0L, Advice, Law School, Lists

LSAT 101: Tips and Tricks for the LSAT

Hello everyone! It’s been a while, I know. I’m still awaiting the start of Law School, so I haven’t had much to report. In a few weeks I’ll be moving (once again) far, far away from my home state. This time I’ll be moving 1500 miles instead of 1200!

Since the new school year is just around the corner I thought I’d go a little bit more into the Law School Admission Test (aka the LSAT). Some of you are probably now deciding if Law School is something you want to pursue (whether you’re a Junior in college, a Senior, or you’ve been out of school for a while). Now is a good time to start thinking about the LSAT and Law School.

Having gone through the process of taking the LSAT, applying and getting in to Law School, I’ve had some time to reflect on it all. This list will be made up of both things I did and things I wish I had done.

Without further ado, here is the list:

 

  1. Enroll in an LSAT Prep Course. I truly, truly wish I had done this. I did not do nearly enough studying and I did it all on my own. I did take one free online class. It was just for a few hours on one day in September. It was extremely helpful, but to be honest I forgot many of the helpful tips by the next day. If I had the structure of a class and the help of a professional I think I would have done much, much better. There are several types of classes out there, though. Do your research, look into their teaching styles. Find which one will be best for you and your learning style. It will cost a pretty penny, but it will be worth it in the end, PLUS there are always special deals on LSAT Prep courses.
  2. Set up a study plan. I literally marked into my calendar exactly when and what I’d be studying. My last semester most of my classes were online (fun fact: I actually HATE online classes) so I would get to the Library by 08:00 and stay until 17:00 or 18:00 (my schedule was slightly different on days when I had an actual in-person class). I would dedicate about an hour to studying for the LSAT in the morning once I got to the Library then I’d move on to my class homework. If I got done with my homework before 17:00 I’d move to studying for the LSAT. Then I’d come home and give myself an hour or so for dinner (I’d usually put on tv to relax a little bit) then I’d study for the LSAT until 22:00. I’d make sure to be in bed by 23:00 so I had a good amount of sleep. This is a lot of studying but the LSAT is a big and difficult test. Note: Make a study plan even if you’re taking a Prep course. Just because you’re taking a class doesn’t automatically mean you’ll score well if you don’t put in the effort and study. 
  3. Get LSAT Prep materials. Go to the book store and pick up the LSAT Prep books you can. Do your research first, though. Some prep books are not good resources at all and some are amazing. If you come across one you don’t recognize from your research browse through it first before buying it. I’d also recommend getting books dedicated to certain sections of the LSAT. For me, and most people I talked to (there are a few people who had trouble with other sections), the Logic Games section was the bane of my existence. I bought a book dedicated to Logic Games and it helped tremendously. The first time I took the LSAT I didn’t use this resource very much. I looked at maybe one or two chapters of the book and that was it, but the second time I focused on this book the most and I ended up scoring well on the LG section. I’d also highly recommend finding resources for the Writing Section. The Writing Section is the part most of us studied for the least. For me, it was because you don’t really get a score on that section so I didn’t bother studying for it the first time. Here’s a tip I learned for the Writing Section: Use ONLY the facts presented to you in the prompt. The basic format of the Writing Section is they give you a scenario where a person has to choose between two options. They present the facts (the pros and cons of each option) then you have to argue for one option or the other. This is not something where you want to bring in your life experiences and outside resources. They care only about your ability to look at the facts presented and use said facts to persuade your audience to choose one option over the other. I learned this from talking to a friend who took a prep course (and had taken the test twice already) right before taking the test. The second time I took the test, when I was studying I focused mostly on LG and the Writing Section. One of my Prep books had a whole section on studying for the Writing Section that I had completely ignored the first time round. It was extremely helpful! It taught me some tricks for legal writing that I never would have thought about before. I’d definitely recommend looking up some examples of legal writing too. Legal writing is a bit different than everyday and academic writing. Why should you study for the Writing Section if it isn’t graded? Because schools are looking at your writing samples. It is one of the big things they look at when considering whether or not they should accept you. They want to make sure you’re an intelligible human being.
  4. On test day don’t worry about looking cute and put together. Wear something comfy! It is a LONG day. You will be spending hours testing. You want to be comfy. You do get a fifteen minute break in the middle. During this break I did a lot of stretching. Sitting down at a desk, in testing mode for several hours will literally cramp your body up and this makes it harder to focus. During your long break stretch it out. You’ll come back feeling much better. I’m a former dancer so I already know what stretches are beneficial for my body. If you don’t already, look some up before you take the test. Again because you spend so many hours testing you will be able to focus much better if you’re wearing comfy clothes. When the day of the test comes, trust me, NOBODY cares what you look like that day.
  5. Know what you can and cannot bring to the testing center. This information is provided with your LSAT Ticket (DON’T FORGET TO BRING YOUR TICKET TO THE TEST!) You CANNOT get in if you don’t have your ticket with you. You have to have your things in a ziploc no bigger than a gallon (I highly recommend you bring the gallon sized one). Your wallet, your food, your pencils, everything has to be able to fit in that ziploc. You can’t have your phone ANYWHERE on you. They do a full search. You can’t wear a hat. You have to use a regular #2 pencil, no mechanical pencils, no pens. You can’t have a cap eraser on your pencil. You have to have your own sharpener. You can’t have a grip on your pencil. If you wear a hoodie, you can’t have the hood on. If it’s winter and you have a jacket on they will likely do a full search of your jacket. You can’t bring a reusable water bottle in (sometimes they allow it if it’s empty when they check your things and they check the bottle thoroughly). DON’T FORGET YOUR DRIVERS LICENSE! They won’t let you in without it. It’s how they verify who you are. They usually don’t allow chapstick. It’s a massive list of things you can’t have and a very small list of things you’re allowed. The second time I took the test I had a lady try to tell me I couldn’t bring my wallet in. One of the few permitted items on the list is a wallet. So know what you ARE allowed to have as well in case you have someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. I made sure to show her the document stating what is allowed and I showed her exactly where it said you’re allowed to have a wallet. I’d highly recommend driving yourself if you can. You’re not allowed to have a phone in the testing center at all, there is literally no where you can put it outside of the center and you will be barred from taking the test if you have your phone with you. This makes it hard to contact anyone if you need a ride. If you do need a ride make sure you can take a bus, or have a really nice friend who is willing to wait an undetermined amount of time for you to finish your test. There is no set time that the test takes. How long it takes depends on how long it takes to get everyone checked in and to go through the instructions and fill out your information. The first time I took it, the test started at 08:00 and went until around 14:00-14:30. The second time I took it I was done between noon and 13:00.
  6. Make sure to check that the information on your ticket is correct at least a week before the test date. I quadruple checked all my information before submitting it and somehow on my ticket they had messed up my birthdate. I was a dumb dumb and didn’t check until the day before the test. I had to send LSAC an email to get it fixed in time. It got fixed but my ticket didn’t reflect the changes in time so I had to bring the email confirmation from LSAC with me to the test so that they would let me take the test. Your information on your ticket HAS to match your driver’s license.
  7. When they tell you where the test location is they won’t tell you exactly where it is until about the day before the test…even then it might just say a general building not a room number. The first time I took the test they only gave the building, which was hard to find in the first place. The second time, at first they only said the university, not where on campus it would be. It wasn’t until the night before the test that they finally said what room it would be in. Two days before I had called the University to ask them where it would be and they didn’t even know what the LSAT was let alone where it would be. It’s extremely frustrating. Just expect it.
  8. While you’re expecting the worse already, I’d recommend signing up for two different test dates. Yes, I’m saying expect to take the test twice. Most people I met during my LSAT prep and testing had to take the test at least twice. Many schools even recommended it. It is an extremely hard test. If you do poorly the first time round you’ll learn what you need to focus on the second time, what sections you struggled with, what ones you didn’t. It also shows growth. From what I’ve been told schools like to see that you buckled down, focused harder, studied better and got a better score the second (or third) time, even if it’s only by 1 or 2 points. It’s perfectly okay to take it three times. Just know that you can’t exceed three attempts over a certain period of time (2 years I think).
  9. Check out what other law school bloggers and you tubers have to say. If you know people in law school ask them too! We all have different perspectives and various tips and tricks. This is an important test and you’ll want to do your best on it. If you put in the effort, do your research, study you are sure to do well.

I hope this list helps all of you whom are preparing to take the first step to becoming a lawyer. This is a big feat. Be proud of yourself for taking on this challenge! I wish all of you the best of luck!

0L, Advice, Law School, Lifestyle

Resume v. CV for Law School Applications

When I was applying for Law School I noticed quite a few schools give you an option as to whether you want to submit a Resume or a CV (Curriculum Vitae). A lot of people might not know what a CV is. To simplify it, a CV is a more elaborate Resume where you can go much more into depth on your academic history. On a Resume it is possible to highlight one or two elements of you academic history (e.g. research), but you can’t show it all.

For me, in undergrad I did a ton of research, but I didn’t work a lot, especially not work that was particularly relevant to the field of law. Mostly, the work I did do was retail and working at kids camps. Like I said, I did a ton of academic research, though, and it was actually my research that got me recognized by my department and helped me be able to attend a cool intensive conference for top students in my field. Because of all of that, I chose to do a CV.

Remember that overall, the purpose of applications (including the extra elements such as  resumes, personal statements, etc.) is to tell schools why they should accept you (similar to applying for jobs); you need to make yourself standout. So, your choice–whether Resume or CV–should make you standout most. Maybe you have a lot more relevant work experience? Remember that you don’t have to have undergrad/grad degrees in Political Science or Business to go to Law School, so maybe your academic history wouldn’t be as much of a boost for you as it was for me.

I know that for me it is often a lot more challenging to talk about myself and to make myself shine. Bragging about myself was just not something I was good at doing until my junior year of undergrad. That year I had to take a class called Personal Career Development where we actually learned the tools to help us get jobs, how to ace interviews, etc., etc. I would have never actually taken this class on my own, but it is a required class to graduate for my undergrad major. For all of you still in undergrad–regardless of what career you want to go into, or if you want to go to grad/professional school–I highly, highly recommend taking a class like this. One of the things I learned throughout the course of that class, and in life since, is that it’s easier for me to write cover letters/personal statements/choose what goes on a resume if I imagine that I’m helping someone else do this. If I think about it as me writing for me then it’s hard for me to choose what is actually impressive, or beneficial to add. For me, it’s just a lot easier to see the positives in/boast about someone else.

When I was writing my CV I went back through all of my undergrad research and made a list of all the relevant research. I also went back and forth between my CV and my Resume to make sure I didn’t leave information from my Resume off of my CV.

Regardless of whether you choose a Resume or a CV, a great resource to help you make a great Resume/CV is Purdue Owl. Seriously check this website out! It not only walks you through how to format them, they also have examples. They not only show you how to do Resumes and CVs, they also have all kinds of tips for interviews of all kinds (e.g. in-person, phone, Skype, etc.). BONUS, they also are an amazing resource for learning how to do all kinds of bibliographies (they are SO SO SO much better than citation machine (watch out for citation machine, it makes a lot of mistakes!) because you actually learn how to do the citation yourself). Also, if you do choose to do a CV also have a Resume on hand as well. While a lot of Law Schools do accept CVs not all of them do. And, don’t forget to pay attention to any CV/Resume requirements listed by the schools you apply to. Some of the schools want your CV/Resume to have certain elements you wouldn’t normally have.

As a quick side-note, before I end this post, there are some types of CVs that include a picture of yourself, these are NOT the type you want to do for your Law School applications! I’d just stick with a header that is similar, if not identical, to the one you have on your Resume.

I’ve said this before, but applying to Law School can be extremely tedious. It’s not always clear what is expected of you on the application and it can be quite nerve-wracking, trying to figure out exactly how to do everything in the best way that will gain you admission to your schools of choice. The internet is a GREAT resource, use it. You are not the first one to ever go through this and there are plenty of people out there with great tips and tricks who have been exactly where you are.

I hope this helps ya’ll!