Episode 100: TMI in the PIT of the Shark Tank

00:00:00 – Introduction—The results are in from the June 2017 LSAT, and Nate and Ben discuss how their students fared.

00:02:07 – Holy shit. The guys have made it to episode 100. Did you ever think that would happen? They didn’t necessarily. Nate and Ben talk about what it’s been like to host Thinking LSAT and to answer emails with an untouchable response rate.

00:10:28 – First email is from Jordan! With a less-than-stellar (but rising) GPA, Jordan is going into his senior year with hopes of nabbing a high LSAT score. His unorthodox self-prep has resulted in scores in the mid 160s. Wanting to swing for the fences in September, he asks the guys if it’s worth it to take an online class, and whether he even has enough time to digest an online course given the short timeline to test day. Nate and Ben talk about why not all hope is lost for Jordan with his current GPA, and about how online courses can benefit high-scoring peeps like Jordan even more than traditional classroom environments.

00:23:55 – Email 2—Julie writes in with complaints of being stuck scoring 165-169—she just can’t seem to break into the 170s. While the rest of the LSAT-taking world weeps uncontrollably with scores sub 160, Ben and Nate cover some additional self-prep techniques that may help. And, of course, there’s always private LSAT tutoring. Did the guys mention they offer private LSAT tutoring? They offer private tutoring!

00:31:06 – For a brief moment, Ben has to break away to wrangle an escaped pet. This leads to a discussion on the joys of dog ownership, which, naturally, turns into an aside on the logic games in PrepTest 81 (the most recent test, y’all). The conversation rounds off with Ben’s (pretty funny) impressions of the freewheeling LSAC intelligentsia.

00:35:53 – Email 3—Utah Mark (that’s Mark from Utah) is getting married in August (congrats, Mark!) Going into the June LSAT, Mark improved his practice test scores from the mid 150s to 164. He asks Nate and Ben for advice: should he also take the September LSAT, or, given his marriage plans, would it be better to wait until December? The guys opine.

00:42:08 – Email 4—Julie is noticing some odd “patterns” in the questions she’s getting wrong in her LSAT practice. The guys talk about common misperceptions that form when trying to overanalyze what you got wrong on a given test. Plus, Ben makes an analogy to ABC’s Shark Tank to try and explain how he and Nate deliver feedback.  

00:56:19 – Email 5—Peter is in the unusual position of being right where he wants to be in his practice tests. The only problem is that the next text is several months away. He asks the guys the best way to stay sharp and maintain his current scores over that period of time. Nate and Ben make a few recommendations, but also, let’s face it, Pete, you can always try to shoot for a few more points…

00:59:25 – Email 6—Adam-ten-pencils writes in admitting that he was totally that guy who over-prepped for test day. While listening to Episode 97: Last minute advice for the June 2017 LSAT on the way into the test, Adam realized he had way overdone it on pencil preparedness. Nate and Ben praise him for doubling down and owning his newly earned reputation.

01:02:03 – Email 7—Sam asks about the importance of geographic location and law-school ranking when applying to law school. The guys cover a range of considerations from quality of life, to employment opportunities, and more. They even come up with an all-new way to rank law schools! The PIT list, or Pearl-in-the-Turd rankings.

01:17:05 – Email 8—[Redacted] writes in with the horrifying tale of their near-death experience. They ask about the lengths to which they should describe the story in their personal statement when applying to law school. Both Ben and Nate chime in with their thoughts about how to deliver an impactful personal statement without venturing into TMI territory.

21 Comments


  1. I was expelled from a public university in 2012 and joined the military for 4 years. After I separated (honorly) I was readmitted into a far more prestigious university than my original one ranked in the top 10 in the nation. I am curious how this unfortunate event will impact my admissions.

    I have a 3.65 GPA, take the LSAT in September (have been scoring between 168 -172 on proctored exams). I have a lot of other factors that are positive and an outstanding military record in addition to letters of rec from public officials. My goal is a T14. Just curious if I could get some feedback. Also curious if I should include this in my personal statement or just include it in the essay they will be requested upon putting that I have disciplinary action in the past. Will the expulsion and military service potentially offset one another? Could I include the expulsions impact on the course of my life in my personal essay and spin it to be an ultimately positive experience (it was looking back).

    Reply

    1. First, almost everyone, including law school application reviewers, care much more about who you are now than who you were. So if you have changed (and it sounds like you certainly have) and you can show that (and it sounds like you certainly can), I don’t think that your disciplinary action will hurt you.

      Second, if it really was a positive experience in the end, and you’re not just spinning it as any good American politician would, then yes, I would seriously considering writing about it in your personal statement. If you have something substantive to say about that experience and it relates to why you’re here today applying to a T14 law school, then go for it. It would take care of two birds with one stone.

      Good luck!

      Reply

  2. Hi, I’m a new listener to your podcast and have been going back over old podcasts to catch up and learn what I can about the LSAT.
    My situation is a pretty strange one, but before I get into the peculiarities, I’ll first tell you a bit about myself. I will be entering my junior year at a top tier public university, will likely graduate with honors and a GPA just north of 3.8, qualifying me for my university’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. I have a pretty solid resume, with internships, clubs, leadership positions, some research and a prestigious federal scholarship. I’d like to attend a top 10 law school, preferably top 5. I plan on applying to law school in August 2018.
    However, my LSAT is another story, and this is where the peculiarities arise. I took my first practice LSAT and scored a 169, but later took another practice test, after realizing the first was under non-testlike conditions. On three subsequent LSATs, all in consistent, accurate testing conditions, I scored a 165, a 155 and a 159 respectively. All of these scores come from trying to get a baseline measurement of my LSAT standings, but my baseline fluctuates wildly, up to 10 points, despite keeping my testing conditions consistent. What I can’t figure out is that on each test, my best sections have all been different, making it difficult, if not impossible, for me to determine my strengths and weaknesses. Is this more common than I think? Should I continue taking diagnostic tests until I find a consistent baseline?

    Reply

    1. Don’t worry about figuring out your baseline score. Instead, focus on the questions that you got wrong in those four tests. Why did you get them wrong? Did you misunderstand the passage, the argument, or the game setup? Did you misunderstand what they were asking for? Did you misunderstand some rule of logic? Did you go too fast? Discovering what you’re doing wrong in each of these questions will do more to help you improve your score than discovering your baseline. Good luck, Ben

      Reply

      1. Couldn’t agree more with this advice. The purpose of doing practice tests is to make some mistakes, so that you can learn from those mistakes, so you can improve. There’s no such thing as “consistency” on the LSAT anyway (at least not until you start pegging the top of the scale) so there’s no point trying to “establish a baseline.”

        Your “weaknesses” are every question you miss. Don’t bother so much with categorizing them or looking for trends. Just figure out this one question.

        Do fewer tests, but review each test more thoroughly.

        Reply

        1. Thanks for this advice guys, and for clearing up this misconception I had. I’ll be studying abroad until December, but I’ll be sure to take a LSAT book or two with me, so I’ll have to go deeper rather than wider; with avidity and this great podcast, I know my ideal law schools are definitely within reach.

          Reply

  3. Hi guys, wondering if anyone has done the PIT graph yet? Thought i’d get started on it tonight, as I’m having a week of downtime…unless one’s already been submitted!

    Reply

    1. Yes, we’ve received a couple submissions. Of course you are welcome to throw your hat in the ring separately, but we will discuss what we have so far on episode 101, recording tomorrow…

      Reply

  4. Hi Nathan and Ben,
    I am in the unusual circumstance of being an incoming sophomore who has been prepping for the LSAT for around a month and has been scoring in the low 160’s/high 150’s ranges. I was wondering if it would be a bad idea if I wanted to take the LSAT my sophomore year?
    Your show is awesome and it has taught me a lot!
    Maxton

    Reply

    1. There’s nothing wrong with taking the LSAT in your sophomore year. Life tends to get busier, so if you have time to study now, get it done! Just make sure you get the best score you can.

      Reply

  5. Here it comes. Are you ready for it? Don’t hate it: OMG! Ben’s backroom LSAC decisiomakers and their minions! Awesome! And the studying groom’s feigned flower interest. Loved it. Where has all this personality been for the first 100 episodes?

    Reply

    1. You’re right, the first 100 were garbage. We’ll try to do better.

      Reply

  6. Hi Ben & Nathan,

    Maybe a topic for a future podcast.

    I am a non-traditional student.

    Post-undergrad, my last 3 years have been spent working for a Japanese automotive supplier. To be frank, I’m not satisfied with my career and dislike the company culture. I want to GTFO asap!

    That being said, I intend to give between 2 weeks and indefinite notice depending on my company’s needs. I am on good terms with my boss and fellow colleagues. I also understand that turnovers can be a sensitive topic for both employee and employer (especially for Japanese management). Lastly, I value job flexibility and recognize that the income generated now will be important for my future JD.

    Depending on my performance and readiness this September/December, I will apply 2017/18 or the following cycle. Given my current situation, I can:

    1) Leave asap, find another job / free time for LSAT studying
    or
    2) Endure the pain a little longer and continue balancing work / study

    Either way, my last three years here will be a part of my law school application.

    Q1. Should I ask my boss for a LOR before or after I announce my leave?

    Q2. I currently have one confirmed letter finished with the potential second being my employer. As I have been out of college for a few years, I do not have many other professors that would be able to write meaningful LORs on my behalf. What can I do outside of work to find a third or forth LOR writer?

    Reply

    1. Hi Hodor,

      1) If you really hate your job, probably leave now. Even if law school doesn’t pan out, it doesn’t sound like you want to be there. But give them plenty of notice so you can leave on good terms.

      Q1. I’d be up front about your plans, and then ask for an LOR.

      Q2. Dig up a professor who gave you an A in a hard class. Reintroduce yourself, remind the professor what class you took, and tell him or her your plan to go to law school. If the professor seems responsive, ask for an LOR and be prepared to send them a polished personal statement.

      Good luck!

      Reply

  7. Hi Ben and Nathan,

    I’m taking the September 16th LSAT, and am looking at schools in the NYC area for a Fall 2018 start. My baseline score was a 155, and I’ve been scoring around 161 now, with 6 weeks left to go in my Manhattan Prep class. I have significant undergrad loans, and need to attend law school for as little cost as possible (I’d be commuting in NY to save on living expenses). Any advice on what schools to aim for?

    Thanks!

    Reply

    1. Hey Jillian, thanks for listening and for reaching out. This question is the type of thing that you should figure out for yourself using the LSAC’s LSAT/GPA calculator. Here:

      https://officialguide.lsac.org/release/ugpalsat/ugpalsat.aspx

      Schools where you’re a 75% chance of admission will most likely offer you scholarship money. That’s where I’d be concentrating if I were you. Good luck! Don’t pay for law school if you don’t have to.

      Reply

  8. Thank you! Using that as a benchmark helps lot. Haha, three years is the goal but we’ll see!

    Reply

    1. One year is better than three years. There are some innovative one-year programs in development. They will be very exclusive, but if you can get in it’s a no-brainer.

      Reply

      1. My bad, I thought Ben was joking and meant drop out haha. I’ve heard of several two-year programs but not of one-years. I’ll look into them, thanks!

        Reply

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