Hi this is Beau Baez with Learn Law Better
and today I’m trying something new. I am going to be doing a video session with
Steve Schwartz the founder over at LSAT Blog. In case you’ve never been there before he does LSAT coaching, he’s got LSAT courses. And it’s something I haven’t looked at since I was getting ready for law school. So I figured I want to
learn more and so I reached out and we decided to collaborate with one of the
LSAT experts. So with that Steve, you want to say something about yourself and
we’ll jump into this. Great to be with you today Beau. I’ve really enjoyed your
your law videos on YouTube and that’s why I reached out I’m glad that we have
this collaboration set up today I’m looking forward to speaking with you. So I guess the question, and I truly have not looked at the LSAT in over 20 years. So I’d like to get your sense. What exactly is the LSAT testing. Give me a little bit of the background and maybe help some
of my audience who hasn’t reached that point. Yeah, sure. So the LSAT is
ultimately testing critical thinking skills, as well as the ability to make
deductions. So if you’re given a situation, a given argument, a given
fact set what can you reasonably infer from that set of facts and what can’t
you reasonably infer. As human beings were often prone to some classic logical fallacies, some common errors or mistakes in our way of thinking. And sometimes
that can be a bug rather than a future and the LSAT plays on that and your
ability to go beyond your original native programming so to speak. Then on the game section you’re given a set of different facts and you’re required to
make certain deductions based on those facts. And I would imagine that here in
particular there may be some connections to what you’re doing in law school. I think a lot of law school, I understand, is about fact patterns and seeing
whether you can apply a particular principle to a given situation and the
LSAT is kind of like a mini version of that. So let me ask you Steve, again you know
I haven’t looked at this in a long time so how many sections are there on the LSAT? What’s kind of the format? Sure, to get more to get more specific
with it, there are four scored sections on the LSAT. One of them is the
analytical reasoning or logic game section, where these are kind of like
short puzzles and you’re required to create symbols and mathematically
combine certain variables and certain rules and derive certain consequences. That’s the most mathematical of the sections, and typically the most scary to
law applicants at first because it’s so unfamiliar but it often ends up being
test takers favorite sections. But one of their favorite sections by the end. It
certainly has been for me. And the two sections are logical reasoning, which are short arguments, kind of bite sized paragraphs, each question is standalone
testing your ability to evaluate these arguments. And finally there’s a reading
comprehension section, which overall will appear to be similar to SAT or ACT
reading comprehension, although the emphasis is more on
arguments rather than information. Great, so obviously people need to get
high scores on the LSAT because that either gets them into a top law school,
a better law school, and if they go to a lesser law school get some scholarship. So either way I mean there’s an incentive to do well. So what kind of mindset does somebody need to do well on the LSAT. Ultimately it comes around to
what I was saying a bit about before. A critical and skeptical mindset where
you’re not just taking everything that’s stated at face value, but rather you’re
challenging you’re looking for weaknesses you’re looking for gaps and
holes in a given argument. And that’s what any test taker is going to want to
do. But especially for those who are seeking higher scores, it’s going to
require not only understanding how to apply strategies that myself or another
LSAT instructor could teach you but rather understanding why the strategies
work. Kind of like the beginning of a math textbook chapter they’ll explain
how the formula is derived and so you want to be able to not only blindly
apply a formula but understand how it’s created and why it works the way it does. So you believe people can increase their score. I mean the people
who design these tests they’re supposed to test raw
intelligence, so can you really improve your performance can you do
better by studying and how do you recommend studying for the LSAT if you
can make a significant improvement. Yes sure so first off it’s
absolutely possible to improve your score. Sometimes significantly if you can
adopt this mindset and change your previous ways of thinking. If you study
over a longer period at least three to six months you’ll be more likely to make
significant gains. I know it’s possible. I’ve walked many students through the
process and I’ve also done it myself. I had my own journey where I started in
the low 150s and gradually over a long period of time, actually an entire
year, I was able to raise my score to a 175. And it took a lot of work. Yeah, it
was pretty grueling and that’s part of part of why I ended up
loving this exam because I came to see the exam from the test makers point of
view. So it’s absolutely possible and I have many stories of past students and
test takers on my site, I call them LSAT Diaries, where they actually write in with their own experiences showing their score increases. But ultimately what it’s
going to take is using real LSAT questions, real previously administered
LSAT exams, and putting in the work. A lot of times students will use explanations
as a crutch and while explanations are valuable it’s ultimately not a substitute for your own thought process and changing it. It’s interesting, I’ll share one story. So I have a former colleague of mine, law school professor and very very intelligent. And when I found out what law
school he went to it was a lower tier law school, which surprised because he
was an intelligent guy. So I said tell me about your LSAT experience. Well, he bought a prep book the weekend before he sat for the LSAT and that’s what he did. That was his studying. You know, he just didn’t know any better because he had the mental ability. In fact after his
first year he did so well he had the opportunity to transferring to much
better law schools but he made that decision because, at
the the beginning stages at the LSAT he just didn’t know. He didn’t understand the process. Do you find that there
are a lot of people like that they just don’t appreciate the value of a more
systematized way of studying. Yeah, absolutely here’s what here’s what often
happens a lot of students will get faulty or outdated advice sometimes from
a pre-law advisor saying something like just take the LSAT, see how you do, then
decide whether it’s worth investing in a course or something like that. But students they take it and surprise surprise that they do terribly and
that’s because the LSAT is something new it’s like learning a foreign language. It’s not like it’s just a harder version of the SAT. It’s completely different in
nature and so students are often in for a rude awakening when they take it with
no prep and then they say oh my god I’m a total idiot I’m screwed for Law School
my life is over. When in reality they just haven’t invested the work yet. But if you put in at least a couple of months you can gain a significant
understanding in all areas of the exam. The exam just repeats itself again and
again. I have seen questions that are virtual copies of each other. So if you study the old exams you’ll be in a great position to face whatever you end up
facing on test day. Now as far as the amount of time. So in my case, I had the luxury of being able to prep for an entire summer. I took that summer
between my junior and senior year of college, and bought a prep course, which I thought it was a decent course at the time, the practice
exams and it got me a high enough score and get me into an elite law school. So what do you recommend as far as timing? When do you start? How long before the exam? Yeah,
great question so law school is conducting a conducted on rolling
admissions basis. So similar to college though it starts in the fall. So ideally you want to have the LSAT done over the summer so that when
applications open up in the fall you can be among the first to apply. So I would
say ideally this year’s offered in June in July so I take it one of those dates
and then apply first thing in the fall. However if you’re watching this after
that, that’s okay. You’ve got the fall you could have you
could take it in September and still apply fairly early. You could take it in
November or December and still apply fairly early as well. What changes is that loss. Maybe there’s a little bit less
scholarship money available. Ultimately it doesn’t make a huge difference though
since law schools are waitlisting more and more applicants these days. But my biggest advice would be take it earlier rather than later and start thinking
about prepping earlier rather than later. If you can take it in March then you
have June as a backup. If you take it in June then you have July as a backup, etc. And no matter what you can still apply towards the beginning of the cycle. However if you need to apply later no big deal it’s not the end of the
world. Now what about when do you start prepping. So obviously you want to
start prepping earlier we’re talking a few months before the exam a year before
the exam When’s the ideal, or obviously we don’t always get the ideal, but how much time do we realistically need. Realistically I would say
the average student should spend three to six months studying for this exam. And so if you’re watching this in January or February, you might set a target date of
June or July, for example. And you kind of just work backwards and if that requires delaying your law school applications so be it. It’s worth
applying later in the cycle with a higher score then earlier with the lower
score. Even just a couple of points can make an enormous difference in getting
more scholarship money or getting into a better school. The return on
investment in just a little bit of a delay or investing in prep materials is
well worth it and if you decide that you want to wait a cycle and apply at the
beginning of the following one that’s also great too and even ideal I would
say. So you’re mentioning materials. What do you mean by materials? What does a student preparing for the LSAT need? The number one thing that you
absolutely need are real official LSAT prep tests. They’re published by the Law
School Admission Council. They’re available on Amazon, most of them in
books of ten exams, for about $20 each. And so I recommend getting the most
recent couple of those and then the individual exams. which are closer to
eight or ten dollars each you have to buy separately and students often have
been how about spending more money on books. But it’s really just a drop in the
bucket. If one more exam or one more book gets you a single point it could pay off
scholarship money like I said thousands of dollars we’re talking. So it’s really a no-brainer when you think about it from that perspective. Don’t cheat
yourself by having not enough material. But aside from that there’s nothing else
you absolutely need. I have a variety of prep materials, study guides, schedules,
cheat sheets, checklist etc on my site. I also have a course. I’m not saying you
need any of that but if going alone with the exams and
free resources sought resources online is not enough for you then it makes
sense to go elsewhere for additional help. You know it’s interesting, I
served on one of law schools I taught at I was on the admissions
committee for a number of years, chaired that committee. And I can assure you we had cut-offs for scholarship money. You know and if you were on one
side of that line it’s a hundred percent ride on the other side of that line it
was a fifty percent ride. So I mean we’re talking, in today’s terms, an extra fifteen, twenty, thirty, thousand dollars in tuition money. based on one one numerical score. It’s remarkable. It’s just a single number, a single point more. There’s an element of randomness on the exam too of course, and the fact that could go one
way one day another way another day all that means is that it’s worth retaking
if you have the time in your timeline. Because, yeah, a single point, another couple
hours of your time makes an enormous difference it really does. So now you’ve
been working with students for a long time you’ve been doing this? So I’ve
been coaching the LSAT now for over 10 years. I just hit the ten year mark with
my website this past November and yeah I’m still going strong with it love what
I do love working with students love creating videos and resources yeah this
is my passion. So what do you find is the, some of the common mistakes
people make when they’re actually taking the LSAT, or preparing for the LSAT? One of
the biggest mistakes I see when taking the LSAT under real-world test day
conditions we either during practice or the real thing, is getting bogged down on
a single question. You start retrying to reason through this question and nothing
is clicking and you keep investing second after second, minute after minute,
and you’re not making headway. But the problem is all questions are worth the same amount although they’re not all of equal difficulty. And so if question number 17 is giving you trouble, if you’re not making headway, just skip it, come back to it later with a fresh perspective. You can break out of that
tunnel vision and see the question in a new way, turn it from wrong to right, or
from a guess to right. And I’ll do this, with maybe three to six questions per section. I’ll skip them and come back later just because I don’t like the
looks of it the first time around. And it’s not clicking for me
initially and so having that mindfulness and that self-control to step away from
the question and come back later I think is a strategy that a lot of students
would be well served by adopting. Great. Now you mentioned earlier that the LSAT can be learned it’s just understanding the mindset of the the
test creators. So somebody buys a book, they do the practice exams, they get a course like yours. What value does a one-on-one tutoring session do
for people I mean so they’ve done all the other stuff how do you take them to
that next level. So self studying is great. It’s risen in popularity in recent years
with the rise of free and low-cost resources. But the problem is that you
can’t see your own blind spots. Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know and
so I’ll sometimes meet with students and they’ll reach out to me maybe just a
few months before the exam when they’ve already been studying for several months
and within ten minutes or even five minutes of speaking with them I can
point out and correct some misconceptions they have about a
particular question type or a way to approach something. So I can help spot
ways they could improve their approach or the inefficiency of their studying. And it’s easy to go it alone when you have all the internet and all the
resources it offers but your when you work with someone like myself you’re
getting the benefit of over ten years of experience and obsession with this topic
and having brought thousands of students through the process there are certain
common patterns and trends and things to look for and so I would say if you’re
considering it definitely try it out at least an hour or two. With anyone. There’s
plenty of great tutors out there but try someone out, see if it fits,
see if it makes a difference because again just a single comment they make
could change everything for you. It’s funny you know you’re mentioning that
story, so I was working with a student at Harvard Law School a few weeks ago. Bright kid. Obviously got into Harvard did well, did all those things to get him in. And, of course they don’t provide a lot of advice once you’re in law school. So, like you were saying right so I was able to see his blind spots. He
rewrote the essay for me he got it right. But it’s just great seeing that aha moment
with the student and he just didn’t see it you know I mean just he needed as you
say it’s kind of that guidance, somebody to, you don’t know what you don’t know,
and you need that one-on-one guidance. Any other thoughts here before we
wrap this up? I like what you’re doing. It sounds exciting. I like to see
somebody following their passion. I looked at your website and your videos
and by the way if you haven’t checked out his his YouTube channel its LSAT
blog so just YouTube LSAT blog. My apologies. LSAT blog, and it is
a lot of material. Games, study strategies. I was very impressed by what you’re doing
on YouTube. Thanks Beau, it’s really been a real pleasure speaking with you today
I guess the the single thing I would leave students with is that a single
insight can change everything so if you’re having trouble with the LSAT
don’t give up reach out to others for help, seek out additional resources
because sometimes there’s just one little thing that can make it all click
for you and make that difference so thank everyone for watching please come
over and check out my channel if you’re not already there, have a lot of free
resources I’m happy to help however I can. Sounds great and I’ll put the link to the right spot down in the comment section. Take care Steve pleasure chatting with you. Thanks Beau same take care. If you enjoyed this material hit the like button. Also to avoid missing any future
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get ahead including my blog and newsletter checkout LearnLawBetter.com Thanks for watching.