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 Dave Killoran
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#13922
Hi Thomas,

With these optional essays, you really need to have something to say. Maybe what you have to say connects in a compelling way to the school, but maybe not. But, most of these essays wouldn't involve researching the school at this point. If the idea behind your essay is going to be truly persuasive, you'd expect that you'd already know what you needed to know about the school by this time, if that makes any sense.

In general, just mentioning a few facts about the school is going to come off as weak, so don't go down that route unless the story you are telling wraps in aspects of the school in a seamless and entirely appropriate manner.

the question is, is there something you are dying to tell the school are that you feel they absolutely have to know about you that isn't stated elsewhere? If so, write the essay. If not, be very careful because I've seen applications sunk by mediocre optional essays.

Thanks!
 Tnkim
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#13958
Gotcha, thanks Dave!

I'm probably not going to do the optional essays because I honestly don't have anything in particular to say.

However, what about the not optional essays like "Why _______"?
For example, for UCI they want one of those essays. At the same time Cornell wants one too, but only in 3 sentences max.

Is there a certain format to write these, respectively? I was on the TLS forum, but there wasn't much information on what to do.

Thanks Dave.
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 Dave Killoran
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#14061
Hi Thomas,

In a sense, the "Why ___?" is either the easiest or hardest essay type to write. It should be the easiest, because you should have a viable reason for wanting to attend a particular school. The problem is that reason is often something like, "Harvard is an awesome school, and who doesn't want to go there!" So, it becomes really difficult to write an essay that avoids stating the obvious that the school being good is the primary motivation for you wanting to attend.

The way to approach this is to attempt to identify the unique reasons you want to attend the school—it might be a certain program they have that ties to things in your résumé, or perhaps something about the geographical location of the school. In other words, something that has a logical tie to who you are and where you want to go in life, and that you can explain in a clear and compelling fashion.

The key thing here isn't to try to score a bunch of points with this essay (if you can, then by all means do that), but to instead avoid hanging yourself by putting down something clichéd or patently false.

Please let me know if that helps. Thanks!
 adlindsey
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#31917
I enjoyed reading this thread. I had read the first couple of posts months ago, when I was burned out and demoralized. This post helped me rebuild some confidence. I just finished taking the Power Score on demand course; I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it. I went through every single module and instructional supplement. I didn't take any shortcuts and did pretty much did everything by the book, except for the extra supplemental sections and questions (I will be doing all this if I take another year off).

I'm currently registered to take the February exam. I plan on taking 2-3 PTs a week until then, and depending where I'm at, I will decide if I want to take it. I already took the LSAT last February and scored a 142. But I wasn't fully prepared and there was a timing error by the staff, which changed my approach to the test. So, I'm reluctant to take it again, unless I'm scoring in the mid 160s. I haven't been taking as many practice tests during the course, mainly because, I've already taken 10 PTs and I just don't feel like a I have a firm grasp on the concepts during testing conditions. I've been studying for the test for sometime now. I have gone through the bibles and often reference them.

One thing I have been doing is neglecting to review my PTs. Luckily I still have all the ones I have taken. So I plan on reviewing as many of them as a I can while taking PTs this month. I just finished reading several articles on here about how to review. The past several weeks have been a turning point for me. I now have started to enjoy the test and looking at it as an exciting challenge.

I've already delayed one year for applying, because I'm determined to get into a T15 school. This new outlook on the test, now that I'm starting to understand things more clearly, is giving me the urge to take another year off. My original target score was a 160. I then raised it to a 170 after reading this post. Now that I'm enjoying the test, I'm striving for the mid 170s. I have a plan to go about it. What I wanted to ask, is if I practice and review diligently, and take every LSAT that's out there (I have over 70 of them), how likely is it that I can attain a score in the mid 170s by this coming Sept./Dec. exams?

I have a strong work ethic. I work part-time at a law firm and work has been really slow. So, the past several months, I have been studying almost everyday for 10-12 hours a day. I sort of made it a second job to learn and master the test. I have made it my life for now, outside of work. I really believe I can attain my new target score and I'm determined. I've experienced a major burnout and demoralization from the test back in August. So I really want to put the finishing nail on this exam by destroying it. I feel it's something I need to conquer for all the hard times it's given me. The past couple of months have been a roller coaster ride studying. But with this new outlook, I'm ready to drill, test, and review until I have reached that target score or until I have gone through all the LSAT material that's out there. Advice and suggestions will be appreciated.
 David Boyle
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#31969
adlindsey wrote:I enjoyed reading this thread. I had read the first couple of posts months ago, when I was burned out and demoralized. This post helped me rebuild some confidence. I just finished taking the Power Score on demand course; I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it. I went through every single module and instructional supplement. I didn't take any shortcuts and did pretty much did everything by the book, except for the extra supplemental sections and questions (I will be doing all this if I take another year off).

I'm currently registered to take the February exam. I plan on taking 2-3 PTs a week until then, and depending where I'm at, I will decide if I want to take it. I already took the LSAT last February and scored a 142. But I wasn't fully prepared and there was a timing error by the staff, which changed my approach to the test. So, I'm reluctant to take it again, unless I'm scoring in the mid 160s. I haven't been taking as many practice tests during the course, mainly because, I've already taken 10 PTs and I just don't feel like a I have a firm grasp on the concepts during testing conditions. I've been studying for the test for sometime now. I have gone through the bibles and often reference them.

One thing I have been doing is neglecting to review my PTs. Luckily I still have all the ones I have taken. So I plan on reviewing as many of them as a I can while taking PTs this month. I just finished reading several articles on here about how to review. The past several weeks have been a turning point for me. I now have started to enjoy the test and looking at it as an exciting challenge.

I've already delayed one year for applying, because I'm determined to get into a T15 school. This new outlook on the test, now that I'm starting to understand things more clearly, is giving me the urge to take another year off. My original target score was a 160. I then raised it to a 170 after reading this post. Now that I'm enjoying the test, I'm striving for the mid 170s. I have a plan to go about it. What I wanted to ask, is if I practice and review diligently, and take every LSAT that's out there (I have over 70 of them), how likely is it that I can attain a score in the mid 170s by this coming Sept./Dec. exams?

I have a strong work ethic. I work part-time at a law firm and work has been really slow. So, the past several months, I have been studying almost everyday for 10-12 hours a day. I sort of made it a second job to learn and master the test. I have made it my life for now, outside of work. I really believe I can attain my new target score and I'm determined. I've experienced a major burnout and demoralization from the test back in August. So I really want to put the finishing nail on this exam by destroying it. I feel it's something I need to conquer for all the hard times it's given me. The past couple of months have been a roller coaster ride studying. But with this new outlook, I'm ready to drill, test, and review until I have reached that target score or until I have gone through all the LSAT material that's out there. Advice and suggestions will be appreciated.

Hello adlindsey,

Your work ethic is indeed admirable. I wonder if "10-12 hours a day" is maybe risking burning you out. It sounds very arduous...70-84 hours a week! if you practice 7 days a week.
As for, "if I practice and review diligently, and take every LSAT that's out there (I have over 70 of them), how likely is it that I can attain a score in the mid 170s by this coming Sept./Dec. exams?": if I could make predictions, maybe I could make a billion dollars in the stock market! (If I were an investor) ...It's not impossible, certainly, for you to get even a 180 (?) if you do a huge amount of practice. There's no certainty, though, by any means.
Since you "already took the LSAT last February and scored a 142", that statistically may make it less certain that you'll eventually get in the 170's, than if, say, you'd scored a 162. Not trying to cloud your chances here; just saying that a 170+ score is not guaranteed.
If you never get that high a score, it's not the end of the world. Lower scores, combined with high grades, etc., can work wonders and indeed maybe get you into a "Top 15" school. (Incidentally, you don't have to go to one of those latter schools to learn a lot and have a fine legal career.)
Anyway, it's good that you're reviewing your practice tests. Again, though, don't burn yourself out, and don't feel terrible if you don't get the score of your choice. (An interesting question to ask oneself is, "If I had to take 10 years out of my life to get a 180 on the LSAT--would I do that, or would it be worth the investment?" That question raises the issue of cost and benefit; just how important is it to try to get a certain score on the LSAT, if you sacrifice other things to do so?)

Hope this helps,
David
 adlindsey
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#31994
Well that's very discouraging. If statistically speaking, then this test isn't so learn-able then. Why even waste my time and effort.
 Kristina Moen
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#32003
Hi adlindsey,

It is absolutely possible to improve your score on this test. You mentioned that you weren't fully prepared the first time. It sounds like it will be a different story with round two!

Yes, it is true that it is easier to get to the 170s when your base score is 162. However, your work ethic makes it clear that you are not taking it easy and are not looking for an easy fix! You are going to work hard until you get the score that represents your true capabilities. We can never give guarantees for any specific student, which is why we share statistics about students who have taken the course. You can extrapolate for your own situation, knowing that there are always outliers, and you could be one of them. The LSAT Bibles and courses teach you skills, which you have to practice until they become second nature. While we can teach the skills, being able to use the skills take practice and hard work.

Since you've already gone through the modules and the material, the best thing to do now is to practice and review! You are smart to acknowledge that what is needed is review - not taking multiple timed PTs. Without review, you may end up making the same mistakes over and over again. One of the reasons this test is so learnable is that the test makers do the same things over and over again. So if you can learn what they are looking for, and what are some common incorrect answer choices, then you can avoid falling into their traps.

Dave Killoran has given some excellent advice to other students about how to approach review, and I want you to get the benefit of that great advice too, so I'm going to quote it here:
Below is the method I generally recommend for reviewing practice tests or problem sets:

Delayed Blind Review


1. After you complete the test or question set, immediately check the answers.


2. Write down every question that you missed or that you answered correctly but found to be a challenge, but do NOT write down the correct answer.

The first step here is to create a tracking log for each question type. We offer tracker sheets in all of our free LSAT self-study plans, so you can print some of those out or use them as a model for ones you create yourself.


3. Next, after taking a break of anywhere from a few hours to a few days, go back and review every question, including the ones you answered correctly. Your goal is to understand the question as well as possible, and to re-answer each question that you missed or felt was challenging.


4. As you complete the review of each question, make notes in your tracker as to the broad reason you missed the question, and how to correct that error.

..... Example: "#7. Didn't ID the causal conclusion. Next time underline the CE indicator."


5. If there is any obvious deficiency that's causing you to miss questions in the set you just completed, go study that topic immediately.

For example, let's say that you noticed that you kept mis-diagramming conditional rules in Logic Games. If that's apparent to you, go study that topic right then. The idea is that if you see that something is causing your problems, don't delay in attempting to address it.


6. Wait a few days, then redo the questions that you missed or that gave you trouble one more time.

After completing your first delayed review, take a few more days off from studying that particular test or set of problems. Then, after at least three days (but preferably longer), return to the question set and again review any question that was confusing.


7. If you still can't answer the problem correctly or figure out what you did wrong, consult an answer source.

After you have given yourself at least two strong looks at the question, if you still do not understand it fully, then consult an external answer resource. That might mean asking your PowerScore LSAT course instructor or tutor, reading the answer explanations in your Online Student Center, looking at one of our publications like the LSAT Deconstructeds or Logic Game Encyclopedias, or posting your question here in our LSAT Discussion Forum.


8. Every 10 to 14 days, review your tracker and note the areas where you are having problems. Then restudy the concepts in your course books, in the Bibles, or with your tutor or study group.


9. When you run into difficulty, don't panic and don't place undue weight on isolated results.

Your performance will naturally vary, especially as you complete more and more problems and tests. These variances are natural (see my article on The Casino Effect), and you must understand that subtle variations in your performance are natural.


10. If you do have a legitimately bad result (such as an unusually low practice test score), don't look at that as the end of the world.

Failure, while not desirable, can provide you with certain benefits. So, if you do suffer a legitimate reversal of fortune (and not just the random kind mentioned in #9), then make sure you get every possible benefit from that failure.


What will happen is a series of benefits: you begin to see your mistakes more clearly and the patterns therein, which can then be attacked, and you also begin to solve problems more quickly and with greater certainty. Forcing yourself to deeply analyze questions gives your mind time to ponder what is occurring, which will help the big concept and strategy blocks fall into place. Having these pieces come together from your own analysis emplaces them far more deeply than if you are told the answer by someone else.
I'm also going to refer you to a list of LSAT Blogs posts that contain information about test mentality, the best way to take a practice test, and some troublesome concepts on the test. Reading some of these might give you that edge you are looking for.
Blogs You Should Have Bookmarked

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