• Ben Olson

Ep. 308: The Bar vs. the LSAT

The LSAT and the bar are the two most consequential tests that an aspiring lawyer will take. Your LSAT score factors enormously in determining where you will go to law school and how much you will pay for it. Then, after you spend three years earning a JD, the bar exam determines whether you will be permitted to use your degree and to practice law. But they are very different tests: One gauges a student’s command of critical reading and reasoning skills. The other rewards an ability to memorize and regurgitate large amounts of information. You can probably guess which test Ben and Nathan think is the better indicator of future success in legal practice. On this week’s episode, the guys discuss how much merit the bar exam has and weigh in on one state’s recent proposal to drop the requirement. They also reveal the solution to the brainteaser from episode 306, evaluate a Pearls vs. Turds candidate, and respond to a whole lot of listener mail.



As always, if you like the show and you want to get more from the Thinking LSAT community, check out the links below. You can connect with other folks studying for the LSAT, and get more useful resources from Nathan and Ben.

LSAT Demon

LSAT Demon Daily

Thinking LSAT YouTube

LSAT Demon YouTube


Important Dates

08.14.2021 — August LSAT Testing Begins

08.25.2021 — October LSAT Registration Deadline


1:49 – Brainteaser Solution

If the brainteaser in episode 306 left you scratching your head, you’re not alone. A bunch of listeners wrote in asking for the solution. Some, like Chris, figured it out: Turn switch 1 on and wait five minutes. Turn it off. Turn switch 2 on. Go down the hall to check the bulbs. The bulb that’s lit connects to switch 2. Feel the other two bulbs. The hot or warm one connects to switch 1, and the cold one connects to switch 3. Nice work, Chris!


5:42 – Pearls vs. Turds: Pre-Test Routine

Demon Live student Kevin shares a warmup routine that he believes has helped him to optimize his performance on practice tests: He wakes up two hours early, showers, eats, and reads a news article. Then he drills a few LR questions and a logic game. Finally, he listens to a 30-minute motivational music playlist so that he can “feel pumped for the test.”


Nathan thinks it’s great that Kevin is so optimistic. But a strict routine is not something that he or Ben would recommend to others, so they can’t give this advice a pearl. Fussy pre-test rituals may have the unintended consequence of giving the test more power and causing more anxiety. The guys suspect that Kevin’s improvement really stems from practicing and developing a better understanding of the test, not from his pump-up routine.


17:02 – What’s a URM?

New listener Stephanie heard Nathan mention URMs—underrepresented minorities—in a past episode. The Demon’s scholarship estimator has a checkbox for URM, which in many cases boosts the likelihood of receiving a scholarship. Stephanie, who moved to the US from Brazil, is wondering whether she qualifies for URM status and whether it would make sense for her to write a diversity statement.


First, Ben and Nathan agree that Stephanie absolutely should write a diversity statement. As to whether she’s considered a URM, they aren’t experts on making that determination. But a quick Google search indicates that Brazilian falls under the category of Latinx, which is a URM. Stephanie has grounds for identifying as Latinx, so it sure seems like she qualifies. There’s no substitute for getting the best LSAT score you can get, but checking that URM box definitely makes a difference.


21:14 – Holds on Higher LSAT Scores

Listener and former Demon student Mary emailed the show when her June LSAT score was mysteriously placed on hold, pending review of “an incident that was recorded during the test administration.” She knew that nothing unusual had happened during her test and had a feeling it was B.S. Two weeks later, LSAC finally released her score. It was 16 points higher than her previous official score. She never got an explanation from LSAC and suspects that her significant score increase is what they considered an “incident.” The guys agree that it’s a reasonable hypothesis. LSAC might flag big score jumps and review the tapes to rule out cheating. This is pure speculation, though. Mary is just happy that she won’t be paying for law school. Congrats, Mary!