Monday, June 05, 2006

I Have No Advice to Give

... cause I'm just a no-L at this point, who wants to know from me? But I do have experiences to recount. In case anyone's ever trolling the Internet in search of the experiences of someone who decided to change careers in his 40s, leave Hollywood behind, move to another city hundreds of miles away with partner and young children in tow, and go to law school.

Oh, what the hell, let's call it advice. And let's assume said person is serious about going to law school, not just doing it because he's bored and has no better ideas. And because I'm still undergoing my first career, and it's bad form to spend too long on the Internet when you're at work, especially when there's a mix in the morning and you haven't finished cutting the ADR yet, I'll just tackle the LSAT first, and then if I get bored enough later on this week I'll think of something else to say.

First LSAT Advice

Study. Take the LSAT seriously. Even though it's just a test, and a standardized test at that, and even though standardized testing is a really, really stupid way to choose law students - or any kind of students - not to mention that it's an asinine way to determine who gets to be a lawyer. Take it seriously because it's the only game in town. Don't take a class if you don't think it'll help, because it won't. (But do take a class if you think it will help, because it will.)

Don't just take the LSAT to see if you do well enough to get into a good law school. (I'm told people actually do this.) Because - what if you do? Or worse, what if you do, but you wish you'd got a better score? They don't take your best score - they take, if you're lucky, your average score. So... study.

Second LSAT Advice

Practice on the real thing. I bought a "master the LSAT" book, and checked out lots more from the library. They were helpful mainly in giving me a quick start on recognizing and categorizing different types of questions, especially the different sorts of logic games I might encounter; and some of the strategies were useful. Note I said "strategies," not "tricks." I know, there are supposed to be ways of "gaming" the test, "psyching out" the test-writers, using internal hints to eliminate obviously wrong answers so you can concentrate on the few that might be right... or, failing that, have a better chance of guessing correctly. I think that approach is a waste of time better spent practicing on actual tests.

Yes, actual tests. They're not cheap, but spring for the LSAC's books of real tests that have actually been administered, and do your most serious practice using those tests. The questions are just like the questions you'll get. The other books... they must make up their own tests, because the questions just don't seem quite right. Close, some of them, but not the same. In a sense, of course, questions are questions, and the made up ones are close enough to provide useful practice. But the LSAC tests are the real thing, and there is a real difference. When you do timed practice tests - and you should do lots of timed practice tests - use the real tests. Almost every single one of the LSAC tests I did, I used a clock.

When I did my first practice test - a genuine test, straight out of the LSAC booklet - I didn't even manage to finish the logic games section. It was an unexpected result, because I was a math major in college, and I do well - I used to do well - on that sort of thing. So that section is what I mostly practiced. Not only because I wanted to improve my score, but because I took it as a personal affront that something that should have been right up my alley was too hard.

Ironically, when I took the LSAT, that section felt a little like I was doing the silent movie gag, where the guy tries to break the door down just as someone opens it. The logic games section for that particular version of the test was apparently the easiest anyone had seen in years. I not only finished it, I had time to go back through every one of the four sections and check my work; which I did, because I was afraid I had to have really, really messed it up, because it seemed too easy.

Which leads to the last piece of advice I have...

Third LSAT Advice

Don't forget to practice the easy sections. I coulda probably got another 3 to 5 points, if I'd spent a few hours practicing the things I thought were too easy to bother with.


At 5:07 PM, Blogger divine angst said...

I particularly agree with your third piece of advice. I had the same experience.


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