LSAT Kung Fu Blog / Week 20: Very Stable Genius

Week 20: Very Stable Genius

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So stable. So 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,


P.S. Looking for a smoking hot Velocity LSAT discount code? Use this code: DAVE10 at checkout to get 10% off your enrollment in any course! That code will work throughout 2018.



u545607's picture

How can you be second in the class if you didn't win a CALI Award?

majorgeneraldave's picture

What's a CALI?

u545607's picture
majorgeneraldave's picture

Interesting! Thanks for the link. Looks like those go to the top scorers in each course. I'm talking about my overall grade for the semester (and remember, our class rankings haven't been released, yet, so I don't know where I rank yet. The ranking I discussed is where I would have been ranked, with my grades, in the fall semester of last year's class at my school).

xvd541's picture

The charts from a different year are based on statistics that aren't applicable to a different class. It depends on how many people are in the class, how high the highest grade was, etc. It varies pretty widely from class to class.

It's also in poor taste to write publicly about your rank.

majorgeneraldave's picture

It may be true that at many schools class GPAs vary widely from year to year. I haven't seen that data (but that's an interesting data set: where'd you find it?).

The past two years at my school (the first two years of a new grading policy) had virtually identical numbers.

However, I encourage you to read my post a little more carefully: as I've written above, I don't yet know my class rank. Only what it would be, with my grades, if I were in last year's class.

I respectfully disagree about whether it's in poor taste to speculate about my class rank. I'm writing about my experience, and grades—and the concomitant rankings—are a big part of the experience. It's interesting that you say that, though; I felt it would've been slightly off-putting to list my actual grades, though I don't think I would have felt that way if they'd been lower than they are.

I wonder if you'd feel the way you do about my rank speculation (pun intended) if my grades would've had me nearer the middle of last year's pack?

Mostly, though, I want you to benefit from my experience, and I suspect you're more likely to heed my advice if you know that the advice worked well for me.