Mastering The LSAT http://www.lsatcoursescanada.com Richardson – Mastering The LSAT – Prep Unlimited! – Toronto Wed, 04 May 2011 15:42:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.11 Mastering The LSAT – Prep Unlimited! http://www.lsatcoursescanada.com/mastering-the-lsat-prep-unlimited/ Thu, 17 Mar 2011 21:23:52 +0000 http://www.lsatcoursescanada.com/?p=994

Who: John Richardson – Author: Law School Bound and Mastering The LSAT (of the bars of Ontario, New York, Massachusetts)

Where: University of Toronto – St. Michael’s College

When: Choose any start date in 2011 – take unlimited classes to October 1, 2011

Meet John Richardson at  Pre-Law  Forum in Toronto or at a free LSAT seminar at your school

______________________________________________

“Hi John:

LSAT school was a blast.  It helped me improve one of the areas I had been struggling w/ at the start my LSAT preparation – logic games.  But the most important lesson I learned from you course was that when it comes to answering the questions, simplicity is virtue.”
_______________________________________________

Hey John,

Remember me? _____’s friend who took your class in the summer. Anyhoo, I just had to share some great news with you.  I got my first acceptance from Osgoode! Thank you, thank you, thank you :) . Your classes were really helpful. I have yet to hear from the other schools but Osgoode is my first choice anyway so woohoo! You gave me all the help I needed for me to be even considered , ha ha. I am sooo happy. Let me know when you have some free time, I will take you for coffee to say thanks for being the awesome teacher that you are :) .

All the best,

______________________________________________

June 6, 2011 LSAT

Early Bird Start Sessions:

Sunday March 27 – Toronto LSAT Logic Games Workshop

“Early Bird” workshops are free to  those  enrolled in our courses.

Course Start Dates:

April 17 – June 4

April 30 – June 4

May 7 – June 4

May 14 – June 4

Optional Early Bird “LSAT Logic” Workshops – Available every month.

The Highlights:

– $884 before HST – $999 including HST

– unlimited weekend Toronto LSAT prep classes to October 1, 2011

– unlimited practice LSAT practice testing sessions to October 1, 2011

– “Early Bird” starts – learn “LSAT Logic” and Language

– attend all pre-law guest speakers sessions to October 1, 2011

– Complete law admissions program: personal statements, references, autobiographical sketch

– one personal law school application counseling session

– your teacher: John Richardson: Author of Law School Bound (a free copy is included with your course fee) and Mastering The LSAT

Free LSAT Course Previews

Location: Toronto downtown – University of Toronto

Want more information? Read Mastering The LSAT explained.

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LSAT Logic Games – 8 Essential Skills http://www.lsatcoursescanada.com/lsat-logic-games/ Sat, 12 Mar 2011 18:44:59 +0000 http://www.masteringthelsat.com/?p=674 Welcome To LSAT Logic Games Dot Calm

The LSAT is a test of reading and reasoning in three different contexts. One of the contexts is called “Analytical Reasoning” or “Logic Games” (LSAT Logical Reasoning and LSAT Reading Comprehension are the other two contexts).

Many LSAT test  takers  experience a high degree of anxiety with the LSAT Logic Games. The good news is that  Logic Games is quite susceptible  to short term improvement.

Reading and Reasoning – The Two Fundamental  Aspects

Reading – Understanding the conditions in Logic Games

Reasoning – Making inferences  with the reasoning that you understand

More people have trouble with the reading and understanding of the conditions than with making inferences  from the conditions.

LSAT  Reality – Time Is A Wasting – You Need to Get Started

Any LSAT teacher or book can explain the answers to Logic Games questions after the fact. Although this has some value,  it is irrelevant. The real  problem is that people either don’t know how to get started or take  so long getting started that they run out of time. You must learn to proceed without the confidence even when you are uncomfortable.

Some Basic LSAT Logic Games Skills

Skill 1 – How To Accurately Understand The ConditionsIf  you don’t understand the conditions, you will be unable  to make accurate inferences from them. Every Logic Games condition or rule is a “built in” test of reading comprehension.

LSAT designers are  very skilled in obscuring important information. As a general principle you must  understand:

– positioning issues (where do  things go)
– numbering issues (how many objects are you working with? Are there  too few, too many,  or is it one-to-one correspondence?)
– How does the order of the conditions influence  the way that you must understand them?
LSAT Quantifiers: all,  some, many, exactly,  only, etc.

Skill 2 – How  To Make Inferences From The Conditions, How Many Inferences to make  and when to make those inferences

The “National  Anthem”  of LSAT preparation is that you should read the conditions, understand them, draw diagrams and answer the questions. In  theory this is great. In practice, you  won’t know  whether you have made  the inferences  accurately and whether you have made all  of them. In most cases you must start before  having made all possible inferences.

Skill 3 – The Skill of  Positioning – If you don’t  start you can’t  finish!

To put it simply  – you need to know  how to get started. You  can’t “spin your wheels”  forever.

You must learn:

– when to draw a diagram (drawing a diagram before  starting the questions may actually hurt you)
– the difference between a diagram and shorthand
– how drawing a diagram  first  can hurt you
– the  order  to do  the questions (it  may not  be  what it seems)

Skill 4 – Diagramming – The Four Aspects

– when?
– how?
– how much?
– how to use them?

Skill 5 – Logic Games Questions Require You To Identify Three Modalities

In the context of these three modalities  you must understand:

– the relationship between the right and wrong answers
– the “call of the questions” must be false,  EXCEPT, etc.

Skill 6 – Specific Logic Games Questions

numbers: minimum, maximum, exact  number
– complete  and accurate  list
– variable information
– lists
– changing initial conditions
– must be false, EXCEPT

Skill 7 – The Answer Choices – How LSAT Makes  Wrong Answers Seem Attractive

– how LSAT disguises  the right answer
– accurate  content, but incomplete
– accurate content, but problematic order
– compound  thought answer  choices

Skill 8 – LSAT Logical Reasoning Skills

– conditional reasoning
syllogisms

All of these  skills must be learned in the context of actual LSAT questions.

Copyright © 2009, 2011 John Richardson. All Rights Reserved.

http://www.masteringthelsat.com

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LSAT Logical Reasoning – How The Argument Goes http://www.lsatcoursescanada.com/lsat-logical-reasoning/ Sat, 12 Mar 2011 17:55:34 +0000 http://www.masteringthelsat.com/?p=667 Introducing LSAT Logical Reasoning – The Terrain

Introduction – What Skills Does The LSAT Test?

The LSAT is a test of reading and reasoning in context. Your reading and reasoning skills will tested in the broad contexts of the following three question types:

– LSAT Logical Reasoning

LSAT Logic Games

– LSAT Reading Comprehension

The Format Of Logical Reasoning

Logical Reasoning consists of two of the four scored sections on the LSAT. Each section will have approximately twenty-five questions. For this reason many people  say that “Logical Reasoning”  is fifty percent of the LSAT. No, reading and reasoning is one hundred percent of  the LSAT.

Part I – Anatomy Of The Stimulus – Mostly Premises and Conclusions Which Equal Arguments

Most of the questions are based on “arguments”. What does LSAT mean by the word argument? According to LSAT arguments are:

“… sets of statements that present evidence and draw a conclusion based on that evidence.”

Now, a bit of vocabulary:

Premises: The  statements that present evidence, which are offered as justification for the conclusion, are called “premises”.

How does one identify premises? What is the language of “Premise Indicators”?

Words like “because”, “since”, “for the reason that”, etc., do indicate justification. For that reason they are often indicative of “premises”.

On the LSAT, all “premises” are offered as being true. There is no attempt to justify or support them. Hence, when answering LSAT questions, one must assume that premises are true.

Conclusion: The main point – the position that the “premises” are in support of  is called the “conclusion”.

How does  one identify a conclusion? What is the language of “Conclusion Indicators”?

Words like “hence”, “therefore”, “thus”, “it follows that”, etc., indicate a “conclusion”. For this reason they are often “conclusion indicators”.

(A word of caution: since arguments can have multiple conclusions, a “conclusion indicator” may not be an indicator of the main conclusion! It may be an indicator  of  an intermediate conclusion. An intermediate conclusion could  be a premise for a main conclusion.)

In contrast to “premises”, “conclusions” are not assumed to be true. They are offered as being somehow justified by the “premises”.

Getting A Bit Ahead Of Ourselves For The Moment – Two Additional Points About “Premises” and “Conclusions”

First – it is a mistake to think that the “conclusion” or “premises” appear in any particular location in an argument. For example, although the “conclusion” is often at the end, it doesn’t have to be.

Second – arguments may have more than one conclusion. The first conclusion may actually operate as the a premise for a second conclusion.

The extent to which the “premises” justify the “conclusion”, is NOT ASSUMED, but is open to challenge.

It is the analysis of the relationship between the premises and the conclusion that is at the heart of most of these questions. LSAT calls this the process of evaluating:

“How The Argument Goes”.

Part II – What Are You Asked To Do With Arguments? Determine “How The Argument Goes”

Here is what LSAT says about “How the argument goes”:

“How The Argument Goes

Once you have identified the premises and the conclusion, the next is to get clear about exactly how the argument is meant to go; that is, how the grounds offered for the conclusion are actually supposed to bear on the conclusion. Understanding how the argument goes is a crucial step in answering many questions that appear on the LSAT. This includes questions that ask you to identify a reasoning technique used within an argument, questions that require you to match the patterning of reasoning used in two separate arguments and a variety of other question types.

Determining how the argument goes involves discerning how the premises are supposed to support the overall conclusion.”

– page 16 “The Official LSAT SuperPrep.”

You will notice that this is very non-technical language. That is deliberate. LSAT cannot use language that would require a specific academic background to understand.

“How The Argument Goes” and Answering LSAT Questions

LSAT questions consist of an argument, question and answer choices. Hence, we must consider what “how the argument goes” means in relation to  each of these three components.

Component 1: The Argument or Passage;
Component 2: The Questions;
Component 3 : The Answer Choices

Every question involves analyzing the interplay among these three components.

Component 1: LSAT Logical Reasoning Arguments – What Are They About?

First – Identify The Components Of The Argument – The  “What” and the “Why”

The Four Steps To Reading an LSAT  Argument:

1. Where is the main point or conclusion?

2. What is the main point/conclusion that is being made?
3. How far does that main point/conclusion go? What is the subject of that main point (beware of answer choices that are too broad or too narrow)?  What exactly is being said about that subject (again beware of answer choices that are too broad or too narrow).
4. Why? What is the justification/premise for the conclusion? What is the  premise that is offered to support the conclusion?

Note that LSAT arguments almost  always contain information that is neither a premise  nor  conclusion.

In summary: when you read the argument one must determine:

What is being said and why?

Second – How Does The Argument Go? – The Basic Skill

Okay, you have identified the components of the argument.

You must  now determine “how  the argument goes”.

You must consider  exactly how the premise is supposed to support the conclusion – i.e. identify “how the argument goes”

If the passage is NOT an argument you must be able to understand the primary purpose/main point of the passage.

Component 2: LSAT Logical Reasoning Questions – What Are They About? Question Types vs. Question Groups

To repeat the directive from LSAT:

“Once you have identified the premises and the conclusion, the next is to get clear about exactly how the argument is meant to go; that is, how the grounds offered for the conclusion are actually supposed to bear on the conclusion.”

LSAT questions ask you questions about “how  the argument goes”. When reading the question you must understand what aspect of “how the argument goes” are you asked to respond to?

Many LSAT preparation books and courses focus on the categorization of Logical Reasoning questions. It is not your job to put questions into LSAT logical reasoning question categories. Your job IS to understand what aspect of  “how the argument goes”, the particular question asks you to focus on.

Examples include questions that ask:

– what would strengthen or weaken the linkage between the premises offered as support for the conclusion and the conclusion itself

– what is required to be added to the premises in order to ensure that the conclusion follows

– what, although not required as a premise, if added as a premise, would  guarantee that the conclusion follows

– what label or  cluster of  words, accurately describes the method that the argument uses

– what is a general principle that would  justify the conclusion and/or how the premises bear on the conclusion

– what is an example of a question that uses the same format or methodology as the argument in the question

– what is an example of an argument that is flawed in the same way as the argument in  the question

There are many different aspects to the “how the argument goes” issue. Regardless of the specific words used in the question. LSAT logical reasoning questions will  ask you to focus on some aspect  of “how the argument goes”.

Component 3: LSAT Logical Reasoning Answer Choices – What Are They About?

This is where the action is. The LSAT is multiple-choice. Your job is to recognize or identify the answer. LSAT will not make this easy. In fact, the job of LSAT is to:

“Attract you to answer choices that are wrong, and repel you from answer choices that are right!”

To facilitate this goal, LSAT has developed a large number of disguises. Some of these disguises are based on content, some are based on application and some are based on format. What follows are some comments on each:

Content Based Disguises – Some Examples:

– answer choices that include too much or too little;
– answer choices that require meeting multiple conditions when not all of the conditions are met

Format Based Disguises – Some Examples:

– the order of the answer choices – attractive wrong answer distractors appearing before the right answer;
– the ordering of information in a specific answer choice – putting irrelevant information before the part of the answer choice that matters.

Application Based Disguises – Some Explanation:

In my experience theses are by far the hardest for students to see. Although you must  read the language of the answer choice very carefully, you must go well beyond that careful and literal reading of the answer choice.

Ask yourself:

If the information in this answer choice were true, how would that affect “how the argument goes”. That is: how would the truth of the answer  choice affect the relation between WHAT is concluded and WHY it has been concluded.

Copyright © 2006, 2011 John Richardson. All Rights Reserved.

http://www.masteringthelsat.com

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Should you retake the LSAT? http://www.lsatcoursescanada.com/retake-the-lsat/ Mon, 07 Mar 2011 19:03:02 +0000 http://www.masteringthelsat.com/?p=623 Definition: the words “LSAT Happiness” mean that an LSAT test taker has:

“achieved a score that is high enough that he or she will not be rejected from law school.”

The February LSAT scores are out. There are four groups of score recipients:

1. Those who have “LSAT Happiness” and will  not take the LSAT again. If you are in this group – congratulations, be happy, move on with life. Adopt a new interest, but you can still be a friend of LSAT.

2. Those who have “LSAT Happiness”, but think that they might be able to do better and are considering taking the LSAT again. My advice. Don’t take the LSAT again – develop a new interest in life.  If  you are obsessed  with test taking – take the GMAT or the GRE. (I predict that the GRE will become a substitute for the LSAT). Do NOT – I repeat – do not take the LSAT again.

3. Those who are do not have “LSAT Happiness”and will not take the LSAT again. If you are not  planning to take the LSAT again – put it behind you. Find a  new interest that is NOT related  to test taking.  For example,  you could become an LSAT therapist (I am sure that there  must be  a market for this).

4. Those who do not have “LSAT Happiness” and are trying to decide  whether to take the LSAT again. This LSAT blog post  is to help you achieve “LSAT Happiness”.

My advice:

Bearing in mind that:

1. The law schools will see all of our LSAT scores;
2. Your LSAT score could increase or even decrease (yes it is possible) on a retake; and that
3. A subsequent score that is not a significant improvement will reinforce  the first score

“Retake the LSAT only if you have more to  gain than to lose.”

So, how does one determine whether one has more  to gain than to lose? It seems to me that there are four sets of circumstances

A. An LSAT Score Below The Minimum Requirement For The School Of Your Choice

If the law school has a requirement of a minimum LSAT score (whether this is determined by taking the average score  or taking the highest), and you are below the minimum you must take the LSAT again.

B. An LSAT Score That is Generally Low  (below average)

There is good news and there is bad  news.

The good news – your LSAT score is low  meaning that you don’t have much to lose by a retake. There is likely much  more upside  than downside.

The bad news – you have a low LSAT score.

You must take the LSAT again. Prep Smarter! Prep Better! Apply to law schools that don’t require high LSAT test scores.

C. An LSAT Score  That Is In The Average Range

This  is where the decision gets difficult. If you have an average LSAT score, you have cleared the hurdle in the sense that you can get into some law schools  but will be barred from the schools that are most attractive to you. It is essential  that your retake result  in a significant improvement. Without a demonstrated improvement, your subsequent LSAT score  will  reinforce your first score. This will NOT be helpful to you.

D. An Above Average LSAT Score

With an above average score you have “cleared the LSAT score hurdle. That said, with an above average score you do have increased your chances of a lower subsequent LSAT score. An above average LSAT score proves that you have the ability to do LSAT  questions. You must  do a better job with your time management. I suggest that you do lots and lots  of LSAT practice testing – every Saturday morning – until you are sure that you will improve.

If you have an “above average” LSAT  score, you should  retake the LSAT only if  you have clear evidence  (based  on scores from practicing with real LSATs) that will improve.

How To Go About Improving Your LSAT Score

Prepping for a second LSAT involves a different mindset than preparing for your first LSAT. If  you are  taking the LSAT a second time, you are approaching the LSAT with the knowledge that it didn’t go will the first time. This is not helpful.

It’s Not Practice That Makes  Perfect,  It’s  Perfect  Practice That Makes Perfect!

Obviously you need  lots of practice under timed conditions. But, you must do  more than just answer questions. You must determine what are the aspects of the LSAT that are creating barriers and problems. That is to say – what should you practice and how should you practice it? Even so, it is important that you work  on both the things the questions you are strong on (you  want to remain strong) and the questions you are weak (you can improve).

Here is how you can do your detective work. Take a recent LSAT (say the June 2007 LSAT because it is a free download at www.lsac.org) Download two copies.

First, take  the test  under  timed  conditions. Do NOT check your answers. Do NOT total  your right answers or do a  score projection. Put the test away for day.

Second, take a clean copy of the test. Put  aside a full day. Answer  the questions without worrying about the time constraints.

Once you have completed  the test  twice you are ready to check your answers and do a score  projection. Here are some possible conclusions:

If you answered almost  all of the questions correctly on the second day,  it is clear  that your problems are timing. Find an LSAT course  or LSAT tutor that will help you learn how to work more quickly.

If you made many mistakes on the second day:

– see what kinds  of questions they are. Did you really understand what you were being asked? Was  your problem getting it down to two choices and then selecting the wrong answer?

A good LSAT course or LSAT tutor should be able to help you proceed from this point.

John Richardson –  Mastering The LSAT Prep– Toronto, Canada

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The GRE as a possible substitute for the LSAT http://www.lsatcoursescanada.com/the-gre-as-a-possible-substitute-for-the-lsat/ http://www.lsatcoursescanada.com/the-gre-as-a-possible-substitute-for-the-lsat/#comments Sat, 26 Feb 2011 15:03:39 +0000 http://www.masteringthelsat.com/?p=572 4. If either the ABA or the law schools continue to require a “valid and reliable  admission test” what test or tests should  be required? Should  the LSAT be the only game in town?

The general requirement of a “valid and reliable admission test” is not a specific requirement  to  use  the LSAT.  (It is true that the ABA rules require a law school to demonstrate that another test is valid and reliable.) I predict  that there will be  competitors to the LSAT– and it is high time.

Competition in the testing industry

It is interesting to see that LSAT itself, has begun to compete in the testing market in India. Some law schools in India are now accepting a modified version of the LSAT as part of their admissions process.

Closer to home (and abroad), the GRE has started to compete with the GMAT to be used as a substitute for the GMAT in the MBA admissions process.  In the 1990s the Graduate Management Admission Council decided  that it would no longer  work with the Educational  Testing Service (ETS) to develop and administer  the GMAT. After a relationship of approximately 50 years, The Graduate Management Admission Council awarded  the contract to Pearson Education. That decision cost ETS substantial revenue. My law school Trusts professor once made the point that:

“Equity follows the money.”

ETS needed to make up this lost revenue. When GMAT left ETS, ETS began
marketing the GRE (which is a  very similar  test) to the business sschools. Many applicants to MBA programs now  consider  whether  to take the GMAT or GRE. Given the success that GRE  has had in selling the test to the business schools, GRE  is a  likely  and credible competitor to  the LSAT. The “Revised GRE” will take effect on August 1, 2011 )resulting in a major improvement to the GRE and changing the focus of GRE preparation).

I suggest the following reasons:

–       the ABA requires that law schools admit (in most  cases) students with a Bachelors degree. Therefore, like a graduate degree, a J.D. requires completion of a bachelors degree. The GRE which stands for “Graduate  Record  Examination” is a test  that is designed specifically for  graduate school  admissions. Why not use it for law
school  admissions?
–       The GRE is a much more modern test with greater flexibility in the
administration.
–       The GRE tests  many  of  the same skills and uses many of the same question types that LSAT either uses or has used.

Examples include:

A.      Both the GRE and the LSAT require a writing sample. Writing is a very important skill for law  students. The GRE writing test is much more  sophisticated and yields a score.
B.      Both the GRE and the LSAT have Reading Comprehension questions. In
addition  to the basic format (which is  on the LSAT), the Revised GRE will have a greater variety of  reading tasks yielding a score  based on a greater  cross section of abilities.
C.      The “Revised GRE” which takes effect on August 1, 2011 is  “section adaptive”. This allows  for the possibility of creating a test  that is more  suited  to each individual  applicant.
D.      The scoring scales are similar. The LSAT is reported  on a scale of 120 – 180. The Revised GRE is reported on a scale  of 130 –  170.
E.      The current LSAT (as you know) includes a significant  component of Analytical  Reasoning (LSAT Logic  Games). Interestingly  the GRE included this  Analytical Reasoning  question format for a  long period of time. GRE could  easily resurrect Analytical  Reasoning as an Law School  Admission Test specific  module.
F.      Both the GRE and LSAT are tests of reading and reasoning in context. The GRE tests  a much broader  cross section of skills. The obvious addition is the Quantitative  Reasoning component.  One of the GRE quantitative question types is called Quantitative  Comparisons. (This question format was  on the LSAT for  the period  leading up to June of 1982.) (The LSAT has taken many formats and had many question types over the years.) The second GRE quantitative  comparison question format (Problem Solving) includes Graphs and Data  Interpretation. This was also tested  directly on the LSAT.

–        GRE has recently introduced a Personal Potential Index. If this measures what it purports to measure it could give the law schools information about a broader set of skills and attributes (http://www.ets.org/ppi) It is described as:

“ … an innovative, web-based tool that allows evaluators to provide reliable applicant-specific information about six key attributes that graduate deans and faculty have identified as essential for graduate study: knowledge and creativity, resilience, communication skills, planning and organization, teamwork, and ethics and integrity”

(In 2009 Professor Sheldon Zedeck of Berkley completed a study that suggested that the LSAT is a test of only cognitive skills and did not test many qualities that were equally relevant to success as a lawyer. He developed a test that he argued is a better test than the LSAT.)

– GRE  scores are more flexible. GRE  test  takers  receive the following three  scores: a  GRE writing score, a  GRE verbal score and a GRE quantitative  score. Law schools  would  be  able to use  all of some of these  scores. Those schools  that  thought the GRE quantitative score was  not important (the only career  open to those who can’t do math is  law) could  ignore that score.

– Many law  schools have  joint  degree  programs – J.D. and an M.A. Graduate  programs often require the GRE. Why, given that both the GRE and the LSAT  measure reading and reasoning, should  applicants be required to take  both tests. It is interesting that the Northwestern school of law, will allow applicants to the joint J.D./M.B.A. program to submit only a GMAT test score. This has apparently been approved by the ABA. At a minimum applicants to joint programs (which require the GRE) should be able to submit only the GRE.

Amazingly, there is an old Facebook group (doesn’t seem to be active anymore), which is called:

The LSAT is harder than GRE

(One could use the existence of this group as an argument either way on whether the GRE would be a good substitute for the LSAT.)

In conclusion:

“Is there anything about the LSAT that makes it sacrosanct?”

After more than thirty years  of teaching Toronto LSAT Preparation Courses and pre-law counseling – I don’t think so.

John Richardson – Admitted to the Bars  of Ontario,  New York and Massachusetts

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Will the law schools continue to use an "optional LSAT"? http://www.lsatcoursescanada.com/will-the-law-schools-use-an-optional-lsat/ http://www.lsatcoursescanada.com/will-the-law-schools-use-an-optional-lsat/#comments Sat, 26 Feb 2011 14:22:46 +0000 http://www.masteringthelsat.com/?p=558 3. If  the requirement of a “valid and reliable admission test”  is discontinued, will the law schools  continue to require a “valid and reliable  admission test” in their  own admissions process?

The answer will be determined over  time. Even without an ABA mandated LSAT  requirement, I believe  the law schools will  continue to use it or another admission test. What will not be a requirement for the law schools will still be a requirement for law school applicants.

My reasons include the following:

–       the cost to the law school to evaluate the applicant is high. The LSAT score  is an objective measure (although what the LSAT measures is unclear) and it requires no effort to  interpret. In addition, the use of the LSAT places part of the cost  of processing the law  school  application on the applicant.  Therefore,  it makes economic sense  for the schools to continue using the LSAT.
–       The LSAT is an objective test. Everybody has to take that test. It doesn’t matter what school he or she  attends. It doesn’t matter what undergraduate major a student offers. The LSAT is  the great equalizer – the one thing that all applicants have in common.
–       schools  are  obsessed with law school rankings in general and of  course their  own ranking in particular.  Commentators are already considering  how not requiring the LSAT would affect the ranking of a law school.  One professor has blogged that an LSAT free admissions policy can hurt the U.S. news ranking.  Apparently law school admissions data (which includes the LSAT) contributes to about 25% of the U.S. news ranking. At the present time, schools  that do NOT use the LSAT are  not ABA approved and are often considered “second rate”. Why would  a school  want to join the club of schools that are  perceived as being “second rate”? I  suspect  that they will adopt this  reasoning,  even though on the actual LSAT the statement:

“If a  school is second rate it does not use the LSAT”

is NOT equivalent to:

“If  a school does not use the LSAT then it is second rate”.

The Harvard  Business School (HBS) discontinued its GMAT requirement for a period of approximately ten years. During this time period the rankings of HBS fell. When Harvard reinstated the GMAT requirement, its rankings improved. That said, it is possible that this  observation (to use another LSAT question type), is to confuse correlation and causation.

Do the law school rankings actually mean anything? On this point see:

– recent interesting commentary by Malcolm Gladwell (of Blink and The Tipping Point fame): and

– interesting commentary on the Gladwell article by Kyle Pasewark (of Advise In Solutions fame).

– Law Schools may want to retain the LSAT to assist  with financial aid applications.

In conclusion, I see no reason why  law schools  would discontinue the use  of the LSAT or another “valid and reliable admission test”. I do see a number of reasons to continue the use of  “a valid and reliable admission test” which brings us to the next issue which is:

4.      If either  the ABA or the law schools continue to require a “valid
and reliable  admissions test” what test or tests should  be required?

Should  the LSAT be the only game in town?

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Is the LSAT a “valid and reliable admission test”? http://www.lsatcoursescanada.com/is-the-lsat-a-valid-test/ http://www.lsatcoursescanada.com/is-the-lsat-a-valid-test/#comments Sat, 26 Feb 2011 13:55:50 +0000 http://www.masteringthelsat.com/?p=549 2. Is the LSAT a “valid and reliable admission test”?

Is the LSAT an accurate measure of what it purports  to  measure? LSAT takes the position that LSAT scores do correlate with law school performance.

“The LSAT, like any admission test, is not a perfect predictor of law school performance. The predictive power of an admission test is limited by many factors, such as the complexity of the skills the test is designed to measure and the unmeasurable factors that can affect students’ performances, such as motivation, physical and mental health, or work and family responsibilities. In spite of these factors, the LSAT compares very favorably with admission tests used in other graduate and professional fields of study. For more details on this subject, go to LSAT Scores as Predictors of Law School Performance (PDF).”
http://www.lsac.org/JD/LSAT/LSAT-score.asp

http://www.lsac.org/JD/pdfs/LSAT-Score-Predictors-of-Performance.pdf

It would be helpful to have a third party study to rely upon.

At least one third party commentator is not so sure. In her insightful article:“Predictive Validity of the LSAT – The Jury’s Still Out”, Jordana Laporte suggests that the LSAT may not be doing its job.

Assuming a  correlation between LSAT test scores and law school grades, it doesn’t tell us how or  why an LSAT test score would correlate with law school grades. In other words, it doesn’t tell us specifically what skills, aptitudes, abilities (or combination) the LSAT is designed to test.

Who knows?  Nobody is  even certain what specific skills or aptitudes LSAT score  is  supposed  to measure.  That said, the  LSAT score is not a measure of intelligence. At a minimum  we know that an LSAT score is a very good  measure  of ones  ability to take  the LSAT. Most LSAT  preparation courses and tutors concern themselves with how to answer the questions. Surprisingly few consider what the LSAT is actually testing. One course is based on the principle that the LSAT is a test of “binary thinking”.

The question is:

To what extent does the LSAT measures  skills, competencies or aptitudes that are  relevant to law school  success! (There are certainly better  tests to determine whether somebody would  make  a good lawyer. On this basis there have been proposed alternatives to the LSAT. See a YouTube interview with Sheldon Zedeck of Berkley Law School) That  said, law  schools are academic  institutions which (at least  in theory) are unrelated to being a lawyer. Therefore, the issues remain:

–       what does the LSAT test; and
–       does what it tests matter when it comes  to  being  a law student?

After  thirty years of teaching live  LSAT classes (where I see, experience and feel both the agony and the ecstasy of LSAT preparation), I believe that the LSAT is a test of reading and reasoning (deductive, inductive and abductive) in various contexts. At
the present time the contexts are:

–       LSAT Logic Games
–       LSAT  Logical  Reasoning
–       LSAT Reading Comprehension

It is likely  that those with high LSAT scores read well. Those with extremely low LSAT scores do not read well. Yes, reading and reasoning skills are important for success in law school. Therefore, in the case of applicants  with extremely high or extremely low  LSAT scores, test scores do have  meaning and relevance. The problem is that  a
very low percentage  of test takers  score in these extreme  ranges. The more difficult question is:  what does an LSAT score  measure for those  in the vast majority – outside the extreme  ranges – where the test  is primarily used? I suspect  that the “jury is out”  on this question.

Remember that the ABA requires that the law schools use a valid and reliable admission test. It does not require the LSAT. I will argue in a future post that the law schools should also accept the GRE and in some cases the GMAT.

This brings us to:

3. If  the requirement of a “valid and reliable admission test”  is discontinued, will the law schools  continue to require a “valid and reliable  admission test” in their  own admissions process?


 

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Should law schools be required to use the LSAT? http://www.lsatcoursescanada.com/should-law-schools-require-required-to-use-a-the-lsat/ http://www.lsatcoursescanada.com/should-law-schools-require-required-to-use-a-the-lsat/#comments Wed, 23 Feb 2011 16:18:53 +0000 http://www.masteringthelsat.com/?p=538 1. Should  law schools  be required to use a “valid and reliable admissions test”?

In attempting to answer this question, it makes sense to consider:

–       any stated rationale from the ABA for why a test should be required;
–       whether the law schools use the test in a manner  that is consistent
with that stated (or any other relevant) rationale;
–       whether that rationale  is justifiable

The Admission Test Requirement – The Stated Rationale

The ABA requires that a law school  use a “valid  and reliable admission test”.  It does not  require that the law school consider the scores and doesn’t prescribe how  the scores  should be used. S 503 is  evidence that, from the perspective of the ABA, that the purpose  of  requiring a “valid and reliable admissions test” is to:

“… assist the school and the applicant in assessing the applicant’s capability of satisfactorily completing the school’s educational program”

Given this rationale, then the school should use the LSAT to: determine whether an applicant’s LSAT score indicates sufficient ability to complete law school. If an average LSAT score  of 151, indicates that the applicant has sufficient capability to complete law school, then no school should require an LSAT higher than 151.  Yet, it  is common knowledge that:

“As goes  your LSAT score, so go your chances  of law admission!”

Is the law schools’ use of the LSAT consistent with the ABA Rationale?

The higher the LSAT score, the  greater your chances of admission. Assuming a minimum LSAT score, why should higher be better? There is a difference between determining capability to finish law  school and using an LSAT score as evidence that one applicant is more capable than another. To put it simply:

The law schools may be  misusing LSAT scores!

Is the rationale for requiring LSAT scores a reason to require  law  schools to use LSAT scores?

It is  in the interest of both law school applicants and the law schools that law students be capable  of finishing law school. That may be a good argument for the law schools to voluntarily use a “valid and reliable admissions test”. It is not a good argument to require that law schools  use  the test.

Let’s try some “LSAT Parallel Reasoning”:

Although it may be a good idea for drivers to wear seat belts, it doesn’t necessarily follow that drivers should be required  to wear seat belts.

Since it is not in the interest of law schools to admit students who will fail, there is no reason for the ABA to require that schools  use a test as part of the admissions process.

Use of the LSAT is neither a sufficient nor a necessary condition for ensuring that
law schools admit students who will pass. Furthermore, the ABA requirement that law  schools  use  the LSAT  is based on the assumption that law schools may not  act in their  self  interest. Law schools always act in their self interest!

This bring us to:

2. Is the LSAT a “valid and reliable admission test”?

 

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The LSAT, Law School Admission, and Role The LSAT Plays in Law School Admission http://www.lsatcoursescanada.com/aba-considers-whether-lsat-should-be-required/ http://www.lsatcoursescanada.com/aba-considers-whether-lsat-should-be-required/#comments Wed, 23 Feb 2011 15:27:41 +0000 http://www.masteringthelsat.com/?p=521 The LSAT, Law School Admission, and Role The LSAT Plays in Law School Admission

John Richardson, Toronto Canada

The LSAT  is required by almost every law school in the United States and Canada. (It is interesting that the law schools in Michigan, Illinois and Alabama have not required the LSAT in certain circumstances. It is unclear how this is consistent with the ABA
rules.)

Let’s begin with some sentiment  from the mainstream media:

“Yet it’s well-known among law school applicants that many Canadian schools sort their applications into piles by LSAT score and simply axe off those below a certain percentile. How many brilliant future lawyers are lost below that line, who, for one reason or another, simply can’t handle the LSAT?

It seems to me that there’s some room here for a Canadian law school to set itself apart by announcing a new, more holistic approach to admissions by waiving the LSAT requirement and perhaps doing something like having admissions interviews, which no Canadian law school does, instead, on top of using references and personal statements and extra-curriculars and undergraduate performance. If not for a whole
entering class, then perhaps schools could set aside a certain portion of first-year seats for applicants that do not require the LSAT, like the University of Michigan law school did in 2008.

Is there anything about the LSAT that makes it sacrosanct?

That’s the question the American Bar Association (ABA) is currently asking itself. Or more specifically the question is:

“Should a law school be required to use the LSAT as a condition of being approved by the ABA?”

Why does the ABA matter to law schools?

The answer is that in order to:

–       be admitted to the bar, one must pass the bar exam
–       in order to pass the bar exam, one must be allowed to take the bar exam
–       in order to have assurance that one can take  the bar exam in any
state, one must graduate from a law school approved by the ABA.
–       In order for a school to be approved by the ABA, the school is
required by the ABA to require applicants to take a “valid and
reliable admission test”
–       The ABA considers the LSAT to be a “valid and reliable admissions
test
” (whether the LSAT is actually valid or reliable is immaterial)

To be precise the ABA rules state that:
Standard 503. ADMISSION TEST
A law school shall require each applicant for admission as a first
year J.D. student to take a valid and reliable admission test to
assist the school and the applicant in assessing the applicant’s
capability of satisfactorily completing the school’s educational
program. In making admissions decisions, a law school shall use the
test results in a manner that is consistent with the current
guidelines regarding proper use of the test results provided by the
agency that developed the test.
Interpretation 503-1
A law school that uses an admission test other than the Law School
Admission Test sponsored by the Law School Admission Council shall
establish that such other test is a valid and reliable test to assist
the school in assessing an applicant’s capability to satisfactorily
complete the school’s educational program.”

The ABA is now considering whether to end the requirement that law schools use the LSAT as a condition to be approved  by the ABA. In the words of one commentator:

“The Law School Admission Test, the long-held standard for admission to most American law schools, may no longer be required in a couple of years.

A subcommittee of the American Bar Association’s Standards Review Committee is considering making usage of the test voluntary for its member schools instead of mandatory.

Donald J. Polden, chairman of the ABA’s Standards Review Committee, said the subcommittee is proposing eliminating the Standard 503 requirement that calls for each applicant “to take a valid and reliable admission test” to assist the school in assessing the applicant’s capability of satisfactorily completing law school.

“To date, there is only one national exam,” Polden said. “The LSAT is really the only test that is capable of being used, although another test could be used if it was found to be valid and reliable. The background is intended to ensure law schools do not admit students that the law school doesn’t have a reasonable basis to believe [could]
be successful in law school and be admitted to the practice of law.”

http://nydailyrecord.com/blog/2011/01/28/lsat-under-review-by-aba/

For  law  schools, prospective  law  students, LSAT test takers, and those of us who are  involved in LSAT preparation, this is a fascinating issue. There are at least  four questions:

1.      Should  law schools  be required to use a “valid and reliable
admission test
” ?

2.   Is the LSAT a “valid and reliable admission test”?

3.      If  the requirement of a “valid and reliable admission test”  is
discontinued, will the law schools  continue to require a “valid and
reliable  admission test” in their  own admissions process
?

4.      If either  the ABA or the law schools continue to require a “valid
and reliable  admissions test” what test or tests should  be required?
Should  the LSAT be the only game in town?

Each of these questions will be considered in a separate LSAT blog post.

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LSAT Releases Ten New Actual LSAT Tests With Comparative Reading http://www.lsatcoursescanada.com/lsat-releases-ten-new-actual-lsat-tests-with-comparative-reading/ Tue, 22 Feb 2011 12:23:20 +0000 http://www.masteringthelsat.com/?p=515 When you prepare for the LSAT it is essential to use actual LSAT questions. The individual test books are available for purchase from LSAT. The most economical way to purchase the tests is in books of 10. At the present time LSAT has released:

– 10 Actual LSATs  (Tests 9 – 18)

– 10 More Actual LSATs (Tests 19 – 28)

– The Next 10  Actual LSATs (Tests 29 – 38)

In September 2009, I blogged that LSAT would be releasing a new book of 10 LSATs.

The wait is over – just in time for you to prepare for the June 6, 2011 LSAT. I just receive an email from Amazon announcing that on March 1, 2011, LSAT will  be releasing:

Ten New Actual Official LSAT PrepTests with Comparative Readings

This book will be essential for your LSAT Preparation. We are including it with all of our Toronto LSAT Preparation Courses. It includes LSAT PrepTests 52 – 61 which are the LSAT tests from September 2007 to October 2010. The June 2007 LSAT is available as a free free LSAT download from Law Services.

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