For aspiring law students, tomorrow marks a crucial step on the prestige whore journey. The LSAT will go a long way towards defining which school you are supposedly “insecure” about not getting into.
It’s all too easy to say that the LSAT is a terrible way to judge success in law school and beyond. All standardized tests are silly at some level. Some claim that the LSAT is racially biased, and most people agree that people that can afford expensive test-prep courses do better than those that can’t afford those classes.
But, in a blatant attempt to get up in Brian Leiter’s grill, let’s put together an argument that the LSAT is the best measure of law school success that has yet been invented.
The LSAT does capture a couple of key law school skills, the most important of which is the logical reasoning sections. A lot of time is spent in law school playing a game of, “one of these kids is doing his own thing, one of these kids just doesn’t belong.” Spotting weak or incorrect arguments guarantees you a law school B, before you go to class or crack a case book.
And for practicing attorneys, making weak, faulty, or altogether nonsensical arguments is half the ball game. “My client’s gross misstatements about oil are much more like Justice Holmes’s correct statements about water, therefore my client’s statements were actually correct.” Good lawyers know a fallacy when they see it and when they use it.
The reading comprehension section is a bit, meh. But reading is fundamental to everything a lawyer does so at least the section is fair.
The games are a very accurate indicator of issue spotting and fact development. All the games are is a three step process that you’ll see on every law school exam: here are some rules, here are some facts, tell me what happened. And what is fact development other than putting various concerns in their appropriate boxes (or binders as it were)?
Love it or hate it, the LSAT tests some very basic thought processes that law students and lawyers will use everyday. Maybe it’s not an indicator of future success because people can be trained, but it’s a great indicator of whether you “think like a lawyer” or not.
Some tips for LSAT success after the jump.
No list can be inclusive, but here are the best tips I can think of for doing well on the LSAT. Please feel free to add, amend –or ask me to tell you what score I got and then call me a liar– in the comments.
* The Logic Games section is the easiest section on the whole test. Write the rules down, make a different picture for each question, one really can get every single one of those questions correct.
* Don’t think outside the box. Ever. It’s not just that every question can be answered based solely on the plain text reading of the question, it’s also true that there are answers designed to trip you up should you try to add a “common sense” overlay to the question.
* Ever heard the phrase “… to take things to it’s logical conclusion.” Do that. All the time. If you come to a patently ridiculous point that has no real-world applicability, you’ve arrived at the right answer.
* But lay off the caffeine. Adrenalin will keep you awake, coffee will make you jittery.
* If you need to use the bathroom, use the bathroom. I took a “number 2″ during the (much, much more stressful) bar exam. Everything worked out fine.
Other tips and advice? Share your strategies in the comments.