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Is the LSAT hard for "mathematically-challenged people"


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#1 jhoop15

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 11:15 PM

I realize that the LSAT is mostly based on logic and I have a few misgivings about this. I've never been too good at math (did not take Pure Math 30) and am currently pursuing an arts degree, which is lightly concerning. I'm in my second year and so far have a 3.48 GPA; thus, I'll probably need to do quite well on the LSAT.

Obviously, everyone is different but I would like some advice from people with similar backgrounds.

#2 lookingaround

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 04:21 AM

Logic =/= math. My math is dire, and I got a 169 - learnt formal logic and argumentative structure in philosophy, which is about as far away from math as you can get...

#3 Rechtsanwalt

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 08:09 AM

I don't know if you can say that formal logic is 'as far away from math as you can get', but in any event, those not mathematically inclined can still excel on the LSAT. Anecdotally, however, those people I know who get the 170+ scores are the ones who have some math-based background (engineering, commerce, economics).

#4 Mandrake

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 11:16 AM

The logic needed for the LSAT is pretty basic, really. My background is in formal logic and philosophy of language, and I also disagree with the contention that logic is as far away from math as you can get, especially as you get past first order predicate logic, but you certainly don't need to be an expert in alethic modality to score well. It wouldn't hurt though.

#5 jhoop15

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 12:07 PM

I've seen some stats; phil students (who will have some exposure to logic),math, physics and eng. students generally do better on the LSAT. The difference is quite small, however.

On the logic being far away from argument, that's not true. Philosophy is a broad field, and logic is quite distinct. My university actually has its intro logic course as one of the opitions for the 'analytical' core requirement - a section that includes math, physics, and computer science.

#6 AllanC

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 12:31 PM

I've seen some stats; phil students (who will have some exposure to logic),math, physics and eng. students generally do better on the LSAT. The difference is quite small, however.

On the logic being far away from argument, that's not true. Philosophy is a broad field, and logic is quite distinct. My university actually has its intro logic course as one of the opitions for the 'analytical' core requirement - a section that includes math, physics, and computer science.


Well, accordingly to this well known study: http://www.uic.edu/c... ... /table.htm

Math majors seem to be at the top but engineers seem to fare relatively poorly :(. That said, I think the reason that math majors do well is because of the creativity involved in high level mathematics.

I always found it humorous when somebody asks what I'm studying (engineering + applied mathematics) and their immediate reaction/reply is that they were always the more creative sort! It's funny because high level math requires an immense amount of creativity. For example, if I say go prove Fermat’s last theorem, where do you start? Hell if I know! There are no rules, regulations or procedures to tell you what to do. You need to use your creativity and knowledge of all mathematic dialects to solve the problem/complete the proof. It really forces you to think in the abstract. And it is this kind of creativity that I think is what helps math majors with the LSAT.

Of course the above is simply speculation. I do not have any proof to back it up (I would make a great lawyer, eh?!) but I suspect this is the reason or at least a very important part of why math majors do a tad better on the LSAT.

#7 lookingaround

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 02:03 PM

Not that it really matters, but to avoid being misunderstood, I did not say,nor do i think,that 'logic is as far away from math as you can get'. I said philosophy is that far from math (although the caveat above about the creativity required for advanced math is an interesting one), and that I learnt logic in there. Thus, I concluded that logic and math did not equate. This does not mean they do not relate, that they are not useful, are not interconnected with each other - merely that being bad at math does not necessarily mean you will be bad at the lsat.

I can't help but think of lr stems about necessary/sufficient conditions :-P

#8 jhoop15

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 04:02 PM

Not that it really matters, but to avoid being misunderstood, I did not say,nor do i think,that 'logic is as far away from math as you can get'. I said philosophy is that far from math (although the caveat above about the creativity required for advanced math is an interesting one), and that I learnt logic in there. Thus, I concluded that logic and math did not equate. This does not mean they do not relate, that they are not useful, are not interconnected with each other - merely that being bad at math does not necessarily mean you will be bad at the lsat.

I can't help but think of lr stems about necessary/sufficient conditions :-P



I guess there's my (convoluted) answer.

#9 getzlaf15

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 06:56 PM

I believe there have been studies done on this before and the math and physics majors tend to do better. However, I personally do not believe math and physics courses actually help you with the LSAT. I'm an engineering major and I think that the philosophy elective I took was the most similar to what the LSAT tests you on. I think the best early indicator to analyze your chances at succeeding on the LSAT would be to see whether or not you had any trouble in the philosophy courses that you took, not the math courses.

The reason math and physics majors probably tend to do better on the LSAT is because the pool of test takers in those departments are small. Since those majors are so unrelated to law, people there would only try the LSAT if they are serious about making a switch. On the other hand, there may be a lot of people in philosophy majors trying the LSAT including the ones who are not very good so the philosophy majors' LSAT average is lower.

#10 Dino

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Posted 22 January 2011 - 04:29 AM

I find that people who are good at math tend to be good at Logic games.

#11 getzlaf15

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Posted 22 January 2011 - 05:18 PM

I find that people who are good at math tend to be good at Logic games.


I have to disagree from what I have seen. I think a major factor for success in logic games is your ability to think fast. You can be good at math without being a quick thinker. Also, in my program I have seen people who can think logically but are not good at math. I don't think there's that much of a correlation between the two.

#12 aerine

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Posted 22 January 2011 - 06:02 PM

I find that people who are good at math tend to be good at Logic games.


I have to disagree from what I have seen. I think a major factor for success in logic games is your ability to think fast. You can be good at math without being a quick thinker. Also, in my program I have seen people who can think logically but are not good at math. I don't think there's that much of a correlation between the two.


I did not get a single question wrong on the games section, and yet I can barely add without the aid of a calculator...
Dont be worried. And you still have 2 years left on your degree to boost your grades, if you are truly afraid about performing badly on the LSAT.

#13 MrMustard

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 05:53 PM

Getzlaf...Lol. Have you taken any university-level math courses? It's not just memorizing formulas...you have to be a quick thinker.

#14 getzlaf15

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 09:00 PM

Getzlaf...Lol. Have you taken any university-level math courses? It's not just memorizing formulas...you have to be a quick thinker.


I'm an electrical engineering major. 'Nuff said.

It's not about memorizing formulas and you don't have to be a quick thinker since I know people who don't think very quickly and still do well. Maybe our definitions of quick thinking are different.

#15 tdottoker

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Posted 29 January 2011 - 10:58 AM

The LR games seem to be very similar to a intro computer program course I took in university. The assignments were writing a program to solve the game according to the input. I did fairly ok considering I failed calculas twice and statistics once in high school...

#16 Die Hard

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 04:22 AM

The answer is yes for 23% of the test and "no" for the other 77%. I am barely ok at math, failed the games section miserably, and still broke 170. That said, if you're bad at math/games, your reading better be superlative. LSAT RC is no joke.

#17 Die Hard

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 04:42 AM

I've seen some stats; phil students (who will have some exposure to logic),math, physics and eng. students generally do better on the LSAT. The difference is quite small, however.

On the logic being far away from argument, that's not true. Philosophy is a broad field, and logic is quite distinct. My university actually has its intro logic course as one of the opitions for the 'analytical' core requirement - a section that includes math, physics, and computer science.


Well, accordingly to this well known study: http://www.uic.edu/c... ... /table.htm

Math majors seem to be at the top but engineers seem to fare relatively poorly :(. That said, I think the reason that math majors do well is because of the creativity involved in high level mathematics.

I always found it humorous when somebody asks what I'm studying (engineering + applied mathematics) and their immediate reaction/reply is that they were always the more creative sort! It's funny because high level math requires an immense amount of creativity. For example, if I say go prove Fermat’s last theorem, where do you start? Hell if I know! There are no rules, regulations or procedures to tell you what to do. You need to use your creativity and knowledge of all mathematic dialects to solve the problem/complete the proof. It really forces you to think in the abstract. And it is this kind of creativity that I think is what helps math majors with the LSAT.

Of course the above is simply speculation. I do not have any proof to back it up (I would make a great lawyer, eh?!) but I suspect this is the reason or at least a very important part of why math majors do a tad better on the LSAT.


I would be curious to see more recent data than 1992. The test has changed since, and I suspect that math/physics/other quant people may not enjoy the same advantages they did then. A list with current data would probably be far different.

I took the early tests for practice. The reading section was a joke, and the games section was a bear. You would have to have been really illiterate not to do well on RC and most of LR in the early 90's.

In 1992, I bet the folks with the quant background who top that list held their own on the 3 reading sections and smoked the games while the liberal arts people did marginally better on RC/LR but failed games catastrophically. Back then, you didn't have 65 practice tests of past games on which to practice. You either got LG, or you didn't.

In the past 3 or 4 years, the RC and LR have become significantly more difficult while the games have regressed to a moderate level of difficulty.

When you spend all your time working out equations, you just don't have time to read to the extent that would allow you to move through PT 50-62 RC efficiently. Can you imagine someone who never reads for fun getting through Willa Cather or Riddled Basins with -0?

Can art people get through modern LG with -0 after months of practice? Absolutely.

Thus, I believe that History/English/Economics would top the list today while math/physics majors would drop towards the middle.

#18 Die Hard

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 04:42 AM

Edited for double post.

#19 egad

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 04:42 PM

I've seen some stats; phil students (who will have some exposure to logic),math, physics and eng. students generally do better on the LSAT. The difference is quite small, however.

On the logic being far away from argument, that's not true. Philosophy is a broad field, and logic is quite distinct. My university actually has its intro logic course as one of the opitions for the 'analytical' core requirement - a section that includes math, physics, and computer science.


Well, accordingly to this well known study: http://www.uic.edu/c... ... /table.htm

Math majors seem to be at the top but engineers seem to fare relatively poorly :(. That said, I think the reason that math majors do well is because of the creativity involved in high level mathematics.

I always found it humorous when somebody asks what I'm studying (engineering + applied mathematics) and their immediate reaction/reply is that they were always the more creative sort! It's funny because high level math requires an immense amount of creativity. For example, if I say go prove Fermat’s last theorem, where do you start? Hell if I know! There are no rules, regulations or procedures to tell you what to do. You need to use your creativity and knowledge of all mathematic dialects to solve the problem/complete the proof. It really forces you to think in the abstract. And it is this kind of creativity that I think is what helps math majors with the LSAT.

Of course the above is simply speculation. I do not have any proof to back it up (I would make a great lawyer, eh?!) but I suspect this is the reason or at least a very important part of why math majors do a tad better on the LSAT.


I would be curious to see more recent data than 1992. The test has changed since, and I suspect that math/physics/other quant people may not enjoy the same advantages they did then. A list with current data would probably be far different.

I took the early tests for practice. The reading section was a joke, and the games section was a bear. You would have to have been really illiterate not to do well on RC and most of LR in the early 90's.

In 1992, I bet the folks with the quant background who top that list held their own on the 3 reading sections and smoked the games while the liberal arts people did marginally better on RC/LR but failed games catastrophically. Back then, you didn't have 65 practice tests of past games on which to practice. You either got LG, or you didn't.

In the past 3 or 4 years, the RC and LR have become significantly more difficult while the games have regressed to a moderate level of difficulty.

When you spend all your time working out equations, you just don't have time to read to the extent that would allow you to move through PT 50-62 RC efficiently. Can you imagine someone who never reads for fun getting through Willa Cather or Riddled Basins with -0?

Can art people get through modern LG with -0 after months of practice? Absolutely.

Thus, I believe that History/English/Economics would top the list today while math/physics majors would drop towards the middle.


Weaken the argument:
The poster assumes that a sufficient portion of test takers will study a sufficient amount for the differences in studying efficacy to affect the overall top scoring majors.

#20 t3ctonics

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Posted 03 February 2011 - 09:49 AM

I was an English major with some philosophy and comp sci thrown in. I hadn't done any math without a calculator since grade 11 when I did the LSAT. Initially, I was pretty poor at the games (got half the questions) but did well on the others, getting a 159 on my first prep test. However, during my month of study for the LSAT I did full timed practice tests at least once a week, with a special focus on the games. By the end of the second week, I was acing almost every games section, and only losing points due to silly mistakes (generally not reading carefully enough in RC or LR - funny mistake to make for an English major!). My prep tests were all in the mid/low 170s in the last two weeks.

However, on the test itself I drank too much coffee, got jittery, ran into a very difficult game that I just did not get, and ended up skipping it. My final score was 164/90th percentile.

I'm sure that if I had given myself more time to prep, I would have done better, but in any case it was good enough to get in to law school. I never took a single university level math course (I dropped the first year calculus course two weeks in).

While general logic skills will help, a lot of the LSAT is test-specific, particularly the games. Math, computer science, engineering, philosophy, english... all might help in one way or another. However, I don't think any particular undergrad program will help anywhere near as much as test-specific preparation.

TL;DR: do prep tests. Re-read them after and figure out both what you did wrong and what you did right. Being mathematically challenged has nothing to do with it. I don't even remember how to do long division, but I'm getting A's in law school.

#21 veecee

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Posted 03 February 2011 - 12:10 PM

However, on the test itself I drank too much coffee, got jittery, ran into a very difficult game that I just did not get, and ended up skipping it. My final score was 164/90th percentile.


This is exactly what happened to me. My jittery nerves ran into a stupid dinosaur LG, which dropped me from a 168 PT average to a 163 result.

#22 AllanC

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Posted 10 February 2011 - 04:52 PM

I've seen some stats; phil students (who will have some exposure to logic),math, physics and eng. students generally do better on the LSAT. The difference is quite small, however.

On the logic being far away from argument, that's not true. Philosophy is a broad field, and logic is quite distinct. My university actually has its intro logic course as one of the opitions for the 'analytical' core requirement - a section that includes math, physics, and computer science.


Well, accordingly to this well known study: http://www.uic.edu/c... ... /table.htm

Math majors seem to be at the top but engineers seem to fare relatively poorly :(. That said, I think the reason that math majors do well is because of the creativity involved in high level mathematics.

I always found it humorous when somebody asks what I'm studying (engineering + applied mathematics) and their immediate reaction/reply is that they were always the more creative sort! It's funny because high level math requires an immense amount of creativity. For example, if I say go prove Fermat’s last theorem, where do you start? Hell if I know! There are no rules, regulations or procedures to tell you what to do. You need to use your creativity and knowledge of all mathematic dialects to solve the problem/complete the proof. It really forces you to think in the abstract. And it is this kind of creativity that I think is what helps math majors with the LSAT.

Of course the above is simply speculation. I do not have any proof to back it up (I would make a great lawyer, eh?!) but I suspect this is the reason or at least a very important part of why math majors do a tad better on the LSAT.


I would be curious to see more recent data than 1992. The test has changed since, and I suspect that math/physics/other quant people may not enjoy the same advantages they did then. A list with current data would probably be far different.

I took the early tests for practice. The reading section was a joke, and the games section was a bear. You would have to have been really illiterate not to do well on RC and most of LR in the early 90's.

In 1992, I bet the folks with the quant background who top that list held their own on the 3 reading sections and smoked the games while the liberal arts people did marginally better on RC/LR but failed games catastrophically. Back then, you didn't have 65 practice tests of past games on which to practice. You either got LG, or you didn't.

In the past 3 or 4 years, the RC and LR have become significantly more difficult while the games have regressed to a moderate level of difficulty.

When you spend all your time working out equations, you just don't have time to read to the extent that would allow you to move through PT 50-62 RC efficiently. Can you imagine someone who never reads for fun getting through Willa Cather or Riddled Basins with -0?

Can art people get through modern LG with -0 after months of practice? Absolutely.

Thus, I believe that History/English/Economics would top the list today while math/physics majors would drop towards the middle.


I don't read for fun and am in a combined engineering/applied math program and RC was one of my better sections on game day :P

#23 getzlaf15

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Posted 10 February 2011 - 06:08 PM

I don't read for fun and am in a combined engineering/applied math program and RC was one of my better sections on game day :P


That's a pretty impressive RC considering your LSAT score. Was it a section that you were already good at or did you have to work your way up when studying?

#24 confusedlawyer

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Posted 10 February 2011 - 09:39 PM

My math skills carried me through LG, didn't even need to study that section which made things easier. RC always F'd me over and LR was either hit or miss. From what I gather LG is your only problem. It's also the most learnable section so you can improve.

#25 AllanC

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Posted 11 February 2011 - 08:53 PM


I don't read for fun and am in a combined engineering/applied math program and RC was one of my better sections on game day :P


That's a pretty impressive RC considering your LSAT score. Was it a section that you were already good at or did you have to work your way up when studying?


It was most certainly not! By far my worst section. I started to do much better when I started to treat it like LR, go figure.

As an aside, I actually go against the grain and say that RC/LR CAN be more learnable then LG. To me LG was hard because I didn't have the tools to diagram efficiently, but the ability to think about the problem in the required way was always there. I could always link information in my head and make the necessary deductions i just didnt have an efficient way to do this on paper. By studying with the Bibles and with HR I was given this tool and my LG score shot up accordingly. I find that this is a similar situation to many people who start off poorly in LG; it's not that they can't think about the game in the required way it's that they dont have an efficient method to put it all together. And this is the reason why people claim it is the most learnable (because they are referring to a set of people who already had the ability to do the section but didn't have the right tools). But to me if you know how to build an engine but don't have the right tools and then all of a sudden are given the right tools you haven’t just learnt how to build an engine; have you? You already knew how to do it!

And in some cases, you can give people all the tools in the world to tackle LG, but they still can’t get the section because their internal processing speed isn't up to the task. And it is very, very hard to increase that ability. Whereas with LR and RC I think that score is more reflective of your knowledge of the sections work and of how best to attack the questions. Which, of course, is quite learnable.

Of course we can then get into a debate about what "learnt" actually means :P but I don't want to get into that! I just want to say that RC can be learnt: I did it :P




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