Ben and Nathan continue the series of reading bad personal statements and calling out violations. But first, they tackle a Flaw question from PrepTest 73 and read emails from Demon students finding LSAT success. If you are still wondering what NOT to do on your personal statement, this episode is for you.
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.
10.27.2021 — October LSAT Score
11.12.2021 — November LSAT
12.3.2021 — January LSAT Registration Deadline
2:30 -Test 73, Section 2, Q18
Nathan says that getting pissed off at the argument can help you understand the content. This is counterintuitive to most people, but it’s effective. Take it one sentence at a time, and win the battle of will by making sense of it. He then uses his understanding of the passage to predict the conclusion.
On a Flaw question, if you can’t prove that the argument did the thing that an answer choice describes, then it’s not the answer. If you can prove that the argument did the thing, then you have to decide whether it’s problematic. If the argument did it, and it’s a problem that they did it, then it’s a flaw.
Ben and Nathan work through the answer choices knowing that they are looking for something that was actually done in the passage. By going in with this perspective, they are easily able to eliminate the first four answer choices and choose E as the correct answer.
Try this question here.
27:12 - Alyssa’s Full-Ride Offer
Alyssa writes in to thank Ben and Nathan for encouraging students not to apply until they have their best LSAT score and to apply in September. Alyssa applied at the beginning of September with a 162 LSAT and a 4.0 GPA, and she has already received a full-ride offer from a school she wishes to attend.
Ben and Nathan congratulate Alyssa and reiterate why it’s so important not to pay for law school—even if it means waiting a year to apply.
34:50 - Spencer’s LSAT Pearl
Spencer submitted the pearl of LSAT advice featured on episode 317. To thank him, Ben and Nathan will be sending him an official LSAT Demon hoodie. From now on, anyone who submits a pearl for a future episode will win an item of their choice from the LSAT Demon store.
45:25 - AA’s Personal Statement
Nathan likes that AA’s first sentence points out that they went to graduate school. This makes them look like an adult rather than like a kid. Ben and Nathan suggest replacing vague verbs like “served” and “worked” with action verbs that show what you actually did, such as “taught.” Always use active language rather than passive language when showcasing the work you did.
Ben and Nathan fix some grammar errors and suggest word replacements to give this personal statement just that little something extra. They want AA to get to the winning part to make the statement more exciting and to the point. They also advise students to use ctrl+f and remove every mention of the word “would.”
59:05 - Theresa’s Personal Statement
Nathan points out that Theresa’s first few sentences aren’t focused on her. They focus on what her company DOESN’T do rather than on what they DO. The organization of this personal statement jumps around, and the guys recommend that she stop using initialisms. Stay on track, and push the ball forward.
Ben corrects a few grammatical errors and suggests different word choices. The guys reiterate that your personal statement needs to focus on YOU rather than on the businesses or programs that you were a part of. The end of Theresa’s personal statement violates several commandments. This leads the guys to remind students that, when filling out the personal statement request form, you MUST double check all rule violations before your submission will be considered for the show.
1:12:25 - R’s Personal Statement
Nathan and Ben like R’s first sentence. It makes them want to continue reading. But they do point out a grammatical error. R then jumps into mental state references, which is a rule violation. Nathan likes the action verbs and “I” statements used in the first and second paragraphs.
The guys emphasize the importance of short sentences and tell R to avoid writing multiple lists. Instead, choose certain items from the list, and expand on them. This can help boost your personal statement. This statement started out strong but got lost as it continued. The guys rate it 140 on a 120–180 scale. They recommend using Grammarly and writing shorter sentences.
1:27:05 - Amelia’s Personal Statement
Two paragraphs into Amelia’s personal statement, the guys point out that they love her topic, but her writing needs work. She has multiple run-on sentences. Nathan recommends a hard limit of 25 words per sentence as a general rule of thumb. The guys think Amelia should go back and shorten her sentences, work on her writing, and expand on her topic more.
1:39:25 - E’s Statement
After reading the first paragraph, Nathan and Ben point out that this is the best personal statement they have read so far today. E’s sentences are short, and they use action verbs. The guys rate this statement in the mid 160s. With some polishing, it could easily hit a score in the 170s. Cutting a lot of the last paragraph should help E with this.
1:55:25 - Today’s Violations
The following rules were violated by one or more of today’s contributors:
- Don’t talk about mental states.
- Don’t use a comma before the word “that.” Use a comma before the word “which.”
- Don’t use “would” before verbs.
- Don’t use vague words, such as “served” and “worked.”
- Don’t use acronyms or initialisms.
- Don’t forget hyphens.
- Don’t tell. Show.
- Don’t use fancy words like “assuaging.”
- Don’t use annoying words like unique, passion, obtain, latter, or former.
- Don’t use too many lists.
- Don’t use more than 25 words in a sentence.
- Don’t start sentences with heavy words like “however” or “further.”
- Don’t forget to use the Oxford (serial) comma.
- Don’t use -ly words like “closely.”