Unplugged Prep

Kelly’s LSAT Success Story

Kelly subscribed to the LSAT Unplugged articles and scored a 170

Where to begin….


It seemed that in spite of a promising career in project management, I couldn’t help but get a giant pit in my stomach every time I heard about someone’s friend or cousin or acquaintance applying to law school or going to law school or graduating from law school or really, anything with “law” in the sentence. I couldn’t quite explain these feelings of animosity and jealousy when I myself had chosen against seven years of education out of high school, pursuing a technical diploma instead. But alas, the feelings remained, resurfacing on a regular basis.

In the spring of 2009, while I was completing a graduate certificate in Project Management to complement my current role, I perused the online programs at the University I was attending. To my surprise, I discovered a two-year online accelerated degree in Commerce. What a novel concept, I’d thought – a way to complete a degree, without committing to school full time or having to leave my job. And even if the law pipe dream never materialized, I’d have a solid business degree for application in a number of positions.

So, in September of 2009, at the age of 25, I began the two-year accelerated program with a few steps in mind. Step 1: Get grades worthy of law school admissions.

In the spring of 2010, after it became apparent that my grades were in the right zone, I emailed an advisor at the law school where I live (and the only one I was considering as I love where I live and had no intentions of moving away) to get the necessary details on next steps. I was surprised to learn that if I had any chances at the 2011 intake, I would have to get serious about studying for and taking the LSAT prior to February. So I registered for the December sitting, bought a thwack of books and tests, and off I went.


In the beginning, I practiced questions here and there casually between work and school and downtime, finding I enjoyed ‘solving’ the logic games and was fairly consistent in getting them correct. In late September, I sat down and took a practice test under timed conditions. To my surprise, I completely bombed the logic games, only finishing one and a half questions. Overall I scored somewhere in the 155-158 territory. Later, when I went back to finish the games section, it took me nearly 50 minutes to complete. I realized timed conditions put a whole new spin on things.

So from there, I practiced logic games, usually in bed minutes before I would fall asleep each night. I skimmed the pages, designing a system of diagramming for the games. Anywhere I found ‘free’ time over the next 3 months; I would do logic games, in my head, on post-it notes, on my iPod, anywhere I could find 10 minutes and some questions to practice.

Around the end of October, I started treating studying like work. Each evening when I wasn’t swamped with homework I’d try to do questions. As October came to an end, I started doing a complete practice exam twice a week. On Mondays – a day off from work and from school, I would do a timed test and practice sections throughout the rest of the day. As my studying progressed, my scores were generally between 162 and 166 with the odd 168.

Early on I’d decided that timing and the games were going to be the keys to increasing my score. I was fairly consistent on the reading comprehension as long as I took the questions in a quiet environment (trying to do reading comprehension while watching TV does not work, FYI) and read the question thoroughly without getting distracted half way down the page.

As for the logical reasoning questions, the only thing I studied was the section on parallel reasoning. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around not looking for the answer with the same words, but instead looking for one with the same concept. This was a couple hours of practicing and I’m still not sure I completely get that part. All in all, I completed over 30 practice tests and had another 30 that I did pieces of. I wondered at one point if I would actually run out of practice tests before test day, but luckily this wasn’t the case!!

Now, as another aside, somewhere along the line I had decided to tell no one, aside from my boyfriend that I live with, and my mom that I had decided to write the LSAT. And I certainly told no one I was applying to go to law school. For the most part, I enjoyed my job and didn’t want to set off any bells that I was considering leaving. I also didn’t find it necessary mentioning to my friends or family that I was considering this path. After all, I wasn’t interested in moving away to go to school and if my LSAT grade wasn’t oh-so-high or my grades for that matter, the whole point seemed kind of moot. What this meant though is that I was stressed and busy all the time and couldn’t really explain why to anyone! Late November with exams for school and the LSAT date looming, I experienced a few emotional breakdowns!


December came and I printed tiny pictures of myself, filled out the forms for test day and packed a special care package in a giant zip lock bag. I felt like I was joining some top secret mission and I that was allowed was 1 tiny bag of jelly beans, 1 bottle of water, 3 tissues, 5 pencils and 1 granola bar. I had my boyfriend drive me to the test center the night before to make sure I knew where I was going. He also drove me the morning of. I wasn’t taking any chances. As I arrived at the test center, I was eerily calm. I had studied SO much that I actually wondered if I would even bother retaking it if I wasn’t happy with the grade. I wondered if I could possibly do more than I had done.

I had no idea what I was in for in terms of the three hour wait between the alleged start time and the actual ‘everyone is now signed in we can actually start’ time. As I watched people filtering into the room, hoping I wouldn’t have to pee before the exam started, let alone the halfway point, I rested my head of my desk. At one point I heard a fellow exam writer say to another “check out that chick sleeping on the desk,” and realized he meant me. But finally we started. Nerves became focus and I moved quickly through the first three sections, realizing very quickly that I had just completed the test section as the games were oh-so easy.

After the break I was startled by how hard the games section was. The next day when I read that someone on their way home from the exam had spent an hour throwing rocks through the stained glass windows of a church, I knew it wasn’t just me. But alas, an hour later, I was writing my terrible essay, thinking to myself how happy I was that part wasn’t graded, and like it had never happened, it was 4pm and I was leaving the center. I felt as dehydrated, a bit ill and my head felt as though I hadn’t slept in weeks. I went home, spent one day recovering and the next day began cramming for a final exam I had in 5 days for my degree.

December came and went. I spent a long, luxurious 7 days at Christmas intoxicated, and my grades came in the mail. Tears hit my eyes when I saw the 170 in the email. I was at work, where I usually am at about 7pm at night, working on homework after my work day is done, and it all just seemed worth it then.

So. Long story short:

Studying needs to be like work. Don’t fit it in when you have time. Schedule time to fit it in. Write one practice exam under timed conditions at least once per week. Write an exam under non-timed conditions at least once per week. Compare the two and determine where time is affecting you (and just do more questions to get faster) and where your skill is affecting you.