Articles published in March 2012

Should a Bully Serve 10 Years?

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A fun thing about law school is that you get to debate, with your classmates and professors, hot button legal issues in real time as they arise in the media.

Earlier this week, senior editor at Slate Emily Bazelon (who also teaches fantastic op-ed writing workshops at Yale Law School, by the way) published an op-ed in the Times on how the application of civil rights laws has become too far-reaching. Young people who act meanly, but not violently, are being prosecuted under these broadly written laws and, in turn, receiving sentences that are disproportionate (she argues) to their offenses. (Here’s the full article).

What do you make of this?

No doubt, many of you engage in discussions about issues like this one outside of law school. Say, at your family dinner table:

dinner table conversation

Uncle Frank: Did you hear? Some kid got 10 years for using a web cam!

Aunt Lucille: What’s a web cam?

Aunt Gladys: He didn’t GET 10 years, Frank. He COULD get 10 years. Read.

Uncle Frank: Whatever! Just because he doesn’t like gays. He’s entitled to his own opinion.

Aunt Lucille: More potatoes, anyone?

Read more

The Most Depressing LSAT Question Ever

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rose colored glasses

A few months ago I came across the most depressing LSAT question ever. You can find it in PT50, S4, Q15. I’ll paraphrase it for you:

If you live without constant awareness of the fragile and fleeting nature of human life, then you have a mind clouded with illusion. Yet people who are constantly aware of the fragile and fleeting nature of human life are sure to taint their emotional disposition on life.

Whoa! And now for the equally depressing question and answer: The above statements, if true, most strongly support which one of the following?

CORRECT ANSWER: Everyone whose emotional outlook on existence is untainted has a mind clouded by illusion.

In this problem, there are only two kinds of people in the world: those who see reality as it really is and are depressed, and those who are delusional.

Hand me the rose-colored glasses!

As it turns out, there may actually be some support for this idea in neuroscience. Read more

Manhattan LSAT Student Dispatch: Carnaval!

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Carnaval!

So the past few weeks have already made for an incredible experience!

The first day here in Maastricht was awful, trekking around the city on foot with two
heavy bags. If I had kept on top of my email earlier, then perhaps I would have signed up
for the service that gets a student with a car to pick you up from the train station… but
alas, I didn’t see that e-mail until after the deadline! So Day One was a bit of a disaster,
as I tried to find where I needed to be, and my arms grew at least two inches longer! I suppose there are worse deadlines to miss, though – like the LSAT registration or withdrawal dates (hey, this is an LSAT blog, right?).

I’ve discovered this lovely phenomenon known as Carnaval. For those of you who don’t know, Carnaval is essentially an enormous party before Lent. In the south of Netherlands, Carnaval is a HUGE deal. Read more

LSAT Arcade: Play for $$$

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For some, LSAT prep means losing all contact with the outside world. Hours and hours of practicing game set ups and doing countless timed PrepTests can often lead to the destruction of  social lives. While all of this hard work and sacrifice are done with the worthy and important goal of getting a great score and getting in to the law school of your choice, it can be difficult to remember what it’s all for – particularly when the sleep deprivation sets in.

LSAT Arcade

The Manhattan LSAT Arcade can help combat these problems on two fronts: 1) the Arcade makes a nice supplement to your traditional studying, is easily accessible, and fun! 2) If you’re the competitive type, you can play our ‘money maker’ game where the leader after several weeks gets an Amazon gift card. Who says you have nothing to show for your study regiment?

Give it a shot – it’s fun, free, and can help train your instincts for the LSAT.  If you’re looking for other ways in which your LSAT prep can pay off before test day, try our Logic Games Challenge, where winners receive either a free set of our books, or $200 off our prep courses.

Happy Studying!

The Necessary Alarm Clock

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The terms “necessary” and “sufficient” get thrown around a lot in the LSAT world these days. We at Manhattan LSAT use them to distinguish between two different kinds of assumption questions. They come up on the test in answer choices (for example, “The argument mistakes a necessary condition for a sufficient condition”). And usually by the fourth session of a course, students start making jokes like, “I had half a sandwich earlier, which was necessary, but not sufficient.” We all pretend not to love the joke.

But what do they mean? One of my favorite analogies for explaining the basic difference between necessary and sufficient is the alarm clock. We’ll call it the Necessary Alarm Clock.

alarm clock

Say I have a very hard time waking up. I’m a sad, awful person who hates morning, sunlight, and everything to do with happiness. I so dread being awake, in fact, that in order for me to get up in the morning, eight things need to happen:

1. My alarm clock goes off.
2. The smell of bacon drifts into my room.
3. I have dreamt of lilies and puppies.
4. Speaking of puppies, my dog is licking my face.
5. A marching band passes.
6. It’s not a Monday.
7. I am not hungover.
8. It is 72 degrees in my bedroom.

Again, in order to wake up, every single one of these things must occur.

So what is sufficient for me to wake up? 1-4? 5-8? 1, only? None of these. The occurrence of 1-8 is sufficient for me to wake up, and 1-8 only. Could we say, then, that 1-8 is also necessary for me to wake up? Sure! Each of these has to happen; that means they are all necessary.

How about my alarm clock going off? Is that sufficient for me to drag my caboose outta bed? No. 2-8 still has to occur. But is it necessary? To answer that question, we ask what would happen if it DIDN’T go off. If it didn’t go off, I’m still snoozing. So, yes, it’s necessary.

Finally, suppose 1-8 occurred, plus there were fourteen cheerleaders practicing in my kitchen. Would I wake up? Of course I would. The sum total of 1-8 plus the cheerleaders is sufficient to get me out of bed. But is the sum total of 1-8 plus the cheerleaders necessary to get me out of bed? No. The cheerleaders can be disposed of.

Yes, I wrote this post just to be able to close with that sentence.

February LSAT Scores Released

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The February LSAT scores starting trickling out via email this afternoon. How do you feel? We can usually group February LSAT takers in to the

If your February LSAT scores didn't make you as randy as you were hoping, there's still time to crank up the mojo for the June exam

following groups:

  • I took it, I rocked it, I’m done with this nonsense forever!
  • I took it, I did OK but I might be able to do better
  • I took it, I bombed it, please help!!
For those of you in the latter two categories, I recommend pouring over our retake manifesto. For those of you who rocked it, I recommend grabbing some of your friends and choreographing the dance steps to the opening of this Kool and the Gang video.
If a retake in June is now your reality, we’d love to help plan out your plan of attack. Feel free to leave comments or email [email protected]/lsat/ for advice, perspective, and overall positive mojo.

Logical Reasoning And Rick Santorum

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Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum sure has made some controversial remarks lately. But are they logically sound? Regardless of your political leaning, it pays to know how to evaluate the pieces and soundness of an argument. For this week’s post, I’ve plucked a few Santorum gems to help you review logical reasoning strategy. Can you identify the question types, below? Better yet, can you answer them? Answers after the jump! Read more