LSAT Kung Fu Blog / Week 20: Very Stable Genius
Week 20: Very Stable Genius
Grades came out last week. My projections were very accurate, except in Legal Writing where there may possibly have been an error in reporting my grade. If that turns out to be the case, my overall GPA for the semester would rise by one tenth.
The school hasn’t released class rankings yet, but if our class is the same as last year’s, then as my grades stand I’d be second in the class. If the Writing grade changes, I’d be first.*
* [Update, 24 Jan 2018: Grades were the same as last year's, and there was not an error in the Writing grade (my professor opted not to assess a grade enhancement as per the class syllabus. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ). I got the second-highest grade in my class. However, three different people shared the highest grade, so my class rank is fourth.]
So I do feel like I found the balance. It’s true that I could have spent more time studying, but I’m really not sure to what end. As I waited for my grades to come, I had the disquieting recognition that, if they were really bad, I didn’t know what I could change about my approach!
By this I mean that I spent all semester listening hard to my professors, actively trying to understand everything I read (and paying particular, close attention to anything that seemed difficult), and then organizing my notes in an accessible and sensible manner for use on my open-book finals.
My point here is that the plan is working. You don’t have to be the smartest person in your class in order to be the most successful. You don’t even have to work the hardest. I’ve tried to adopt in my school work a similar mindset to the one I endorse for your LSAT prep: work smarter, not just harder. As it pertains to LSAT, I mean reading structurally and studying with a pattern-intelligent approach. As it pertains to law school, for me it meant the consistent, active attempt to understand the big picture of each class session, and to organize that material into a comprehensible system. I wasted a lot of time in the first third-or-so of my first semester paying way too much attention to the minute details.
In the later portions of the semester, my work took on a smarter shape. I began to understand that the details of the cases we read were only important inasmuch as they helped me to understand the law. This is a lot like pattern-recognition: you’re learning to see how the pieces fit together, so that you can predict what will happen once you’re handed new pieces.
Finally, I should admit that part of it is secret sauce. Like anybody who’s really good at something, I do have at least one inherent advantage: I have an extremely sharp short-term memory. It doesn’t take me as long to memorize things, and I usually recall them with very good (though not perfect!) clarity. The main advantage this gave me was in reducing the amount of time I spent studying for my closed-book final. I don’t think it imbues any significant advantage for the LSAT, nor particularly for open-book finals. I only mention it because it’s the one (semi) non-reproducible element of my approach so far. If you intend to succeed on any closed book exams, it will be worth your while to invest time now in learning how to improve your recall (and remember, the bar is a closed-book exam!).
OK, guys. That’s a wrap on Semester One. I’ll be back next week to tell you how the first week of Semester Two went.
Questions? Comments? Complaints? Post them below, or shoot me an email.
Be good to one another, for we need it now more than maybe ever,
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