The Final Stretch


    So, you’ve been prepping for several months now, and your scores have jumped to a respectable level. You’re almost there…
    if it weren’t for those lousy 5 points you keep missing time and time again. Guess what: these will be the hardest 5 points to get. Difficult—yes; impossible—no.

    Because the LSAT is a standardized exam, the October test will be no different than the June test or the December test. We know you will likely have at least two Linear games (one of which may be Sequencing), and at least one Grouping game. At least one of your games will probably be solvable with templates, and there will most likely be a game whose solution requires analyzing some numerical distribution.

    When it comes to Logical Reasoning, 50% of your questions will belong to the Prove family (most will probably be Must Be True and Flaw), at least 30% will be Help questions (Assumptions, Justify, Strengthen, Paradox), and approximately 10% will be Weaken questions. One in five will contain Conditional Reasoning, but you probably don’t need to diagram every single one of them. It goes without saying that you will probably have a decent number of questions positing a Causal relationship on the basis of a correlation. Their conclusions can usually be weakened by identifying a third cause, by reversing the cause/effect relationship, or by showing that there is a data problem. The latter usually involves a problem with an improperly controlled group.

    In Reading Comprehension, pacing will be key, as you deal with the same predictable Humanities, Diversity, Science, and Law passages.

    Despite this high level of predictability, you are still missing too many questions—most of which, we swear, you have seen before. Time to learn from your mistakes and not repeat them on the real test!

    One thing you can do in the next few days is to create an Excel file containing two spreadsheets: one for all the LR questions you missed on the practice tests you've taken since June; the other for any Logic Game on which you made two or more mistakes. Make sure to also identify the games you failed to solve in the most efficient manner possible, even if you got all the questions right. Likewise, flag any LR question that you managed to solve correctly, but you took longer than 2 minutes to do so.

    Make the following columns on your spreadsheets:

    Logical Reasoning spreadsheet:

    1. Question number
    2. Section number
    3. Test month and year
    4. Question type
    5. Any particular reasoning paradigm expressed in the stimulus (C/E, S/N, #/%, etc.)
    6. Difficulty level of the question
    7. Answer you chose
    8. Credited response

    Logic Games spreadsheet:

    1. Game number (1, 2, 3, or 4)
    2. Test month and year
    3. Game type


    Once you do this, print out all the pages from the practice tests that contain the questions and games included in your spreadsheets. If you don’t have .pdf files but hard copies of the tests, cut out the questions identified in your spreadsheets and erase your initial answers. You can also use a black marker to conceal them. The point is to have a clean copy of each question, and avoid being biased by the answer choices you selected the first time around.

    Dedicate one full day combing through the questions you just identified: do them again, then look at your spreadsheet and compare your new answers to the old ones. Reduce your list down only to those questions and games you got wrong the second time around. How many did you miss? Did you fall for the same decoy? What is the principal difference between the decoy and the correct answer?

    When it comes to games, time each game to 8:30 min. How was your pace now? If you went over time on a particular game, what could you have done differently to speed up? Did you fail to make an important inference, and, if so, what rules should have clued you in? Does the game contain a limited number of solutions? If so, did you make templates? Were you able to identify an important numerical distribution element? How about the questions themselves: did you approach each question as efficiently as possible? Did you make local diagrams when necessary? Etc.

    After this review, you are ready to take the most recent tests published; however, do not take more than 2-3 tests in the final week. Before each test, do a 30 min warm-up: one logic game, one RC, 5 LR questions. Eat a hearty breakfast, and do some exercise. Time each test accurately, making sure to add an experimental section to the first three sections before the break. Essentially, try to simulate the experience of taking the exam as closely as possible. I recommend going to a library, or—if at all possible—to the same location where you will be taking the test on Saturday. Some colleges will let you use their classrooms, but check in with them first (obviously).

    Your performance on these last few tests will probably have the highest predictive validity in gauging your current level of ability. If you are happy with your scores, you have nothing to fear come Saturday. Go in and kill this thing!

    Good luck!