October 2013 LSAT -- What I've heard so far

I had about 30 students sit for the test yesterday, and the reports are starting to trickle in. Below, I'll post what I've heard so far. Keep in mind that I've been working with an exceptionally talented group these last three months... these people make my job easy, by being so bright and working so damn hard. I'll start with an amusing report from a student who I talked off the ledge a few days before the test... she was having a panic attack and ready to give up on the test entirely. I talked her into sitting for the exam, and it looks like she came through it pretty well.

Survived the LSAT with relatively little drama. 

A. The test doesn't start at 8:30. They start checking people in a 8:30 and since there were probably 200 people at the Queens testing center, it took nearly two hours to get everyone checked in. I was there for a total of 6.5 hours not including the hour and a half I arrived early because my husband was so paranoid that I would be late, he made me leave the house at 6:30am. It took 18 minutes to get there and find parking.

B. It is amazing how many people refuse to read the rules and brought all sorts of stuff to the test that wasn't allowed in the room. By the time everyone was checked in, there was a sculpture of shame on top of the garbage can.

C. I was also amazed at how little studying most people did. Some had only done an hour a week and couldn't figure out why, after testing 3 times already, their scores were still around 145.

D. It was freezing in the test room. I was a popsicle by the break.

E. There was no clock so I couldn't track my time but I still managed to answer all the questions in 4 out of 5 sections. One of them I answered with 5 minutes remaining. I don't know if that means I went too fast or if it was really easy. I probably would've been able to answer all in the fifth section but I realized at question thirteen that I was on the wrong number and had to go back erase and figure out where I had missed an answer.

F. Due to the number of people, we were sent to many different rooms. I tested in the Catholic Student Center. On the walls were pictures of the Pope and anti-abortion posters. I tried not to think about the fact that I was probably going to burst into flame at any moment. Stained glass windows were pretty though.

G. Someone kept farting and the stench was threatening to kill me.

H. Cosmic LSAT Rule #1: No matter how many times they read the rules to you or tell you the consequences of infractions, some idiot will try to cheat. Someone did and was removed from the test.

I. Cosmic LSAT Rule #2: No matter which section type you're worst at that is the section type you'll get as your experimental section. Mine was logical reasoning. Welcome to my nightmare.

And now for some binge drinking. Or binge chocolate eating. Or both followed by binge laying on the couch and trying not to think for awhile.

Thank you for the assistance. I hope I don't have to do it again.

Many important reminders here: First, the registration process for the test takes a ridiculously long time... on your test day, you should plan to show up early and then spend the ENTIRE day at the test center. Second, the rules are strict and very few people actually look at them before arriving at the test center. Here, it looks like everybody chose to throw away their contraband... previously, I've heard stories of people having to run outside and stash their electronics in a bush. Don't be one of these people! Make sure you've read the restrictions in advance, so you won't be surprised on the day of the test. Third, the proctors often have no control over the climate in the testing room. Dress in layers! The room could be 50 degrees or 85 degrees. You probably won't be perfectly comfortable in either of those scenarios, but if you dressed strategically you'll either be able to strip down or rug up appropriately, to make the best of it.

As for the farting, well... that's just gross. Maybe students should do a couple practice exams near a cattle feedlot or wastewater treatment facility in order to prepare yourself for the potential test-day stench?

Here's another one:

Hey Nathan. I just finished the LSAT and I want your advice on what I should do. With my GPA and my school choices, I consider anything below 170 to be unacceptable. I pretty consistently get only 1 or 2 wrong on RC, and in total about 7-8 wrong for LR. My performance always hinges on the games section. If I finish all four, I usually get 170. If I dont, then I finish the first three, usually get most of them right, and guess on the fourth game (average is about 17 right for the games section if I run out of time to tackle most of the fourth). In short, for me game 4 is almost always the crucial difference between about a a 167 and 170+.

Given my 170 target, I was going into test day hoping to kill on the games, and if i didn't, to consider cancelling; the odds of me still getting that 170 would be fairly slim. I would be able to fairly accurate predict my performance based on the games section. Unfortunately, I had TWO games sections. The first one wasn't good enough; I skipped a substitute question, felt like I missed at least one more in the first three games, and only got the very first question on game 4 before finishing (and the last game was 6 questions). I was leaning towards cancelling if I didn't get a second game section. I came back in, saw that second games section, and I annihilated it - finished them all with time to spare and felt really good about my answers. I also felt really good about 2 of the 3 other sections; I finished two of them with 6-7 minutes leftover, and I was convinced that the proctor must have fucked up andcalled 5 minute warning at the 35 minute mark.

So, what should I do? If I don't cancel and I get the good section, then I got 170 and I'm ecstatic. If I don't cancel and I get the bad section, I'd expect I got about 166. Then I have to retake the thing, potentially risk fucking up on the retake, and having two nearly identical scores on my report. I'm pretty sure that would definitively sink me for most of my school choices. If I do cancel, and I take it in December, I'll have the benefit of a month of study instead of like a week. Even If I fuck up again, I'll have one decentish score instead of two identical ones without a good explanation why I retook the test. Is there a way to find out which games section was experimental, by asking on reddit or something? And what would you do in this situation?

While I was formulating a response to all that, I got another email from the same student:

Disregard the last email. The real LG section was the one I killed. Time to bust out that celebratory bourbon and start day drinking. Thanks a lot for all your help with this thing. Fuck yeah!

So in the end, that one sounds like a 170+. Where's my share of that bourbon? Others were not so excited:

I'm extremely pessimistic about my score: LG wasn't particularly difficult but I got frenzied and had to guess on 3, LR ran out of time and guessed on 5 total between the two, RC1 finished no problem, RC2 ran out of time and guessed on 4. Confirmed post-test that RC1 was experimental.

That's 12 guesses, not accounting for any I may have missed.

Needless to say, I'm retaking in December. But knowing how subpar I performed, should I cancel?

I emailed this student immediately asking her NOT to cancel. She was shooting for 170+, and this score may or may not get her there... it depends on 1) how accurate she was on the questions she attempted, 2) how lucky she got on her guesses, and 3) how generous the curve is. But I definitely think there's a chance here. Say she only missed one or two of the questions she attempted (which is definitely possible with this student), and say she got 4 of her guesses right (random chance says she should average 2.4 points from 12 guesses, so 4 correct would be nice, but not outrageously lucky). If those two totally possible things happen, she's only missed 9 or 10 on the test. In this case, she'd be at 170 already. If the curve is slightly generous, she could even be at 172 or 173. NO WAY IN HELL would I cancel this score! Sure, if things break the other way she'll end up with a 165. So what? Having a 165 on your record never keeps you out of law school. Last cycle, I had one student get into Stanford. That student took the test three times, and her highest score was 169. What's the point of canceling, when schools don't care how many times you took it, and only look at your highest score?

Hey Nathan,

Am currently somewhat so-so on how the October test went. Had an experimental reasoning and one of the reasoning sections had some fairly funky (although not overly difficult) questions. For instance, something along the lines of, "In light of the question, which of the following would be the best to know?" Last reasoning section (fifth overall) was noticeably more difficult than the other two. 

Pretty sure I killed the reading portion, but had problems with my timing on the games. Nailed the first two, but ended up burning way too much time for the third game (grouping placing movies into different theaters at different times) and had to hurry the last one a bit too much for my liking. Pretty certain the first three games are solid start to finish, but there are two or three questions on the last one that I didn't get a chance to work out all the way.

Think I did alright overall, but am currently up and down in terms of confidence that it's significantly better than my last showing.

This student was regularly scoring 170+ in the weeks leading up to the test, and when he says that there are two or three Games questions he "didn't get a chance to work out all the way," I wouldn't be surprised at all if he got them right anyway... dude is super-smart. So this is another very positive report.

Hi Nathan-

I needed a whole day to rest before I sent you the email. I took my LSAT exam at Santa Clara University. I arrived at the test center about 40 minutes early, but then I sat in my car just looking over some really easy LSAT questions to warm up my brain. I'm thankful that I didn't rush myself to get into the test center, and I was one of the later people to arrive at my testing room. I shared a long desk with 2 other folks in a lecture hall. The chairs were comfortable, and there was enough space between me and other people. The noise wasn't bad but you can hear a lot of paper ruffling around in the background. The proctors seemed to be more strict than at JFK, they followed the procedures by the book and even made me turn my hoodie inside out. During the break our proctor allowed us to leave the building. They have 3 floors in the building and each with around 1-2 bathroom stalls so the lines were pretty long. I really liked my testing center overall, so you could recommend it to other people.

My exam was structured LR (25) - RC (27) - LR (26) - LG (23) - LR (26). 

I thought the first LR section was reasonable. The second LR was the most difficult out of the three and also because I was tired by then. I have a gut feeling the second LR section was the experimental since there were 2 LR sections with 26 questions. The third LR section was fair. The RC wasn't that bad, but I wasn't able to get to my 4th passage and guessed on the answers. The LG were very typical nothing surprising. Order and grouping. I would say that the 3rd and 4th games were the hardest and most time consuming. 

I can't tell how I did on the exam, I'm not feeling super confident but I don't feel like I did that horrible.

Fairly typical report here. This student started my class four weeks ago having self-studied her way to about 157... she took my class hoping to break into the 160s. Her practice tests in my class ranged from 161 to 167, so I'm sure she achieved her goal. Congratulations! Just one more:

Well overall I think it went pretty ok. I had three sections of logical reasoning. 

Section 1 logical reading was super hard. I did not finish the last four questions and many of them were just a toss up. I am really praying that was my experimental because I did my worst on it. 25 questions

Section 2 reading comp. I actually think it wasn't too bad at all. For the first time I actually felt like I was nailing it and finished the last bubble just in the stroke of time. 

Section 3, another logical reasoning. I think I did really well on this section.

Section 4. Games. I don't know why but it just took me a while for each and I did not finish. I probably guessed on two or three. I do think the ones I answered I answered right. 23 questions.

Section 5. Logical reasoning. It felt like I was going pretty fast in the beginning of the section but there were some ones that took a long time to read. I think I had to guess on about three. 

So overall I am feeling OK. I think I may pull in the lower 170s if I managed to guess well or did miss a few I answered. I am happy that I did invest the time I think it took to answer the questions correctly and then guess on the last few instead of push to finish the section and possibly make mistakes. I'll let you know what I get when the scores come out. Stay tuned for a personal statement! 

:) thanks for always believing in me.

Aww, shucks. You're the brightest, hardest-working bunch I've ever met. You guys make it easy for me to believe in you.

Any more news from the test? Please drop a line in the comments, or send me an email! (fox.edit@gmail.com)