From Car Sales to Law (Ep. 300)

Ben Olson's headshot.

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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Important Dates

06.12.2021 – Break out the short sleeves, it’s the June LSAT-Flex testing week!

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.”

53:53 – Online LSAT Prep is Better

As more and more people are getting vaccinated and the world is starting to reopen, LSAT Demon Live classes are one thing that’s staying online. Why? Online LSAT prep is more efficient and just better overall, as Nathan explained in last week’s newsletter. Nathan and Ben reminisce about all the constraints of their in-person classes. Commuting, parking, shuffling for seats, taking breaks, distractions in the classroom—none of these time-wasters exists with online classes.

In-person classes used to meet once a week, and they lasted three hours (to make a two-hour back-and-forth commute worth it). Now, LSAT Demon offers multiple live classes every day. That would not have been possible under the old model.

Not only is it more efficient, many things are better about online classes. There are no bad seats—everyone is in the front row. When a student asks a question, their face pops up on the screen. Teachers can refer to students by name on day one because each person’s video has a name label. And one of the biggest distractions in person—people whispering to one another in class—has been eliminated. The Zoom chat feature is a game-changer because it allows classmates to silently help one another without disrupting the lesson. In larger classes, TAs help answer questions and send relevant links in the chat.

Ben and Nathan discuss even more benefits than were mentioned in the newsletter. In the days of in-person classes, people would frequently come to class with colds—and get other people sick—or have to miss class. Now, all Demon Live classes are recorded and available to binge whenever you’d like. Because there are no seating limits online, there’s no longer a need to register and pay for classes six weeks in advance, and there are no more waitlists. You can subscribe on the day you’re ready to start class and unsubscribe just as easily.

1:11:27 – Logical Reasoning Question 6 from PrepTest 73

A film critic acknowledges that Quirks is unrealistic—but argues that the criticism is misguided. Why? Because the film is funny, and being funny is the important thing for a comedy.

But does that mean one shouldn’t criticize a comedy for other things? We’re asked to strengthen the reasoning in the critic’s argument. The answer is a little bit tricky because, although B strengthens the conclusion of the argument, it doesn’t strengthen the argument’s reasoning the way that D does.