Are you making this major mistake on your personal statement?

On this week's episode of the Thinking LSAT podcast we reviewed one of the worst personal statements I've ever read. It's a real shame because it was from an amazing student who would be a great candidate.

So this week I want to ask you if you're making these major mistakes on your personal statement too?

Fox LSAT Self-Study Guide

I didn't have the budget or the wherewithal to take an LSAT class or work with a tutor when I was studying for the LSAT. I used books to study, and did it on my own. You can too.

What follows is a step-by-step schedule that makes the most of my books and free videos to create a full self-study program for the LSAT. If you follow everything in this guide, you will work your ass off. You will do 13 full practice tests, 550 additional Logical Reasoning questions, 30 additional Logic Games (at least two times each), and you'll hear an estimated 1000 swear words and terrible jokes (just a rough estimate). Your score will improve. A lot.

Don't Let Your Ego Pay for Law School

Law schools will use your own ego against you when selling you a ridiculously overpriced piece of paper. Trust me: I’ve got an ego bigger than anybody’s, and it’s the main reason why I paid $150,000 unnecessarily for my own worthless J.D. Here, I’ll embarrass myself by sharing my own ego-driven blunder.

To 170 and beyond

To 170 and beyond

Thinking LSAT Podcast listeners might recall Episode 122, "Stop Statsturbating," wherein we discussed the case of Luke, who had dropped over a grand on a Kaplan course with zero improvement. As it turns out, Luke signed up on December 12, 2017 for my online class and so far it's working out awfully well:

Hi Nathan, I'm sure you're getting tons of these emails, but I got by my Feb 2018 score back. 

Diagnostic: 163
Post-Kaplan: 163
Feb 2018, post-3 months of FOXLSAT: 170

Million dollar LSAT prep

Some things just need to speak for themselves:

Hey Nathan!

I wanted to write you a quick update on how my admissions cycle ended up and get your feedback on my current options.

I applied to 19 schools (b/c they were free, so why not...) and received a total of $1,070,628.00 in scholarship offers from 10 schools. I'm pretty sure I got those offers based on my 174 LSAT score so thanks "a million" for the help and guidance - I really doubt I could have been as successful with you!

Why you should take the June/July LSATs instead of waiting for September

Why you should take the June/July LSATs instead of waiting for September

Every spring, I start hearing from the next year's crop of premium law school applicants—those very prepared, very lawyerly types who plan to apply early in the 2018-2019 application cycle. That's a very smart plan, because early applications (before Halloween of each cycle) give students the best chance of admissions and scholarships. Frequently, these hard-chargers want to prep for the entire spring and summer before taking the September LSAT. While it's true that the September test would allow for pre-Halloween applications, I think it's a mistake to wait that long. Here's why:

Top Four Ways to Avoid Getting Ripped off by Law School

If you've ever listened to my podcast—and you should!—you know I spend a lot of time ranting about the exorbitant prices law schools charge these days. On a recent episode, we proposed a "rebuttable presumption": Don't Pay for Law School. If you've got a trust fund, or if you're going to work in Big Law and make $200,000 per year, you can rebut this presumption. But the vast majority of law school applicants aren't independently wealthy, and won't work in Big Law. For this majority, paying full price for law school is an enormous financial blunder. The good news is, you don't have to pay—if you're smart about the way you apply. This post will offer four keys to making sure you get a great deal on your J.D.

160 on record; Is it worth a retake to try for a 164?

Short answer: Oh my god yes.

Earlier today I got a phone call from a student who was averaging 164 on her practice LSATs, but scored a 160 on her actual. She has a 4.0 from a major public university, and she's been hearing conflicting information on whether or not she should retake the LSAT, or go ahead and trust her stellar grades to get her into a top 14. Without hesitation, I told her to retake. Here's why:

1) Dramatically better chances of admission at T-14s
I loaded a 4.0/160 into the LSAC's UGPA and LSAT Score Search tool, and chose the University of Texas as a random, representative T-14 law school. At UT, the tool estimated between a 27 and 38 percent chance of admission with these numbers. Bumping it up to a 4.0/164, the same tool estimates between a 55 and 66 percent chance of admission. Yes, that's right: Four points doubled the chances of admission at this school.

2) Dramatically better chances of scholarships at "safety" schools
Choosing UC Irvine as a random, representative outside-the-top-14 "safety" school for this student, a 4.0/160 shows a 66 to 80 percent chance of admission while a 4.0/164 shows an 88 to 98 percent chance. Glancing at the ABA 509 report for Irvine, we see that UCI gives a whopping 93 percent of its class some scholarship assistance, with slightly over half of the course getting over 50% of their tuition paid for. Also looking at the 509, we see that 160 is exactly the 25th percentile LSAT score at Irvine, while 164 is just a hair below the 75th percentile at that school (165). With a 160, Irvine might actually deny this candidate admission. (I doubt it, but it's possible.) But with a 164, this candidate starts looking like a shoo-in for admission and a lock for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars of tuition discounts.

3) 165+ is definitely in play
This student was averaging a 164 on practice tests before taking the September LSAT, and achieved a 160, which is well within normal fluctuations for a student of this level. (Most students have a plus-or-minus of at least three or four points around the mean.) The 160 was unfortunate, but not unexpected... something like tossing five tails in a row. Not likely, but not shocking. But what if it had turned out to be five heads in a row, instead of five tails? This same student, without changing strategies or learning anything new about the test, could score 168 if she took the test again tomorrow.

Furthermore, with a few more weeks or months of prep under her belt, this student could bump that practice average up from 164 to 166 or higher, thereby bringing 170 into her range of possible outcomes. If that happens, the "unfortunate" 160 will turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to her. If she'd gotten a 164 on her first actual, she'd probably be off to a great, but not legendary, law school. But if the 160 forces a retake, and the retake results in something closer to 170, suddenly we start to consider the possibility of Harvard, Stanford, and Yale. I've seen it happen.

The LSAT is the primary determinant of where you'll attend law school and how much you'll pay to go there. Don't sell yourself short.

Remember This on Thanksgiving

No matter where your people come from, I'm sure you have similar stories. As an LSAT student in 2017, you are one of the most fortunate people who have ever set foot on the planet. Even if you're poor by modern U.S. standards, you're still one of the richest people who have ever lived. Maybe this can put your LSAT struggles in perspective. Take a deep breath. It's all (Thanksgiving) gravy from here.

Procrastination and the LSAT

I get panicked phone calls pretty often, as you might imagine. I've published my cell phone number on my website and in my books for over 10 years now, so yes, I've asked for it.

This particular student has awesome grades (3.95!!!) from a good private school in Los Angeles, but she was panicked about what she perceived as low practice test scores (mid 140s) and a looming February deadline. Her first question: Do I have enough time to get prepped for February? Or should I withdraw?

I think I was able to talk her off the ledge. I told her that if she starts now, and studies a little bit every day, there's no reason why she shouldn't be ready for a test that's almost three months away. But the key part is start now. And that's why I wanted to write a bit about procrastination, and two different ways that it strikes LSAT students.

The first type of procrastination is obvious: You underestimate how much time something takes, you wait until the last minute, you try to cram it all in at the deadline, and you fall short. We've all done this from time to time, and this is what most people think of when they think "procrastination." I get dozens of these calls every year: "I self-studied, but not enough. I was busy with work and school and blah blah blah, so anyway I took the official LSAT without enough prep and got a 142." Yep, I've seen that one before.

But the second type of procrastination is a bit sneakier. With the second type, you actually overestimate how much time a project will take. That's what last night's panicked caller was doing. She was inflating LSAT prep into a gigantic 6- or 12-month endeavor, getting intimidated by her imagined giant, then using anxiety about the big scary monster to put it off studying entirely.

The remedy for both types of procrastination is the same: Do a little bit every day. It's incredible how much progress you can make if you simply commit to one hour today, then one hour tomorrow, then one hour every day after that until you reach your goal. No matter who you are, no matter how far you are from your goal, this is my prescription. Yes, you can do more than one hour per day if you want. But that first hour, every day, is far more important than whatever hours you pile on top of that. It's inefficient and unreliable to skip four days this week and try to make it all up on the weekend. Lawyers (and future lawyers) are very serious, diligent people. If you can't find one hour per day in your schedule for LSAT prep, then law isn't the right path for you, at least not right now.

Don't under- or over-estimate the task in front of you. Stop worrying and start acting. Today. And tomorrow. You'll feel so much better a week from now, I promise.

How to withdraw from the June LSAT

Are you registered for the June LSAT, but aren't able to take the test? Make sure you officially withdraw so the test will be removed from your file and prevent an absentee notation. The deadline is 11:59 pm Eastern Time on Monday, June 5. Here's what you need to do.

Log into your account, proceed to the LSAT Status page, and find the option to withdraw your registration. At this time, the only option is withdrawing online; no phone calls, mail or faxes. In addition, refunds are not available at this point, nor can you transfer your registration to another LSAT test date.

If you withdraw by the June 5 deadline, the test does not count as one of your three LSAT attempts. However if you cancel your score, it does count. If there are only a few days to go, and you're nowhere near your target score, it's time to withdraw. Don't waste an attempt when you're not ready.

Visit the LSAC website for more information on withdrawing from the June LSAT.

Want a list of FREE (and very cheap) resources to help you study for the LSAT? Sign up here and I'll send them right to you!

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LSAT Test Center Restrictions are Tighter Than TSA Passenger Requirements

If you're taking the LSAT, you better familiarize yourself with the Law School Admission Council's day-of the test requirements as soon as possible to avoid having any last-minute surprises on test day. I was having a laugh with my LSAT class recently about the LSAC's long, crazy list of things you can and can't bring to the test. "It's almost like you're getting on an airplane or something," I told them. Well, then I looked at the TSA passenger requirements and realized that taking the LSAT is actually a whole lot harder than getting on a plane.

Valid Photo Identification Let's start with a small thing. Both the LSAT and the TSA require a valid photo ID. But the LSAC is now requiring you also bring a printout of your admission ticket that includes the photo that you uploaded through your account.The photo that you upload must meet the following requirements, or you will be denied entry to the test center.

  • - The photo must have been taken within the last six months.
  • - The photo must be clear, so that there can be no doubt about your identity.
  • - Only your face and shoulders should be included in the photo (like a passport photo).
  • - The uploaded photo must be a different photo than the photo that appears on the government-issued ID that you must take with you to the test center (do not scan or photograph your ID photo for uploading).
  • - The uploaded photo must match your appearance on the day of the test (e.g., with or without beard).

The photograph will be retained by LSAC only as long as needed to assure the authenticity of test scores and to protect the integrity of the testing process.

I do recommend a professional photo, by the way... because the list of ways you can fuck up your photo is legendary. The page gives some examples of what not to use as a photo, but I'll share a few here:

LSAC examples
LSAC examples

What You Can't Bring With You on Test Day Both the TSA and the LSAT prohibit weapons and firearms. That's good to know, I guess. The LSAT also expressly prohibits you from bringing, among other things,

  • - "electronic timers of any kind" (Why?  Who knows!)
  • - "digital watches, alarm watches, beeping watches, calculator watches" (The beeping thing I can understand. Otherwise, silly.  A calculator is of no use on the test.)
  • - "cell phones, pay phones, beepers, pagers, personal digital assistants (PDAs)" (I'm not sure how someone would bring a "pay phone" to the test, but I'd like to see it.)
  • - "personal computers" (Bummer, I was going to bring my Commodore 64 from 1985 and play Larry Bird vs. Dr. J)
  • - "headsets, iPods, or other media players" (Sorry, no listening to music or playing Angry Birds while you wait for the test to start.)
  • - "books, dictionaries, papers of any kind" (Along with the restriction against iPods, this sucks. The registration process can take upward of an hour if you arrive early, and you're stuck sitting there with absolutely zero entertainment, not even a magazine.)
  • - "rulers" (Bizarre.)
  • - "mechanical pencils" (I suppose the clicking could annoy a fellow test-taker. But why can't they outlaw annoying clicking, instead of outlawing mechanical pencils entirely?)
  • - "ink pens" (If pens don't work on the Scantron sheets, then I understand this... your answer won't count if you fill in the bubbles with a pen. But why are students prohibited from even bringing them to the test center?!)
  • - "briefcases, handbags, backpacks of any kind" (Which means that 100% of your shit has to be in a clear plastic bag... I'll get to that in a minute.)
  • - "earplugs" (I suppose this is because somebody one time tried to cheat by doing a lame "Oh, sorry, I didn't hear you call time because I was wearing earplugs...")
  • - "hats/hoods" (except religious apparel) may not be worn on the head (Stupid. Just stupid.)

After expressly prohibiting all those things, all of which you'd be allowed to bring on a plane, the LSAT then gives you a specific list of the "only" things that you are allowed to bring, which the TSA definitely does not do. Anyway, here's the list of the only things that you're supposed to be able to bring. I love this part:

"Test takers may bring into the test room only a clear plastic ziplock bag, maximum size one gallon (3.79 liter), which must be stored under the chair and may be accessed only during the break. The sealed ziplock bag may contain only the following items: valid ID; wallet; keys; analog (nondigital) wristwatch; medical or feminine hygiene products; #2 or HB wooden pencils, a highlighter, erasers (no erasers with sleeves), pencil sharpener (no mechanical pencils); tissues; and beverage in plastic container or juice box (20 oz./591 ml maximum size) and snack for break only. No aluminum cans permitted. All items must fit in the ziplock bag such that the bag can be sealed."

That's right ladies ... you get to display your tampons to the world in your clear plastic bag! (I'm surprised nobody has sued them on this... then again, they're an organization made up of every law school in the country so they might be able to scrape up a defense.) Does anybody know what the hell an "eraser with sleeve" might be? I hope nobody's too thirsty, because we're keeping you to a 20 oz liquid limit. I guess you could refill it during the break, but then again you're not allowed to drink it during the test. Furthermore, you can't have aluminum cans (note the bold font) and you must be able to seal your bag. This reminds me of the hot buffet at the Ranch 99 Market in Daly City, where it's all the wings and noodles you can stuff inside your styrofoam container, but you must be able to close the lid.

What You Can Bring With You on Test Day And then, there's a specific list of the items you're allowed to have on your desk during the test:

"Test takers may only have tissues, their ID, wooden pencils, erasers, a pencil sharpener, a highlighter, and an analog (nondigital) wristwatch. No electronic devices are permitted. Neither are timers of any kind except analog wristwatches."

I suppose the tissues are for your tears, as you contemplate the absurdity of the world you are hoping to join?

Good luck!

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How to Apply for LSAT Testing Accommodations

I hear from a lot of students who plan to take the LSAT and need help applying for testing accommodations. The LSAC does provide appropriate accommodations for students with documented disabilities. I have students immediately gain 15 LSAT points when they start taking practice tests under accommodated conditions, so it is hugely important that you apply for accommodations if you are eligible.

To request LSAT accommodations, you must document the current impact of your impairment and how it affects a major life activity related to your ability to take the LSAT under standard conditions. Your documentation must also provide a rationale and an objective basis for the requested accommodation.

Keep in mind that a diagnosis alone does not qualify you for accommodations. You must document the current functional impact of an impairment that limits a major life activity and provide both a rationale and an objective basis for the requested accommodations.

The process of applying for accommodations can feel a bit overwhelming, so I've written it out here in an easy, step-by-step method.

1. Register for the LSAT before requesting accommodations. Applying for accommodations can take a long time, so you should sign up for a test at least a couple months out, if possible. You can register for the LSAT online, by phone, or by submitting a paper registration form. Your request for accommodations will not be processed unless you are registered to take the test.

2. Download the Accommodations Request Packet on the LSAC website, and determine which process you should follow to submit your request for accommodations.

Candidates who have appropriate proof of prior approved testing accommodations on the LSAT, SAT I, SAT II, ACT, GED, GRE, GMAT, or DAT examinations and who are requesting the same accommodations on the LSAT, review the LSAC’s Policy on Prior Testing Accommodations and the steps to follow to document your request for accommodations on the LSAT.

All other candidates, click here for information on the steps to follow to document your request for accommodations on the LSAT.

3. Fill out the forms online or by hand. Then print and sign all forms before they are mailed, faxed, or scanned and emailed to LSAC. Submit all required documentation by the receipt deadline.

4. Monitor your online account for information about the status of your request for accommodations. If your request for accommodations is granted, LSAC will make arrangements with the test center and send both you and the test center supervisor confirmation of the accommodations granted.

Contact for LSAT Testing Accommodations LSAC Accommodated Testing P.O. Box 8512 Newtown, PA  18940-8512 215-968-1001 Email:

Good luck!

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