In my LSAT study schedules, I recommend that you include extra sections in your practice exams. Why would I recommend such a cruel and difficult task?
Because LSAC uses test-takers as lab rats (like many organizations that administer standardized exams – think back to the SAT). LSAC includes an unscored experimental section on the LSAT and doesn’t tell you which one it is. If you knew which one it was, you’d probably take a nap to recuperate between the sections you care about – the scored ones.
To LSAC’s credit, this practice increases the validity of the scored sections of future LSATs. The experimental section allows LSAC to pre-test questions with several thousand applicants, helping LSAC determine which questions deserve to make it into future scored sections.
On the other hand, not knowing which section is the experimental can make it difficult to decide whether or not to cancel your score. If you bomb the experimental section, it may affect your performance on the other sections. Additionally, being forced to “donate” 35 minutes of free research for LSAC after paying to take the LSAT hardly seems fair.
Regardless, because you’ll see a 4-section exam on test day, it’s essential to prepare.
I decided to write this article after LSAT Unplugged subscriber Katie wrote to me this week with the following question:
I have been taking 4 section timed tests for a while now but am starting to take 5 and 6 section timed tests as you suggest. I have two questions:
1. I assume that the type of “extra” section(s) I include should vary from test to test. For example, on one day, I would add a logic games section and the next day either a reading comprehension or a logical reasoning section. Is this what you would recommend?
2. What is the best way to score these tests? Which section do I omit? I took a test last night and did an extra logical reasoning section. The scoring for the test I took the extra section from was very different from the full test I was taking – does this make sense? I want to make sure I’m getting an accurate read of my performance.
Varying extra sections
There are two main approaches I’d recommend:
-You can rotate the type of “extra” section(s) that you use.
-You can make the extra section(s) the one that you like the least.
For most people, a combination of the two is probably ideal. Figure out which type of section you dread the most, and include it more often than the others.
Which section to omit
This makes perfect sense, Katie. To get the most accurate score reading, omit the section(s) that are not from the original exam. Different exams have different scales.
Another tip on preparing for the experimental section:
Mix up sections.
As I said earlier, on test day, you won’t know which section is the experimental. For this reason, you may want to lay out the sections from each PrepTest beforehand. Take two from the “scored” exam and one “unscored” experimental, and mix them together.
This way, you won’t know which ones are scored and which ones aren’t, and you’ll be forced to put the same effort into each.