Ep. 125: Plan Don’t Cram

Thanks to you, dear listeners, our inbox experienced a wave of new listener mail and the guys get to work answering your LSAT questions. But first, exciting LSAC news! It turns out LSAC will add another LSAT test date this year—in July. The guys talk about what this means for test-takers. Mostly that it’s a boon for students who now have three chances to tackle the test before the fall cycle begins. Plus, Nathan and Ben speculate on the status of the Digital LSAT, talk Movie Pass, and Nathan gives his critical review of The Phantom Thread.

14:28 – A former student of Nathan’s writes to ask about going round two for law school. What happened with round one, you ask? In their first year of law school, they lost their scholarship, and then their seat due to poor grades. Now that they want back in, the law school is demanding they retake the LSAT. See if you can guess what Nathan and Ben recommend before you tune in to hear for yourself.

20:56 – Email 1—Thank goodness for Florida Coastal School of Law. If not for them, we wouldn’t have a handy “Three Days to Go” stress-reducing 3-day prep plan leading up to the February LSAT. Only thing is…they accidentally sent it 10 days early. Hilarity ensues as the guys skewer this enormous turd-bomb of an email. Find out exactly what not to do before test day, including doing one full test a day for the three days prior to the official LSAT (WTF?). For an email whose subject reads “Plan, don’t cram,” that sounds an awful lot like cramming to us. Thanks to Wes and Avery for sending in this gem.

34:35 – Email 2—Juan recently missed the deadline to apply for accommodations for the February LSAT. He’s struggled with Attention Deficit Disorder for several years, and realized accommodated testing may be an option for him after listening to the pod. With scores in the 140s and 130s on record, he’s wondering if he should sit the February LSAT out and wait to apply for the June test with accommodations? Ben and Nathan unanimously agree: absolutely wait. But there’s more to the story than just getting accommodated testing. Where are you struggling on the exam? What does your practice regimen look like? Going from the 130s to a 160 requires a lot of work, dear friends, and one’s best bet is to plan, not cram.

39:21 – Email 3—We get an exciting update from correspondent Wicked who lets us know that her GPA has bumped from 3.81 to 3.84. Along with her 179 LSAT score, that makes her a pretty strong applicant. She let’s us know that since her last email she’s been accepted to UCLA, University of Chicago, and University of Michigan where she just interviewed for a full-ride scholarship. Looking pretty good so far, Wicked! No news from Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Columbia, and UVA, and she’s waitlisted at UPenn. She’s nervous that a few typos in her admissions essay are holding her back. But the guys agree Wicked has little to worry about. Thanks for the update, Wicked!

43:04 – Email 4—A few weeks ago, Sarah wrote in to let us know a friend had applied to law school late in the cycle and was still excited to pull out a 50% scholarship. Pretty cool, right? How about: pretty un-cool. A 50% scholarship still means paying 50% tuition, which still means a shit ton of debt after law school. Sarah writes in with an update and confirms that both she and her friend agree that the friend was ripped off. After a short time in law school, the friend switched to a degree in poli-sci and is much happier and far less in debt. But the story doesn’t end there. Sarah catches us up on her own application process. She jumped from a 152 to a 157 on December’s LSAT (congrats, Sarah!) and applied this cycle with hopes of nabbing a scholarship for school in the fall. The guys discuss the price you pay for applying late in the year, but hold out hope for our correspondent.  

53:58 – Email 5—What happens when you’ve got a number of charges to your name? Can you still sit for the Bar? Does it make sense to even go to law school? That’s just what Jasmine wants to know. She hopes to one day be a lawyer but has four criminal charges against her from the past five years. Nathan and Ben review Jasmine’s rap sheet and make some recommendations on how to frame her story, but the bottom line is: you’ll need to call the Bar, show your cards, and ask them the best path forward.

1:09:45 – Email 6—Long-time listener Peter hits the guys up with an update and a question. With a 170 LSAT score and a 3.4 GPA, Peter has scored entry to UVA, but without any scholarship money. He’s weighing a decision between the higher-ranked school and slightly lower-ranked schools who are offering substantial scholarships. Ben and Nathan weigh in, but here’s the pro tip: don’t pay for law school. Oh, and don’t just lie there and take sticker price at UVA! Ask them for some money!

1:15:53 – Email 7—Lame on Games (L.o.G.) is bummed. When they first started studying for the LSAT, they would breeze through the logic games without missing hardly a question. The games were so simple. They came to L.o.G. so quickly. And in fact by comparison, they’d suffer a bit in LR and RC. But in the past few months, L.o.G.’s LR and RC skills have strengthened, while they’ve watched their LG sections take a hit. On a recent practice test, they had a -8! What gives? The guys weigh in on how to regain the confidence to start crushing LG sections once again. And you can probably guess the primary piece of advice: slow down, dear listener. Slow down.

14 Comments


  1. Thank you both for the great podcast. Do you guys remember roughly what your PT average was when you took your LSAT? I ask because I remember on another podcast Nathan mentioned his actual score was higher than what he had gotten on practice exams, and he tried to counteract the myth that everyone drops from their PT average. Would be interesting to see more specifically how much you guys went up/down.

    You guys and and a lot of tutors emphasize fully understanding everything we read and figuring out the logic. That makes sense. But I assume you guys have a far greater understanding of the test now than when you first got 170s scores. So it seems clear that the kind of understanding you have now was not necessary to get to 170s. This brings me to an issue I run into sometimes…certain problems and answer choices are broken down by tutors in explanations to a level of precision that is very clear, precise, and enlightening; they completely make sense and are often quite elegant but they involve a level of understanding that I don’t think I could attain without having spent a lot of time teaching the exam. Part of me thinks that many of the tutors still would have gotten the question correct (though probably in an unconfident manner) even before they had spent such time breaking down brutal curve-splitter types of problems. The amorphous intuition that the tutor possessed before they started teaching is what I am after. How can I develop that? (Do you even know what I’m trying to get at, or is this just crazy talk?)

    Thanks for all your help. Also, feel free to address this on the podcast rather than in the comments!

    Jake

    Reply

    1. This is Jake from the previous comment. I wanted to provide some examples of some super tough LR problems I war talking about earlier.

      PT45 – Section 1 – #12 – Dioxin mill. This question makes sense to me now but it’s tough to imagine someone who wasn’t very experienced teaching the LSAT confidently picking the correct answer and knowing that it is definitely better than the trap answer…

      PT81 – Section 2 – #22 – Running on treadmills. Again, it’s clear to me why the correct answer choice is the best. But surely the average 170 scorer who has not taught the exam would be a little bit ??? at this question in a timed situation even if they still get it correct? How do they do it?!

      Reply

  2. I earned a 156 on the December LSAT. After the scores came out early I was encouraged by a friend who is a lawyer to apply for this cycle. I made a deadline of January 15 to have my applications submitted and spent the weeks between scores being released and my deadline getting my application as polished as possible. I have a 3.07 GPA from undergrad 14 years ago and planned on just focusing on studying and getting my LSAT beyond 160 in time to apply in September. Well, I got bit by the bug…I applied to 7 schools. Now, I’ve got a full tuition discount at a certain school that sends a 3 Day Prep plan, a 75% and 50% discount at two “respectable” private schools, and a 74% discount at a “respectable” public school. I’m super excited but I know I shouldn’t be in a rush. I’m taking the February LSAT on Saturday. I haven’t spent as much time studying as I could/should have to be confident that I can earn the higher score I want/need for a bigger discount. Am I a fool for “jumping the gun?”. If I want to back out nicely and leave the door open for applying in the Fall with a higher score to get more money, how do I do that without sounding like a flake?

    Reply

    1. I’d wait, and you don’t need to explain why you’re declining. The implication is obvious: The offer was not good enough. Good luck next cycle!

      Reply

  3. Hi Nathan and Ben!

    Thank you so much for your podcast. You guys have been really helpful in making the LSAT a more manageable beast, and provide really wise and sound advice. I’m writing to ask for your advice about my LSAT prep strategy.

    First, a bit of context: I’m a senior Political Studies major at a small liberal arts college in upstate New York. I currently have a 3.58 GPA and hope to raise it to 3.8 to get me into HYS range. In terms of softs, after my freshman year of college, I interned for a top 20 corporate BigLaw firm in NYC in their recruiting office, assisting with their summer associate program and on-campus recruiting efforts. In my sophomore and junior summers, I interned in the Litigation Department for a top tier investment bank (think JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs level), and I will be returning to that same bank for a 2-year position as an analyst this July. I’m a first-generation American, my parents came here from Brazil 30 years ago, and I’m also gay. These pieces of my identity have shaped the activism and community service I do outside of my corporate internships. I’m currently my school’s Student Body President and have worked in Student Government and been heavily involved in on-campus activism. I’m also a varsity swimmer!

    In January 2017, I took the June 2007 diagnostic and scored a 150, undeterred, I started to self-study with the aim of scoring a 175+ on the June 2017 test. After a nasty breakup, however, I realized I couldn’t focus on my schoolwork and my LSAT. I took time away from the LSAT to finish my junior year and do a lot of introspective work. I restarted my studies this January, again with the aim of taking the test in June or July before I start working. In between all of my on-campus responsibilities, however, and 5 classes, I’m finding it hard to add the LSAT in. I’m considering taking an online prep course from Manhattan LSAT or 7Sage to give me a strong basis in the foundationals.

    So, here I am. When I start working in July, I’ll be working 8AM – 6 PM most days, but I remember from the summer I would come home tired and cranky, not a great mindset for studying. Either way, there’s no ideal chunk of time where I can solely focus on the LSAT. What do you guys think? Take an online course now and tackle the LSAT early, or push back? I won’t be applying to law school until Fall 2019 regardless, so I have some, but not too much time.

    Also, secondary question: do law schools care where you went to undergrad? My school is well known regionally, primarily for the arts, but its a tier below Williams, Middlebury Amherst etc…

    Would love to hear you guys answer this on the show! (*Please don’t use my last name*)

    Reply

      1. Ben, I wanted to add 1 thing, I restarted my studies in January after 3 weeks of using Pithypike’s study plan I found on TLS, specifically drilling Flaw, Necessary Assumption & Strengthen/Weaken questions, and working through sequencing games. I took Superprep A and scored a 157, with the bulk of my misses in Logic Games. Thank you for the tips!

        Kevin

        Reply

  4. Hey guys, I recently began studying and started listening to your podcast, in order, and I’m currently on episode 15. Just wanted to thank you for doing this! It’s amazing how I can always come away with valuable information from pretty much every episode even when I think I might not, even when the episodes I’m listening to are several years old. It’s great stuff and I’m grateful!

    Reply

  5. You guys mention – plan, don’t cram.
    I guess, that goes with what I came to look for in the blog – HOW DO YOU PLAN? Like what do you start to tackle first? Or better yet, how do you arrange/plan out lessons so that I am getting the best out of what I am learning?

    History tidbit – I took my first LSAT 2 years ago w/o studying and did poorly, took it again last February after joining Blueprint, and didn’t do that much better. I am planning to take it again (third time’s the charm?) this June.

    So, at this point I am desperate and don’t have money to keep shelling out. What’s the best way to plan and really master the more important points?

    Thanks.

    Reply

    1. Today, start with test 62, section 1. Do that section timed. Review it carefully using my LSAT score tracker. Take our free online classes. Tomorrow, do test 62, section 2. And keep repeating this process until test day. It’s our Rx on the show.

      Reply

      1. Thank you, Ben! I’m going to try this method, because I feel that I am repeating these lessons like the conditionals, but I am not putting it together when I take a practice test.

        Do you think by doing that consistently it would help to prepare for the June LSAT or should I wait until July, giving me more time?

        Additionally, would it be ok to email you on any specific question from a test that I might have trouble with? Considering that you don’t already get bombarded with questions, and have time to answer.

        Reply

        1. Aim for June and use July as a backup. Many people should just take both.

          I need to save specific LSAT questions for my current students, but feel free to ask general questions.

          Reply

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