To Your Heart's Content

Sunday, August 06, 2006

the LSAT (Least Satisfying of All Tests)

What a bitch this test can be for those of us who aren't endowed with the wonderful gift of extremely quick analytical reasoning and an 80% retention rate or more. You know, there is good reason why law schools weigh the LSAT score more heavily than any other aspect of your application: it is statistically proven that those that do well on the LSAT do well in law school. Pushing that a bit further logically, it wouldn't be hard to see how there also happens to be a strong correlation between one's LSAT score and future salary! So far in practice I am doing pretty well. I intend to get a 163 or higher, which would rank me in the 90th percentile. We'll see though. See how easy it is to fall in the LSAT score defining who you are trap! I hate that! And so I make this oath here, that, just as in law school I will never reveal my grades to anyone, I will also not reveal my lsat score to anyone. Sounds like a good plan, right? Well, it isn't my idea. I got it from "Law School Confidential"--a super informative book written by a team of recently graduated lawyers offering tips on everything from first applying to your third year. Highly recommended as a companion for law school.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the daunting bastard, it's about a three hour test with five sections. One section is unscored because it is used to pretest new questions (unfortunately it is difficult to tell which section is the unscored section and no one would waste their time trying to figure it out anyway). Each section is 35 minutes in length with between 24 and 26 questions (that leaves about 1.25 minutes per question, including filling out the answer sheet). Out of the four that count towards one's score, two are logical reasoning, one is reading comprehension, and the other is analytical reasoning, or logic games. In all, there are 100 or 101 questions (and a written section that is not scored and rumored to not even be read by law schols). Not only does each question have a difficulty level (1-5, five hardest), but each LSAT test has it's own level of difficulty. Everything is weighed so that if I want to get a 165 (92nd percentile or so), depending on the test I can get at most 22 wrong and at the very least 17.

Anyhow, here's a real example (Feb. 1996 LSAT) of a level 5 logical reasoning question:

23. Since the zoo has more animals than enclosures, and every animal lives in an enclosure, it must be true that at least one of the enclosures contains more than one animal.

The argument above exhibits a pattern of reasoning that is most closely paralleled by which one of the following:

(A) Every person has two biological parents, so some people who have no brothers or sisters have more parents than their parents have children.
(B) Since every year there are more marriages than divorces, there must be some marriages that will not end in divorce.
(C) Since boys under ten slightly outnumber girls under ten and since some families have more than one child under ten, it follows that at least one girl under ten has more than one brother under ten.
(D) At least one of the families in Herndon has more than one child, since in Herndon, there are fewer families than children and every child is a member of a family.
(E) There must be fewer families that include teenagers than there are teenagers belonging to such families, since there is at least one family that includes more than one teenager.

Now, there were 25 questions in this section, the last three all being level 5! When time is running out, and you're faced with questions like these, then the true feelings of stress are felt!


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