Note: PowerScore student Marvin Dike is blogging about his comprehensive and detailed study methodology so that our readers can learn from his experience. Make sure you read Make sure you read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.
So my LSAT journey is over. Finally. I just want to give you guys a little rundown of my test day experience, my mentality, a handful of things I learned, a few tips, and some things I would have done differently if I could start the whole process over knowing what I know now.
I was never really nervous going into the exam. I was excited and looking forward to the challenge. I knew in my soul that I went about this prep the right way, I knew I was patient and disciplined and organized. I knew that there was very little if anything the LSAT writers could throw at me that I hadn't already seen or couldn't wiggle my way out of. I trusted my process. I operated under the mindset that my score wasn't going to be earned on September 16th, 2017, it was earned from December 2016 to September 2017. My score was earned from the hours, days, weeks, months of perfecting my craft, developing strategies, and getting to the heart of the exam.
This was simply PrepTest number 82. Not any different than the 45 tests I had taken prior. I woke up at around the same time as I did with every other PT's, I ate the same breakfast, I wore roughly the same thing, and I listened to the same music. I stuck to my routine that I had already perfected.
While I can't go into too much detail about the test itself, my section breakdown was LG, LR, LG, break, RC, LR.
I tell you, that was the most favorable breakdown I could ask for.....I was ecstatic when I came across that third section which was LG. I not only get my best section twice, but they came early in the test. And both LG sections were very straightforward and standard, nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing I had not seen literally dozens of times.
In fact, during the break I couldn't help but laugh at how I spent 8 months doing 10 games a day. Drilling and logging, drilling and logging, just for my actual LSAT logic game section to be jokingly easy. Well, easy for me because I had embedded all the games in my mind. LSAT writers trade on the same thing, the same inferences, the same skills, like a boxer with only so many combinations to throw. In retrospect, it was comical how much work I put in relative to the game section difficulty I actually got. I probably overkilled with my logic games method but that overkill allowed me to have the utmost confidence and to make inferences as second nature.
Before the test and during, I kept reminding myself, "Stick to your plan, stick to your plan. Don't be a hero." My plan was something I practiced, evaluated, and found a happy medium with. That's the plan I formulated over time, and that I partially outlined in my last several articles—a strategy for how to attack each section in regards to pace and approach.
Handful of little tidbits I think should be shared.
- Assume your proctors will be inept. Don't go into your LSAT expecting your proctors to understand the magnitude of this test. My proctors missed two of the five minute warnings, were literally talking amongst each other during the exam to the point where a student had to ask them to stop because they were distracting, AND they kept coming inside and outside the room, opening and closing doors. None of that really bothered me because I had taken tests in places with some distractions and I was prepared for it. It's one of those things where you know its happening but you're so locked into what you're doing it doesn't matter. And get accustomed to keeping time yourself because they are not required to write the times down on the board.
- During this process you really have to have an underdog mentality. The reality is, you aren't meant to score in the 170s, not even meant to score in the mid 160s. If I threw a rock into a crowd of people, chances are whoever I hit, would score between a 149 and a 152. Out of every 100 people, 2 of them will score a 170 or above. The odds are stacked against you, you are the dark horse, you are the long shot. With that in mind you have to have a really arrogant mindset that YOU are the exception. That YOU are that 2 out of 100, that YOU are that needle in the haystack. Believing it is one thing, but more importantly you have to prepare like someone who's trying to beat the odds. Like I said in the first blog, not only are the LSAT writers brilliant, they don't like you. Like...at all. They do not have your best interest at heart, they don't want to see you succeed, they do not want you attending your dream school, they are not your friend, they do not want to have brunch with you. In fact, your tears taste amazing to them.
- Surround yourself with positive people. Surround yourself with people who believe in your dream and your desires and will support you. Eliminate those who will bring you down and scoff at your goals. While some negativity can be used as motivation, it can also be destructive to your mentality. So please protect your peace and mental health at all costs. With that being said, the truth of the matter is that none of this gets any easier. From the LSAT, to the admissions process, to actually being in law school and performing, to passing the bar, to practicing. You're going to get knocked down and pushed around and challenged, it's not going to end any time soon, so you better condition yourself now. The law world is super competitive and cut-throat. Remind yourself why you are doing this. You don't have to convince anyone else except yourself. Hang on to those reasons and refer back to them anytime the going gets hard or your spirit gets broken.
One thing I would have changed if I could start of is I would have been more diligent in logging my reading comprehension scores during my drilling stage. As you guys know, I did all the LSAT's from PT 1-35 as drilling. I logged all my LR questions that I missed, and I logged all my logic games, but I did not log my reading comprehension passages for PT 1-35. Logging my scores would have been helpful because when I ran out of drilling material and only had untouched practice tests remaining, I started over with the reading comprehension passages and did them again from PT 1 on up. Unfortunately I had no information as to whether I improved or not because I didn't save my scores the first time I did them. I don't think it hurt me much overall but it is something I could have been more cognizant of.
Other than that, I'm really happy with the whole process.
You never really know how you did on an LSAT, you try to have an idea. One day you feel like you got every question right then the next you're wondering if you bubbled half the questions wrong and misread all the question stems. I'm fairly confident I did well but who really knows. I'm not going to bite my fingernails off waiting for the scores to drop, they will come out when they come out. A huge weight has been lifted off my chest. It was even weird looking at my desk at home and not seeing my stack of logic games ready to be done. It's weird not having to go over tests and questions drilling because that has been my life for the last 10 months. But it's all so fulfilling to be done. Especially since I prepared the best I could. I sleep well knowing I maxed out every resource available.
During the test when things were going well I just felt so blessed, blessed that I had found something I'm passionate about that I'm pursuing. Blessed that I had the motivation and discipline to work as hard as I did, blessed that I was able to learn so much about myself during this process and blessed to have the support group I had. I felt fortunate to have built the relationship I did with Dave Killoran, who wrote the PowerScore Bibles and LSAT Courses and that I was just one step closer to fulfilling my dream. I almost cried because there was a time in the past that I didn't even know where my life was going and looking back at that point and comparing it to now doesn't even feel real.
One motivating factor that kept me going was the fact that me going to law school and getting my J.D was much bigger than me. I have younger cousins that looked up to me, I had my family who had sacrificed so much for me throughout my life and supported me, I owed it to myself to give this my all because I did not give it my all in undergrad. I owed it to the young boys that I mentor at the Boys and Girls Club who didn't have anyone else they could emulate or confide in. All of that just kept me going. And I was fine putting that pressure on myself because I love pressure. I was the kid growing up who wanted the ball in his hands when the game was on the line. I was the kid who wanted to be batting in the last inning when it was either sink or swim. I love those situations. Pressure bursts pipes but pressure also makes diamonds. I preferred to operate with the latter mindset.
To everyone that reached out to me before the test to wish me luck, thank you so much. My next step is perfecting my essay and application. Which is no small feat. I just have to have this same mentality when I begin law school. To stay relentless and believe in myself but also be willing to help others.
I say this every blog but if you need to talk to me about anything, please do. My contact information is there for a reason. I've been in regular contact with so many students, some of which I literally talk to every single day. So please do not hesitate to contact me about anything. I may not have all the answers but I can at the very least help you find them.
Thanks for reading, study hard, and I'll see you in court =)
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.