LSAT FAQ: What does the LSAT have to do with law school?
March 1, 2011
We field tons and tons of questions here at Kaplan Test Prep from students just like you – students planning on applying to law school. Some questions we hear more than others. This March, we tackle some of the most frequently asked questions about the LSAT.
“Why should I even have to take the LSAT? It’s not like it has anything to do with law school!” As a long-time LSAT teacher for Kaplan, I’ve heard this familiar line over and over from students intimidated and frustrated by the exam that stands between them and their law school goals. I’ve heard similar sentiments from seasoned attorneys seeking to reassure legal hopefuls. To be honest, I even muttered the same thing as I slogged through my own early efforts toward LSAT preparation.
But then I became a Kaplan student, and I came to understand the reasoning embedded in this high-stakes (and high stress) test. I learned that law schools admissions committees use LSAT scores to predict applicants’ potential for success in pursuit of their law degrees, especially in the first two years, largely considered to be the most challenging to law students. I learned that the skills tested via the LSAT are the same skills- not necessarily the same tasks- that are challenged daily in rigorous 1L classes. And since I became a law student myself, I have learned how applicable (and helpful!) Kaplan’s approach to conquering the LSAT can be to me even now as I sit hunched over my Real Property text, highlighter in one hand and double-shot latte in the other.
On the one hand, the LSAT requires the same meticulous attention to detail that is demanded in managing copious, opaque legal readings. Kaplan students know that the true significance of an argument or passage can reveal itself in a handful of critical keywords. Ironically, the density of law school readings also requires an ability to rise above all of the details and see the Big Picture, a skill well-familiar to the strategic LSAT test taker.
In my 1L classes, I am continually challenged to set aside what I (think I) know in order to analyze the information before me from an objective perspective- good thing my study with Kaplan taught me to do exactly that on the LSAT. Since it is a purely a skill-based (not content-based) test, the LSAT requires no outside knowledge- in fact, test takers who can step out of their own assumptions, experiences, and opinions will be best prepared to untangle and manipulate the arguments presented on the test. This same objective analysis is a cornerstone of law school, where the reasoning of each case is much more important than the evidence or even the outcome.
Of course, the intangible yet crucial parts of law school that my LSAT experience prepared me for are simple time and stress management… a lot of both! Current legal hopefuls can surely relate to the frustration, anxiety, and fatigue surrounding the LSAT prep process. From the other side of that finish line, I can tell you that the next race (to the JD) involves all of those same challenges, but I can also tell you that the time management techniques successful test takers employ to maximize their performance on the LSAT are incredibly effective in law school classes themselves. I will also tell you that the stress management strategies I learned from Kaplan help me to keep cool and focused when I feel overwhelmed or on-the-spot. But most of all, I can tell you that all of the aforementioned hurdles to LSAT success are worth it and that the training they offer will condition you well for the real race ahead.