A journal, study guide, and epitaph to the 2009 LSAT experience

<p>Sept 1 -- I've been doing weird things lately. For instance, I took up rowing this summer and I don't really regret it. Recently, I've become
motivated. Unfortunately, my dad recently passed away. Also, I'm broke. This has given me an energy of which I've actively chosen to focus in
a positive light and not for evil. Besides, the Phillies' playoff spot is locked up. This energy has manifested itself in different ways. I went to the
gym 6 straight days (Zero times from Jan-July).</p>

<p>Sept 2 -- I started looking at the LSATs. The book I read shows that the next tests are in October and December which would allow me to start
school in the Fall of 2010, it ain't exactly spontaneous, but it'll do. The average LSAT score where I'm looking is supposedly 160 according to
their site. That's my new goal. The average overall is, more or less, in the low 150's. I want to take the test as soon as possible in order to take
advantage of my motivation. The book I'm reading says the next test is October.</p>

<p>Sept 3 -- The book was wrong. The next test is September 26th. I've already talked myself into taking it as early as possible so I pay $132 to
register and an additional $66 for a late fee. Realizing this is a bad idea, I do it anyway.</p>

<p>My mission is set. I have 23 days to prepare.</p>

<p>In college, I majored in Communication, though my minor was a lawyerly enough Political Science. I was an okay student with a GPA a shade
over 3. There were some encouraging aspects of college like the last semester in which I took 7 classes (instead of 5) and finished just one
class short of the Deans List. Though there were discouraging parts to college as well, like the same semester in which I fell short of the Deans
List by getting an awful grade in a class called (cough) Marital Communication.</p>

<p>Sept 4 -- At home I take my first pretest. I take a reasoning test. It's a section that gives you a short paragraph to read then asks you a
multiple choice question after. I get 12 of 25 correct while eating a buffalo chicken sandwich. I doubt 12 is good but the section seems "doable"
provided I have the right focus and practice and, just maybe, not eating, you know, a buffalo chicken sandwich. These types of questions
make up 50% of the LSATs. Two of the four graded sections are reasoning.</p>

<p>I take my laptop to the shop in hopes that the geeks can fix my power problem. They tell me it could take a month. On one hand, this takes
care of a distraction. On the other hand, I lose a valuable research tool.</p>

<p>At Barnes and Nobles I take a pretest of the logic games section. Oh. My. God. It seems plausible that I could get this entire section wrong.
Which brings up some revelations:
- I'll have to dedicate all available time to cracking these to the extent that if I do nothing else, I must do these.
- The school I'm looking into averages a score near 160, that means half the people have to be under 160. I lower my goals. I read somewhere
153 is the average score for all people who take the LSAT.</p>

<p>At one point, I kid with myself that if all else fails, maybe I can just carry the LSAT book around the bookstores to meet girls. Sure enough, at
the Barnes and Nobles somebody quickly engages me. Only it's a dude. He asks what I'm studying. I tell him and the test becomes real for me
when I say it out loud. I ask him if he just graduated, he tells me 2007 (this makes me feel good, because like me he's not a recent grad). He
also tells me he's taking a class and he's taking the test in December (this makes me feel bad). I feel like a schmuck on a lark. He suggests
that I get a particular book (makes me feel good). It costs $40 (makes me feel bad). Instead, I go next door to Office Max and buy the cool mini
legal pads he had. Maybe I am a schmuck on a lark.</p>

<p>Sept 5 -- It has become clear that I'm going to need to take this operation outside the bookstores so I decide to find a book. They all look more
or less the same. I've skimmed some others but I go with the cheapest ($9.99), Barron's Pass Key to the LSAT. I buy it based on price, but am
pleased to learn that it's actually a "three week study plan." Things are looking good. I'm also encouraged to read early in the book (page 9)
that, "Many students don't even bother to do any preparation for the test." That has to be good for me doesn't it? Though, it doesn't feel all
that true.</p>

<p>The book starts with the reasoning section and, as stated before, seems doable. The three week aspect of the book seems to be too good not
to follow.</p>

<p>Sept 6 -- Lunch. I eat while doing more reasoning practice. I get about a third correct. They're starting to feel less doable. They don't exactly
feel hard, but the answers aren't exactly right either.</p>

<p>Later I get 9 of 25 correct.</p>

<p>Sept 7 -- Yesterday was so bad that I decided to take a day off and start fresh.</p>

<p>Sept 8 -- I realized I was taking the George Costanza approach to reasoning. I'd pick a multiple choice problem and think "If every thing I do is
wrong, then the opposite must be correct." Basically, I'd read the question, make a guess, think it was wrong, and then try to find a new
answer. Today's results are better. I'm not doing this on a lark but maybe if I treat it that way, I'll do better. Do your work. No pressure.</p>

<p>I take my time. I do two questions and then check my answers. This way the questions are still fresh in my head when I see the answers.</p>

<p>I get 18 of 25 correct (5:30pm). Maybe there is hope.
I get 11 of 15 correct (11pm).</p>

<p>Sept 9 -- 11 of 15 correct. I've read in a couple of places that the goal of the LSAT people is that if a test taker were to take the test again
they would get a similar score. So if you take the LSAT once, Their goal is that you would get a score within 3 points the next time around. I
assume this only counts for people who studied the first time around. Maybe I'm a 10 out of 15 kind of guy which seems mediocre, but not
embarrassing.</p>

<p>Sept 10 -- In the past couple of weeks I've studied at Barnes and Nobles, Borders, Panera's, Starbucks, and McDonald's. By far the best place
to study was McDonald's. The bookstores have that policy that you can't write in their book (commies!). Starbucks was cramped and
expensive. McDonald's is cheaper, has all the space you can use and, depending on what you're drinking, might have free refills. I realize that
all of these places are cliche, but when you are a computerless, former Communication major who hasn't studied since 8th grade, you find
comfort in cliches.</p>

<p>Sept 11 -- I get 6 of 9 correct while finishing the reasoning section in Barron's Pass Key to the LSAT. I'm at a fairly low sample size, but I'm
somewhere in the 60% correct stage. The book shows people who get 45-64% right to get a 141-150 score. People who get 65-79% correct
get a 151-160 score. My sample size is just in reasoning, though. It does count as 50% of the grade, but it's also the easiest section.</p>

<p>Sept 12 -- Saw Kings of Leon. Probably won't help with the LSATs. Good show, though.</p>

<p>Sept 13 -- Full concentration on the logic games section. Still, have no idea.</p>

<p>Sept 14 -- The logic games are a section in which they will give you a set up and then follow with like 8 questions. For example it will say
something like A,B,C,D all have to work this week. A and C will not work together. Who can work Wednesday? Only, you know, it makes sense.</p>

<p>You're supposed to map a diagram. Then use that diagram to answer the questions. Today, I concentrated on creating diagrams.</p>

<p>Sept 15 -- The book suggests an alternative approach for those who have trouble in the section. Just do 3 of 4 of the sections, it suggests,
then simply guess on the 4th section darkening the same letter for all the answers. I don't know if this is good for me, but it shows me that I'm
not alone in thinking this section is SERIOUS.</p>

<p>Sept 16 -- Still doing logic games throughout the day doing a test here and there. It's starting to seem possible.</p>

<p>Sept 17 -- A set is usually 5 or 6 questions. I got them all right once. Mostly, I get 4 or 5. Occasionally, I find it hard to get any right. Sometimes
I make a simple mistake that I think I could fix on test day. Sometimes I think they count on your making simple errors. It's like the LSAT people
are in my head.</p>

<p>Sept 18 -- Like all parts of the LSATs, logic games are 35 minutes long. Getting it done in time seems possible. I seem to get the idea early if I
can get a section right. If it's especially hard I should have a good enough idea to speed up and guess. At least that's my theory.</p>

<p>Sept 19 -- Did a logic section from a pretest. 4 sets. 22 questions. I got about a third correct. The last 4 or so were guesses. I finished each
section in about the time needed, but I couldn't dedicate more time to the hard questions.</p>

<p>Sept 20 -- Sticking to logic, I'm still pretty bad. Untimed, I get 12 of 25 correct.</p>

<p>Sept 21 -- I take a logic pretest again. I rush and do poorly.</p>

<p>I watched a Phillies game recently and the announcers were talking about a slumping Jayson Werth. Describing him, they said what
announcers always say about slumping ballplayers, namely he was pulling off the ball too much. In essence, he'd see the pitch, get eager,
start earlier whereby pulling his head and by the time the pitch came he was in a bad position to make good contact.</p>

<p>I've decided to make a conscious decision to "see" the questions better and not pull-off too soon.</p>

<p>Sept 22 -- Went to bed early last night (10pm) for the first time in months. So, quite obviously, I wake up in the middle of the night with a
stomach ache. I haven't had a stomach since I was a kid.</p>

<p>I go to work and end up taking a half day. I want to take a nap and do so at around 2pm. The Phillies have a doubleheader starting at around
4pm. I wake up it's the 2nd inning. I pass out. I wake up and it's the 7th inning. I pass out. I wake up and it's the 4th inning. All very
disconcerting on NyQuil.</p>

<p>Sept 23 -- Wednesday of test week. I still concentrate on logic games. I also introduce myself to reading comprehension. I haven't so much as
looked at it. There are four 1/2 to 3/4 page long topics followed by about 8 questions. Like the others, you get 35 minutes to answer the
question.</p>

<p>Sept 24 -- I start taking pretest after pretest. Reading comprehension, for example, is easy but it helps to get a feel for the time. Time-wise, I
think the real test might fly by. I'm fairly competent with the reasoning questions, in fact, I finish a LSAT pretest in reasoning in about 21
minutes. I expect to be so pleased to be finished with that section that I'll be relaxed. Meanwhile, the logic games are so ludicrously impossible
that the time should go by fast. Too fast. It's the reading comprehension that are so life alteringly boring that I do worry that they'll make test
day drag.</p>

<p>Sept 25 -- Oh god. One day left. I completely forget how to do the logic questions. I might fail. Well not really. I'm not usually a person who
panics so don't think I'm one of those people who says "oh that test was so hard" then ends up with a A+. No, I haven't studied since 8th grade
and there's a real chance I crap the bed. Still, like I said, I'm not one who panics and at this point, I might as well use this to my advantage. It's
too late to worry.</p>

<p>I spend three hours at a Wendy's casually doing logic games. I then go to do Border's after I've exhausted my pretests and do some more
questions. It doesn't get prettier.</p>

<p>I've spent a good portion of the day studying. I did what I can. I know marathoner's who say they don't do much the night before the run. It's too
late to change. There's probably a lesson there. I get to bed early.</p>

<p>Sept 26 -- Test day. I dreamt I was a major league All-Star pitcher only I showed up to the game late. It was an unusually vivid dream for me. I
take this as a positive sign because of the "see the question" baseball analogy I've been using only it really isn't all that applicable because
the analogy refers to hitters and therefore there's no real parallel. In all likelihood it has to do with the fact that Andrew Bailey, closer for the
Oakland A's, was on my high school baseball team. By "my" team I mean to say that as a junior I was cut and he made one of our teams as a
freshman. Nevertheless, I thought he played first base. Anyway, good for him.</p>

<p>You are told to bring a Ziplock bag on test day; In it should be your wallet, keys and a snack and/or drink. It's a security thing.</p>

<p>Due to my proctor's seating arrangement, I learn that of the 23 people she polled only 2 were left handed. All of that LSAT prep has taught me
to over think everything so I'm pretty sure that means something. I don't figure out what.</p>

<p>Our test started at around 9am and I left the room at 1:30, There were six sections; three reasoning, a reading, a logic game, and a writing
sample. Two of these won't count convincing me that the LSAT people have learned something from Bill Belichick. It's not that they want to
beat me, it's that they want me to lose my will to live.</p>

<p>Exercise over. I have no fathomable idea whatsoever of how I did and I get the feeling there's not much use of thinking about it. No matter
what, It was an experience. </p>

<p>Now what am I going to do with all of these #2 pencils.</p>

<p><strong><em>I answered about 57% of questions correctly. I survived the logic games section rather well, but seemingly choked on one of the two
reasoning sections that counted. Act accordingly.</em></strong>
</p>

<p>somebodyisfromhere.com</a> the destination destination</p>

<p>well........? What you score?</p>