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RachelSophia

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so discouraged and need some advice
« on: January 13, 2011, 10:34:24 PM »
i was preparing to take the february lsat after 7 months of studying (literally 3-4 hours a day, and i spent 6-9 hours a day during christmas break - not much of a vacation i know) im in a kaplan prep course and i scored a 156 on my 5th practice test tonight (my first score was a 148) and this was the best score i've gotten yet. i know i should probably postpone until june for taking the test but after all of the hard work ive done i almost feel like ill never get the score i want (a 163 or 164 is my ultimate goal) does anyone have any advice? am i being paranoid or am i at all correct in my fears of just never improving my score enough to get to my goal? i may have even been studying TOO hard (didn't know there was such a thing..) and studying along with 18 credits for my college classes has been difficult, to say the least. has anyone else had this same kind of discouragement? i'd appreciate any advice anyone may have (minus the every test gone be hardest ever remarks of course - not that those arent absolutely hilarious)

thanks so much for even reading my post!

Rachel

Graeme

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Re: so discouraged and need some advice
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2011, 11:04:51 PM »
1.  It's definitely possible to see that kind of improvement. 

2.  Studying too hard is also quite possible.  The goal of your study should be improvement.  Focus on quality --> learn techniques which will let you understand questions betters.  THEN practice to solidify your grasp of those techniques.

 -One good way to do this would be to identify a weak area, then ask your course instructor after class to teach you ONE thing which will help it.  Get him to watch you do a problem if possible.  Then focus on mastering that one skills.  Repeat. 

3.  Do the schools you're interested in look at highest score, or average?  If they only look at the highest, I strongly suggest you write in February, and June (if you don't do well enough in February).  Quite a few students can get freaked out the first time they write the LSAT, but are much more relaxed the second time.  That tends to help their score. 

Good luck, and focus on identifying weaknesses, so you can eliminate them :)
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bigs5068

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Re: so discouraged and need some advice
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2011, 01:51:26 PM »
I don't know if it is possible to see that much improvement. Not that I am an LSAT expert myself, but everyone has their limits. Getting a 163+ puts you roughly in the 80th percentile of LSAT test takers. If everyone could get a 163+ LSAT everyone would. I studied as hard as I could and 155 was my final score. I was always around there one time I got a 161, but that was a "practice". I think I could take the test a million more times and I would score in the 155 range give or take a few points every time.

You can get into law school with a 156, but Harvard will not be on the menu. Plenty of people succeed from lower ranked schools and plenty of people do not succeed from highly ranked schools. You should try to get the best score you can, but at some point you just need to go in and take the test. Apply with whatever score you get hopefully  a 163+, but if not then with whatever score you get see what schools you can get into and do a cost-benefit analysis of your options. You can practice forever, but the LSAT is a specific test and there is an 80% you won't finish in the top 20% of test takers. The same thing will happen no matter what law school you go to. In the first year everyone is convinced they will finish in the top 10%, but 90% of student's are shocked when the first year grades come out. This is because only 10% of people can finish in the top 10%.

I have known so many people that have studied for the LSAT for years and either never took it or continually canceled their score. This is not a smart move I know one girl who has been pretty heavily studying for the test for 4 years. She could have graduated and passed the bar by now had she just taken the test. She always scores in the mid 150 range, but she wants to score in the 160+. I am sorry to say there are limits again not everyone can score in the top 20% of test takers. Bottom line is she either needs to s*** or get off the pot and do something else.

The bottom line is just study as hard as you can and take the test. With either of the scores listed you can likely get into an ABA school. If you dominate in the first year you can transfer and even if you do not dominate you can go to law school pass the bar and be a practicing lawyer. If being a lawyer is what you want to do then you will be happy. You might be able to pull a 160+ and that would be awesome! However, you should not put your life on hold if you have done everything you can do regarding the LSAT.  Everybody has their limits and you should just move forward once you have fully prepared for the LSAT. Well good luck to you. Remember if you did everything you could do and worked your ass off no matter happens it is not a failure no matter what happens. Most people are to scared to every put themselves out there and try anything and would rather sit back and criticize others. If you study your a** off and go through the test accept the score whatever it might be you succeeded. Just do not be one of those people that sit back and are to scared or hesitant to move put themselves out there. Again, good luck to you and hopefully you will get that 163+.

Graeme

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Re: so discouraged and need some advice
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2011, 03:58:31 PM »
Bigs makes a good point.  I think everyone has a different baseline level of LSAT skill, and they can improve from there.  Eventually, you will plateau.  You don't want to keep practicing and practicing if your score isn't budging.  You shouldn't give up to soon, but the opposite mistake is to keep going and going and going even when you're not getting better.

So how can you tell if you've hit your peak or not?  Track your practice score results, and also see if you're still learning and understanding things which you didn't before.  The quantity of tests you write doesn't really matter; it's whether or not you get the concepts which will let you write ANY LSAT well. 

Your score on the practice tests is still moving upwards, so I'd say you should still keep trying.  When it stops budging, then you have to find out if there are any concepts to learn to help you improve your weaknesses.  Only once you've done that and your score stays stable, should you decide to call it quits. 

Keep going for now, and use practice tests to gauge how you're doing.  Five isn't that many to have written.  I probably wrote at least ten before I took the LSAT.  It's for that reason that I suspect you've still got some margin for improvement left.  It's impossible to be sure, but you'll never know unless you try.  Good luck!
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TLSanders

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Re: so discouraged and need some advice
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2011, 09:54:24 PM »
There is nothing productive you can do to prepare for the LSAT 3-4 hours per day and 6-9 during your break.  Everyone DOES have a different peak and you may not know yet whether or not you've reached yours, but it's entirely possible that you've crippled your own progress by trying to "cram" in a way that just doesn't work for LSAT prep.

I'd suggest that you take a few days off entirely and then take a practice test when your head is clear and work from there.  You've gotten some great advice here regarding looking for a specific weakness or two that you can attack and pick up multiple points.  When I taught for Kaplan, I often worked with a student during the last few weeks before the test to identify the highest-yield fixes available in the short term.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't postpone if you feel you still have room for improvement, but take into account that LSAT skills have to be kept fresh; if you won't have the time and commitment to practice at least a few times a week during that entire time period, you may actually hurt your score by postponing.
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EarlCat

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Re: so discouraged and need some advice
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2011, 03:07:56 AM »
It's probably true that everyone has their peak.  I also think that practical considerations about time kick in long before someone reaches the absolute highest score their brain is capable of.  I mean, give me 10 years with a 150 student, and I can probably get them into Harvard's range.  But at what cost?  I mean, who wants to work 13 years to become a first-year associate? 

Figure out what cycle you want to apply in, figure out what test you need to take to get in at the front of that cycle, and study your butt off until then.  Then either take the score you got, or consider postponing another year.  At some point, though, it's time to go be a lawyer.

Anti09

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Re: so discouraged and need some advice
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2011, 03:25:14 PM »
i was preparing to take the february lsat after 7 months of studying (literally 3-4 hours a day, and i spent 6-9 hours a day during christmas break - not much of a vacation i know) im in a kaplan prep course and i scored a 156 on my 5th practice test tonight (my first score was a 148) and this was the best score i've gotten yet. i know i should probably postpone until june for taking the test but after all of the hard work ive done i almost feel like ill never get the score i want (a 163 or 164 is my ultimate goal) does anyone have any advice? am i being paranoid or am i at all correct in my fears of just never improving my score enough to get to my goal? i may have even been studying TOO hard (didn't know there was such a thing..) and studying along with 18 credits for my college classes has been difficult, to say the least. has anyone else had this same kind of discouragement? i'd appreciate any advice anyone may have (minus the every test gone be hardest ever remarks of course - not that those arent absolutely hilarious)

thanks so much for even reading my post!

Rachel

It sounds to me like you are overstudying and burning yourself out.  Your other problem is that you haven't modified your study habits.  If you've spent 7 months (!) and the best you can achieve is a 6 point gain, clearly your study habits aren't working for you.  I'm not a personal fan of Kaplan as they don't use the best methods and their instructors are less qualified, so I would recommend going with Testmasters or Powerscore.  TM seems to have an edge with LR, while the PS bible is king of LG.  However, even if you don't go with another course, you need to change up your study habits or you aren't ever going to see any improvement.

You also need to take more full length practice tests.  You should have done way more than 5 in 7 months.  A big part of the test is overcoming fatigue and managing time, and that can only be done with full length tests.  That does NOT mean doing 9 hours of study a day, which is absurdly overdoing it and probably the reason you're so burned out.

While it is true that everyone has a 'peak' and not everybody is capable of a 180, almost everybody is capable of a 163.  Unless you have an extenuating circumstance (i.e., learning disability or are a non-native English speaker), there's really no reason you shouldn't be able to improve another 7 points.  I spent ~5 months studying for 2-4 hrs / day most days of the week and improved my score 18 points (151 -> 169)


bigs5068

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Re: so discouraged and need some advice
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2011, 03:37:30 PM »
Most people cannot achieve a 163 that is roughly the 80th percentile of LSAT test takers. If my math serves me right it seems only 20% of test takers can achieve a 163 or higher. Not everyone is meant for tier 1. If Lebron James came to me and said yo man why don't you just dunk from the freethrow line when your man stays a few foot off you. My answer would be as I imagine anyone on this site woudl be I cannot dunk from the free throw line Lebron. Although I myself am 6'8 260 pounds ( I think I have a bit more body fat than LJ though :). The bottom line is me and about 99% of NBA players simply do not have the athleticism to do it. Likewise when someone says anyone can get a 163 or 170 on the LSAT it is the same as Lebron saying why not dunk from the free throw line. Point being not everyone goes to Harvard law school. The reason Harvard is impressive is because roughly 99% of the population could not attend it. Just like 99% of the population is not a 6'8 260 pound athletic superfreak and Lebron is paid millions for having that skill.

Anti09

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Re: so discouraged and need some advice
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2011, 03:54:39 PM »
Most people cannot achieve a 163 that is roughly the 80th percentile of LSAT test takers. If my math serves me right it seems only 20% of test takers can achieve a 163 or higher.

I said almost everyone is capable of achieving a 163, not that everybody will. And for the record, the 80th percentile is a 160, not a 163.

Quote
Not everyone is meant for tier 1. If Lebron James came to me and said yo man why don't you just dunk from the freethrow line when your man stays a few foot off you. My answer would be as I imagine anyone on this site woudl be I cannot dunk from the free throw line Lebron. Although I myself am 6'8 260 pounds ( I think I have a bit more body fat than LJ though :). The bottom line is me and about 99% of NBA players simply do not have the athleticism to do it. Likewise when someone says anyone can get a 163 or 170 on the LSAT it is the same as Lebron saying why not dunk from the free throw line.

This whole statement is a giant pile of wtf.  It makes very little sense to compare free throws (?) to the LSAT.  A proper analogy would recognize that while not everyone can step up and dunk like Lebron, with enough practice you might be able to dunk almost as well.

Quote
Point being not everyone goes to Harvard law school. The reason Harvard is impressive is because roughly 99% of the population could not attend it. Just like 99% of the population is not a 6'8 260 pound athletic superfreak and Lebron is paid millions for having that skill.

To summarize, Harvard =/= Lebron James.  Sports =/= Law.  Height =/= LSAT score. 

EarlCat

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Re: so discouraged and need some advice
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2011, 04:12:50 PM »
You also need to take more full length practice tests.  You should have done way more than 5 in 7 months.  A big part of the test is overcoming fatigue and managing time, and that can only be done with full length tests.

I only half agree.  Managing time is important, and full-length timed tests are good for getting a feel for how you should pace yourself.  But doing test after test is not the way to overcome mental fatigue.  If I replaced the questions on the LSAT with 2nd grade math questions, you wouldn't have any problem with fatigue (or time, really), despite not drilling away at practice tests.  Why?  Because you're familiar with the material and answering such questions is a matter of routine that (after lots of untimed practice in elementary school) takes very little brain power.  The same is true for the LSAT once you have a concrete grasp of the concepts and patterns presented on the test.  This doesn't come from timed drills or full-length tests.  It comes from slow, careful practice and repetition.