Episode 39: Will Legal Experience and Letters of Recommendation from Lawyers Get You Into Law School?

Here’s what we talk about in this week’s Thinking LSAT podcast:

  • Andrew asks what we think his chances are of admission to the University of Iowa College of Law. He scored a 155 on the LSAT without any preparation (and is now scoring much higher), and is retaking the test in October. He will have a compelling personal statement, and has impressive extracurricular and leadership activities. He also has a potential letter of recommendation from an attorney.
  • Carmen will apply to law school next fall. She graduated from California State University, Chico with a bachelor’s degree in history and a 3.0 GPA. She also works as a paralegal. She asks if we have tips for studying the LSAT on her own while working full time. She also wonders if there are grants and scholarships available for her first-choice of Lewis & Clark Law School, given her GPA and potential LSAT score. In addition, will her experience as a paralegal help her gain admission?
  • Danny disagrees with our approach of not reading the question stem first in the Logical Reasoning section. We talk about Danny’s approach versus our recommendations.
  • We also get an update from Andre who took our suggestion to slow down and analyze Reading Comprehension passages.

Here’s the link to the LSAT tracker we mention during the show. This lets you track your progress and discover what you need to work on.

Take a listen and let us know what you think.

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2 Comments


  1. Hey guys, thanks for another great podcast and the very interesting and helpful discussion of my email regarding reading the question stem first in Logical Reasoning. Here are some thoughts I had after listening to the podcast (please forgive the longwindedness). I think that there are several possibilities for what’s going on here:
    Option 1. Reading the question stem first is never the best strategy for anyone who takes the LSAT.
    Option 2. Reading the question stem first is never the best strategy for a certain subgroup of LSAT takers.
    Given that it at least seems as though there are people who are able to fully master the Logical Reasoning section while reading the question stem first, Option 1 seems unlikely. It would, however, be nice to figure out how many, of the people who are able to fully master the Logical Reasoning section, do so while reading the question stem first. I think that your evaluation of the strategy should be different if it turns out that there’s a roughly 50-50 split amongst people who are able to fully master the Logical Reasoning question- half of them read the question stem first, and half of them don’t. Of course I have no idea if that’s the case, but it’d be interesting to know…
    Anyways, I think you should agree that Option 2 is more plausible than Option 1, and I think that the jury is out as to how rare of an occurrence it is to be able to fully master the Logical Reasoning section while reading the question stem first. This got me thinking more broadly about consensus strategies amongst LSAT experts. For example, with regard to the games section you have said that you don’t know anyone who’s really good at the games but doesn’t at least sometimes use the strategy of dividing it up into different worlds. So something analogous to Option 1 above does seem to hold in the games section: Never using the “worlds” strategy is never the best strategy for anyone who takes the LSAT. At the other end of the spectrum, I think everyone agrees that there is no one best method to use for the symbolizations in the diagrams- different people just feel more comfortable with different types of symbolizations. Sure, of course there are some agreed upon bad methods for symbolizations (like, don’t just copy down the rules verbatim), but there are many different types of good methods for the symbolizations. Another example of a consensus strategy I think would be never to read the question stems first in the Reading Comprehension section. Now, reading the question stem first in the Logical Reasoning section seems to fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum- unlike reading the question stems first in the Reading Comprehension section, reading the question stem first in Logical Reasoning is not automatically bad. But it’s not quite like the situation in logic games where there are tons of different possible good methods for symbolizations. Does this sound like an accurate portrayal of the situation regarding the strategy of reading the question stem first in Logical Reasoning? Is there any research out there concerning how many LSAT experts use the various strategies?

    Re skippable questions in Logical Reasoning: Yeah, Nathan I was surprised by what you said on the show. Here’s what you wrote in your Logical Reasoning Encyclopedia, in the intro to the Matching Pattern section, pg. 547:
    “These are among the most time consuming and difficult questions on the LSAT. Most students (let’s say, roughly, anyone regularly scoring 160 or below on their practice tests) should be skipping these questions and coming back to them at the end of the section if there’s time. This is especially true on the extremely long Matching Pattern questions. Why would we waste our time on a question that takes up its own column on the page, when we could answer two other questions in the same amount of time? Make sure you’ve harvested all the low-hanging fruit before you break out the 40-foot ladder.”
    Maybe I’m misinterpreting your words here, but it sounds like you’ve changed your mind about this issue since writing the book?

    Reply

    1. Consensus won’t help you. Do what works for you.

      Re: Skipping certain Matching Pattern questions, yes, I’ve changed my mind since I wrote the Encyclopedia. Thanks for pointing that out! I’ll make an edit to a future version.

      Reply

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