Caroline followed the 5-month study plan, got a 169 and a perfect score on the Logic Games section
When I started thinking about the LSAT, I had sort of-maybe decided that I wanted to go to law school last summer after a year of going back and forth between grad school and law school.
I found Steve’s LSAT website on a random online search when looking into various studying options. I didn’t want to (nor could I afford to) spend thousands of dollars on a class. I’m also someone who has a very “I can do it on my own” attitude about most things, so I found the website to be perfect.
After combing through LSAT Unplugged extensively, I decided to buy the 5-month LSAT study plan and the accompanying books. While this was happening, I had committed to go live in South Africa for 3 months. I decided that I would start studying while I was there and continue for 2 months when I returned home, all in time for the February test.
And so my studying began in South Africa. I was in a new place and could thus concentrate pretty well at night with few distractions. I followed Steve’s plan to a tee—I did not do a single thing more or less to start out with. I had read about the LSAT in the weeks leading up to my study, but the fact of the matter was that I felt completely lost at first. Steve’s study guide was the perfect way to familiarize myself with the test and ease into it.
I did NOT take a diagnostic test, and I am extremely happy that I didn’t. I’m not someone who is naturally gifted at standardized tests, and I’m sure I would have bombed a practice test doing it without any familiarity, and would have squashed all hope of a great grade.
I was incredibly dedicated for those 5 months. I rarely fell behind in my study schedule and when I did, I made time to ensure that I was caught up. I began to obsess over the test, and obsess over the idea of getting a near perfect score. In a way this was good, because I made sure I always got my studying in. I was improving on time and in each section because I was dedicated and was working so hard. The bad side to this, however, was that I was setting the bar very high for myself, which made anything short of perfect a mini tragedy for me.
I took my first PrepTest 3 months into my studying. I scored a 162, and felt good. I figured I had 2 months to tirelessly do timed PrepTests, and I was sure to improve. I was right—my PrepTests were averaging in the low 170s as the test neared.
I would say that at this point my strengths and weaknesses really showed. When you are working on understanding the structure of questions in the beginning and not timing yourself, it’s a lot easier to think you are better than you are in real-LSAT conditions. During my PTing is when I found that I was struggling to finish logic games on time, often having to guess on the last 2-4 questions. I found out that how I did on reading comprehension really depended on the subject matter and my mind-set (and hence it was harder for me to improve on).
I also found that I yo-yo’ed and then plateaued with logical reasoning. It went from being my best to my worst to my best in a matter of weeks, which was frustrating. It was when I began to see a pattern in my weaknesses and strengths that I was able to hone in on and correct where I needed improvement. I wrote down the logical reasoning question types I was getting wrong and practiced those. Over time, logical reasoning was by far my best section. I should also mention that at this point in my prep (the last month or so), I was doing my own preparation and practice in addition to Steve’s plan. I think this was good for me because I was able to tailor my studying to work on my weaknesses while also doing timed PrepTests.
Logic games were a little tougher for me to improve on, and I think it was because I didn’t have a set system down for the tougher question types. I was taking a while to diagram and making stupid mistakes, like writing rules down incorrectly. Whatever the exact reason, there was a disconnect that, in retrospect, I didn’t address properly.
After what felt like years of preparation, test day came (a week late, but it came). I didn’t sleep well because I was so nervous, and getting ready that morning I felt nauseous. I forced myself to eat breakfast despite feeling sick, and was basically a nervous wreck all the way to the test center.
A lot of things just didn’t go as planned—I was hoping for a table with some room and ended up with a tiny chair with a fold-over desk that barely allowed any room for my watch. Adjusting to this made me all the more frazzled, and once the test started I was just a complete mess. My watch fell off my desk, I wasn’t finishing my sections on time, and the proctor was giving us no time in between sections, which made adjusting my watch very difficult. All in all, I didn’t feel great leaving that room.
Part of me knew I was going to have to take it over, but I hoped for the best. I was, after all, scoring in the 170s in the weeks leading up to it. I took the time waiting to get my score back to relax and try not to worry. I got a 162, and I was pretty devastated.
I resolved that my anxiety on test day had completely messed me up, and that I had to take the test again. I made a point to have a much more relaxed approach this time around. I mainly focused on full length, timed PrepTests and some extra fringe practice on areas where I noticed that I needed improvement. I also called Steve and asked him to help me with logic games—I figured that since this wasn’t something I was not able to nail on my own, maybe a few hours with Steve would help me.
I met with Steve and his advice was invaluable. He made something I had struggled with for so long look so easy. He showed me a completely different way of approaching games that would have taken me 10 minutes or more and taught me shortcuts that cut that time in half. Steve’s help with logic games combined with my determination to remain calm and collected about the test had me scoring an average of 173-174 leading up to test day.
My retake day was completely different from when I first took the test in February. I was at a nice long desk in a large room with the other test takers. I felt much more confident and calm. I was not shaking and I actually enjoyed my meal before the test. I just felt really good. And I think it was a mix of things—my determination to relax every time I thought about the test and the retake, my meeting with Steve, the test center itself, knowing what to expect. I just felt good.
I finished every section within time—sometimes even with time to spare. I felt really great about my logic games, even thinking they were unusually easy. I felt like there were no surprises and I walked out of that room feeling good.
I ended up getting a 169, a couple of points below what I was scoring. While I could have blown this up into a huge disappointment, I didn’t—I knew that I felt as good as I could have during test day, and a 169 was something that I could be proud of. I ended up doing worse than usual in my best section (logical reasoning), and looking at my answer choices I realized that I made some really stupid mistakes probably due to rushing through some of the questions. That said, I scored perfectly on logic games— and I have no doubt that would not have happened without Steve’s help.
I now have a score that I can get into some pretty great schools with, and I’m happy. Looking back on it all, my advice would be (in this order):
1) RELAX. Dedicate yourself, but don’t fear the test. It’s your friend and if you are prepared, you will do well.
2) Know yourself. Pay attention to patterns in your performance. Detect your weaknesses and target them. Which brings me to…
3) Do as many PrepTests as possible!! This is the best way to see where you are solid and where you need work. And finally…
4) If you are anything like me and are easily frazzled, take your PrepTests in somewhat distracting conditions (i.e. a library, coffee shop, etc.) with other people around. You may be unpleasantly surprised by a random distraction on test day and you want to be prepared so that you don’t need to retake like I did.