Taking the Law School Admission Test leads to tears, frustration and, for some, triumph
Editor's note: If you want to play along with Kata Vehar as she sweats out the preparations for the biggest test of her life, try to answer a sample question. Here's one on "Critical Reasoning":
Historically, famines have generally been followed by periods of rising wages, because when a labor force is diminished, workers are more valuable in accordance with the law of supply and demand. The Irish potato famine of the 1840s is an exception; it resulted in the death or emigration of half of Ireland's population, but there was no significant rise in the average wages in Ireland in the following decade.
Which one of the following, if true, would LEAST contribute to an explanation of the exception to the generalization?
A. Improved medical care reduced the morality rate among able-bodied adults in the decade following the famine to below prefamine levels.
B. Eviction policies of the landowners in Ireland were designed to force emigration of the elderly and infirm, who could not work, and to retain a high percentage of able-bodied workers.
C. Advances in technology increased the efficiency of industry and agriculture, and so allowed maintenance of economic output with less demand for labor.
D. The birth rate increased during the decade following the famine, and this compensated for much of the loss of population that was due to the famine.
E. England, which had political control of Ireland, legislated artificially low wages to provide English-owned industry and agriculture in Ireland with cheap labor.
Kata Vehar, a senior dual majoring in political science and economics, stares at the sample test book with her glazed brown eyes. She's hunched over her wooden desk that is lit by a lamp hanging from the shelf above. Scrap paper and books cover her desktop, while other practice books lay on the floor beside her lightly stained wooden chair.
Ever since Vehar was in the eighth grade, she has planned on taking the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and the week was finally here. To prepare herself for the half-day test, she attended Johnson and Sherlock's LSAT prep class here on campus. The cost of the class was $400, which included two preparation classes a week, along with a sample test book with countless questions to review.
"For about the whole week before the test, I sobbed every night -- it released some of my stress and I'd feel better afterward," Vehar said.
The night before the test was where Vehar took a 24-hour period off from cramming every detail in she could and called home to San Diego to talk with her dad. She recalls having a meltdown and sobbing to him about how she was afraid she would mentally freeze when the test was handed to her.
Saturday, Oct. 6, 2001, arrived. This was the day. Vehar's beeping alarm sounded at 6:45 a.m. As she jumped out of bed to turn it off, her heart started to pound harder and harder. Every academic choice Vehar had made up to this point had been preparing her for this day. This would decide whether her dream of attending Georgetown Law School would be feasible, or not.
"It doesn't matter as much what your GPA is, it's all about the LSAT and what your score is compared to every other student that takes it," Vehar said. "That's all the law schools care about."
After showering that morning, she put on some make up and dressed in a more professional outfit to take the test. "I didn't just want to roll out of bed and throw on some sweats. This was the big day and I felt dressing the part would help me feel more confident," Vehar said.
The LSAT was administered in the business building in two classrooms.
"The classrooms were jam-packed. I had been studying with a few friends and they were all taking the test in the other room. It sort-of frightened me because when I'd look up around the room, I didn't know anyone. Not only was I shaking from being nervous, but also the room was so cold, the test administrator even stuffed her jacket in the crack of the door where the draft was coming in," Vehar said.
Vehar is not the only student experiencing this anxiety. She is one of 46,745 people who took the LSAT in October 2001.
That number is up 23.5 percent from last October. Women comprise 50.2 percent who identified their gender. In the early 1970s, only 10 percent of the LSAT test-takers were women.
According to the official LSAT website, "The LSAT is a half-day standardized test required for admission to all 198 law schools that are members of the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). It provides a standard measure of acquired reading and verbal reasoning skills that law schools can use as one of several factors in assessing applicants. The test is administered four times a year at hundreds of locations around the world." Many law schools require that the LSAT be taken by December for admission the following fall. The registration fee for the LSAT is $96. Late registrants must pay an additional $54.
What does someone do if seriously considering law school? The LSAC recommends asking yourself some questions before getting started:
How do I prepare for a law school education?
What does a legal education cover?
Is there a standard law school curriculum?
Who is applying to law school?
Once someone has made the decision that law school is something they want to do, there is a complex sequence to the application process that must be followed.
"The first step is preparation for the LSAT. There are a number of ways to prepare, but you may want to begin with taking a sample test under simulated conditions. When you are ready, you can also purchase previously administered tests for practice, which is probably the best way to get ready for the actual test as well as to maximize your score," according to the LSAT website.
An interested law school applicant will also need to start considering which law school they are giving thought to attending. One recommended way to get to know some of the law schools is to attend a Law School Forum. These are primarily held in cities such as New York and Boston. Another way to research the school of your choice is to do some research on the law school themselves.
Prepare for the LSAT.
Research law schools.
Register for the LSAT.
Take the LSAT.
Receive LSAT score.
Apply to law school.
"The hardest part about taking the test is the time. You're only given 35 minutes for each section. There is a break after finishing the first three sections, but until that 15-minute break, it's non-stop," Vehar said.
Leaving the business building that Saturday morning, she cried the whole walk home to her apartment. "I thought I had bombed it. When I talked with my friends, they all felt confident and I felt terrible about it," Vehar said. LSAT test-takers may receive their results three weeks later by paying $10 extra to make a phone call to hear the results or wait six weeks to receive your results by mail.
"I called at 2 a.m. When you dial that phone number, your hands are just shaking uncontrollably. If I did well, I knew I'd cry; if I did terrible, I knew I'd cry," Vehar said.
The digital recording came on with her score. Vehar had quite a surprise. She had scored in the top third of all who took it.
"It all depends on what your goals are and what you want to be when you're deciding what law school to go to. I want to work in politics at the national level in D.C., so a big-name school, like Georgetown, is important to me," Vehar said.
(D) The phenomenon going on is that the decrease in able-bodied workers will decrease the supply of workers and thereby increase the value of labor. Choice D would make no impact on the labor pool. The problem with choice D is that a difference in birth rate will make no difference in the labor pool of able-bodied workers. Those new babies will take years to mature. (A) Would help increase the able-bodied labor pool. (B) Would mean that the famine did not reduce the working-age population. (C) Would mean decreased demand for labor because of new technology. (E) Would artificially keep labor prices low.
If you answered this sample question correct and understand the logic behind why the rest of the solutions would not fit this scenario, law school might be considered in your professional future plans.