The June LSAT is right around the corner. What should you do on the day before the official test? On today’s episode, the guys reevaluate their long-standing advice to take the day off. They also review a personal statement from a listener who missed the mark in attempting to follow Nathan’s template. The Pearls vs. Turds scoreboard is updated after Ben and Nathan analyze a tip about guessing. And finally, Nathan explains why he’s yelling at the LSAT—and why you should yell at it, too.
4:18 – The Day Before the LSAT
Nathan and Ben have always recommended that students take the day off before the official test. But there’s a potential conflict with their other advice, which is to avoid doing anything different or special on the day before. After all, they don’t tell people to take a day off before practice tests—and you should treat the official test just like any practice test.
Ben notes that the advice to take the day off was in reaction to students trying to double down and cram. Cramming doesn’t work on the LSAT because it’s not a test of knowledge. The skills you need to do well are strengthened over time. It’s more like a sport in that regard. If you were training for a 5K, would you try to run multiple practice 5Ks on the day before the race? Of course not—you’d burn yourself out. The same thing can happen if you overstudy on the day before the LSAT.
You definitely should not do any extra studying. But that doesn’t mean you need to plan a special relaxation day. Trying too hard to relax can end up stressing you out as well. What they really mean by their advice is simple: Chill out. Stop thinking about it so much. If you want to take the day off, fine. If you want to do a little studying, fine. Whatever you decide to do, just don’t stress out about it.
27:58 – T’s Personal Statement
Listener T was inspired by Nathan’s personal statement lesson (discussed on episode 298) and decided to give the format a try. Now T is ready for Ben and Nathan to take a look at the first draft. Here’s a quick recap of the formula: “I am. I did. I do.” T did a good job of trying to follow that structure—but ignored most of the advice about syntax and verb choice.
The subject of the first sentence is T’s small business, which is kind of abstract. The verb is a boring to-be verb. And the focus of the sentence is that it’s an LLC, which seems unimportant. Nathan and Ben use information from the second sentence to propose a new first sentence with the subject “I.” A lot of T’s sentences are like this—the subjects are abstract concepts like “my work,” “my framework,” “my business.” You’re allowed to use “I” as the subject. The reader wants to learn about you.
The later paragraphs are wordy and try too hard to sound lawyerly. Trying to sound like a lawyer comes across as naive on a law school personal statement. You want to demonstrate aptitude, but you don’t want to verge into this attitude of “I’m already basically a lawyer.”
T goes on to talk about how their work seminars and post-graduate classes weren’t intellectually stimulating enough. This is a mistake. Don’t protest your own story. You want your personal statement to make you sound like a positive, happy, confident winner. Be proud of your experience if you want the reader to be impressed. Back to the drawing board, T!
1:09:34 – Pearls vs. Turds
New listener Abi is just beginning her LSAT journey. She found a YouTube video with test-taking tips from LSAC. One of the things they advise, Abi says, is “guessing on questions you don't know the answer to,” and she wants to know whether this advice is solid. Pearl or turd?
If that’s the tip, Nathan says it’s a turd. You should be answering every question you get to the best that you can. If you struggle with a question and don’t know the answer, stick with it and do the work to solve it. Don’t give up and guess just so you can move on to the next question. The biggest problem with guessing and moving on is that the questions become harder as you go deeper into the section. When you give up too hastily on a question and proceed to the next, you’re increasing the average difficulty of the questions that you have time to attempt.
If the tip were tweaked to say, “Guess on questions you don’t have time to attempt,” then it would be a pearl. Most people don’t finish the sections. You absolutely should fill in random guesses for any questions you don’t get to.
1:21:21 – Yelling at the LSAT
In last week’s newsletter, Nathan responded to a student who commented that the Demon’s explanations are too snarky and they find it demoralizing. Nathan’s reactions to wrong answer choices may be harsh, but he’s not yelling at you—he’s yelling at the LSAT. He believes it’s a fundamental lesson for students to learn that the wrong answers are garbage. They’re objectively wrong, often for multiple reasons. Sometimes they don’t answer the question, and sometimes they don’t even make sense.
The intention is never to insult or yell at you. It’s to model the critical approach that allows experts to do so well on the test. You should react negatively to wrong answers. You should read each answer expecting it to be wrong and, the second it goes off the rails, dismiss it. Don’t waste time trying to rationalize how it could possibly be right.
If you ever feel that an explanation too hastily dismisses an answer choice that you think deserves more consideration, all you have to do is hit the Ask button. A Demon tutor will get back to you within 24 hours.
1:31:31 – Logical Reasoning Question 7 from PrepTest 73
At last, Nathan demonstrates how “yelling” at the argument puts you in a great position to attack a question like this Parallel Flaw question from PrepTest 73. As usual, the test presents a bogus argument, and your job is to call B.S. The obvious objection is this: Just because one party did something bad, it doesn’t mean they’re wrong when they accuse another party of doing something bad. Maybe both parties did something bad. You should have identified the flaw before reading the question. The correct answer is the only other argument you can object to in the same way.