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LSAT Tips and Strategies

Demon Team May 13, 2021Slow Down to Speed Up

The most important LSAT Logical Reasoning strategy, and the best overall advice to succeed on the LSAT, is to focus on accuracy, not speed. In other words, slow down to speed up.  Sure, breaking into the 160s and 170s requires both accuracy and speed. But if you start with speed, you’ll never develop accuracy. You’ll just be sloppy and stressed out. Focusing on accuracy forces you to understand the question, which leads to speed down the road. Once you know what you’re doing, you’ll gradually get faster.  This cannot be stressed enough: Do the work upfront. The overarching theme here is that if you spend the bulk of your time on the passage or setup, you will breeze through the questions and answer choices because you will already know exactly what to look for in a correct answer.  Learn how to apply this wisdom to every single LSAT section below. Slowing Down on Reading Comprehension On Reading Comprehension, doing the work upfront means taking time to fully understand the passage the first time around. You must read it carefully and aggressively, understanding what every sentence means and how it fits into the rest of the passage. Don’t let the sentences go in one ear and out the other. When you catch yourself getting distracted, bring your mind back to the passage by asking yourself: “What am I learning right now?”  LSAT Reading Comprehension experts spend far more time on the passage than on the questions. If you take the time to comprehend the passage when you first read it, you won’t have to keep going back and forth between the questions and the passage, hunting for the correct answer. You’ll already know what the correct answer is for each question because you’ll remember what the passage had to say on the topic. Slowing Down on Logical Reasoning Mastering Logical Reasoning requires you to understand how the passage works. If it’s an argument, you need to figure out whether the argument is valid and why. You need to know how the pieces of information within the passage relate to one another. You need to know what the author’s stance is and how the author uses each claim to argue their point. Take the time you need to understand the passage. Once you’ve wrapped your head around the passage, read the question and make a strong prediction based on your understanding of the passage. Only then should you be reading the answer choices. Slowing Down on Logic Games On Logic Games, doing the work upfront means making worlds on almost every single game. Excelling at the questions takes more than just understanding the game’s setup and explicit rules. You must understand how the rules connect and how they affect each of the variables. Don’t brute-force the questions. Take time to solve the system first. If you find yourself testing every answer choice, you haven’t spent long enough on the setup. Ask Better Questions The single most common question that LSAT teachers hear is “How do I get faster on the LSAT?” But focusing on speed will not improve your score.  You’ll get better answers if you learn to ask better questions. Maybe you’ve identified that Logical Reasoning is your weak point. That’s a start, but try to be even more specific: What exactly did you struggle with on a particular Logical Reasoning question? You might instead ask: Why does this specific fact not prove the conclusion? Why isn’t answer choice C sufficient for making the argument work? What does it mean to “illicitly shift the definition of a word?”  There is no shortcut to crushing the LSAT. Mastering the test requires genuine understanding. To achieve this, you must slow down and go deeper into each individual question. Understand why each wrong answer is wrong and why the correct answer is unambiguously correct. Focus on clarifying the mistake that’s in front of you, and resolve never to repeat that same mistake again. There are no stupid questions, but some are more helpful than others. Anytime you ask Thinking LSAT or LSAT Demon how to speed up on the LSAT, you’ll hear the same answer: Slow down and focus on accuracy.

Nathan Fox Apr 8, 2021What Does the LSAT Test?

LSAT novices—and refugees from major prep companies, their minds clouded by useless gimmicks and bad habits—wash up on LSAT Demon shores sounding like this: I’m lost. I have no idea what this test is even asking. The test is so subjective! I can’t understand why one answer is better than another. This doesn’t have anything to do with law school. Sound familiar? Comments like these indicate that a student is resisting the test in a way that impedes progress. So, first things first. My goal today is to help you understand how the LSAT tests—and builds—skills that you will use in law school and legal practice. The LSAT tests and builds your reading comprehension. One of the three scored sections on the LSAT is entitled Reading Comprehension. What’s required here? Well, it says it right in the name. The LSAT tests your ability to carefully read—and comprehend—dense blocks of English text. “Comprehension” is defined as “the action or capability of understanding something.” It couldn’t be more straightforward. The LSAT asks you to carefully read something you probably don’t know anything about—and frankly, might not care to know anything about—then answer questions about what you’ve read. You’d better figure out how to care, because the passage can correctly be thought of as a collection of all the right answers. Each question tests whether you understood what you read. Without being intentionally obtuse, it’s impossible not to see how this applies directly to law school and legal practice. In law school, you will read thousands of pages of material far more dense and boring than anything the LSAT will ever throw at you. Have you ever seen a law school casebook? They are thousands of pages long, with microscopic print. They use that ultra thin paper that always reminds me of bibles. You will have so many of these books that your colleagues will cart them around in dorky rolling backpacks. You will study these books endlessly, and at the end of the semester, you will take all-or-nothing exams that determine your entire grade based on your understanding of the arcana contained in these books. Your grades will determine your class rank. Your class rank will determine the jobs you’re invited to interview for. These interviews will set a trajectory for your entire career. Your performance in law school relies critically on your reading comprehension. This makes sense, because in legal practice you will be a gladiator of the English language. Your client will depend on you to understand the documents relevant to their court case, contract negotiation, or patent application. Your failure to understand one provision of one document could result in your client’s deportation or imprisonment. It could cause the loss of millions of dollars. It could get you sanctioned by the court or even disbarred. You will read dense, boring documents every day of your legal career, no matter what area of law you choose. If you can’t learn to love—or at least excel at—the LSAT’s Reading Comprehension, you might be headed down the wrong path. It’s not too late to turn back. The Logical Reasoning, and even the Logic Games, also rely heavily on your ability to understand what you read. For those who can’t learn to slow down and understand the words on the screen in front of them, only misery lies ahead. The best way to improve at Reading Comprehension is to thoroughly review your mistakes. The wrong answers are wrong because they are different from the passage in some way. The right answer is right because it’s exactly what was said in the passage. When you miss a question on RC, you’ve misread the passage, misread the question, or misread the wrong answer you picked and the right answer you didn’t pick. Read more carefully and clean up these mistakes. Here’s an example of how to read an RC passage with the appropriate level of attention. The LSAT tests and builds your command of basic logic and reason. The LSAT’s Logical Reasoning section tests your ability to understand and analyze an argument or short set of facts. Most of the arguments are bogus, frequently in obvious ways. You will be asked to identify their conclusions, describe their weaknesses, and find ways to make them better or worse. Consider an example from PrepTest 73. The conclusion here is that “this move is rarely good from a business perspective.” The evidence is that a single video game movie failed. In formal terms, the argument has used an unjustifiably small sample. But any smartass teenager could tell you it’s dumb. One video game movie that flopped doesn’t justify a conclusion about all video game movies. Again, the parallel to law school and legal practice is clear. In law school, the majority of those all-or-nothing exams I mentioned above will be “issue spotters.” You’ll be presented with a complex set of “facts,” then asked to assess the parties’ potential legal claims. As you do so, you’ll consider what solid claims they have and get bonus points for any “novel” claims you might be able to muster. It’s perfectly fine to propose a losing argument, so long as you note its weaknesses. Law professors will reward you for your ability to think around all sides of the various legal matters. They test this in law school because in real life, plaintiffs make absurd claims against other parties. Defendants attempt to escape punishment for their crimes with laughable excuses. Border agents turn people away at the border on specious grounds. Parties to business deals try to hoodwink their future partners. Poor attorneys are surprised by these arguments. Better (perhaps unethical) attorneys bring these arguments themselves. The best attorneys anticipate all of the arguments—good, bad, and ugly—before setting foot in court or sitting down at the negotiating table. LSAT Logical Reasoning trains you for law school and legal practice by priming you to anticipate, recognize, and attack bogus arguments—it’s lawyering, plain and simple. The best way to improve at Logical Reasoning is to carefully drill, one question at a time, using the LSAT Demon’s AI smart drilling. Try it here with a free LSAT Demon account. The LSAT tests and builds your capacity for work. LSAT Logic Games are the most confusing section of the test for new students because these puzzles are unique beasts found nowhere else but the LSAT. They sound something like this: “Nathan is going to eat this whole giant Costco tub of multicolored mini-tomatoes without washing them, but first he is going to put them into three piles like an overgrown toddler. The tart green ones are his favorite, so he puts those in pile one. The overripe big red ones are the worst, so he puts those in pile three. If pile three is bigger than pile one he feels sad so he puts the orange and yellow ones in pile one to make it bigger. Half of the small red ones go in pile two”—you get the point. After setting up an arbitrary system of rules, the game then asks you five or six questions about my tomato piles, like “which of the following must be true” or “each of the following could be false EXCEPT.” Games are bewildering for novices, but the one thing all LSAT logic games have in common is that they always give us all of the information we need to answer every question with certainty. Our job is simply to hang in there, work hard, and figure that shit out. If I locked you in a room with any random section of logic games and said you couldn’t come out until you punched the correct answers into a keypad, I guarantee that you would figure them all out. You wouldn’t need special LSAT skills, theory, or preparation. You’d just sit there and work your ass off until you’d solved it. You want to escape, right? You know that all the information you need is right there on the page, right? Nothing’s stopping you from fashioning your own key using hard work and the awesome power of your basic commonsense brain. I believe in you. I’m just testing how hard you can work. But the real test of your capacity for work is the fact that you can, and should, prepare for these games. As of April 2021, we have almost 400 logic games to practice. Some of the setups we see on these games have repeated themselves over and over—basic sequencing and basic grouping are the most obvious examples. Practice makes perfect. Do enough of these games and you will improve dramatically over weeks or months. The fact that these games are so learnable makes them a perfect test of how hard you can work. And even so-called “hybrid” games, which might ask you to sequence and group in the same game, and other weird games—like ones that ask you to draw a map, or determine the “circuit load” of a panel of switches, or diagnose the spread of a computer virus in a network—are highly learnable if you put in the reps. Many of your competitors will do every single game in the history of the LSAT before they sit for their official test. Some of them will do every game multiple times. It’s your choice whether to let your competition outwork you. If you haven’t done every practice game and you don’t score perfectly on games on your official test, you have failed the LSAT’s test of how hard you can work. Do I really have to tell you how hard you’ll have to work in law school? Do I really have to remind you how hard you’ll work in legal practice? The best way to improve at Logic Games is to do as many of them as possible. You’ll be able to solve many on your own, and videos will help you to quickly unlock the rest. LSAT Demon offers multiple high-quality video explanations for every game in LSAT history. Check them out for free, here. When you’re stuck, watch a minute or two of a video to get yourself unstuck. Then figure it out for yourself until you get stuck again. Remember, they’re testing how hard you can work. Real lawyers don’t let themselves get outworked. The LSAT tests and builds your reading, logic, and capacity for work. In this light, it’s hard to imagine a better test of a prospective law student and eventual lawyer. If you’re struggling, there are three main causes: You’re not reading carefully enough. You’re not thinking through the logic critically enough. Or you’re not working hard enough. These aren’t just LSAT problems. They will haunt you in law school and beyond if they’re allowed to fester. Correct them now, and you’ll not only improve on the LSAT, you’ll also be better prepared for law school and beyond.

Nathan Fox Apr 1, 2021The Only LSAT Lessons You Need

Over the past seven weeks, I’ve written a series of essays that should serve as a foundation for any new or continuing LSAT student. Lesson one was about where to start. The short answer is anywhere—just pick up any real LSAT question and give it your best shot. If you struggle, that’s fine! That’s what videos, written explanations, and your teachers are here for. Lesson two was about the importance of timed sections. Time yourself early and often in your LSAT practice so that you don’t choke on the real thing. If you took lesson one and lesson two on board, you’re already working on real LSAT questions every time you sit down to study. Lesson three was about how to make the most of your study time by thoroughly reviewing each question. Just checking the answer key ain’t enough. Go deeper in your review so you can get at the root of habitual mistakes. It takes two mistakes to miss a question—picking a wrong answer while failing to pick the right one. Stop doing that. Lesson four was about the importance of accuracy over speed. The LSAT rewards those who do the focused, careful work expected of an attorney. Most new students do a lot of frantic “work,” but they don’t get paid for their sloppy mistakes. Accuracy beats speed every time. And in the long run, a calm, careful approach is faster anyway. In lesson five, I wrote that our first job is to get the easy ones right—and I went on to claim that they’re all pretty easy. Students who have started approaching the test with the careful, focused mindset I prescribed in lessons three and four should start to feel this after a few weeks of practice. When you take your time, you’ll find yourself predicting the answers to logical reasoning questions before you’re done reading the arguments. You’ll actually comprehend the reading comprehension passages, and the correct answers will feel obvious. On logic games, you’ll solve each system and harvest buckets of points instead of frantically guess-and-checking questions one at a time. The test should feel easy if you’re approaching it correctly. In lesson six, I wrote about how anyone can make progress toward their LSAT goals in just one hour a day. Of course, you might choose to study more. But the first high-quality hour each day will yield more results than any fourth through sixth exhausted hour you’ll ever muster. Use this hour-a-day plan as the foundation for your studies, and feel confident that even if one hour is all you can invest on a given day, you’ll be steadily making progress toward your goal. Lesson seven was about supplementing this hour-a-day plan with work on a particular weakness. Since so many of us—myself included—start our LSAT prep with a weakness in games, I used games as an example. I described how to invest extra time in your weakest area, with the goal of turning that weakness into a strength. You’re smart, so I know you can tweak this recipe to account for a weakness in LR or RC. If you took these lessons to heart, I’d be willing to guarantee your eventual success on the LSAT. It wouldn’t happen overnight, and it would be a lot more pleasant with a study partner, study group, or super rad team of LSAT teachers to help you along the way. But you really wouldn’t need any more in the way of schedules or gimmicks or—God forbid—technical mumbo-jumbo that only LSAT teachers can recite. My goal isn’t to feed you, it’s to teach you how to fish. The last thing I want to do is bog you down with theory. The LSAT makes perfect sense to those who take the time to make sense of it. So today’s lesson is no lesson at all. Go back and review the seven starting lessons. If your LSAT prep doesn’t already embody those principles, you’re not making as much progress as you could be. If you take my previous advice, you’ll be well on your way to becoming your own LSAT teacher. That’s the most powerful lesson of all.

Nathan Fox Mar 18, 2021One-Hour LSAT

One hour per day is enough to beat the LSAT, if you invest each hour wisely. I invite you to get moving in the right direction with the following schedule. If you have more than an hour, use the following as your foundation. Here’s how you should spend your first LSAT-study hour every day. Alternate timed sections with untimed review and practice. The exact days don’t matter, but the sequence should look something like this: Monday: Do a timed section of Logic Games, followed by an untimed review of the section. Tuesday: Finish reviewing yesterday’s games, if necessary. Drill Logical Reasoning questions, and carefully review any mistakes. Wednesday: Do a timed section of Reading Comprehension, followed by an untimed review. Thursday: Finish reviewing yesterday’s RC, if necessary. Do an untimed game, and review it. If you have time, do more games. Friday: Do a timed section of Logical Reasoning, followed by an untimed review. Saturday: Do extra untimed practice and review of your weakest section. Sunday: Do extra untimed drilling and review of your two strongest sections. This is a calm, civilized schedule that’s sure to bring results over time. It accomplishes several goals at once: It covers a full LSAT each week. It offers timed and untimed practice in each section. It allows you to spend slightly more time on your weakest section, without neglecting any section. It includes ample time for a review of each mistake. It allows you to do something slightly different every day, so you don’t get bored or complacent. And it only takes one hour per day. You’re not doing five hours of a bored, distracted LSAT grind. You’re doing one high-quality hour per day. Take this time seriously. Get the most out of it by approaching your timed sections, review, and extra practice with care. Here’s how to approach your timed practice. Make sure you will be uninterrupted for the duration of your timed sections. Do them in a distraction-free environment—ideally, in the same location and with the same setup you intend to use for your official online LSAT. Use airplane mode or “do not disturb” as necessary. Take precautions against distractions from friends, family, colleagues, and pets. Work diligently for the entire 35 minutes without checking and re-checking the clock. Remember you’re not trying to finish the section. Accuracy is more important than speed. Take your time with each question and solve it before moving on. Get used to guessing on a few at the end of each section. This is the pacing you will use on your official test, so use it on your practice tests as well. When you count up your scores, take them with a grain of salt. Over weeks and months, you will accumulate data about your test performances. But in the short term (anything less than a month) there is too much noise in the data. You’ll have better days and worse days along the way. Don’t make too much of them. Instead, focus on each mistake. Learning comes from review. Anyone with a LawHub account can do a practice section at any time. If you’re a Demon Live subscriber, you can attend group timed sections on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Here’s how to approach review of timed sections. Treat every mistake as a precious opportunity to learn. The LSAT repeats itself. Your mistakes will do the same unless you inoculate yourself from them in your review. First, redo the question. Do this “blind”—it’s better not to know what the correct answer is. Can you get it right if you’re a bit more careful? Dig deeply into the right answer. Why is it conclusively correct? Why didn’t you see that the first time around? How will you avoid this mistake next time? Dig deeply into the wrong answer you chose. Why is it conclusively wrong? Why did you pick it the first time around? How will you avoid this mistake next time? Sometimes you’ll need help to reach full understanding. Tutoring is expensive, but a study partner or group is free. It’s amazing how much progress you can make by teaching and learning from one another. You may also be able to find explanations on the internet. But be careful—some of those explanations might confuse you more than they help. Demon subscribers have access to our incomparable video and written explanations for each question, and our Ask button quickly provides written responses when you’re stuck. Demon Live timed sections include review sessions with our team of tutors. However you review, don’t move on from each mistake too quickly. Review is where the real progress is made. Here’s how to approach your untimed extra practice. Intersperse your timed sections with calm, careful practice of individual Logical Reasoning questions, Reading Comprehension passages, and Logic Games. For Demon subscribers, this could be an hour of drilling with our smart AI drilling tool. If you’re not a Demon subscriber, just do one question at a time, focusing solely on accuracy. Solve each question before moving on. Mistakes should be rare. You should take as long as you need to figure each one out. Expect to feel good about your chosen answer—you should clearly see why it is correct. Expect to confidently eliminate four wrong answers—you should notice how each one is wrong for a specific reason. When you miss a question, you should be surprised. Spend as much time as necessary reviewing these precious mistakes. Dig deep, as described above. Rooting out these mistakes is the surest way to achieve a higher score. If you’re not sure what to work on, spend more time working on your weakest sections. Don’t neglect any area—make sure you practice a bit of everything each week. But your weakest section is where you have the most to gain. So lean in that direction when deciding what to do. Demon subscribers use our smart AI drilling for their extra practice. Demon Live subscribers can also choose from a wide variety of classes throughout the week. We have multiple class options every day, with classes targeting every skill level and every topic. No matter your current level or ultimate goal, one high-quality hour is the first step each day. Next time, I’ll take a look at one common type of student profile—one with a weakness in Logic Games. It should be a good example of how the One-hour LSAT foundation can support a study plan that addresses specific needs.

Nathan Fox Mar 11, 2021Focus on the Easy Ones... And They’re All Easy

Last week I wrote about the importance of accuracy over speed. Not only does an accuracy-first approach fare better for today’s score, it also positions you for future improvement. No matter where you are in your LSAT journey—whether you’re just starting and trying to break 140, or you’re already near the finish line and trying to tack on another couple points for your 170-plus—the only thing you ever need to worry about is the question right in front of you. In other words, don’t try to do the next one until you’ve gotten this one right. If you’re careful, you’ll find that the vast majority of LSAT questions make perfect sense and are perfectly solvable. Consider this email we received last week from a current LSAT Demon student: Reaching out for some mindset advice. I’ve been feeling myself really learning in the last month. I’ve repeatedly gotten 22/23 I attempt on LR, 24/27 in RC, and 20/23 on games. Last week I got a 167 for the first time after being stuck in the low 160s for a long time. However, I’m finding myself making excuses for doing well. I’m finding it difficult to believe I am doing as well as I am. Any advice on how to talk myself into believing that I’m putting in the work and it’s coming to fruition? That’s right—the test has started making so much sense to this student that she has a hard time believing that it’s real. It’s not uncommon. Once students commit to the idea that they can carefully solve each question, one at a time, the entire test opens up to them. Commonly, they achieve their first perfect section of games, after two or three months of study, and email me: “But that was an easy section, right?” My answer: “Yep—easy for you, because you’re good at the games now.” The big secret here: They’re all easy. In a typical section of LR, there are maybe one or two questions that give an LSAT expert pause. And the expert still gets even those tougher questions right. Maybe we’re not in love with the correct answer, but the wrong answers are even worse. We refuse to pick any of those, and eventually we narrow it down to the right one. Some logic games are more complex than others. But they all have one thing in common: On every logic game ever released, all of the required information is right there on the page. Once the information has been organized, there is no doubt which answers are right and which answers are wrong. Reading comprehension, in some ways, is the easiest section of all. The only thing the test makers are ever testing here is “did you understand what you just read?” The passage is a collection of all of the right answers. The questions, for the most part, simply ask you over and over whether you understood the overall point of the passage. Every question has a correct answer that can be justified by information on the page. Again, it’s all right there in front of you. The bulk of our points need to come from the easier questions that appear at the beginning of each section. To score 150, on the most recent official scoring scale, you need 42 points—an average of 14 on each scored section. As I wrote last time, accuracy is far more important than speed. If you devote your entire 35 minutes to just the first 10 questions in each section, that’ll almost get the job done. You’ll get those 10 correct—they’re the easy ones, and you’ll have carefully solved each one—and you’ll have guessed on the remaining 15 questions. Those 15 guesses turn into 3 free points, on average. You’ll have done less work and gotten paid more—a total of 14 points on the section and a score of 150 on the LSAT. When you can do this, you’ll start realizing how easy the test actually is. If you just take your time, you start getting 100% of the questions you attempt correct. Then you can think about the next step. To score 160, you need 54 total questions correct on the most recent test. That’s an average of 18 per section. Again, the calm approach is the easiest. Do 16 questions with near-perfect accuracy, and guess on the remaining questions. There’s your 160. At this level, you start to encounter some of the medium-difficulty questions that appear in the middle of each section. But, if you’re focused on accuracy, you realize that these questions, too, are actually easy. Yes, they require careful attention. But there’s only one answer that conceivably answers any question, and the four wrong answers are trash. When you do 16 questions per section, you still guess on all of the test’s hardest questions, but you beat over 75 percent of all test-takers on the 120–180 scale. And you’re well justified in looking for more. To score 170 (a score achieved by about three in one hundred), you need about 22 points per section. The easiest way to do this, by far, is to be perfect on the ones you attempt. You tackle some of the test’s hardest questions at this level, but not all of them—you’re comfortable with a few guesses at the end of each section because you’re confident that you’re going to get paid for all of the work you do. The hard ones require even more time and attention—if you try to rush, you’re sure to fall into carefully laid traps. You should only consider each next step if you’ve built a rock-solid foundation on the step below. To score 180 (a score achieved by maybe one in one thousand), you need to get virtually every question on the test correct. On the most recent scoring scale, you could make just a single mistake on the entire test and still score 180. At every level, it’s critical that you are perfect at the beginning of each section. It’s much easier to make the leap from 150 to 160 if you never make mistakes on the first 10 questions. It’s nearly impossible to go from 160 to 170 if you ever make mistakes on the first 15. If you’re going to score 180, you’re going to need to be perfect on the entire test. At every level, no matter what your long-term goal is, you should focus on accuracy on the questions you attempt. Otherwise, you miss the easy ones in a rush to tackle the harder ones. Eventually, if you remain vigilant about your accuracy, you’ll have an experience like the one I shared at the top of this email. You’ll score higher than you’ve ever scored before, and you’ll do it without breaking a sweat. When you do, feel free to celebrate. It won’t have been “an easy test”—you’ll just have realized how easy they all are. Thank you for your feedback on these LSAT lessons. My email address is nathan@lsatdemon.com—I’d love to hear your thoughts. Next week, I’ll write about mastering the LSAT in just one hour per day.

Nathan Fox Mar 4, 2021Work Less for More Pay

New LSAT students think that speed and accuracy are equally important. That’s not true. Consider two hypothetical students: Mr. Speed and Ms. Accuracy. Mr. Speed attempts every question, but he gets only half of them right. Ms. Accuracy attempts only half of the questions, but she makes no mistakes. Who scores higher? Your gut might call it a tie, but it’s not. Ms. Accuracy wins big. The math’s simple. If there are 25 questions in the section, Mr. Speed gets 12.5 points from the questions he answers correctly. He gets zero points from his mistakes. Ms. Accuracy gets 12.5 points from the 12.5 questions she attempts. On the remaining 12.5 questions, she bubbles in random guesses. Maybe she chooses A for accuracy—it doesn’t matter. Since there are five answers, she gets one of every five guesses right purely by chance. That’s another 2.5 questions correct for Ms. Accuracy—free points with no investment of time. Final tally on the section: Ms. Accuracy 15, Mr. Speed 12.5. If these two students take a full test—three scored sections—Ms. Accuracy ends up with 45 questions correct against Mr. Speed’s 38. Superficially, that might look like a narrow victory for Ms. Accuracy. But it’s not. Given the LSAT’s highly compressed 120–180 scale, it’s an ass-kicking victory. On the most recently released official LSAT scoring scale, the scoreboard says Ms. Accuracy 152, Mr. Speed 147. Accuracy beats speed every time, at every level. On the high end, perfect accuracy on 90 percent of the questions beats 90 percent accuracy on 100 percent of the questions, 172 to 171. On the low end, 75 percent accuracy on 25 percent of the questions is a 136. That’s bad, but 25 percent accuracy on 75 percent of the questions is a truly abysmal 125. Note that, in each case, Ms. Accuracy does less work than Mr. Speed, but she gets paid more. Did I mention that the questions tend to get harder from the front to the back of the section? Mr. Speed, rushing headlong to the end of the section, makes casual mistakes on the easy ones. Then he misses some of the hardest ones anyway—they’re the hard ones, after all. Mr. Speed gets paid zero for his mistakes, no matter how much time he spends on them. He wastes time by going so fast. Meanwhile, Ms. Accuracy just cooly gets all the easy ones right. Ms. Accuracy doesn’t spread her attention too thin. She’s careful and accurate on the questions she invests time in. She refuses to do shoddy work at high volume. Instead, she works meticulously on a slightly smaller body of work. Because she makes no mistakes, she gets paid for the work she does. If you focus on accuracy, you’ll do less work and get paid more. And there’s an even better reason why accuracy beats speed: Ms. Accuracy is a better candidate for improvement than Mr. Speed is. Ms. Accuracy has committed herself to the idea that she can understand each question. She expects to get each one that she attempts right. When she makes a rare mistake, she is surprised, and she reviews that mistake completely so she won’t make it again. She is sending herself the message that the LSAT is easy if you just take your time to understand what you’re reading. Over time, she will predict more and more of the correct answers, and the wrong answers will look worse and worse. Her increase in speed won’t be immediate or dramatic, but she’ll get steadily faster over time. And every additional question she attempts will give her one additional point. She gets paid for the work she does. Her score improves steadily. Mr. Speed never reaches actual understanding because he’s obsessed with finishing all the questions even if it means skimming. He makes many mistakes on every section, which means he has more review work to do each time. But it’s hard to focus when he reviews—he’s used to missing questions. It’s not surprising at all when he misses a bunch. It’s almost like he’s practicing at it. At LSAT Demon, we constantly encourage our students to emulate Ms. Accuracy, not Mr. Speed. If you study with us, you’ll be studying for understanding. Next time, I’ll write about job one for all LSAT students at every level: Get the easy ones right. And I have a secret. They’re all easy.

Nathan Fox Feb 25, 2021Go Deeper on Each Mistake

Studying for the LSAT isn’t as difficult as people make it out to be. Whether today’s your first day studying (welcome!) or you’ve been grinding it out for a year, the formula is simple: If you’re not sure what to do, start with any LSAT question (Lesson One). Don’t be afraid of timing yourself. Mix in timed sections regularly, but don’t race the clock (Lesson Two). Thoroughly review each mistake, and ask for help when you need it (that’s today’s lesson). If you just do these three things, you’re set. I’m not kidding. Wait, do you want the LSAT to be hard? In that case, I’m sorry, but you shouldn’t study with us here at LSAT Demon. We believe that the LSAT is easy and that our most important job is to show you how easy it can be. (Don’t take my word for it. Hundreds of happy Demon students say the same thing.) That doesn’t mean you don’t have to work hard. Of course, you do. But it’s critical to work smart while you work hard—otherwise, you’re just spinning your wheels. So today I want to talk about that critical last step: how to get the most out of your study time by properly learning from your mistakes. All too often, students do question after question without learning anything as they go. They do a question, miss it, look at the answer key, say something like, “Oh, sure, D, yeah, that’s a better fit,” and move on to the next question. Let me tell you something: On the LSAT, ain’t no such thing as “better fit.” The right answers on the LSAT are 100% right, and the wrong answers are 100% wrong. If you check the answer key, look at it for five seconds, shrug your shoulders, and move on, you haven’t learned anything. You could have just skipped the question. The LSAT repeats itself. I guarantee that you’ll get burned on an identical issue next time it pops up. Sometimes students do test after test like this, for month after month, making zero progress. It would be funny if it weren’t such a tragic waste of time. “Better fit” is just a lazy excuse for not understanding. If you study with us, you’re going to make real progress, every single time you study, because we’re going to focus on actual understanding. So what’s that look like? Whether you’re doing a single question using the LSAT Demon’s Smart Drilling feature, a timed practice section, or a full timed test, we’re going to dive deep into each of your mistakes: Why is the right answer right? How, exactly, does it answer the question? Could we have predicted this answer? Frequently, we can nail the correct answer on LSAT questions before even reading the answer choices. Did we take the time to make a prediction? If not, why not? If we did, what was our prediction? Was it close, or totally off the mark? Why didn’t we pick the correct answer? Was there something in it that scared us off? How will we avoid this mistake next time? Why is our wrong answer wrong? How, exactly, can it be conclusively eliminated? Why did we pick this incorrect answer? Was there something in it that attracted us? Did we even read the whole thing? Did we even understand what the question was asking, and what this answer was saying? (It should be impossible to pick a wrong answer if we understood it and understood the question—wrong answers are objectively wrong.) How do we avoid this mistake next time? See what I mean about going deeper? It takes two mistakes to miss one question. Not only did we miss the right answer choice, but we also picked a wrong one. The reason experts don’t miss LSAT questions is they refuse to make both of these mistakes at the same time. Now let’s talk about getting help. If you’re struggling to understand exactly why the right answer is right, or why the wrong answer is wrong, LSAT Demon has your back. Every official LSAT question is accompanied by thorough written and video explanations. When you miss a question, take all the time you need to review these explanations before moving on to the next one. Many have more than one explanation, so you can approach the question from different angles. Every question in the Demon is accompanied by an Ask button. If you can’t reach perfect clarity with the existing explanations, just jot down a question—our team of tutors will respond within 24 hours with help. For Premium and Live subscribers, we offer live classes on Zoom throughout the week. Our students are encouraged to ask any question at any time—showing up and asking questions is your primary responsibility in class. If you’re brave, unmute yourself and shout it out. Or if you prefer, you can ask questions in the chat. Either way, we’ll sort you out. We’ve created a vibrant community of LSAT teachers and learners, all eager to help one another reach a full understanding of each question. If you need to go deeper on a given topic, such as “Sufficient vs. Necessary” or “Parallel Reasoning questions,” we have comprehensive lessons on every conceivable topic. Our teachers will guide you to these lessons based on your questions. If you’ve been struggling for weeks or months without making progress, the odds are good that you’ve been working inefficiently. You’ve been doing test after test, pulling that 120-180 slot machine lever over and over, hoping for a higher number, fruitlessly wasting your time. Stop it. To move forward with a new, effective approach to the LSAT, just go do one question right now. All you need is a Demon Free account. If you only have time to do one question, that’s fine! Go deep on that one question, and you’ll have made more progress than if you’d done an entire test and skimped on the review.

Nathan Fox Feb 18, 2021Timing Is Everything... But Not What You Think

Last week I started a series of email lessons with the directive to just do one question. It’s such good advice that I’ll repeat it here: If you feel stuck, like you don’t know what to do next, just go do one question right now. (You’ll need a free LSAT Demon account.) Logical Reasoning questions are particularly suitable for doing just one question since they’re bite-sized. If you have a bit longer, do one RC passage or one Logic Game. It doesn’t matter exactly what you do—just do a little tiny bit, whenever you have time. This week, I want to talk about timing. New students always ask me when they should start doing timed sections and timed practice tests—should they study for a week before their first timed test? A month? Six months? None of the above. All students, even novices, should start timing themselves right away. If this is scary for you, you’re not alone. There are many misconceptions about the purpose of timed practice tests. I’ll list some of them here: The purpose of timed practice tests is to “get good at managing your time.” The purpose of timed practice tests is to “determine your ability.” The purpose of timed practice tests is to “learn how to finish the sections.” The purpose of timed practice tests is to “keep moving, so you don’t waste too much time.” The purpose of timed practice tests is to “get a score so you can evaluate yourself.” None of these statements is true. At LSAT Demon, we believe that the purpose of timed practice tests is to get comfortable: Get comfortable ignoring the clock. Most students can’t—and shouldn’t try to—finish each section in 35 minutes. Get comfortable calmly, carefully answering the easier questions that appear at the beginning of each section. This is where every student gets the bulk of their points. Get comfortable struggling with a few of the medium-difficulty questions in the middle. Take your time with each one! The questions get harder later in the section, so don’t give up on these too soon. Get comfortable taking even more time on the even harder questions that start to pop up late in the section. These require more of your attention, not less. Skimming is never the answer. Get comfortable guessing on whatever questions remain at the end of each section—these guesses are free points on the test’s hardest questions. Get comfortable seeing your score at the end, whatever it turns out to be, and immediately starting your review process. Most importantly, get comfortable learning as much as you can from each of your mistakes. If you study with us, it’s never going to be about pressure, stress, or judgment. It’s going to be about staying in the moment and accepting whatever comes. During our 35-minute sections, we’re going to calmly answer each question correctly before moving on to the next. Sure, we’ll struggle on a few. But we’ll take even more time on the harder ones because those take more time to solve. If we ignore the clock and take our time, we should get most of the questions we attempt right. At the five-minute warning, we’re going to fill in a random guess for each question remaining in the section. (I was always on Team D with my guesses, but it doesn’t matter what letter you choose.) After clicking our guesses, we’re going to spend the remaining four minutes and 45 seconds calmly answering one more question correctly—then one more after that, if there’s time. But we’re not going to skim these questions or rush through five questions in five minutes. That’s a sure recipe for disaster. When time is up, we’re going to accept our score, whatever it is. This isn’t a judgment on our worth, it’s just a snapshot of one single performance. There’s a ton of randomness in numeric results, especially when we’re looking at single data points. No matter what the score is, good or bad, we’re going to shrug and move on to the most important part of the process, which is review. During our review, we’re going to carefully review each of our mistakes. Why was the right answer right, and why didn’t we pick it? Why was the wrong answer wrong, and why did we pick it? How can we avoid these mistakes next time? We’ll use the LSAT Demon’s exhaustive collection of video and written explanations to reach a full understanding of each question before moving on to the next one. If the explanations don’t get us all the way there, that’s okay. We’ll use the Ask button to submit a question and the LSAT Demon’s team of tutors will respond in 24 hours or less with help. Racing the clock during our timed sections will only ruin our accuracy. When we master each question through thorough review, we start to see how easy the questions can be. The right answers are predictable. The wrong answers are garbage. The better we get at answering each individual question, the less time future questions will take. The point of timing ourselves isn’t to develop a stressful race-the-clock mindset. It’s to learn to ignore the clock entirely, do our best on each individual question, then master each question during our review. Every practice section is an opportunity to practice this calm, composed mindset. The official LSAT will be timed—but by then, we’ll have learned not to worry about the timing at all.

Nathan Fox Feb 9, 2021Start With Any LSAT Question

Hey there! Thanks for subscribing to the LSAT Demon newsletter. If you’d prefer not to hear from us, no hard feelings. Just unsubscribe below. For those who are sticking around, this is the first of a series of email lessons highlighting some of the killer content we have for free at LSAT Demon. Lesson One: Where Do I Begin? I get this question all the time, and my answer is always the same: Just start with any real LSAT question. For real. Literally any one of the 9,000-something LSAT practice questions—each of which appeared on the official exam in their day—is a perfect place to start learning about the LSAT. Watch: <Nathan chooses LSAT question at random> (Because of LSAC licensing requirements, you’ll need an LSAT Demon Free account to access this question. You can get one in 30 seconds here.) I want you to do this question on your own. But first, here’s one tip: Accept all the evidence—or premises—in this passage as fact, but argue with the conclusion. See how the fourth sentence starts with “Therefore”? That’s the part you want to object to. Basically, it goes like this: All labs bark all the time? Fine, if you say so. All Saint Bernards bark infrequently? That’s fine as well. These first two premises are obviously false in real life—you might personally know a lab that doesn’t bark, or a Saint Bernard that never shuts up. That doesn’t matter. Just accept these as facts. All of Rosa’s dogs are crosses between the two? Whatever. Rosa and her dogs are fictional, of course. All of that is beside the point. So far, we’ll accept everything as fact. Where are they going with this? “Therefore, Rosa’s dogs are moderate barkers.” Think about it. Use your normal commonsense brain. You don’t have to be an expert in canine husbandry. Is that the way these things work? With no prior prep, many brand-new students will come up with the correct objection here: “Wait a minute! If I breed a high barker with a low barker, does that automatically result in a medium barker? For sure?” Once you make that objection, finding the correct answer is a piece of cake. But if you slip up, the Demon’s right there for you. When you hit “submit,” you’ll see a full written explanation pop up on the right-hand side of LSAT Demon. If you scroll down, below the written explanation, you’ll also see a classroom video from me and a classroom video from Ben. If the combination of our written and video explanations doesn’t get you all the way to full understanding, you’ll also see an “Ask” button on the upper right-hand side of the page. Any time you’re confused, all you have to do is write a question to the Ask button and our awesome team of tutors will get back to you within 24 hours. The main point I wanted to make with Lesson One is stop procrastinating and just do one LSAT question. I’d also like to invite you to my free LSAT class. If you’re feeling stuck, I’d love to help get you moving in the right direction. I’m so happy you’re here, studying with us. Reach out to help@lsatdemon.com if you have any questions.

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