In the original Star Wars movie, there is a classic scene where Ben Kenobi and Luke Skywalker head to the nearby spaceport to try to find a ship to get them and the two droids, R2D2 and C3PO, off the planet and back into the hands of the Rebel Alliance. R2 is carrying some important info about how to destroy the Death Star. Great plan, but there’s a problem – the Empire is looking for the droids, and they have set up roadblocks and checkpoints to try and catch them before they get away.
Ben, Luke and the droids roll up into town and get flagged down by the cops, the Stormtroopers, who ask our heroes about the droids. Do they have papers for them? How long have they had them? Ben interrupts the questions, waves his hand subtly, and tells them “these aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” The head Stormtrooper repeats that line back to Ben, and to the rest of the roadblock gang. A few more waves of the hand, a few more suggestions that everything is cool and to let them go, and the Stormtroopers end up sending them on through, no problem, no more questions.
Ben, it turns out, is Obi-Wan Kenobi, a Jedi Knight. He’s got mad skills, including the ability to exert influence on the weak minded, and there are two things we know about Stormtroopers – they can’t hit anything they shoot at, and they are weak minded. Ben used a Jedi mind trick to cloud the weaker minds of his enemies and fool them into making what was, for them, a series of wrong decisions.
What does this have to do with the LSAT? Everything, young padawan! (Look it up)
One of the most powerful tools an LSAT student can apply to the task is what we call prephrasing. What is it? It’s deciding what the answer should be (or as some of my colleagues like to say, what it should do) before looking at any of the answer choices. If you know what you’re looking for, it’s a lot easier to spot the right answer and to quickly and confidently eliminate wrong answers. In short, prephrasing is a Jedi mind trick. If you do it, you are a Jedi Knight. If you don’t, you’re a Stormtrooper. Nobody wants to be a Stormtrooper.
The authors of this test are also like the Jedi. They are trying to cloud your mind with attractive wrong answers, shell games, new or misleading information, and any number of other tricks. If you go into the answer choices with no prephrase, with no idea about what you are seeking, then they will fool you every time, and you will make bad decisions like the guys in white helmets at the roadblock. If you prephrase, though – if you know that which you seek – then you will be strong and, like Obi-Wan, defeat your enemies and move on through the test with no problems.
Prephrase, my young apprentices, and may the force be with you!
Image “Wallpaper star wars background Blue Black” courtesy of Tio Hanny