Unplugged Prep

Danielle’s LSAT Success Story

Danielle used the 2-month study plan, scored a 166 and got into Boston University, Cardozo and Fordham Law Schools

Before I stepped foot in the second grade, I thought I had my entire life figured out, and I strayed little from my plan until last summer — when I was 21 years old.

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a writer. The genre was not as important as the realization of seeing my name in print. My local newspaper published my poetry throughout elementary school, I was constantly writing short stories, and I later took up an interest in journalism that lasted throughout high school and college.

I declared a double-major in English and journalism during my first semester at Lehigh University (Bethlehem, Pa.) and secured a handful of relevant internships. I worked at a financial newspaper in New York City during the summer of 2008, and at a large magazine owned by Time Inc. last summer. What I refused to acknowledge for a long time was that I was bored and uninterested in the work I was doing. About two months before I would take the LSAT — I had an epiphany. I did not want to be writing and producing content for publications; instead, I wanted to protect the creative works of authors, and have a hand in supporting the written word in today’s digital age.

Once I came to terms with my decision, studying for the LSAT quickly consumed my life. For two months, my social life and other academic commitments took the back seat. I used Steve’s 2-month LSAT study schedule. I read most of the blog posts on this site before I took about 16 timed practice tests over the course of three weeks.

I was fortunate to have a lot of free time over the summer in order to accomplish this. However, I was also juggling an internship at a Rodale publication that I had committed to before I knew I would be taking the LSAT. After working there from 9 to 5, I had no other option but to fill up on coffee and hit the library for a few hours afterwards in order to squeeze in a practice test. There were days that month that I did not see my roommates.

In the end, it was worth it. I was accepted to Boston University, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, and Fordham University by November and December, while many of my peers who studied less intensely were waiting to re-test or simply settled with mediocre results.

While studying for the LSAT is a highly individual endeavor, these are the things I found most useful:

1. Practice Tests, Practice Tests, Practice Tests

The LSAT (for me, at least) was 80% about efficiency and timing, and 20% about content and knowledge. Once you’ve mastered the basic concepts, take as many practice tests as you can under real test-day conditions. I taped my scored answer sheets to a wall in my bedroom where I could see my progress over the weeks. Doing this allowed me to see patterns in my test-taking, such as where I was too rushed and got sloppy. It also motivated me to beat my last score.

2. Make the test about you

The worst part about the LSAT was showing up on test day and seeing how many other people had been working just as hard and aspiring towards the same goal. I forced myself to pretend that they were at the testing center for other reasons; it was just me and my test. I had the same pencils and eraser I used over the course of my studying and reassured myself that nobody had the same relationship with the test that I did.

3. Hang in there

In retrospect, the two months I missed out on social activities hardly mattered. By making the LSAT and law school applications my main priority, I was able to sit back and relax as early as Christmas, knowing that my future was secure. Since then, I have had all the time in the world to catch up with friends. Although those two months initially seemed like hell, the test was over before I could even stop to think about things.