It’s fair to say that we generally think of friction as a negative thing. And that’s basically an accurate view in the context of personal and societal relationships. But friction can also be very useful — even necessary — in other settings. In this post, I’d like to talk about how you can adapt the concept of friction to gain traction in your LSAT preparation and accelerate past the plateau you currently call home.
If you need a bit of primer about friction, let me start you off easy. Or, better yet, let science.howstuffworks.com start you off easy:
As the quoted passage from the How Stuff Works explanation of friction demonstrates, we rely on friction in many ways. Especially relevant to your LSAT preparation is the example of a car’s tires propelling the car. As the site explained, without friction “cars would spin their wheels without moving.” If you want to gain traction, like a car’s tires gripping the road, you need friction. If you want to gain traction in your LSAT preparation, if you want to gain some ground on your target score, then you’ve got to apply your effort to the rough spots, not the greased ones.
Have you ever seen a car stuck in the mud or snow trying to gain traction? Unless it’s especially equipped, it can’t do it. You can gun the engine all you want, burn up all your fuel, but you’re not going anywhere. In terms of your LSAT preparation, this is like focusing your study on the areas you’re already comfortable with. Maybe you like Reading Comprehension and are good at it, so you hit Reading Comp all day, passage after passage. It feels smooth, comfortable. You knock back -1 or -2 performances and congratulate yourself on how well you’re doing. The trouble is, you’re spinning your wheels. You aren’t really improving anything but your stamina. Worse yet, you’re wasting time and energy and building false confidence about your level of preparation.
To really make progress you’ve got to focus on the areas that are rough ground for you, where you meet resistance and can gain some traction. Yeah, it can suck. You feel discouraged at first, like you won’t ever get a decent score on the LSAT. You may even feel like Don Music, thinking that you’ll never get it, never, never!
The thing is, you will. Chances are you won’t score a 180. You may not crack 175 or even 170. I won’t guarantee that you’ll understand everything about the LSAT perfectly or that you’ll perform flawlessly.
But I promise you this: if you study only what you already know, you’ll never learn anything knew. Lose your fear and challenge yourself. Seek out that rough ground and tear it up. It may be hard at first, even painful. Then there’ll be that moment when it…finally…clicks! Don’t deny yourself that exquisite feeling of beating the LSAT at it’s own game, of understanding for the very first time how they’re trying to trick you — before you look at the answer key. That feeling can be yours, and it’s not that far away. But you need to gain some traction before you can capture it.