Monday, September 20, 2010

LSAT Preparation is a Process

The following post is part of a series from one of our LSAT tutoring clients. You can read about their experiences by clicking on the "Zen Journal" label above.
Sure, that title seems like an arbitrarily simple statement, but I believe it is something many of us forget. Most of us share one ultimate goal as we enter the world of LSAT preparation: get into a good law school. In order to do that, we must score well on the test. Scoring well on the LSAT, for most of us, requires that we seek support for our studies in one form or another – be it test prep books, a class, or individual tutoring.
However, although I’ve naturally intuited such a notion from the beginning, my experience over the past month has reminded me that starting organized test preparation is only the first step in a process. I didn’t take my first practice test, submit the data, and have Mr. Bennett return to me the one thing I needed to do to achieve LSAT Zen. Mr. Bennett did send me something – several, very helpful things in fact. What he sent me, though, was to be only my first step.

I honestly don’t remember the very first thing Mr. Bennett and I began working on, but that’s not my point. The point is, throughout this process, Mr. Bennett and I have systematically assessed my testing strengths and weaknesses and, one at a time, developed a plan to augment each strength and overcome each weakness.

The cycle of improvement works for any project, LSAT or computer engineering.
In the beginning, my biggest issue was speed. The first time I ever looked at an LSAT, my accuracy was great: extrapolated for the entire test, I would have scored over 160. The problem was that I scored closer to a 140 based on the actual number of questions I answered. I needed to look for specific clues on logical reasoning questions and stop thinking so much (I shudder to think that somehow by thinking less, I will improve my chances of getting into law school, but I digress). I needed some way (i.e. Mr. Bennett’s diagrams) to organize the information in logic games. I simply needed to read faster on reading comprehension sections.

Taking each issue separately, we set out to build on what appeared to be good potential for success. Learning a new diagram in each session, Mr. Bennett gave me at least one speedier logic game for every analytical reasoning section. Beginning with the particular question types where my accuracy was low in logical reasoning, Mr. Bennett helped me identify, and then eliminate, where my mind wandered from the relevant information on each question stimulus. For reading comprehension, Mr. Bennett encouraged me to use a highlighter to mark key information in an attempt to read the passage through carefully, but only once.

Every time that I take a practice test, I improve just a little bit, even if only in my approach and not raw score. I always identify something new I could be working on, but I stay focused on what I’m currently working on, because I know I can’t tackle every issue in one sitting with the test or one session with Mr. Bennett. I remind myself that this is a process – that it takes time and patience. I have faith in the process, realizing that if I haven’t worked on a weakness yet, I soon will - perhaps with my next step.