Pre-law students prepare for LSAT

A person’s LSAT score is a reflection of how they will perform in law school.

by Liala Helal

Political science junior Khaled El-Sawaf is scared.

Like many pre-law students preparing for the Law School Admission Test, fear is growing as they realize the importance of the test.

Michael Bellomo, author of “LSAT Exam Cram,” which is a book designed to prepare students for the LSAT in three weeks, said, “The good news is, if you’re bad at taking tests like the LSAT, all you need to do is practice it.”

Bellomo has also been a private tutor for the LSAT for seven years.

Students don’t need to have a photographic memory to be successful with the test, he said.

The skills needed to do well on the LSAT are time management, the ability to understand things in context and the skills to identify tricks or traps in the test, he said.

“You don’t need to memorize or panic,” Bellomo said.

There are three components to the LSAT. Students have to understand context in the reading comprehension section and know how to diagram things in their mind in the logic games section. The logic reasoning section challenges test-takers to understand and identify parts of an argument.

Bellomo offers two main tips for students getting ready for the LSAT.

“Number one, be aware of your best study techniques,” he said.

“Some people think that because it’s the LSAT they have to change the way they study,” he said.

Students should also commit to the test, he said.

“You don’t have to give up your life, but be dedicated and persistent,” he said.

Be serious, interested and put a lot of effort into it, Bellomo said.

“Treat the LSAT like it’s your favorite class,” he said.

LSAT veteran

No miracle will happen on test day, said first-year law student Mac Fadlallah.

If students aren’t achieving a desired score on their practice exams in the week prior to the test date, he advises them to postpone the test.

Fadlallah’s scores on his practice exams were slightly lower than what he wanted to get on the LSAT, and he said he thought, “Maybe on test day, I’ll take it more seriously and a miracle will happen.”

“I was absolutely wrong,” he said.

Fadlallah took the LSAT twice, but said he does not recommend it, even though his second score was 13 percentile-points higher than his first. Most law schools average the scores when tests are taken several times, he said.

He took spring semester off to enroll in a class to prepare him for the LSAT. After the first month, he began to take the class more seriously by studying more.

“I realized that this is quite possibly the most important exam that I’ll be taking in my entire life, and that if the initiative doesn’t come from me now, it’s never going to come,” he said.

Fadlallah’s philosophy of language course was helpful in taking the LSAT.

“I really feel it helped frame my way of thinking in a way such that I was able to perform better on the LSAT than I would’ve done otherwise,” he said.

The most difficult thing for an LSAT prep student is finding a balance between studying for classes and for the LSAT, he said.

“To avoid this conflict, first of all, I would recommend taking the LSAT as early as possible and go ahead and take that spring semester off to prepare for it,” he said.

The first thing students should do is decide whether law is the field they want to go into, Fadlallah said.

“Once they’ve made that decision, it’s never too early to prepare,” Fadlallah said.

People shouldn’t take the risk of waiting until the last minute, he said.

“By the time they finish reading this article, they should be studying,” he said.

Pre-law students

Finance and international business junior Suzie Gad has been leafing through an LSAT test prep book for weeks.

“I think (the test) seems hard,” she said, “but it seems like once you figure out the patterns, it gets a lot easier.”

The test challenges students with the skills necessary for a career in law, El-Sawaf said.

“I hear it’s an intimidating test,” he said, “and it kind of does determine which law school I get admitted to.”

University Law School

This year’s entering class had an LSAT score ranging from the low-150s to the mid-170s, said Joan Howland, associate dean and chairwoman of the admissions committee at the Law School. A perfect score on the LSAT is 180.

Although the LSAT score is not the only factor the admissions committee looks at when deciding whom to admit, it is a significant factor.

“(LSAT scores) are given a great deal of weight, but I do think it’s important that we do look at the entire profile of the student,” she said.

Studies have shown that a person’s LSAT score is often a good reflection of how they will perform in law school, Howland said.

For students who take the LSAT more than once, if the second score is within four points of the first, the two scores are averaged. Otherwise, the school takes the higher score, Howland said.

To prepare for the LSAT, Howland recommended taking sample tests to “get a sense of what the exam entails.”

Students applying to the Law School should get their applications in as early as possible because of rolling admissions.

“At some point we may have admitted so many students that we have to put students on the waiting list,” Howland said.

Students have a better chance of getting into a law school if they were an undergraduate at that school, Bellomo said.

“They just kind of trust their product,” he said.