LSAT Kung Fu Blog / How To Make Your LSAT Prep Smart and not Dumb
How To Make Your LSAT Prep Smart and not Dumb
I recently uploaded a new video to the site (it’s also on YouTube; right here), in which I explain the theoretical basis for smart LSAT prep. I thought you might also enjoy reading it, so I’ve written up what is basically a transcript.
What I want to do here is start by getting you ready in a big-picture, First Principle kind of way for the manner in which we’re going to move you from a place of unfamiliarity, discomfort (and perhaps also fear) to a place of confidence, assurance, and readiness.
The way we’re going to do that is just exactly the way that I did it (and if you haven’t already, and you’re interested, you can see Ye Olde Complete Dave Hall LSAT Scoring Record right here). What I want to do for you is show you how I did it—how I got the 180s and the 177s and the 179 (179? Those bastards)—and how I did it is by prepping smart.
So, what’s smart LSAT prep?
Glad I asked. It gives me an excellent opportunity to answer:
Smart prep starts from the idea that the only thing that matters, like, at all about the work you do now is how well it prepares you for the work that you have to do in the future. It really, truly doesn’t matter what the right answer to the question is; it matters that you understand how that right answer relates to the right answer to the question you’re going to have to answer on test day!
So, smart prep is systematic, replicable, mechanical. It is structural, and it is pattern-intelligent. In other words, it’s the same thing that I did when I was getting ready. But really, why would I teach you to do anything other than what worked so well for me?
Now, let’s talk about what that means in specific sections:
Smart Logical Reasoning Prep
The LR sections are the most important; after all, they make up half your score. It’s also where I can probably do the most to improve your correctness and—crucially!—your efficiency (here’s a video exploring that idea in some more detail).
To begin, I want you to think of LSAT prep in the Logical Reasoning sections as being primarily a two-part system. First, you learn the Theory; what every question wants from you, how to answer it, what to expect from right (and some wrong) answers. That’s the learning part.
Next, I want you to think of your practice questions as being the natural outcome of that learning—smart prep means viewing PrepTests as only the opportunity to put into actions the principles that you’ve already learned! The real work is done in theory. Practice questions are just the application of that work.
Dumb prep seeks to analyze every passage and every answer choice. This is a monumental time-suck, and generally a waste of resources. This is because—unless you’re some kind of savant, in which case you don’t need anybody’s help anyway—you simply do not have enough time to analyze 26 questions in 35 minutes.
Smart test-takers don’t analyze; they recognize. Smart prep means learning what to expect first, and then simply recognizing all the work in front of you—the question you’re asked, passage, the answer choices—as yet another repetitive iteration of ideas that you have already learned.
So you’ll note that I spend practically no time analyzing passages and answer choices in LR. This is by pedagogical design! I am showing you the smart prep I undertook to be able to answer the questions quickly and confidently. It’s not a matter of in-the-weed analysis; it’s a matter of understanding basic principles and then applying them repeatedly.
Smart LSAT Games Prep
Smart prep in the Games section is visual. Everything I do is geared toward getting you to see the work instead of having to think about it. I want you to take abstract ideas and make them concrete. So I’ve created a mechanical, repeatable method of doing Games.
Smart Games prep is a procedural enterprise; using my system, you’ll get better at doing Games by improving your familiarity with the process of doing games. And being better at that process is what makes you faster, too!
Smart LSAT Reading Comp Prep
In Reading Comp, smart prep means two main things:
First, it’s about a structural, big-picture understanding of the passage. In our lessons, I’ll talk about some concrete methods I use to be a better, more active reader. This is a skill that we can then apply together in practice on test passages (are you seeing a pattern here?).
Second, smart RC prep includes an understanding of the structural features of right—and of wrong!—answer choices. Application of this smart prep, then, means reading passages with an eye toward the big picture, using that understanding to inform your answers to questions, and choosing answer choices that are not only semantically correct (of course the right answer is always that!), but are also structurally likely. That last part—the likeliness of an answer choice—is the piece that helped me go from good at LSAT RC to perfect (and fast!) at LSAT RC.
Finally, since this whole piece is about helping set expectations; the dogs.
Currently, I record all our videos in a fairly new, custom-built sound studio. But before we built that space, we recorded with lights, camera, etc. in an open room. Sometimes I would bring my dogs (that’s them up top; if you want to see some video of me holding them, they’re at the end of the video I mentioned at the top of this post), and they’d sleep by my feet and snuffle and snore. You can hear them in some of the course videos. So, now you’re ready for that, too.
And that’s it, really. Smart prep means learning what to expect, then practicing until you can meet that expectation without having to think too hard about it.
Questions? Comments? You can reach me by email.
Be good to one another, for the world needs it of you,
P.S. Want a Velocity LSAT discount code? You’ve got it! Enter code: SINTAX (that was a syntax/sin tax/ tax season pun from an earlier post! Hahahahaha) at checkout to get 20% off any course now through May 17 2017.