Articles published in August 2012

Obama Responds to Reddit Post From Struggling Law Grad

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Yesterday, the President of the United States of America logged onto Reddit, the popular online forum community, to participate in one of the site’s online threads called “Ask Me Anything,” where experts on various subject matter make themselves available to the community to answer questions. One question  the POTUS responded to came from a recent law school graduate: Read more

PODCAST: Studying for the LSAT as an ESL Student

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The LSAT is one damn hard test: time is short, the language dense and deceiving, and the answer choices deliberately designed to throw you off.

As if those challenges weren’t difficult enough, imagine taking it in a foreign language. This is the challenge that non-native English speakers (ESL) students taking the LSAT face.

Our friends over at Law School Podcaster recently did one of their excellent podcasts on this very topic in their most recent show Tackling the LSAT As An ESL.

The show features our own Noah Teitelbaum, as well as Steve Schwartz from the popular LSAT Blog. Featured also is first-person testimony from an ESL test-taker (and former Manhattan LSAT student) who rocked the LSAT on exam day to the tune of 169 (97th percentile).

STUDY: Preparing for the LSAT Makes You Smarter

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The Human Brain

Think of your LSAT Prep as Oil for the Machine That Is Your Brain

Neuroscientists at the University of California-Berkeley have published a study that suggests that heavily training one’s brain to develop sharper reasoning skills (sound familiar?) can can fundamentally reinforce tangible connections between neurons in areas of the that are used when thinking and reasoning.

The study focused particularly on LSAT students, since you all are essentially training yourselves to be better at reasoning. Allyson Mackey, a graduate student in UC Berkeley’s Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute who led this particular study, says “What we were interested in is whether and how the brain changes as a result of LSAT preparation, which we think is, fundamentally, reasoning training. We wanted to show that the ability to reason is malleable in adults.” The findings of this particular study led by Mackey supported this hypothesis.

Silvia Bunge, associate professor in the UC Berkeley Department of Psychology and the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute adds “A lot of people still believe that you are either smart or you are not, and sure, you can practice for a test, but you are not fundamentally changing your brain. Our research provides a more positive message. How you perform on one of these tests is not necessarily predictive of your future success, it merely reflects your prior history of cognitive engagement, and potentially how prepared you are at this time to enter a graduate program or a law school, as opposed to how prepared you could ever be.”

Scientists, prelaw students, and educators the world over should be very excited by this discovery; it is encouraging to know that when trained properly, the brain – like any other muscle in the human anatomy – can be made stronger and more powerful. Study on, my friends, study on!

Source: University of California – Berkeley. “Intense prep for law school admission test alters brain structure.” ScienceDaily, 22 Aug. 2012. Web. 23 Aug. 2012.

LOGICAL REASONING: The Conclusion Cap

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When you’re looking for a necessary assumption, remember that you’re looking for what must be true, and what must be true doesn’t necessarily “fill the

Necessary vs Sufficient

Barry's suit & briefcase disguise: necessary, but not sufficient

whole gap,” as we say. It could be a small piece of the puzzle, but a critical one. Imagine a bridge supported by several buttresses, each of which is necessary (you knock it down and the bridge falls) even though it could never support the bridge on its own. Therefore, the buttresses are necessary, but certainly not sufficient, for supporting the bridge.

For these reasons, you generally want to be wary of answer choices that seem sweeping—words like “always” and “never” are tip-offs. (This isn’t to say those answers are never right, though. If the argument is extreme, there can be a necessary assumption that is, too.)

A good rule of thumb is that the conclusion caps how “strong” the necessary assumption can be. If the conclusion is on the milder side of the spectrum

—“Jenn will probably choose cake over pie” or “Jim is likely to find the suit distasteful”—it wouldn’t make sense to choose answers that read, respectively, “Jenn will always choose cake over pie” and “Jim will definitely find the suit distasteful.” These wrong answers push the arguments beyond their scope, which has already been set.

This isn’t a new concept but simply another way of thinking about the same old idea. The conclusion caps off the argument, and at the cap, it stops assuming.

Friday Links: 1L Problems, Diversity at Law Schools, Pro Bono Proposal, and More

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Take a break from your LSAT prep work and check out some of this week’s lop legal and law school-related stories. Happy reading!

Law Schools Are Upset About New York’s Proposal That Lawyers Put In Time Working For Free (Business Insider Law & Order)

Law school deans around the country are voicing concern about the pro bono work proposal for new law grads. Many fear such a mandate will place a financial burden on law schools to provide training if they hope to have their grads land jobs in New York.

“I Hate My Classmates” and Other First-Week Problems (The Girl’s Guide To Law School)

Heading to law school in the fall? Here are some common problems you may encounter and some tips for how to deal.
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The Question That Keeps On Giving

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follow-rules

When it comes to Orientation questions, always let the rules be your guide

The first question on a logic game often asks for a possible ordering (or assignment, or grouping) of the elements. We call these Orientation questions, and they can usually be answered by simply applying the rules, one by one, to the answer choices. For example, if there is a rule that Sam arrives fourth (yay, simple rules!), scan the answer choices to check for Sam. There’s almost certainly going to be one where he’s not fourth—get rid of that one.

While moving through the rules this way is, generally, a reliable and efficient approach for Orientation questions, we also teach that you can use your diagram. On some games, such as relative ordering, this is a good idea. It can be faster.
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Logical Reasoning: What the _________?

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Dog

Don't let your imagination run wild while filling in the blank

Fill-in-the-blank-line-at-the-end-of-the-argument questions have been known as Inference questions delivered in a fancy package. “These,” I tell students, “ask you to find a conclusion, but don’t start thinking creatively. Your task is still to find an answer that must be true.” This is easy to grasp, since something you can infer from a premise could also be called a valid conclusion. So that was that.

But there’s a different flavor of fill-in-the-blank questions creeping into the LSAT from time-to-time! For example, on PrepTest 63, Section 1, Question 1 and PrepTest 65, Section 4, Question 15, you’re asked to fill in the blank… with something that will strengthen the argument’s conclusion. “Wait!” you’re thinking, “We don’t strengthen conclusions on Inference questions…” That’s right. In fact, on Inference questions, there is no conclusion in the stimulus–your answer could be considered the conclusion. We can think of PT63, S1, Q1 and it’s comrade on PT65, therefore, as Strengthen questions–you want to make the conclusion inferable.
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Links Roundup: Starting Law School, Personal Statements, and Some Celebrity Gossip

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5 Non-Obvious Things to Do When You Start Law School (The Girl’s Guide To Law School)

Is Studying Law Boring? (The Guardian)

How to Stay Positive Amis Negative Law School News (Law Student Ally)

Don’t let the negative press about attending law school drag you down. Here are some great tips for staying positive and sticking to your goals.

Telling Your Story: Tell the Truth (jdMission)

What would a links roundup be without a little celebrity gossip?! Believe it or not, Rob Kardashian’s controversial future was one of the most talked law school topics on the web this week. I cringe for future generations..Rob Kardashian is Not Going to Law School, Says UCS Law School (Huffington Post)

 

LSAT Logical Reasoning: Styrofoam Arguments

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NoahAs you can imagine, being an LSAT teacher carries great risks. What used to be good old fights about doing the dishes are now fights about doing the dishes AND the assumptions underneath the statement “When you leave the dishes on the sink, it makes me feel like you’re an [email protected]#$&@(#!”

But, enough about dishes we have to wash, let’s talk about disposable dishes! Yesterday I went and bought a shredded chicken burrito (half-and-half spicy/mild) at Santiago’s, my second favorite Mexican restaurant. I also picked up a frosty soda to wash it down (“pop” for Midwesterners). It arrived in a lovely Styrofoam cup. Later, while waiting in line (“on line” for New Yorkers), I satisfied my need to be constantly doing something (“ADHD” for you youngins) by reading the cup. I faced these two statements:
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Friday Fun: LSAT Facts and Weekly Links Roundup

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Since you’ve already submitted most of your free time to the LSAT, we figured we would share with you a list of interesting(?) trivial facts about ye old exam.  If you want to impress a crowd or maybe pick up (read: lose) a few friends, commit these LSAT facts to memory and rattle some off when the topic comes up, because hey, everyone loves that friend who does nothing but talk about the LSAT! (weekly links after the jump)

left hand

LSAC does not guarantee special desks or tables for left-handed test takers.

  • The first administration of the LSAT occurred in 1948.
  • Prior to 1991, LSAT scores were distributed on a scale from a low of 10 to a high of 48.
  • The LSAT is only offered twice a year in Africa and Europe (October and December).
  • There is no age requirement to sit for the LSAT.
  • Statistically, the number of students who take the LSAT increases when the United States economy, as measured by the gross domestic product (GDP), decreases.
  • When you go to the test center for the first time, about 75% of the people around you are also taking the test for the first time. Roughly 20% for the second time, and 5% for the third time.

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