Collin: Hello everyone, and welcome to the LawHub prelaw success live events series. My name is Collin Takita and I’m the director of prelaw learning here at LSAC. For those of you joining us for the first time, this series of live events is intended to guide you through the next few months or years of your law school admission journey. We will hold these events every single month specifically designed for as a whole went each individual event as well to help you answer critical questions about law school and the legal profession as well as support you through critical times in your journey. Now today we are focusing on a big, big topic and that topic is the LSAT. The LSAT is a huge part of the law school admission process. We want to talk to the test a bit today also about though your mental wellness as you go throughout the entirety of the admission process. Stress is a common part of changes in your life, particularly when you add new tasks and goals to your plate. Whether that be prepping for a high stakes assessment like the LSAT or deciding where to apply on top of everything else you have going off. So, we hope that you leave today’s event with a better understanding of the LSAT. Its role in a successful application to law school, what a typical prep cycle might look like, and a sense of what you can do to maintain mental wellness in the face of the stressors you might be facing right now.
So, to help us achieve those objectives today I’m joined by two exceptional people. First, I’m joined by Anna Topczewski, who is assistant director of assessment sciences here at LSAC. And she will walk us through the nuts and bolts of the LSAT and give us a glance at the typical test prep cycle. Joining Anna is Carwina Wang. She is senior specialist for professional identity formation on the LawHub team here at LSAC. And she will join Anna and discussing the prep cycle. But we’ll also be sharing her thoughts and advice for maintaining mental wellness during this journey.
Both Anna and Carwina will be answering questions as part of a Q&A at the end of this event. So, make sure you’re submitting questions via the Q&A throughout the entirety of the program. And we will get to as many of them as we can. So, I’m done my part, I’m going to hand it over to Carwina and now it’s all yours.
Anna: Perfect, thank you, Collin. Okay, so we are up about talking about the LSAT. So, a little bit though of background before I begin of just my story and who I am. Like I was introduced, I’m the assistant director of assessment sciences. My background, though is a little bit different. I have a Bachelors of Science in biology and psychology. I got my PhD in Educational Measurement and statistics. And I’ve been a practicing psychometrician measurement scientists for over nine years, two of which have been at LSAC.
Okay, so I wanted to put up LSAC’s mission. In a lot of ways, we are a mission driven organization. And as evidenced by programs like this, we really want to help support everybody through their journey from prelaw through practice. So, it’s really kind of great that we do things like this. And in part, this is why LawHub itself was created to help support people through their journey to take the test as well.
Just some informational purposes. So, the LSAT dates still coming up just in case you want to be aware of them, we still have six of them going on. Registration for all of them is open. And you can look on our website for registration information, what accommodations need to be in, and even now this year, we have when score release is happening for every single test date coming up. So, you can kind of plan and anticipate when you’ll get your LSAT score back as well.
So, the LSAT itself, I think it’s really important to know, the history of the LSAT when kind of talking about the test itself, it’s a unique test where it was created in the 1940s out of a need, where law schools had different admission tests they were using, it was not standardized. And really the LSAT was born because individuals wanted a fair reliable test for everybody to use.
For law school admissions, it’s also very unique to that it’s a test not of that’s generic. It tests critical thinking skills, and why critical thinking skills, it’s because critical thinking skills help prepare you for success in your first year of law school.
We’ve had a lot of research on that. And it’s the number one predictor of success in law school.
A little bit more about the test, too. So, my team is the team that after we have an admissions day or a not a admissions day, I test day, my team is the one that’s behind the scenes working furiously to look at making sure the tests are reliable, valid and fair. We’re doing all the analysis we need to do so sometimes if you’re like, why does it take so long? Because my teams are really hard at work and very busy for those times to make sure that everybody gets a score that’s reliable, valid and fair.
Additionally, kind of my counterpart in our organization is the assessment development team. So these are the individuals who are working hard to make sure that when the test questions are written, the reviewed and really analyzed from the get go of what goes into the test and making sure that they’re measuring that critical thinking skills.
That’s a little bit about the background of the test in the format itself. Starting in August 2021. The test changed a little bit it was we only had three sections prior to August 2021 during the flex era, but now we’re post flex so we’re back to that LSAT format, so there’s three scored multiple-choice sections on the test 35 minutes each. It’s analytical reasoning. Sometimes Logic Games is called the logical reasoning reading comprehension. And then now we do have that fourth unscored section, which can be analytical reasoning, logical reading or reading comprehension, you don’t know it’s kind of a mix up of what you’re going to get. And also, it can be in any order to so I could sit down in my reading comprehension test is first and then logical reasoning and then analytical reasoning. Somebody else it could be a completely different border.
Also, recognizing that it’s a long test, there’s no 10-minute break between the second third section, so get halfway through, get up, walk around, have a little bit of a break between that time to kind of give your mind to rest. And then also to there is a unscored writing sample a part of the LSAT, this one’s so nice that you can take it kind of not just on test day, it’s a flexible test, in terms of when you can take it there’s some guidelines on that, but it’s a little bit more flexible, we’re not having to do that the same day that you’re sitting down thinking LSAT, kind of getting into the prepping side for the LSAT and that during that Collin was talking about. So, I mean, step one, I would encourage everybody to sign up for LawHub account. It has a wealth of information, just to familiarize yourself with the question types, like I was saying that animal and analytical reasoning, Logical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, get to know the test questions themselves, like, what does it mean to be the different types? And also, the digital interface? And so, get to see kind of what that test day experience looks like? What are the tools you get to use during the test? What just like, where, where do I get to see my progress during that test to so you can get to see that whole experience.
And then I kind of as you’re starting out, a great place to start is taking individuals sections that are going to that, um, untimed conditions, keep that stress level low, just feel like I need to get a feel for this, what’s going on? What are these like, and then spend a lot of time on reviewing, and it can make the most difficult. But I’d say the key part is really that deep dive review of looking at the questions that you got wrong, making sure your kind of doing understanding why you got them wrong. And then as you take more and more, it’s like, is there a particular pattern of Oh, yeah, I always kind of miss questions that asked me this thing. How can I recognize those questions from the get go, and then kind of change what I’m doing and recognize, oh, I need to do this instead? For those. So, it’s all about familiarity on the kind of first stage of prepping for the LSAT, and kind of as you get more and more comfortable. It’s really building your skills for test day success. So, it’s kind of that switch of like as an untimed. Now you start taking this individual sections under timed conditions. Can I answer all 27? Questions of reading comprehension? In this 35 minutes? Like what how do I have to pace myself to kind of get through that?
And leave myself the time at the end to have like that last set is a little bit more difficult? How do I make sure I’ve left myself enough time to work on that?
And then again, it’s just about reviewing, like, looking back at the section types, which ones do you struggle with? Which ones are you the best at? I know personally, I’m more of a fan of analytical reasoning, those logic games. I’ve loved that. So, you know, those are questions I want to practice. But I probably should practice a million other ones if I was going to take the test because I need to make sure I’m understanding how I can do better on those. And then you kind of build and keep building. The analogy I have is you know, for people that want to go from coach to running a marathon, you don’t just get up and run 10 miles that day. There’s those apps that kind of get you be like okay, run a mile today run two miles a day and you kind of keep going keep conditioning yourself. A lot of what this test is about is doing that as well of making sure you can have the stamina to get through all of the different sections under time conditions and kind of Azure wrapping up that it’s taking a full test and kind of simulating under test day experiences of what is that like?
And then kind of lastly of like, how do you kind of get in into the idea of how do you prepare for the test day itself it’s really feeling comfortable with like okay, here’s the format. Here’s how I’m logging in. Here’s the how, what I needed to do for the check in process for the proctor just to make sure you’re really familiar with all those steps along the way. Because I know personally if if there’s something that’s thrown at me, oh my goodness, I’d be just like a wreck. And it’s due, you don’t want anything to have add that added stress to it.
And then it’s just kind of remembering as you’re going through the test, what is my practice? What have I done? How do I pace myself accordingly, to get through the whole tested with confidence, then it’s, I think, just knowing that you got this, it’s being able to get to that test day and be like, here’s my goal, here’s what I want to do, and just having the motivation to kind of keep doing it? And recognizing too, that some days, we’re not all feeling the best today, I have a cold, and it would not be a great test day for me. So, kind of recognizing giving yourself some grace and dignity to have sometimes we don’t got this and then we can try again next time.
So that is all for my part of the talk. So, I don’t know Collin, do I hand it back to you? Or am I handing it over to Carwina straightaway?
Collin: You can hand it right over to Carwina. Carwina.
Anna: Stop Sharing.
Carwina: Hello, everyone. My name is Carwina. I am a short East Asian woman’s wearing glasses sitting in an empty office at Indiana University Mauer School of Law where I used to work. I use “she” pronouns. And I’m going to also start a little bit about my story into the law. I went to law school and took the LSAT a long time ago practically before the internet. So, I only studied for it using books, there was old tech scars that you had. And I didn’t really know much of anything about the law because I am first gen for law school and actually college within the United States because I’m an immigrant. And I made it I don’t know how sometimes that I made it. I knew nothing about law school, what lawyers do, or the LSAT, I knew how to take some version of standardized tests, because I’ve taken the LSAT in the PSAT and I went to high school in New York state. So, I had the regents exam also. But it was still a big lift. And I didn’t even know that there were classes that you could take to help you prep, I’m not sure I would have been able to, frankly, because they were and still are some extent quite expensive. But it’s knowing why you want to go to law school, why you want to be a lawyer, and keeping yourself grounded in that. Having faith in your own abilities that gets you through this stressful time. As Anna says, We know you can do this, you have to believe it too. And you got to remind yourself periodically that you can do it. And that you’ve already done this, in many ways. You had to go to college, to get to this point, you’ve taken some of those tests, you’ve done tests that are in many ways harder than what the LSAT is. Because they’re open ended, this is still mostly multiple choice. So, the answer is going to be there to remind yourself that the answer is there, and you can find it. What this takes, as Anna said, is familiarity. And so that means practice, because you’ve already taken these tests before you know how you study for them. Sometimes, you know, we liked the way we study for these tests. Sometimes we think oh, if only I’d done it this way, I would do so much better with it. Well, unless you’re preparing like a year out, this is actually not the time to entirely change the way you approach a standardized exam. So, remember, you’ve done this, what worked for you last time, what can you do perhaps around the edges to make it more workable for you. Maybe it’s just starting things earlier because it is a hard test. And if you are a grammar and who hasn’t better grammar at some point in their lives, know that about yourself. Treat those exams that you’re taking as per practice under test conditions as though it’s the real thing, like cram for each one that might mean you’re cramming every few weeks. But it’ll get you into that mode of studying because you have a test coming up. If you’re someone who likes to study way far out, do that. Make sure you’re building in time all the way through though, to study the different parts of the test. If you know like I know that you prefer the analytical games, alright, and you’re really bad for some reason at reading comprehension. You know, start the reading comprehension earlier because you may want more practice with that. But don’t forget that you still have to practice the other sections of the test.
I will also say just because it’s hard going through these things, have your supports. And make sure you have time including yourself for yourself to do something other than just studying for the LSAT. You may still be in school, you may be working, you may be in school and working. You may have family obligations. Those can all work around and the LSAT can work around you
those obligations, you want to figure out what the broad the overall picture should look like. So, if one week you can spend more time on the LSAT, take that time, if you can’t do it some other day. And make sure every week, if not every day, you’re building in some time just for yourself. Don’t stop watching movies. Don’t stop running marathons, don’t stop playing with your dogs or your cats. You know, keep doing those things that will bring you some joy, because that’s the energy you need to get through this practice period. And then the LSAT.
The biggest piece around this is like Anna said, the LSAT is well validated to show how well you made you your first year of law school. Having been through law school, having practiced law for a long time having taught in law schools, and now working at LSAC. I want to let you know, in case you don’t know it already, that the LSAT does not predict whether or not you’re going to be a good lawyer. When I went to law school, the conventional wisdom was the A students became the law professors, the B students became the judges, and the C students became the best practitioners. And that’s because the practice of law is not just what happens on the LSAT that’s kind of taken out of context of real life. What lawyers really do is to help clients solve problems, clients are unhappy with whatever situation they’re in. They want some help to get to a place that they want to be. So lawyers are problem solvers. And they’re storytellers because storytellers is how we share the information, share our clients story, persuade other people that our client’s situation should change. And that is not always reflected on the LSAT. So even when you’re disappointed with an LSAT score, remember again, why does he want to go to law school what you may be doing with your JD degree, because that’ll keep you grounded. That’ll help you remember the other strings and motivations you have for going through this process. And that’s what’s going to carry you through.
And then I think that’s it, because I would like to leave a lot of time as much as possible for any questions that you have.
Collin: So, for those of you who are with us today, please make sure you’re submitting questions via the Q&A. So, I can ask them of Carwina. And Anna, because they both did a great job
talking through all of their content today, which on which they are definitely experts. So, make sure you’re submitting your questions to them right now.
So here’s a good question, actually, which I think could be answered by both of you from slightly different lenses. And that is, how can you we meaning test takers improve there? The question was asking about their time, but I think pacing is really where they’re getting at here specifically for reading is what was flagged. So, I’m thinking like, how do you improve your efficiency? And test taking? is maybe the question there. So, if you have some thoughts about that.
Carwina: I will say this, I run on the anxious end of the psychosocial spectrum, the effective spectrum. So, I overanalyze everything. And that’s why I hate multiple choice tests. Right, I can do them, but I have to stop sort of sight trying to get the right the perfect answer. So, with a multiple-choice question, I am training myself still to this day, not to try to answer the question myself, but to look at the answers that are already there. Because then I won’t spend time trying to figure out what the right question is, I’m eliminating questions that are clearly wrong, and then working my way through that because that’ll keep me going a little bit faster.
Anna do you have thoughts too?
Anna: I think the key part and I’m thinking of our interface too on on the law of test itself is think that there’s kind of a progress bar on the bottom so I’m thinking specifically reading comprehension knowing that there’s going to be X number of sets on the tests like making sure that you know, okay, how long are each one it might not even be a bad thing to kind of scroll through the test itself and be like, how long are the reading comprehension sets for each one kind of get an idea of it? Like oh, this one might take me a little bit longer this one my I think I could do a little bit faster like spending a minute or two kind of getting a game plan of how you’re going to approach the test is not a bad thing. It’s probably time well spent and leaving yourself some buffer room to at the end so that you can kind of go back and be like, your brains always processing thing kind of go back and like think about oh wait, I think I want to change that.
One upfront, but now I haven’t left him itself anytime. So, it’s kind of making sure like if you’re that type of person, which I am like, I always have to leave a few minutes for like, oh, yeah, like, oh, I need to change that one again. So, I think it’s knowing yourself of how you’re going to take the test and then applying that test day.
Collin: So, there’s some questions coming in, they’re really coming in in two buckets. One is during the prep cycle, and then there’s test day itself. We’re test day Part Two, we’re testing, you know, how many times to take the test, right? So, I’m going to ask this one question. And it applies to both buckets. So maybe let’s talk about each bucket one at a time here. So what recommendations would you have beyond the ones you’ve already given? So maybe Anna, you can contribute here for minimizing stress during the prep cycle specifically, and then we’ll get to talk about minimizing stress and anxiety on test day itself. So, I know there’s going to be some subjective responses in here, things that you’ve done for yourself, but I think sometimes anecdotal advice is beneficial in this case, because it just gives some advice, maybe what worked and what didn’t work. So, if you could talk a little bit more about that, Carwina, I know, you already went into some detail, but and then Anna, you could as well, please.
Carwina: Sure, test day.
All the old adage is if you can have getting a good night’s sleep, if you eat breakfast, eat breakfast, if you don’t eat breakfast, I’m a big fan of doing what you normally do. Because otherwise, you sort of feel oh, wait, I shouldn’t have had that extra cup of coffee. Because now I got to go to the bathroom in the middle of the exam, right? So, keep your routine. There’s a reason it’s your routine, it works for you, even though you might complain about it sometimes take advantage though, as well of the breaks. That is when you can run to the restroom. That’s where you can get more coffee, or whatever it is.
Don’t feel when that exam starts that you got to rush in and start answering questions right? ground yourself first. Maybe it’s a deep breath count to 10. Maybe it’s self-talk where you say for example, if I’m doing this, and it sounds weird, I’m doing out loud, but Carwina you can do this, you have been practicing and preparing for this test for months, and you own it. All right, and then you go in, it always feels weird. My son hates it. When I tell him to do that. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t. But it’s still really cool. It makes a difference to talk to yourself in the third person, because then it almost sounds as if there’s someone else there supporting you, as well. So do those things. If you get your questions, that stuff that you get stuck on, move on. It’s okay. Take a break though, if you need to, if you feel like really flustered for something. It’s mostly about trying to keep yourself in that headspace. And a quick couple seconds, 10 seconds break for yourself to get yourself collected again, is not going to cost you enough. It’s more important that you feel comfortable and confident as you go through the test.
Anna: And I’ll go off like, yes, keep with your routine like that. That is always for me to have. Anytime I’m preparing for something big, it’s like, okay, how do I get into that space? Where am I going to do? It just can keep with your routine of like, oh, yeah, get up, take the dogs out, go for a walk, like, keep doing that don’t make it overly anxiety, provoking them what it is.
And I think that that really helps and kind of speaking to the test prep side, too. I think it’s not beating yourself up for not knowing things I had a professor once told me What’s difficult is never easy. And this test is difficult. So, studying for it should be easy. Like some aspects might be easy, but if it’s difficult, it’s difficult and kind of just letting yourself know that yeah, difficult things can be difficult. It sounds like too simple. But I think too often, we’re like, oh, that should have been easier. And you’re like, no, it shouldn’t have, it’s hard. So, you know, it is what it is. So I think that kind of is the a mindset to kind of get into of you know, just recognizing where you are, where you want to be, and trying to get the progress and celebrate your progress to that you make towards those goals.
Collin: That’s great advice from both of you. I especially like that one line that you just gave there and that what’s difficult isn’t shouldn’t be easy. Is that what it was? Oh, what’s difficult is never easy. It’s never easy. I think I might get that tattooed on my arm or something. But yeah, I’m certainly not the expert that either of you are but I will give my two cents here. One of the things that always helps me in my prep for standardized tests in the past and also just before stressful meetings or conversations or really anything and because remember, this applies to more than just test prep, right? This is anytime we’re facing stressors during periods of change. Something that always helps me feel a bit more grounded is getting some fresh air, right to the extent that’s possible, stepping outside, sitting in the yard sitting on campus somewhere, especially when I want was on campus, I would just sit in an Adirondack chair somewhere for like, just 20 minutes. And just breathe for a little bit. And I know this is might sound a little corny, but I like to kick off my shoes and actually put my feet right on the ground. I think there’s some medicine in there somewhere. But I, that’s certainly something that I do. And I recommend it to people as well take it for what it’s worth. No promises.
So, one good question which came in? And this is actually Carwina. You’re typing an answer to this right now. But I might ask you to verbalize that if you’re comfortable. Speak to if you can, some advice. And maybe this is based on your own experience for students from for nontraditional students, maybe students who are international students coming in, or they’re immigrants at a young age or maybe even later in life. If you could speak to that experience. That’d be fantastic.
Carwina: Sure, I am not sure. What type of nontraditional student though the participant is. So, I’ll try to speak to a bunch of different categories. Let’s assume that you have been out of college for a while. And so, you’ve been working or traveling or doing something else? And it’s like, oh, shoot, how do I get back into that study mode? If you have been working? treat this like another part time job, a little add on your side hustle? All right. It should not take over your life. That’s true for everyone, right? But treat it like a job. I’ve got to put in a shift of however many hours today I saw earlier. And the question was like, I can’t do five hours at a time. Don’t. It’s really okay, do what works for you. I think for most of us, and I’m not the social scientist. So, I can’t say for sure. But I think that for most humans, we have really good retention for maybe an hour at a time. And then we need a break. So, we can process the information. So, it’s really good to take those breaks, you’re taking in a lot of information, your brain needs to recover, you need to move that information from short term memory into long term memory. So, give those breaks, take advantage them, add them into your schedule, that’s the best thing really, so that you’ll always be somewhat fresh, and know how your body and your brain are responding. If you’re tired either, because you’ve had a long day, you haven’t had a good night’s sleep, whatever it is, give yourself some grace. Don’t put in that full study period, don’t put in any period at all. If your body is that tired, it’s telling you that it can’t absorb new information right now. So, listen to yourself.
If you’re coming in from a non-US school experience before, maybe English is not your primary language, then you may want to start studying a little bit earlier. Because the timed aspect of the test just means you’ve got to get your reading comprehension and speed up. So, it’s practicing that. The good news is it is a written test. So, you’re reading it, it’s not an oral exam. And so, for so many people for whom English is not a first language, it may be easier to do the reading and the reading comprehension. So that’s an advantage. But just give yourself like maybe a couple months more than you might otherwise do to get into the testing mode. And again, when you’re reading, you’re reading for comprehension of the overall picture of each question. So don’t feel that you’ve got to get every single word down. Read for fluency. Okay, I can understand what the main point is, I may have to go back and check a couple times to make sure I got certain things, right. If I’m not sure, especially which answer may be the right one. But you don’t need to stop and think about what every single word means. And if there’s a word you’re stuck on, just do what we all did when we learn a new language. Think about what the basic sense of that sentence seems to be. So that you will take less time and you’ll still get the main ideas.
Collin: I want to give you a chance and if you feel you want to contribute to that at all, you certainly can’t but I don’t have to.
Anna: I think I’ll pass on that one.
Collin: So great. I don’t I don’t know what else completely understood. So, I, I’ve gone through and kind of picked out some of the themes, and that’s one of the ones those that’s how I’ve been asking the questions thus far. But I think at this point, I’m just going to kind of go top to bottom and we can just answer them as they’re coming in. Okay, now that we’ve kind of addressed the big picture buckets.
And now granted some of these for those of you who are asking him this question, not all of them can be answered. Because while Carina and Anna are absolute pros, they don’t know everything. And I’ll just caveat that sometimes your questions, we might have to send you somewhere else. And that’s okay, we have bunch of we have a bunch more programming coming down the road here, which will certainly help to answer some of the questions if we can’t answer them right now. So first one is a tough one to begin with. And that is what LSAT score should I aim for? And I think I’ll start off by saying that I think it really depends on what your goals are. And I think that if you’re curious about what type of score you need to get into XYZ school, you should start off by looking at law school transparency, which has a lot of great resource for race resources for you, in terms of looking at schools, their average LSAT scores accepted. And then you can start to look about thinking think about that. Also, in the context of what your interests are, what your requirements are for the different schools that you’re going to because I think it’s bigger than just the LSAT score. Now, that’s my two cents. As a layperson, I want to hand it over to both of you to give your perspective as well.
Anna: Absolutely, I was going to say and the LSAT score is one component of your application process, it’s not the score that you need to get in. GPA is also very important letters of recommendation, the writing samples, so I think it’s really presenting yourself as the whole picture.
Even though I am in standardized testing, it’s always it’s like it’s one measure, it doesn’t define you. It’s just one component that can be used, I always say this, it’s a positive that it can be used in a positive way where you can highlight your skills and abilities just like you do in other ways.
Carwina: And I like to keep my eye on the prize of being the lawyer. So, the LSAT score is just a score. It can be the product of your education, and how well you’ve been served all the way through, it can be a product of how long you’ve been away from standardized testing, it can be a product of language, and as I said, a good day or a bad day on testing day.
What’s more important about than the LSAT score itself, and maybe what school that puts you into is choosing a school that’s really going to advance where you want to be. And obviously, you know the ranking of a law school may affect that. But Law School transparency and other guys out there will tell you that law school is about so much more than its ranking. You can like for me, I wanted to go be a legal services lawyer, I knew I wasn’t really headed towards a large firm no matter what my parents wanted. And they wanted a big firm. So, I was looking at schools, that would give me the ability to feel comfortable going into a legal services job representing poor people being in court right away, sort of no real time for training until you get there anyway. And that meant I was looking for schools that had really good clinic programs, I was much less interested in something that was really theoretical, sort of the schools that we might think about as producing the most supreme court clerks, for example. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, obviously, but you just need to know how law school fits into your actual career goal. It should not be the law school determining what your career goal is, it should be you choosing the law school based on what you want, and what your strengths are. So, the LSAT is, as Anna says, just one indication of who you are. Whether you get a really good score or a score you’re less happy with.
Know you can take the test again. And now you’ve got an application and other ways of connecting with the schools you’re interested in to help you build that path to your desired career.
Collin: I’m glad when I say things, people don’t disagree with me. So. Alright, so next question in the list here, I hear many people’s need to study five months or so ahead of the LSAT. What have you studied for less time than that? Is that basically leading yourself to a low score? It’s very interesting.
Anna: I think not necessarily. I mean, everybody starts at different kind of paths. And I’m guessing if I woke up tomorrow and said, I want to go to law school, I think I would need to study a lot for the LSAT, because I haven’t necessarily been trained in all the types of critical thinking skills that are on our test versus somebody who might be right out of college who has had a lot of philosophy skills and has taken courses more on logical thinking. So, I think it kind of depends. So, if you’re like, well, how much should I study? I would say we’ll start by taking a practice test to begin with, see where you are, like if we’re all starting at different spots. See where you are, again, what Carwina said, what is your goal, and that should really help guide how much you need to study. And I always hear five months, it was like, Well, five months of an hour each day, five months of five hours each day or five minutes or five months of for a study once a week. Five months is kind of vague in terms of how much you need to study. I think it’s more of like being targeted of how much improvements I’m getting from my studies and kind of backtracking to say, okay, I think I’ll be prepared by this time or not. So, I know it’s kind of a not a very specific answer of it depends. But I think in a lot of ways it depends and just knowing where you’re starting from, what your goal is, will help build that trajectory that you need to get to get your we are so.
Carwina: I just want to foreshadow that the answer it depends, is probably the only correct answer you will ever get in law school. Everything is it depends. Because that’s what the law is we wouldn’t need lawyers if the answer were clear.
So completely want to endorse what Anna said, know yourself, take that pretest. So, to see how you’re doing, and build from there, if you are really set on, as Collin said, on a specific school, then you’ll get a sense from that first test, without any studying how much more you may want to work on it. But it’s about studying in a way that allows you to process and build, don’t just cram and you know, not necessarily get anywhere with it. If your brains not absorbing that information, you’re not helping yourself. So do what your body and your brain tell you to do.
Collin: And it’s not always as easy as just saying, oh, that’s what I’m going to do, it’s actually takes an intentional approach to make sure that you’re taking care of your mind and your body during this process for sure. This process being a whole process of figuring out what to do with your life.
Next question is for those who are working full time, how do you suggest to fit in studying with those schedules? Have you seen it work?
So, I’ll start off by thinking to say that it certainly can work right, you can, you can certainly figure out what works best for you and your other commitments.
In terms of trying to fit that into your schedule. I know that, personally, when I have these big tasks, like studying for a test on my plate, and I know that I have to balance that against the time that I spent with, for example, my family, or other commitments, I just had to be explicit with them and say, Listen, I know that you are important in the things that we’ve committed to are important. But I’ve also committed myself to this. And I know that I have to put time aside for this. Now, that’s harder to do with a job, for example, because you can’t tell your boss necessarily, hey, I need to, I need to take eight hours out of my day to study. But being explicit in your intentions, and what you need, certainly goes a long way in that now and I saw you muted yourself so bad.
Anna: I did. And I think if knowing yourself to like if I that hour or two after work after being at work for eight hours, that is not a good study time for me, like I need my decompression time after that. And I know I need to be more productive in the evenings and something like very intense like studying for the LSAT, it would have to be at like, eight, nine o’clock at night and not too late though, because then I’m going to be exhausted as well. So, it’s going to feeding in the evening or first thing in the morning to have like I’ve just woken up. Let me study for a little bit as I’m like waking up and kind of getting ready for my day like those for me are my kind of best study times and just knowing oh, yeah, that hour to after work, I need to decompress and kind of eat dinner and do all my normal schedule is kind of what we talked about too of like keeping with your normal schedule and trying to fit in things important as well.
Carwina: I support I reinforced again, both ways. It’s no other your morning person or a night person. Don’t think you have to do the five hours every day. Sometimes a really productive 20 minutes is what you need. You know, maybe you’re breaking it out. Today, I’m going to study tomorrow, I’m going to do half an hour of testing.
That’s okay. That’s actually probably good for you. You know, you’ll absorb that information. Keep your routine and as Collin said, Be clear with your family. Schedule it in. I have that problem all the time. I let everything bleed into some horrible mess. So now I the computers by Microsoft will do it. Oh, you look like you need some focus time would you like to be every day or just once a week? Make your own focus time. That hour earlier in the morning, the hour before bedtime, whatever it’s going to be?
Collin: Absolutely. Mind oh my watch. I’ve got one of those fancy schmancy watches that tells me stop doing things and focus before focus on yourself before bed.
Okay, so next question. This was a good one. I’ll read it in its entirety, because I think it deserves some attention. So, everyone keeps asking me what I want to do with my law degree and telling me I should use that for motivation. But I genuinely don’t know what I want to do yet. And I’m hoping law school will help shine a light on that. I suppose I want to go to law school because I want to make some kind of difference in people’s lives and help others somehow, I just don’t have anything concrete. Any advice on how I should approach my future and how I can use that to motivate myself.
Carwina: I’ll take that one.
It’s okay not to know what you want to do with law. I think often when we’re asked that question, it’s like they’re expecting, it’s like, oh, I want to be a prosecutor or I’m going to be a judge, or sometimes even occasionally, I want to be a law professor. Most of us don’t know that when we’re going to law school, we know that there are things that interest us, like the questioner had said about wanting to help other people. So as part of our big theme of knowing who you are, think about what you’ve do already now to help other people.
Maybe you’re the kid who always shares notes when someone else has been sick. Maybe you’re someone who’s stood up to the schoolyard bullies when you were younger? Those are all things that lawyers do. They’re taking care of people, they’re sharing people, they’re sharing their resources, they’re connecting people, and they’re advocating for others. What are the roles and the behaviors you’ve done? That could fit into what a lawyer does? If you aren’t sure, look at LawHub, there are wonderful resources there. In I think, just as another couple of months, also, we’re going to have a tool up on professional identity formation, which is really what this question is about, sort of figuring out who you are now, and what that means for you as a lawyer, or, as a law graduate with a JD, who doesn’t want to practice law. But think about what gives you energy as a person, as a worker in volunteers, work that you do church work that you do actual paid work, studying, those are the things that can guide you through law school and into a career that will mean something important to you.
Collin: Okay, next question, is, it’s, let’s see, this person says, I have about a half dozen LSAT prep books, but I can’t find Oh, sorry. But I find that the number of question types and all these sections overwhelming and hard to remember, did you find that it’s more beneficial to study the structure of questions, or to just keep taking as many practice tests as possible?
Anna: I can jump in there. And maybe it’s a side analogy to have like I had this experience in college too. So, I know when people get to organic chemistry, they want to memorize all the reactions themselves. Okay, this goes into this and then comes this best advice I got was understand the structure the mechanisms of it. So, I think for studying to kind of what I said about Prep as well is kind of look at the questions themselves, what are they trying to get at? What are the skill that they’re trying to assess? And look at those specifically to see, what am I struggling with that particular skill? Or what am I succeeding on in that particular skill? So, I think it’s more of taking that step back, not just cramming and try to answer as many questions as you want as you can. But taking a step back and saying, okay, what is this type of question getting at? How is it going about it? Seeing the similarities across the different questions to see Oh, yes, this particular one. I’m good at. I’m like, I figured those out every time versus oh, wait, this this one thing? Oh, it always trips me up right here. I need to slow down. What do I need to do to kind of refocus myself free learn this? What am I supposed to be getting out of this and be able to answer that correctly? I think the best thing you can get your hands on too is when the sections of the questions themselves have answer explanations, read those of like, okay, what is what is it? What is your why is this a wrong answer? Looking at those can be very helpful to kind of guide what you should be doing forward because it’s learning, it’s not cramming. And so, I think that’s what Carwina said is like, it’s how do you build those mental processes versus just trying to memorize everything?
Carwina: I also said that, you know, I’m anxious if I had 12 books, I can tell you, I wouldn’t be able to look at any of them myself, because I would also feel really overwhelmed. One of the things because you’re looking at learning here is not so much the questions, but the explanations that Anna was talking about. Which book sort of gives you an explanation that resonates with you that makes sense to you. Because it’s also very much about the way people communicate both the words and their tone and so on. So, if there is a book that makes it easier for you to understand why you mess something right and also why you got something right and something wrong and why you got something right. That’s the book I would use for that particular section because it’s connecting to you. And you’re going to remember that better.
Collin: This next question, I think, is one which speaks to tactics for test taking. So maybe Anna, you could respond to this one, with the option of underlying the reading responses, passages help or hinder reviewing paragraphs to answer questions that refer to them.
Anna: It depends I would be the type of person that would underline everything. And so, it would just be a hinderance be like, oh, that must be important, that must be important. So, it’s trying to find that balance of getting, like, get into LawHub, take the test with kind of the law of platform and take those sections under timed conditions and see what tools do really help you versus what are the things that kind of get in your way? So, if underlining helps you, yes, and then and do that, if it’s a hindrance, me, I would be like, okay, don’t do it. So, I think it’s trying to find those strategies of like, if I do it, does it help me, then keep doing it.
Collin: And I think that’s particularly valuable to think about while you’re doing your practice tests. And I think that’s what makes practice tests valuable as a study tool, because it helps you to immerse yourself on the test taking experience. And sort of I mean, you have to, you have to prepare that experience. So that way, you can truly simulate it. But you can practice those test taking strategies before I say before game day, but before test day, right. And you can see whether it actually does help you or interferes with the way you’re thinking through things, it may, you know, you may not see either a benefit or a detriment on in his in the final score. But you might feel a different level of comfort if you try these techniques for the first time or the 10th time or whatever. So, experimenting with them during your prep cycle is certainly a valuable tool. And that’s why it’s certainly valuable to consider practice tests in your prep routine. It’s not obviously, a saving is that it’s not the solution for everyone, but it’s certainly something to consider. And certainly, one of the values of the log account is that you have access to this prep test from LSAC. So definitely consider that.
This next question. There’s only a few more questions in the chat here. And then I think we’re good to close things out. So, I want to ask these last couple here. And the first is any recommendations on good courses to take before an undergrad before going to law school? Carwina, it’s probably for you.
Carwina: I never made it to orgo. Don’t take for granted. Any book, any course that makes you analyze texts is really useful. That could be an English class. It could be political science, it could be economics, it could be history, it could be philosophy.
A lot of what you’re doing as a lawyer and in preparation for the LSAT is learning how to read carefully, but quickly. So, all those classes are actually or go well as well. It’s just the constructs the frameworks, the analysis is different. But the analysis you learned in high school, the analysis you’ve learned on the job is still analysis. It’s still logical law school in the LSAT preferences, a specific type of logic and rhetoric that you’re going to find more in sort of Greek and Roman, sort of the European style of argumentation. So, you may find one of those philosophy classes useful, but it’s not the only way that you’re going to get it. Part of it is also to know where your strengths are. And realize you can still learn the specific style of argumentation and analysis that the LSAT uses based on where your strengths are. So close reading, critical thinking any of those classes across any of the disciplines and do it.
Collin: This next question is a common question that we see. And that is any advice or words of encouragement about or guidance rather, on how to balance work commitments and law school.
Carwina: Law school is another job. It’s just sort of maybe a more amorphous self-structured work from home kind of job.
You will have far less control over your schedule in your first year of law school, because almost every law school requires a specific curriculum, and you just have to take it in the way that they ordered. You don’t get to choose which section you’re going into what days of the week or when those classes start. So that first year at least that’s going to be your primary job and that’s not surprising because you’re transitioning as well, from whatever you were doing before to a new experience, it’s just going to take up more time and you’re going to feel as though you’re regressing as a student as a worker, as a family member, while you’re learning this new activity.
Give yourself grace during that period. If you’re taking law school part time, or you know, just having a lighter semester, build your routine, whatever it’s going to be. Alright? Again, it’s not the time to say I hate that. I’m always a night owl, because I have an 8:30 class, I’m going to try and make myself go to bed, you know, three hours earlier, it’s really hard to change that, especially as a young adult or an older adult. So, deal with it. Again, work in chunks are going to make sense for you. Make sure you’re working steadily throughout the week, it’s the biggest thing is really sort of like semester management rather than week management. Because if you’re in a school that has a high stakes, winner take all final exam, you’re going to want to start preparing for that fairly early in the semester, like at least mid-semester rather than cramming at the end. So, it’s building in a little bit of time every week to take your class notes, turn them into an outline of the key and important pieces. And then, because this is part of the learning process, actually, as you’re doing that kind of review of your notes, rewrite your outline, the closer you get to the exam, that does not have to be hours at a time 30 minutes, a day, a couple hours a week, you’re going to be fine with that five hours a day to work for you if that’s what works.
Collin: Great. So, we have time for one more question, which I think both of you should be able to answer. And that is any advice for us. Or sorry, I spoke wrong. Any advice? Any advice for people trying to build a support network during times of stress, particularly during the application cycle? Anna I’ll start with you to give Carwina a breath, and then I’ll turn it over to Korea.
Anna: I think it’s talking to people about your goals too. And having that support. people or animals too, you can’t see right now. But I have a little dog on my lap, they are my support as well. They’re always happy to see me and then keep me calm throughout my day as well. So, I think it’s really reaching out to those people, and getting them invested in your goal, letting them know what you want to accomplish. And then they become your cheerleaders as well to help you along, not through the just the good times. But through the bad times as well. When you’re like, oh, you don’t want to study when you’re like, oh, I shouldn’t do have that person there that’s encouraging you to say your goal was this, do you need a break? Are you going to try to do it like I think having the people around you that’s also just as excited about your outcome. And your what you want to do is very important.
Carwina: I also like to warn my support network. Because if I’m in the middle of an intense study period like that, or a project of any sort, whether it’s test prep, or law school or work, I can get a little bit too immersed in it, and I can become a jerk.
I remember some words of wisdom from my first-year contracts teacher, who said to all of us, and apologies to people who don’t necessarily like sort of more colorful language, don’t become an asshole. While you’re studying first year, in particular, you’re going to walk around and you’re going to see breaches of contracts or torts everywhere. Don’t do that. Well, it’s hard not to of course, right. Because that’s how you practice know that you’re getting the new knowledge that’s being handed to you. So, you do kind of do that. But you have to warn your family and your friends that that could happen. And if all you’re talking about is law school or civil procedure or criminal law that they can also ask you to stop. And that would be good for you to stop once in a while. And just have some fun sort of the complement to what Anna say. You’re the real. Yeah, your support is there to keep you sort of balanced no matter what to say you’re being a jerk, or to say, oh, no, no, remember why you’re doing this. You can make it through. Yes, you’re going to feel depressed or discouraged. But you could make it through.
Collin: I might get that tagline tattooed on my arm just underneath the one that Anna gave me earlier today. So, both of you have given me some gems. So, I appreciate that. So, I want to say thank you to both of you today. Carwina and Anna, you both did a terrific job with your presentation, and then also answering the abundance of questions which came in so thank you both very much for your time and for sharing your expertise and wisdom with the people with us today.
Now there were quite a few questions which I didn’t get to because they kept coming in. So, for those have you who are still waiting for an answer to your question? I apologize. We didn’t get to you. But I want to encourage you to send those questions to us at either ambassadors@LSAC.org or at LawHubevents@LSAC.org, either of those two email boxes, we’ll take those questions, and we’ll answer them as soon as we can. We only had a limited amount of time today, unfortunately. But we want to make sure that your questions are answered. In addition to that, we do have additional programming coming down the road, which I think could speak to a lot of the questions that you have still in mind. Okay.
So, thank you both. And thank you, everyone, for joining us today for this webinar, sort of for this live event. I really appreciate your time. And your attention to this important topic. The LSAT is a critical part of the application process, and it deserves some attention. So, I’m glad that Anna could share that information with you. So, I hope you leave today with a better understanding of what the LSAT is and why it’s important, right in the application process. And also, a general sense of what the prep cycle looks like and where maybe you fit or where you fall in that cycle. Are you a little bit heavy, a little bit behind? What do you still have to do? What are some tips that you can follow as you do your preparation for the LSAT and the application to law school? And finally, I hope that you leave today with a little bit of a sense that one, you’re not alone. If you’re feeling some stressors, right now, this is a stressful time in anyone’s life, and you’ve got other things going on. And this certainly can make it feel a little bit tricky to navigate. So hopefully you feel a little bit comforted by the words of Anna and Carwina, probably less than myself, but you feel good going out of this live event today and know where you’re headed next. So again, if you have any questions, please feel free to email us at ambassadors@LSAC.org or at LawHubevents@LSAC.org. And I want to encourage you all to join us next week for another live events on answering the question is law school, the right fit for me? I think that a lot of the questions that you asked today certainly are relevant there as well. So, I encourage you all to register via your LawHub account and join us all next week.
So, with that, I’m done. We’re saying goodbye. I’ll talk to you all later. Thank you.