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moneybadger

Harmful to take diagnostic LSAT first before studying?

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Hi everyone! I am new here.¬†ūüĎč

I read somewhere that before we start studying for the LSAT we should take a diagnostic/mock LSAT first with simulated test conditions which would be our baseline score. The idea is that this baseline score will act as a yardstick to measure against our progress as we study and retake future diagnostic LSATs. 

But, is this a good idea? By that I mean, is it useful to know what my score is without any prior studying? Could this be an inadvertent way to set yourself up for failure instead?

I'm concerned if I take a diagnostic LSAT first without any prior prep and get a dismal score that it might actually become some self-fulfilling prophecy; because if I score poorly in a particular section it might subconsciously trick me into thinking I always suck at that particular section, thus hindering my chances at doing well or making any meaningful progress. I'm worried I might trip over my initial diagnostic score. While I am firm in my conviction that I am supposed to be a lawyer, I'm a little worried that a horrific diagnostic score could rattle me into thinking that maybe I'm just delusional. 

I realize scores can be improved drastically through committed studying, I just am concerned how much a diagnostic score could blind me from the possibility in this. Comparatively, maybe even getting an amazing score on a diagnostic LSAT on the first try could also be harmful as it could give someone a false sense of confidence and think they don't need to prepare much. 

Anyway, am I just being superstitious or overthinking this, or is there some validity to my paranoia? If taking a diagnostic LSAT first is incorrect advice, then what's the right first step?

Thanks in advance for your replies.¬†ūüėÄ

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A diagnostic test is a good idea as it allows you to measure your progress. 

That said, given your evident anguish, I would not bother taking one before cracking open a book. 

If I was in your position, I would spend a few hours reviewing the general approaches for the different sections, then take a "quasi-diagnostic" test. That way, you are not entering into it blindly, but at the same time, you still have a result by which you can measure your progress. 

You, however, definitely do not want too long before taking a timed test. I find a lot of the concepts are generally straightforward, but when the clock starts ticking, it can be problematic. My greatest regret is not taking more timed tests.

Edited by sc313
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I understand your worry about self-fulfilling prophecies, but I think you're overthinking it. If you're aware that a good/ bad score might lead to those outcomes,  then that awareness should be enough to counter the effects of scoring well or poorly on your studying/ attitude. 

Personally I didn't take a diagnostic LSAT in simulated test conditions to start with. I just did one at my own pace to try to get a feel for the questions. Afterwards, my main studying technique was to do the mock exams under simulated test conditions, with additional practice on the sections I had more difficulty with. 

 

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its generally nice to know what you have to work on before you start working on it. the lsat is a means to an end, don't tie your whole worth up in being good at logic games

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5 minutes ago, undecidedlaw said:

its generally nice to know what you have to work on before you start working on it. the lsat is a means to an end, don't tie your whole worth up in being good at logic games

Yea especially regarding your sentence: "While I am firm in my conviction that I am supposed to be a lawyer, I'm a little worried that a horrific diagnostic score could rattle me into thinking that maybe I'm just delusional. " The LSAT doesn't matter for anything except getting into law school. I know plenty of people who struggled through the LSAT, who are now excelling in law school. And many for whom getting a good LSAT score was easy and who are now having a rough go of it. And then who knows how that will translate into competence/excellence practicing as a lawyer. Don't focus on your first score as literally anything but a jumping off point, it really isn't an indicator for anything meaningful.

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1 hour ago, moneybadger said:

Could this be an inadvertent way to set yourself up for failure instead?

This is a good thing - the LSAT's a relatively safe opportunity to learn that you may not breeze through your studies anymore. It's good to get rid of that "I won't do anything unless I do it perfectly the first time" mindset before law school. 

Edited by Tagger
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I would take one before you start studying. Even after you spend a couple days studying basic techniques for each section you might see a drastic improvement to your score! I know I did and it was a nice ego ad confidence boost. Taking a diagnostic before studying at all actually increased my desire to study because I could see that my studying was having a big effect on my score! 

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It's almost guaranteed that your first mock LSAT, whether you've started studying or not, won't be where you want to be. I'd recommend taking a diagnostic one so that you know how far you need to work to get to your goal score and get a basic sense of each section before you study them.

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I 100% agree that it is harmful and counterproductive. Idk why anyone would want to start off this long and arduous process by (likely) bombing a cold diagnostic. At least spend like 10-15 hours learning about question types, basic strategies, etc. If you go into it without being even remotely familiar with the test then you're gonna come out of it demotivated AF.

Taking timed practice tests and adjusting your studying according to your results is very important moving forward but IMO a cold diagnostic isn't useful. 

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On 4/1/2020 at 4:19 PM, moneybadger said:

 

I'm concerned if I take a diagnostic LSAT first without any prior prep and get a dismal score that it might actually become some self-fulfilling prophecy; because if I score poorly in a particular section it might subconsciously trick me into thinking I always suck at that particular section, thus hindering my chances at doing well or making any meaningful progress.

 

Why don't you do 3 or 4 diagnostic tests, a couple days apart, and then see if your scores are consistent? Then, you can identify your strengths and weaknesses based on an aggregate of data rather than a single value. This method might best eliminate your concerns. 

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To be honest I think taking the diagnostic would be helpful; to be frank, it's likely you will feel overwhelmed with the myriad of question types, sentence structures, and methods of reasoning the LSAT throws at you at first. I know I definitely was, and like you it discouraged me from pursuing a diagnostic test the first month of study; I simply didn't want a number hanging over my head confirming what I already knew: I wasn't ready. That being said, I wish I had taken a diagnostic in that first month because as you learn the test, it turns out the LSAT is quite "predictable"- meaning, the LSAT only has so many question types, sentence structures, methods of reasoning, and importantly, wrong answer types, it can present you with. You are likely to get the same types of questions wrong, so it is in your best interest to isolate those question types and really familiarize yourself with the typical wrong answer types that can and typically accompany them. My score wasn't the best in the world, for transparency sake I scored a 158 last September after 3 months of study; but it was good enough to get me into Osgoode alongside my GPA and extracurriculars! I was scoring in the mid 140s when I started, and before the LSAT hitting diagnostic numbers around 162-165. Test day is a whole other animal than diagnostics, but know very few come into the LSAT with high or even mid percentile scores- its a new beast for almost everyone. Hope this helps! 

Edited by LabouriousCorvid

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I believe diagnostics to be a good idea to help identify strengths and weaknesses. The free Khan Academy one offers a 'speed' version of the diagnostic, where you don't take a full test. Maybe this could be a good compromise for you? Still helps to start guiding your studying but if it's a bad score you can brush it off as "not the real one" or something of the like? Just a thought! Best of luck (:

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Why would it be harmful to take? It is literally there to assess your starting point, doesn't really hurt at all. 

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You’re over thinking it. The caveat being that I got a 159, so don’t treat my advice as gospel.

I’d suggest doing one or two untimed tests and trying to figure out why you got questions wrong when grading. Then hit the text books. The concepts in the textbooks begin to be less abstract (I.e., make more sense) when you have a sense of the test itself. 
 

If you’re that worried of nerves, you can always just do the test, figure out what you got right/wrong, but never compute it into the LSAT scale. That way you at least get a sense of where to focus your efforts without going to the scenarios you describe.

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