Ep. 300: From Car Sales to Law
The 300th episode kicks off with one of the best first drafts of a personal statement we’ve ever had on the show—after Ben and Nathan chop off the final paragraph, that is. Then, the guys evaluate a Pearls vs. Turds candidate about writing addenda to explain score increases (spoiler: don’t do it). They also reminisce about the old days of in-person LSAT classes and, finally, attack another Logical Reasoning question from PrepTest 73.
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3:59 – Jake’s Personal Statement
Jake is a former car salesman who raised his score from 156 to 171 using LSAT Demon. He wrote in to the show a few weeks ago to ask the guys for advice on a personal statement topic. They said they’d love to read about his experience selling cars. Now, Jake is ready to send his first draft through the woodchipper.
His statement starts out great—one of the best submissions we’ve had on the show. In the first paragraph, Jake dives right in and talks about his success as a professional car salesman for six years. It’s personal. He uses “I” as the subject of many sentences. His sentences are mostly short. What’s especially awesome is that he doesn’t try to force the conclusion that the reader is likely already drawing (“successful car salesman—we can make a lawyer out of you”). So far, Jake has done exactly what Nathan and Ben asked him to do. He doesn’t make any heavy-handed claims about how great he is, but he states facts that demonstrate his success and potential. Ben and Nathan agree that it’s a wonderful start.
But that all changes in the final paragraph when Jake starts talking about not being fulfilled in his career. Now he’s bumming the reader out. Ben notes that there’s a big difference between aspiring to something better because you’re excited about it versus searching for something different because you don’t like what you’re currently doing. Jake has been super successful at what he does, and he shouldn’t protest his own story. It undercuts the sale he’s already made. Nathan and Ben suggest ending with a one-sentence final paragraph, and they toy around with a few different options.
Overall, Jake’s personal statement gets a B. But if he follows Ben and Nathan’s advice, he can easily turn it into an A!
42:15 – Pearls vs. Turds
Listener Molly shares some questionable advice that she saw posted in an LSAT group on Facebook. It says that many schools view score increases of more than three points as irregularities. To help offset raised eyebrows, supposedly, applicants should write an addendum explaining what led to the increased score.
The guys don’t hesitate to deem this a turd. It’s better not to say anything. You don’t want to sound like you’re making excuses for your lower score—complaining about distractions or divulging that you weren’t prepared because the test was harder than you thought.
Law schools only care about your highest score. That’s because the ABA only cares about the highest score of each member of a school’s incoming class. That’s the information that’s included in 509 reports. And that’s the information that’s reported to U.S. News and World Report to determine law school rankings.
Don’t explain score increases unless a school specifically requires it. And in that case, keep it simple. Write, “My practice test scores indicated that I could have done better, so I took the test again.”