I am so confused by my test scores and I am at a lose on how to fix the problem. 2 weeks ago I reached my peak score of a 168 and since then they have been declining significantly, going to a 163 and a 161, almost the scores I got before starting the course. I don't know what to do and I am really nervous because I feel like I know the material but then the test scores show something different - especially logical reasoning. The first section I will get 88% right and then the second I will get 65%. I am so worried that I won't be able to fix this before September. Can someone please help me? Is this normal?
Help! Scores declining close to test day
7 posts • Page 1 of 1
Thanks for the question! Because of the way the LSAT is constructed, it's almost unavoidable that you have score variation. Two elements that cause this are what I call the casino effect as well as section difficulty balancing (links on articles about all this are below). These phenomena are a natural result of the fact that the test is made by humans, and although it's an awesomely good test, it's still not exact.
What it comes down to is that the LSAT isn't a perfect test (no exam is), and thus every time you take it there's an expectation that your score will move a bit. Anything within one standard deviation is considered a basically "identical" score from a statistical standpoint, and this is one reason that LSAC reports scores with a score band of several points plus and minus from your actual score (see http://www.lsac.org/jd/lsat/your-score/score-band for more info). That band is to let law schools know that your "true" score could be anywhere in that range.
Now, what you've just experienced is a variation that's lower than you might expect. But, after a number of tests and also reaching your highest score yet, it's also not surprising that that would happen on occasion. And, in your scoring range, at times a single missed question can cost you one scaled score point. So, a very small variation in performance can have a severe impact, and that is happening because right now you are scoring at a really high level.
After posting a lower than expected score (the 163), you probably exerted undue pressure on yourself, and in a way probably made it more likely that you'd have a subpar performance.
For more info on score variation, I've included a bunch of links that discuss various aspect of how this all works. I find it fascinating, and you might too:
LSAT Logical Reasoning: Overall Section Difficulty
LSAT Logical Reasoning: Question-by-Question Difficulty
LSAT Logical Reasoning: Individual Question Difficulty
The LSAT Scoring Scale Explained
LSAT Scoring Scales: Correct and Incorrect Answers Counts
Which LSAT Administration is the Hardest?
Welcome to the LSAT Casino
Luck and the LSAT
The last thing I want to talk about it your test mentality, and I'm going to be a bit blunt here. I'm doing this because I think you need to hear it, not because I'm trying to give you a hard time After posting 168, you should be more confident about your abilities. One or two lower score (and not even a catastrophic one) shouldn't throw you off like this. Instead, it should re-focus your mind and make you even more determined to destroy this test. But I feel like it knocked you back a bit. The LSAT just threw a punch at you, and you have a choice now to stay down or get back up and kick its ass. And trust me, if you can score a 168, then you can kick some ass! So, the second set of info I want to reference for you involves test mentality and obtaining a stronger mental edge.
I've written quite a bit about positive thinking (and even did a seminar on it), and so I'm going to link to some of that here. I hope that you read and watch each one of these, and that you absorb it all and make it your own:
Blog: Tom Brady and the LSAT, at http://blog.powerscore.com/lsat/bid/326 ... d-the-LSAT. This is more info on test mentality, and probably my favorite blog I've ever written.
And, you might find this whole LSAT Discussion Forum thread interesting, as it is what generated the Tom Brady blog. Plus, you might see some similarities between yourself and Thomas, the student I was corresponding with: http://forum.powerscore.com/lsat/viewto ... f=2&t=4666. It's long, but really informative and he ended up with a 24 point increase
Blog: Andy Murray's Motivational Notes and the LSAT, at http://blog.powerscore.com/lsat/andy-mu ... d-the-lsat. Even the great ones need support and motivation.
Blog: How to Increase Your LSAT Score Simply By Using Your Nose, at http://blog.powerscore.com/lsat/how-to- ... -your-nose. Another great example of the power of your mind, and even more links to LSAT test mentality articles.
Last, I'll leave you with this quote from Michael Jordan, followed by a final thought I've pulled from another post I made on this topic:
Failure on practice LSATs is the best possible thing that can happen to you. Why? Because each time you miss a question, you learn about what you need to get better at. Don't look at a low score on a practice test as a bad thing. Look at it for the opportunity that it is, and then capitalize on it.
Please let me know if that helps. Thanks!
One other post I want to direct you to, which as for students with stuck scores, but also contains advice about reviewing questions that I think would help you: http://blog.powerscore.com/lsat/how-to- ... -are-stuck.
You will bounce back from one or two low scores, and deep review is the way to lower that score fluctuation per section.
I just made an account so I could thank you for that reply. And for everything else you and your team have done and continue to do to support LSAT-takers.
Very much appreciated
Thanks Ally! That is incredibly thoughtful of you to do, and I want you to know that I greatly appreciate it. Thank you so much!!
Hi - thanks for this post and reply. It's helpful given my somewhat similar situation, albeit much lower scores. I've taken 7 practice tests now, and have been studying for more than 3 months (a combination of self-study and tutoring) and initially saw my scores increase from initial diagnostic of 154 to 158. However, my last 3 tests have seen a decline in scores (155, 157, 156) despite serious amounts of strategic and targeted study. I'm hoping to score 162-165 on the actual test, but given I'll take it November 17 I'm not hopeful I can actually achieve this. Each time I try to target my study based on the types of questions I'm missing, but it feels like a moving target from test to test. Any advice you might have to make that last-minute jump to the scores I need would be greatly appreciated!
I totally get what you mean when you say that you feel like you’re chasing a moving target. Many students report similar frustrations. One factor to keep in mind with your targeted prep is that sometimes you’ll miss questions because you need to work on a skill that doesn’t align perfectly with any given question type, but might be common to many question types. For example, you may find yourself missing some strengthen, weaken, or assumption questions because you have a hard time identifying the flaw of the argument (which is an essential step in the process), and you would be well served to focus on drilling flaw questions to address that issue. So when you’re reviewing a practice test, really sit with the individual questions and think about the underlying skill that you need to work on in order to improve your accuracy overall.
Another issue to consider when you’re experiencing a decline in practice test scores is that you might be burning out. I don’t think the difficulty of the test varies by administration as much as your focus, attitude, and mental state varies day by day. Pay close attention to your level of focus across any given practice test, and try to see if there are things that you can change about your daily routine that would make your mental stamina more consistent (e.g., more sleep, daily exercise, healthier eating, meditation, etc.) If you’re feeling fatigued, take a few days off and start prepping again when you feel fresh.
I like to tell my students that the "slow burn" approach to LSAT studying really doesn’t work. It just drains your stamina. Instead, think of your prep as a cycle of intense study periods and deliberate rest and recovery.
Best of luck, and happy studying!
7 posts • Page 1 of 1