Unplugged Prep

Rob’s LSAT Success Story

Rob switched up his LSAT strategy to overcome his score plateau. 

In my more youthful days, I had a good friend whose father had decided that the family should learn how to play golf. Every weekend, he would trudge out his two boys and dutiful wife to some nearby club for an hour or two at the driving range. All other members of the family, through no fault of their own, became decidedly better at golf over the course of a couple months, but the father simply could not figure out how to use his driver. He’d hit ball after ball after ball, only to achieve slice after slice after slice. Either out of sheer enjoyment of watching this squat, penguin of a man turn deeper and deeper shades of pink, or (and more likely), out of sheer fear that the first balls he might adequately connect with would be their own, no professional at any club ever attempted to help him correct his stroke.


Many years later on a trip with his son to visit me at my university, this same man teed up with his stance completely askew, trying to compensate for his slice. He hit his first ball, and just like every other drive in his golf career, it tailed off far, far to the right. From the back of our little group, one of the heavily Scottish caddies said, “Aye, ye feets are all afoul, and ye grip could strangle an ox. Ease up a wee bit and bend like ye had too many a pint.” He walked up to my friend’s father, adjusted his feet, made sure his grip was loose and tilted his back. Looking rather shaken, my friend’s father took his stroke and the ball flew straight and long.


Just like this (long-winded, but applicable) example, at some point in your LSAT career, you will hit a plateau of sorts, where scores seem stagnant in the same range. My own came in the 159-163 range, which I hasten to add, I think is the worst range to be caught in. The 159-163 range is where you begin to really get into top 50 law schools, but if you could just get a few points higher it would make the difference between ‘consider’ and ‘strong consider.’ You can tell when someone has hit that plateau by the type of verbs they use – “Yeah, I pumped out another PT today” or “Go home, bang out a practice test, and watch some TV.”


When you know what score you’re going to get, the LSAT seems to lose its magic, and your test-taking becomes mechanical. At one point I could almost predict the number correct on every section – 18-19s on the Logical Reasoning sections, 15-17 on the Logic Games, and 20-22 on the Reading comprehension. I, probably like you, searched the internet time and time again for little hints or tidbits I might have missed. I wanted any sort of trick that would get me those few extra points I needed.


But I had learned every trick there seemed to be. No matter how much I broke down my previous practice tests, I could not teach myself to recognize the cohesive logic needed to answer many LR questions. Also, one of my main problems was mental fatigue, though even with more and more practice, I’d get down to the answer choices of questions only to realize that I hadn’t yet comprehended the stimulus.


I do believe that the more you practice, the easier and more intuitive the LSAT becomes, but in my experience, it seems like at some point you reach an intuitive roadblock that your mind can simply not function beyond. Where do you go from there? What is your next step? Sure, you can review your notes and books, and then carefully analyze your incorrect answers, but what if that doesn’t work?


Two strategies have significantly helped me in the past month:


First, if you do something wrong for the third time, you might do it correctly the fourth time. But if you do something wrong for the 100th time, then when you do it for the 101st time, chances are it’s going to end up wrong again. When I finished one practice test with a 160, I decided it was time for a sea change.


I had been taking my tests at night, after work, so I changed up my schedule to do the tests in the morning, before work. I began to drink coffee, but that ended up leaving me incapacitated by the fourth section, so I quit that. I threw in a fifth section, and then a sixth section. I started running before the tests, and then when that became too much, I started running in the afternoons. Sometimes, I would combine tests just to mix it up. Rather than go to bed straight after my tests like I had been doing, I began spending my lunch hour going over the test answers to allow myself time to relax between testing and the pseudo-masochism of analysis.


The point is, what I was doing wasn’t working, so I switched it up.


Now, this isn’t a fourth quarter Hail Mary play; this is something that takes a week or two to define and then refine. Make sure the changes work for you. As long as you don’t make anything easier, then the changes you’re making are simply getting your mind and body out of a rut. But I think another element is key as well.