February LSAT.  Two absences in a row is no better than an absence followed by a cancellation.  When an adcom sees two absences, it's pretty clear what the reason is for missing those tests.  You have already paid for the test and you only get a partial refund for absences I believe.  Any miniscule gain you get in "elegance" with two absences, is far outweighed by the benefits of actually getting the real test experience.

In fact, I think absence / absence / score is far worse than an absence / cancellation / score.  If I recall correctly, you currently only have one absence, right?  Even if you take it tomorrow, you still have two shots in the following year.  You don't need any more than that.

And believe me, for schools that have an early Feb date, a February LSAT will significantly decrease our chances.  That is a certainty.

Why would being absent be worse than canceling the score or getting a low score? In the end, the school wants a high score, and if you can get that high score, does it really make that much of a difference? Again, canceling or being absent six times is different, but if I explain that I didn't feel ready and then get a high score proving I was right, isn't it all pretty meaningless?

I guess I can always take it and then sign up for the test in February if I need to.

You know, I should probably sit for it, since as you said I already paid the money. And if I don't like the score I get, I'll take it again in February and deal with it as far as certain schools go. 

And no, I am not a student. I graduated a few years ago. Why do you ask?

mellowguy

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Re: Should I Wait?
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2009, 01:12:00 AM »

Why would being absent be worse than canceling the score or getting a low score? In the end, the school wants a high score, and if you can get that high score, does it really make that much of a difference? Again, canceling or being absent six times is different, but if I explain that I didn't feel ready and then get a high score proving I was right, isn't it all pretty meaningless?

I guess I can always take it and then sign up for the test in February if I need to.

You know, I should probably sit for it, since as you said I already paid the money. And if I don't like the score I get, I'll take it again in February and deal with it as far as certain schools go. 

And no, I am not a student. I graduated a few years ago. Why do you ask?

Two absences will not look good.  I think that's just common sense.  It makes you wonder why you registered for it and then didn't bother to show up...twice.  I think one absence is fine, which is why I told you to sit the test today and avoid another one.

I think I wasn't clear before - a second absence is better than getting a low score, of course, but a second absence in your case is worse than getting a cancellation on your record.  What I was saying was that you should take the test, and at worst, if you think you didn't do well, then cancel the score.  I believe you should be able to tell roughly how well you did relative to your target.  Real test experience is crucial, as I witnessed today.  The environment can be so much more distracting than one might expect.

I'm just trying to help.  I hope you did take the LSAT today.  If you did, that's a good move in preparation for the Feb LSAT if you decide to take it.  If you do well in February, I think you might want to consider waiting to apply until Fall 2010, since it will be really difficult to get in at the time you are applying.

I did sit for it today. To make a long story short, it wasn't [knock on wood] nearly as bad as I thought. Granted, you never know for sure until you see your score, but I didn't feel the dread I sometimes feel. Whether it is stupid confidence is another thing, but I felt alert, I felt focused, and I think the timing was good. Specifically, I remembered what you--or maybe it was someone else--said about the one killer question in each logic game. Once I got to that, I went on the next game and tried to answer more questions, while still going with my strategy of focusing on three so I could hopefully get more right overall. I also started with a simple linear game to get my brain flowing. I think it worked, unless I made some bizarre error with screwed me for several questions. Generally speaking, I got the same sort of feeling that I think I remember from when I took the ACT a third time, when I finally did well. It's the sort of feeling that you know you finished strong, stronger than you ever got on a practice test or anything like that.

I hope I did well, if for no other reason than I don't want to think about this test for a long, long time. Hell, at this point, I'd be happy with a 160+ even if I had to wait another year before applying.

I guess I'll know in a few weeks.

I guess I'll know