LSAT → Law School  

A gray day, indeed. (Photo by James Loesch)

On October 11, Gray Day fell upon us. For those unaware, on Gray Day the Law School Admission Test scores are released. Way back when, a few keen-eyed students noticed the score icons on their LSAC pages shifted from green to gray hours before receiving their test results. Word of the tell-tale sign spread infectiously throughout the community.  Ever since, overwrought test-takers await Gray Day’s arrival like winter, knowing it’s coming, just never knowing when.

In the ensuing weeks, as the dust begins piling atop your old prep books, your once-unparalleled abilities to organize toy dinosaurs by color, speed-read labyrinthine passages, and detect assumptions may seem to have faded. Following countless hours spent ordering the sequence of clowns exiting a car, have you learned anything useful? How has your LSAT dedication prepared you for law school? I’ve certainly never encountered a law school exam resembling an LSAT question; however, I do believe the LSAT offers unexpected and often overlooked lessons that shape students for 1L success.

  1. Putting in the time
There’s no substitute for putting in the time. (Photo by Artiom Gorgan)

When it comes to the LSAT, there are no corners to be cut. A minimum of three intensive months of studying is generally required to score well. Unlike your Western Civilization 101 final, a study plan composed of Keurig dark roast pods, Vitamin B-12 capsules, and a two-week stint of all-nighters will not suffice. And as you’ve probably guessed, law school is no different. 1L ushers in an influx of complex material from all angles, demanding you spend time wrestling with these concepts to understand their proper application. Whether it be the LSAT or 1L, there is no substitute for putting in the time.  

  1. Learning how to learn
He’s a flashcard wizard. (Photo by Neil Tackaberry)

Regurgitation stands as a hefty, arguably outsized pillar of our educational system. From first grade through undergrad, schools train us to regurgitate. College move-in day welcomed a child, but that four-year sojourn forged a seasoned flashcard wizard equipped to conquer the tallest of decks. The confidence this process fostered in you remained until you cracked open your LSAT prep book—then all of a sudden, poof! The magic was lost. The test cares not for memorization. Instead, it insists students possess thoroughly proficient reasoning.  Similarly, memorization for law school exams is often necessary, but nowhere near sufficient. An ability to spit back doctrinal elements is futile if coupled with a misunderstanding of how and when to apply those elements. As the LSAT divorced you from deep-rooted study habits, it primed you for learning how to learn.

  1. Work in groups
There are advantages to working in groups. (Photo by scyrene)

Most LSAT students would agree each test presents a handful of seemingly insoluble questions. As an instructor, I watched disheartened students grapple with incorrect responses they previously swore by. As a student, my studies were fraught with similar frustrations. I quickly realized that, although solo dissection of explanations was beneficial, group review sessions offered insightful viewpoints to questions I simply did not understand. This study-group approach translates well to 1L. Case law is foreign, and professors evade clarity like the plague. A professor of mine invariably responded, “I don’t know, what do you think?” or “How would God resolve that issue?” when we raised questions. Backward? Maybe. Cruel? Possibly. But there is a method to the madness. Hiding the ball and forcing students to seek it out is critical to molding a new way of thinking. Your journey toward understanding will be better traveled among peers. Thus, the final LSAT lesson: Work in groups.