LSAT Kung Fu Blog / A or D or What?

A or D or What?


Our entry this morning has two parts: A quick rundown of Saturday’s LSAT, as brought to you by our students, and then a conversation with a student from a couple of years ago.

First, the test:

You may be shocked - shocked! - to discover that it was... normal. In conversation with my students (and remember that this may not be a meaningful sample population, comprising as it does just the students of mine who talked to me after the test), I found them nearly unanimous in their assessment that the test looked like the tests they’d taken recently, and that there were no real surprises.

They said that the Games section had a nice Standard Ordering game, a nice Static Grouping game with a conditional rule-set and the Substitution question we’ve learned to expect, plus a Multi-Row Ordering game and a Variable grouping game. All in, they found it to be almost precisely the same as the Games from the two most recent tests, and slightly more difficult than the three or four tests preceding those.

None of my students reported any difficulty with the Logical Reasoning sections, saying that they seemed exactly like what they had experienced in class and on recent tests.

The same was true for Reading Comprehension, though the biggest division among students regarding any material from this test was the question of how difficult the A/B Passage set was. Roughly half of them thought it was straightforward (because they recalled all of the questions asking for comparisons between the passages, which is of course a special area of focus for us), while another half thought it was considerably more difficult than recent A/B sets. So, you know, you say Po-tay-to...

All in all, they seemed in high spirits, and since I especially appreciated this lovely email from Amber in Miami, I’ll read part of it to you:

No doubt your program, materials and 'eye of the fucking tiger' attitude helped me make at least a 10 point jump today.

The LSAT was an enormous psychological hurdle for me. I was really bummed at my low starting score. I felt defeated and like I wasn't smart enough to beat it.

Your program allowed me to be calm but fierce and steadily work towards performing better.

After today's test, I can hardly believe I once allowed the challenge of the LSAT make me believe I wasn't born or cut out to be a lawyer.

I promise to use my future legal powers for good, and not evil.  

Amber, that’s a great email, and we are so glad to be part of your process. We know that you earned your success, and you should be proud of it. We sure are.

Finally, while on the subject of test-taking in general, let’s recount a conversation I had with a student a couple of years ago about guessing on the test. It just sort of seems to fit with our discussion today of test assessment:

“So, Dave,” Peter said, “do you have any idea what the distribution of answer choices is as one approaches the end of a section on the LSAT?  I mean, are there more A’s, or D’s, or what?”

Obviously, Peter being a student of mine, my first reaction was to karate chop him in his head.

Moments later, after applying an alternating pattern of icy (to dull the pain) and hot (to relax it away, as recommended by dermatologists), I regained a full range of motion in my hand and felt able to answer.

“No, Peter,” said I, “I do not have any damned idea.  Why on earth would I – or would any reasonable human being (one who loves, who thinks, who feels, who moves and is moved, who strives for greatness and feels the common bindings of humanity) – why would such a person know the distribution of answer choices as one approaches the end of a section on the LSAT?  Why would such a person (who has drank deep of success, yes, but also tasted the bitter draught of sorrow) know whether there are more A’s, or D’s, or what?

“The answer, Peter,” I continued, “to the foregoing is that I would not.  In fact, Peter, I do not.  But, Peter, given my deep love for you as my student – my wish for your wholeness of being – I will find the answer to your question, no matter where the journey leads, lo, even to the ends of the earth.  Peter?  Can you hear me?  Focus your eyes, Peter, and listen.  No, that’s just a flesh wound.  No, I – look, Peter, if you’re just going to go all cross-eyed again, I’m really not sure….  Ah.  Well.  Goodnight, sweet prince, and as flights of angels wing thee, know that, as I was saying, I will find the answer to your question.”

After a stirring round of applause from the rest of my students followed by a brief-but-appropriate moment of silence for Peter, I continued class as usual, but I did not forget Peter’s last request, and I am pleased to now finally be able to bring you the results.  Peter would be so proud.

Over five recent tests administered by LSAC, the end of each scored section (I looked at the last five questions in each) has shown a slight tendency away from answer choice (A) in favor of answer choices (D) and (E).  To wit:

One thing I noticed was that, although for those five tests, a student would have been very slightly rewarded for having blindly guessed (E) on the last five questions of each section rather than having blindly guessed (A), on three of those five tests, a student would have been rewarded more heavily for having chosen some answer other than (E).

Remember also that a student who had done all her homework and learned principles of logic and patterns of test-taking and who knew her plan of attack for every question would be (are you sitting down?) even more heavily rewarded than one who blindly guessed (E) on every question, end-of-section or otherwise.

And speaking of being heavily rewarded, tell us how much ass you kicked on test day: Drop us a line at, and visit The Forum ( to join the conversation, to share your thoughts on the propriety of karate-chopping one’s students, or to suggest topics for future conversations. Next week, we’ll be back and we hope to make a second ALDY nomination.

Until then, stay beautiful, America.