Saturday, June 8, 2013

LSAT Grader App Available, Good Luck June 2013 Takers!

Just wanted to wish everyone taking the June 2013 LSAT on Monday the best of luck. Check out our "week before the LSAT" tips below!

If you're planning on taking the September or December 2013 LSAT, be sure to check out our new iPhone LSAT Grader app that feeds into our analyzer. You can scan in official LSAT answer sheets with your iPhone camera, grade them in seconds, and review your mistakes with free explanations for almost all of the logic games and a growing number of the logical reasoning questions.
Above are some screen grabs from the LSAT Grader app.

More details will come next week! Meanwhile, for you June takers...
    1. Visit the site before the test day
    2. Do not practice after Saturday morning
    3. Do relaxing activities throughout the weekend
    4. The night before, sleep ~2 hours more than you usually do
    5. Eat breakfast, bring food and drink (caffeine) for break
    6. Bring your used pencils and highlighters… they should be your friends by now
    7. Arrive EARLY
      1. Read something before, like the NY Times, to warm up
    8. Take one portion of each section type--one logic game, one passage, ~10 logical reasoning questions, from the most recent LSAT, and check them at end of each section
      1. Compare your score from when you first took it, and I’ll guarantee that you did better

The weekend prior to my test date, I drove to the test center to make sure I knew exactly how I would get there, where I would park, and where the testing center was in relation to the parking. Trust me, these trivial things will seem monumental if any one of them might make you late to the LSAT. I worked backwards from what time I needed to be at the testing center, gave myself three hours to acclimate, eat breakfast, and warm-up my brain, and travelling time plus 15 minutes for "damage time."

I spent the first part of the week before the LSAT following my normal routine to a tee. I went to the gym in the mornings, I went to every class, and I read the New York Times. If you don't have healthy routines built up by the week before, try abstaining from the more cognitively detrimental ones: arguments with loved ones, drugs/alcohol, sleeping late or not enough, etc.

Since I was in the endurance part of my LSAT training, on Saturdays and Wednesdays I normally took two full LSAT PrepTests in a single sitting. I decided that preparing for a longer time than the actual LSAT was the best way to make sure that I was not going to wilt in the 5th section like I did the first time.

However, that last week I gave myself Wednesday morning off. In general, I don't suggest my clients spend any time with actual sections after you only have five days until the test day, as your body and mind will be completely rejuvenated for the actual exam.

I spent those last few days thinking happy thoughts while swimming laps or lifting weights. Staying calm and positive, through yoga, meditation, spa getaway, prayer, exercise, etc., is definitely the way to be spending your time this last week before the LSAT.

Also in those days, I printed out a few pages of the June 2007 PrepTest to use as warm-up material the day before. As that was the first modern PrepTest I used in my practice, I felt it would provide a nice full-circle narrative to my LSAT prep. When choosing your own warm-up material, choose one of each section type from a modern LSAT you feel comfortable with, and print out or copy that to use on test day. 

After making sure my warm-up materials were taken care of, I planned out my break menu, including healthy foods like apples and granola bars, as well as energy drinks. Obviously, this is personal preference, but if you can stand caffeine, I suggest a tiny bit during the break to bring you through the last two sections.

The night before, I packed up everything I was taking with me into a ziplock bag, including my trusty pencils and highlighters. By now, these objects should be your best friends, and make sure you feel comfortable with them.

I made sure to arrive at the testing site about three hours early. This gave me enough time to settle in a side hallway, eat my breakfast, read the newspaper, and do my LSAT warmup. Reminding myself of how much I had prepared while doing the warmup was incredibly calming; my mind was tuned up and ready for the LSAT, and I went in knowing I was going to do well.

The key to overcoming stress is to acknowledge why you're feeling it! Beating yourself up for be anxious will only make it worse, so allow yourself to think about why you're worried. After acknowledging, though, you must take control and remind yourself of how well prepared you are. 

Counter each of the fears with a solid reason of why you will do well, and get your Zen on!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Zen of 180 iPhone Camera Grading App

We're close to launch, so I wanted to share where we are...

Above are some screen grabs from the alpha version. Below is a video of the full user experience. 

And this second video is how we think you'll use it with our existing analyzer, which tells you exactly what you should study, for free, and provide you with explanations, for free. Hope you're as excited as we are for it to launch!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Zen Student Journal: AmeriCorps and Working Abroad

The following post is the first in a series from one of our LSAT tutoring clients. You can read about their experiences by clicking on the "Zen Journal" label above.
My travel companion looked at me in disbelief, “We are going to Colombia for three months, and you are only packing one backpack.  And it’s half filled with LSAT prep books. Are you out-of-your mind?” Insane, no. Determined, yes. After a dismal performance on the December LSAT, I became obsessed with scoring the ever-so-elusive 170, so much so that it significantly impaired my practical judgment. 

How was a girl feasibly going to study for the LSAT, enroll in intensive Spanish courses, and volunteer all at once? But, hey, we’re in the 21st century, and a gal can have it all, or can’t she?

Two weeks into my Colombia adventure, panic over the upcoming June LSAT began to immobilize me. I would be in Spanish class and all I would think about was ways to improve my approach to the logical reasoning games. I would be teaching English and instead of focusing on the importance of the subjunctive, I would turn the conversation towards logic. I would often stay at our hostel instead of joining day excursions to discover the city because the guilt of not prepping was unbearable.

But all the time I spent studying wasn’t improving my score. I needed to find a way to study smarter. As a nomadic volunteer, I couldn’t afford private tutoring and the two prep-books I brought were insufficient. One day, by pure chance, I stumbled upon Zen 180. At first, I was skeptical--a free blog for my LSAT prep? I thought everyone was trying to cash in on the LSAT. 

What was the catch? There had to be a catch. So, I scheduled a free consultation with John via the interwebs.  Although he was 2500 miles away, that half an hour with him convinced me that I needed Zen 180’s help. John and his team scrutinized the PrepTest results I had entered into their online system and were able to gain insight into my performance that I wouldn’t have otherwise had. Their analyzer breaks down my strengths and weaknesses, categorizing them, and then presents them in a visually accessible way. With that, I can track my progress and isolate the areas that require improvement.

With Zen 180’s assistance, I have been able to cut my study time without sacrificing my learning. I’m studying smart. I no longer feel that I’m poring over the questions and making the same mistakes over and over again. 

Because of this, a weight has been lifted. I’ve been able to go out and enjoy the beauty that is Colombia. I am present while I’m volunteering and my Spanish is improving! That said, I still have mini-breakdowns, especially now, since the June LSAT is eight weeks away. I am still not sure I can do it. But Zen 180 is giving me a way to prep thousands of miles away from the States, and in addition, because of their discounted services, I can afford to work one-on-one with a tutor. As I am not the kind of learner who can just read explanations and have “ah-ha” moments, I need a guide to help me visualize questions and answers. Never before did I encounter a test-prep company whose mission is really to help people succeed without just looking at the bottom line. 

With Zen 180, I can augment my data-driven self-study with dedicated, compassionate, Harvard-educated tutors, and I'm working on enjoying Columbia and having it all.