Cold diagnostic LSAT score discouraging me!

    • December 28, 2015 at 12:15 am #1097

      Hi Mike Kim!

      First off, I just want to express my gratitude towards you for absolutely everything you have done thus far. I am a new LSAT studier and the trainer has helped me immensely.

      For some reason, I decided that taking a diagnostic LSAT exam would benefit me somehow and I would be able to gauge where I stand score-wise. Long story short, I decided to take the October 2015 practice LSAT at home (4 sections, timed with absolutely no prep what so ever) and ended up with a devastating score (130 to be exact). I tried to mimic the exam setting as much as possible to get an accurate score. I am so disappointed in myself and I just wanted to know… does this score encompass my abilities? Many forums and topics of conversation state that the best one can do is jump 10-15 points from their diagnostic exam. Is there any hope? I plain on taking the September 2016 LSAT. Thank you so much in advance!

    • December 28, 2015 at 1:38 am #1098

      Hey Emilia, just wanted to share my rookie thoughts. The cold diagnostic test in my humble opinion is not a measure of anything. Many people jump more than 20 points after studying hard and consistently. Please don’t get discouraged by it. At the most it shows that you are no unicorn (like the rest of us) and would have to work hard to achieve your target score. I don’t know what courses or books you are using but i can say for myself that Trainer and 7sage are like a dream team. I just need to work hard and i know i can achieve any score i want. Hope this helps! Good luck. ­čÖé

      • December 28, 2015 at 1:53 am #1100

        Hi Sarah! Thank you so much for your insight. All I am using right now is the trainer and the official lsat exams. I will definitely look into 7sage! ­čÖé Please feel free to share any more of your thoughts, anything is helpful!

    • December 28, 2015 at 2:19 am #1101

      I am glad you found it helpful. Don’t worry too much and don’t read into the diagnostic score a lot. It is supposed to give you an idea as to how the real exam feels like. Just keep doing the trainer (and 7sage if you decide upon it). Also, a lot of us do this mistake of rushing into giving the LSAT but thats not productive at all. Keep building your fundamentals and take your time. The best time to take the LSAT is when you feel you have mastered it and there is no room for further improvement. And as you begin to take timed PT’s once you consistently hit your target score then you should be ready to take the exam. Also, don’t use any of the new PTs now. Keep them fresh for the later stages. Good luck. ­čÖé

    • December 28, 2015 at 5:41 am #1102

      It is definitely possible to improve more than 10-15 points, so don’t give up hope when you’re just getting started! Here are two pieces of advice:

      (1) One of the most important parts of studying for LSAT is carefully reviewing an exam after you take it so that you can learn from your mistakes. For each question that you got wrong, make sure you understand why the answer you chose was incorrect, and why the correct answer is correct. There are really good (and free) explanations for a lot of the exams over at┬á ┬áYou can also post questions here at lsatters if you don’t understand why you got something wrong.

      (2) When you take a practice test, or just a timed section, make sure not to rush through it. You do not need to attempt all of the questions in order to get a good score- give yourself enough time to answer the questions that you do attempt correctly. For example, your first goal for the logic games section should be to be able to complete one logic game, with perfect accuracy, in 35 minutes. Your first goal for reading comprehension should be to be able to complete one passage, with perfect accuracy, in 35 minutes. Your first goal for logical reasoning should be to be able to complete, say, the first ten questions (or maybe less, depending on where you’re at right now) with perfect/near-perfect accuracy, in 35 minutes. I’m guessing that this is probably one of the things that went wrong for you on the diagnostic- you were probably trying to answer as many questions as you could, instead of taking your time and focusing more on accuracy.

      Good luck, and feel free to ask us lots of questions! ­čÖé


      • December 28, 2015 at 12:52 pm #1109


        If you don’t mind me asking, which 7sage program are you currently completing? I know there are multiple purchase options and just wanted to get your 2 cents on which is the best! Keep in mind I am a full time student but I am starting early, planning on taking the September 2016 LSAT. Thanks again! ­čÖé

    • December 28, 2015 at 9:04 am #1106
      Mike Kim

      Just wanted to add on to the great thoughts mentioned already —

      I think that first diagnostic is most important for the experience of taking the test — now you know better what it feels like, what your challenge will be at the end of your prep, and so on, and this will help you make better use of your practice — it will give you a better chance of focusing on the instruction and strategies that will actually prove useful, and it will benefit you in many other direct and indirect ways as well —

      But like the others have said, I don’t think you need to stress yourself out over your diagnostic (easier said than done, I know) — I equate it, roughly, to your first score at your first attempt at bowling, or, to be more intellectual — how good you are the first time you try playing chess (and do so without a complete┬áunderstanding of the rules of the game — how each piece moves, basic strategies, etc.) — in both cases, and on the LSAT itself, you really need to give yourself a bit more time to learn and practice before you can really start to accurately gauge how good you are and how good you can be —

      On a practical level, you can think of your improvement as consisting of four main components —

      1. you need to develop an understanding of the exam — what determines right/wrong, what the test writers care about, etc.
      2. based off that, you need to develop effective strategies
      3. you need to get good at using your understanding and strategies (I call get developing skills)
      4. you need to get good at knowing when to use what skill

      Obviously these components overlap, but they also build on top of one another, and you can use the above as a basic rubric for your improvement —

      At the beginning of your prep, make sure you feel confident that you are growing your understanding and strategies — then, as you get deeper into your work, you want to transition into getting good at applying what you’ve been studying, and you may surprise yourself with how much you can improve —

      And as Danny and Sarah have mentioned, we’ll be here to help in any way we can so don’t hesitate to reach out if you need any help along the way —





    • December 28, 2015 at 12:49 pm #1108

      I really appreciate everyones advice! Hope this helped others who were feeling discouraged as well ­čÖé

    • December 28, 2015 at 11:14 pm #1116

      Hey Emilia, I have taken the starter package which is the cheapest. If I could afford more i would buy one of the more expensive ones. The core curriculum is the same. But with increasing packages you get additional and more difficult quizzes, access to PTs explanations and so on. ­čÖé

    • December 30, 2015 at 6:48 pm #1134

      Hey I just wanted to give my two cents about your diagnostic score. Don’t feel discouraged! I’ve worked with tons of people studying for the LSAT and most students that I’ve worked with have a diagnostic test score in the 130’s — and as long as you are willing to put in the effort to study and learn how to properly attack questions there is no reason you shouldn’t end up with a 160+ score. I’ve seen people improve from a 120 diagnostic to a 155. So do not lose hope! The LSAT is a marathon not a sprint.

    • January 15, 2016 at 6:00 pm #1341
      LSAT Dan

      Two more cents about that sticker shock you may get when taking a diagnostic test cold. ┬áRemember that when you use that test’s conversion chart, you’re essentially being scored on a curve against people who already completed their prep – in many┬ácases months of prep. ┬áSo it’s not really an appropriate or valid comparison, and it doesn’t say much at all about what you can expect after you’ve put in your dues the way they have.

      Second, remember that the LSAT doesn’t test knowledge; it tests your mastery of various processes. ┬áThat means that, like playing a musical instrument or participating in a sport, “learning” LSAT skills is especially a matter that specifically requires a lot of repetition and practice.

      So the bottom line is, it’s not just that you’re taking “a” test cold – you’re taking a test that measures skills that really need to be practiced, and you’re scoring yourself against people who have already done their prep. ┬áDon’t be thrown by your results. ┬áThe key to confidence is worrying about what you can control, and not worrying about what you can’t control.

    • January 23, 2016 at 6:18 pm #1373

      I consider taking the LSAT to be the cognitive equivalent of running a marathon.┬á So the ‘cold diagnostic’ has the same value as just getting off the couch one day and running a marathon just to see where you’re at.

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