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Eriny

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Thinking of a Melbourne JD? LSAT discussion thread
« on: December 17, 2010, 02:21:52 am »
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Hey all,

In a bid to keep my options open for as long as possible (I am an Arts student, after all) I'm sitting the LSAT this February. I wasn't actually going to bring it up until after I've sat it and therefore could give some really solid advice for it but I realised that many of you out there may be considering going down the Melbourne JD road. Which is fine, it's your decision, but in order to make the best decision, it often helps to have as much information as possible available to you about it. Frankly, I'm glad I didn't do Law as an undergrad because I would have done it for the wrong reasons and it wouldn't have afforded me the chance to focus solely on the intellectual pursuits I've been able to as part of my undergraduate degree. So this thread is definitely not meant to scare you in to thinking that doing law as an undergrad is necessarily a better option, though it will be for some people. The thread is here to give you some information about the LSAT that you should have in the back of your mind if this is your preferred pathway. This is certainly stuff I didn't know when I finished year 12 but would have been helpful to know (I probably would have started studying for the LSAT earlier if I had known this stuff!)

Anyway, the LSAT is a bit of a bastard of a test. It is extremely well-written and I think it's probably the best standardised test I've seen in terms of testing ability. It is well-targeted to law because it essentially tests your logical reasoning skills. It does not test knowledge, it tests your application of particular rules to particular situations. Unfortunately, there are extreme time limitations to every section - you are given 35 minutes per section (of which there are 6 with a 15 minute break in the middle) to do quite a lot of work.

The LSAT is structured as such (these sections can appear in any order although written is always last and the experimental is always one of the first three sections):

1x Reading Comprehension Section. This involves you having to read 4 different passages and answering questions on them. There are 25-28 questions all up. The questions involve you having to pick out the main points and drawing inferences, implications and analogies from the passages. Some questions test your ability to read in that they directly ask what the passage said, other questions test your ability to do some quite complex reasoning.

1x Analytical Reasoning Section (a.k.a. Logic Games). Humanities students tend to find this part the most challenging. There are about 23-25 questions divided into four separate games. Basically, you are given a scenario and a set of rules and your ability to answer the questions hinges on your ability to both follow those rules and make logical inferences from those rules.

2x Logical Reasoning Sections (a.k.a. Arguments). Here, you are given around 24-26 questions per section. Each question has a short paragraph and usually the paragraph is making a claim of some variety. The question asks you then to identify one of the following: its assumptions, its problems, its main argument, and what fact(s) could strengthen the argument. This sort of skill would be crucial to one's study of law, which is why is comprises half the marked sections of the test.

1x Experimental Section. The experimental section is used to test future questions. You are not told that it is experimental and it either has comprehension, analytic or logic questions. You will not know which section is experimental but you will know what type of section is experimental because you will get one extra of that type. It's unmarked.

1x Written Section. You are given a prompt and you write a short essay. The prompt involves a description of a scenario and then the main goals someone wants to achieve. You are given two possible courses of action and you are to pick the best one, based on the scenario and the goals the person wants to achieve. This section is unmarked but UoM will receive a copy of it as part of your application.

Now, there's good news and bad news. The good news is that the LSAT is a highly learnable test and therefore you don't need to be naturally good at it in order to do well, as long as you study. The bad news is that you do need to study for this test. The extreme time limitations and even just the general nature of the test means that in order to maximise your score, you really need to do quite a lot of practice tests. Some people are naturally good at standardised tests, but this is not the GAT here.

This test is very popular in the US but, as far as I know, only UoM actually uses it in Australia. This means that far fewer LSAT resources are available to Australian students than our US counterparts (such as prep-courses and study groups and such), but as the results of Australian students are scaled against scores from the US, we are competing with students who do have those additional resources. This is probably mitigated though by the fact that Americans will hardly be applying to UoM specifically, so while we are competing with Americans for scores, at least we aren't competing with them for spaces in the degree.

With scoring - scores are distributed between 120 and 180, 151 is the average, scores above 170 would get you into top law schools such as Harvard and Yale and such. UoM doesn't list a cut-off score in which they won't consider your application, but I think that you would definitely want it to be above that 151 mark, and higher if you don't have a glowing academic transcript. This unfortunately means that if you are taking the LSAT, you need to study. You need to set aside some time, over a few months, to actually properly succeed.

Additionally, the LSAT costs ~$100 and you can sit it four times a year. In order to be considered at UoM for the first semester intake, you'll need to have sat the LSAT by June of the year before (e.g. If you are applying for February 2012, you need to sit it in June 2011). I personally think that earlier is a better idea because if something happens on test day that causes poor performance, you won't be able to to re-sit the exam after June.

Anyway, this is all I can remember about the LSAT at the moment, if you have any questions, this is a good thread to ask them. Additionally, the LSAC website is a great resource - http://lsac.org

EDIT: I deleted some incorrect info
« Last Edit: January 21, 2012, 02:45:45 pm by Riny »

Russ

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Re: Thinking of a Melbourne JD? LSAT discussion thread
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2010, 01:03:30 pm »
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you can sit it four times a year

But no more than 3 times every 24 months.

I was looking at the JD the other day, interesting post thanks

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Re: Thinking of a Melbourne JD? LSAT discussion thread
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2010, 05:13:44 pm »
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Additionally, the LSAT costs ~$100 and you can sit it four times a year. In order to be considered at UoM for the first semester intake, you'll need to have sat the LSAT by June of the year before (e.g. If you are applying for February 2012, you need to sit it in June 2011). I personally think that earlier is a better idea because if something happens on test day that causes poor performance, you won't be able to to re-sit the exam after June.

Say that you sat the test twice before June. Would the highest score count? Or the most recent?
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Re: Thinking of a Melbourne JD? LSAT discussion thread
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2010, 05:18:50 pm »
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Highest (well, whichever you nominate technically)

Eriny

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Re: Thinking of a Melbourne JD? LSAT discussion thread
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2010, 08:38:59 pm »
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In the US, universities receive all of the scores that you have and take the average. I'm not sure if it's the same for Melbourne, but they recommend to only re-sit the test if your performance didn't reflect your abilities (e.g. you were sick).

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Re: Thinking of a Melbourne JD? LSAT discussion thread
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2011, 12:18:49 am »
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Are there any subjects/majors which would assist in preparing for the LSAT? To help foster the analytical and logical reasoning skills.

Liuy

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Re: Thinking of a Melbourne JD? LSAT discussion thread
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2011, 09:26:52 pm »
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Is the UoM JD extremely competitive for a limited number of places?
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Eriny

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Re: Thinking of a Melbourne JD? LSAT discussion thread
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2011, 09:59:30 pm »
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Are there any subjects/majors which would assist in preparing for the LSAT? To help foster the analytical and logical reasoning skills.
My background in philosophy has shown to be very useful. Apparently having a background in maths is useful too. I'd recommend subjects that get you used to complicated reading though (so, philosophy, maybe English literature, etc.) Ultimately though, you should do something you're good at because you really need the best grades possible, that's more important than a great LSAT score.

Is the UoM JD extremely competitive for a limited number of places?
I don't know but I would guess that yes, it would be.

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Re: Thinking of a Melbourne JD? LSAT discussion thread
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2011, 02:16:39 am »
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According to some research done by the US, the applicants with the highest averages are those who majored in Mathematics/Physics (160 avg), followed by those who studied Philosophy and International Relations as their undergraduates. So, you are looking good Eriny :)

Since Melbourne refused to post any minimum score/s for the LSAT, does anyone have a slight idea of how much we should aim for at least? From what I've read in other forums, some say an 8oth percentile is the minimum though others have claimed to have gotten in with 70th percentiles or so. Also, where can I find more resources for the LSAT, namely any sites that can link me to LSAT practice papers and so on.

Thanks
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Eriny

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Re: Thinking of a Melbourne JD? LSAT discussion thread
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2011, 03:32:15 pm »
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^ Haha, thanks. I just sat it today. It's a loooong exam.

I think the maths background thing seems quite believable. One of my friends is a mathematician and I had them do a paper 'for fun' to see how much it helps. It took me about 5 practice papers to be able to beat their score! And they did it all to time as well, they were great at every section apart from, fairly predictably, reading comprehension.

I found that for preparing, LSAC itself provides really good resources and their practice papers are obviously official past LSAT exams so they give you the best indication possible about what to expect. I found also that the LSAT has changed a bit since its inception, it has a slightly different feel to it and different sections are difficult now compared to before and some sections are much easier (the logical games section, for instance, is now vastly easier than what it was in the early 2000s). So, the best exams to practice on are actually the more recent exams (I think practise test 50 onwards is what you want to be focusing on, from memory).

I also read a booked called 'The Logic Games Bible' which was really useful and I improved a lot on that section pretty much immediately. I got much better at the other two sections just through practice, though LSAC's book, "SuperPrep" helped me a lot.

If you are interested in the LSAT materials I have, I have some *cough*torrented*cough* electronic copies. I have a bunch of past exams, the logic games bible and the logical reasoning bible (I didn't finish reading the latter one because it was really useless to me).

I also found US Law School forums pretty helpful. There are people who got into Harvard/Yale/etc. law programmes posting advice there. I think that they tend to go over the top though. Some of them didn't seem to have a life at all in preparing for the LSAT, which to me is silly. If you put aside 30 minutes or an hour a day to study consistently, that seems to put you very far ahead of a lot of the Melbournian test-takers (there were people I talked to today who hadn't even done a whole practice paper, just the sample questions they have for free on the website).

As for scores to expect for entrance, I don't know. A 160 is roughly in the 80th percentile and I think that's quite a reasonable score to expect from someone who has studied. The first time I tried the LSAT without having seen any questions at all I got a 160, although I expect it would have been a lot lower on the day because I didn't do that paper to time. Now that I've said that, I hope I do actually get over 160 on the real thing :s I don't know, I think I have a very skewed outlook on the matter because I've been reading posts from that aforementioned forum, lol. I recall reading posts by people who had a 172 and were therefore disappointed and wanted to resit, which is insane! 165 is supposed to be 'very good' though, I think that if you managed that you would definitely be safe (at least from the LSAT perspective).

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Re: Thinking of a Melbourne JD? LSAT discussion thread
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2011, 05:47:39 pm »
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Wow, nice! Good Luck with your results, I m sure you did well! :)

In the LSAC website, they only have one free sample exam (2007 one), but there's lots of links to their materials/publications. I am not quite sure which to buy, I've heard that the powerscores bibles are pretty good, as for the official publications, I am still scratching my heads over which set of prep tests I should get.

'So, the best exams to practice on are actually the more recent exams (I think practise test 50 onwards is what you want to be focusing on, from memory).'

The Official LSAT PrepTest 50
2006 edition , is that what you mean by the above?

And yeah, I wouldn't mind some torrented electronic copies, and that bunch of past exam papers. For those Bibles, I am happy to pay for them if you are willing to sell it.

Also, how long did you study for the LSAT? How many months/years would you recommend for one to prepare for it?

Sorry for so many questions, I am pretty naive regarding the LSAT. I've just finished my VCE last year, so all this transition stuff are quite new to me. Since I've missed out on Monash undergrad law, I am now undertaking a Melb Arts course. Kind of kicking myself now though, since I've met the clearly in ATAR requirements for undergraduate Law in ANU, but I've never really thought about enrolling for interstate. Hence, I am currently thinking of a transfer next year, either Monash or ANU, if possible. Just a personal question, why did you choose Melbourne JD? Couldn't you just do your post-grad JD in ANU?

Oh and a 160 at your first go? Timed or not, that is impressive. I hope age and uni experience makes a difference, since I have tried about 40 questions or so on some random websites, and I don't particularly find them all that easy :/.
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Eriny

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Re: Thinking of a Melbourne JD? LSAT discussion thread
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2011, 10:26:20 pm »
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They aren't easy really, but the more you do the more you get used to them and you kind of have an idea of the sorts of tricks the examiners tend to make. It's totally worth learning about things like necesary and sufficient conditions, because that comes up all the time, and also the contrapositive vs. the converse. Once I learned those things, it helped so much with the logical reasoning section, as well as with the games. Similarly (talking about the contrapositive), with the games also, it's worth really understanding explicitly that if a rule says something like 'T is on Wednesday if H is on Tuesday' while it means that if H is on Tuesday, T will definitely be on Wednesday but it does not mean at all that if T is on Wednesday that H must be on Tuesday. In other words, H being on Tuesday guarantees that T will be on Wednesday but T could still be on Wednesday without that condition coming into play. Unless, of course, the rule is 'T is on Wednesday if and only if H is on Tuesday' which is different again.

And if you got that above paragraph, then you shouldn't do too badly!

'So, the best exams to practice on are actually the more recent exams (I think practise test 50 onwards is what you want to be focusing on, from memory).'

The Official LSAT PrepTest 50
2006 edition , is that what you mean by the above?
Yep. That's what I meant. Although if you are studying for an extended period of time, you'll probably run out of practise exams if you only do from 50 onwards, so it makes sense to also draw from earlier ones. The earlier ones are superficially the same anyway (apart from the fact that the reading comprehension section now has one question in which you compare two passages which it didn't have before), and they're testing the same thing, they're only really different in a subtle way.

I started studying for the LSAT in December, so I guess that's 2.5 months study, though I didn't really dedicate a significant proportion of my time to it. I think if I could do it over I probably would have started in November and do a full exam once a week and then every other day just work on one section, though how I did it was mostly work on one of two sections a day and once every so often would do a whole exam in one sitting to make sure I wouldn't fatigue on the day.

And yeah, I wouldn't mind some torrented electronic copies, and that bunch of past exam papers. For those Bibles, I am happy to pay for them if you are willing to sell it.
The bibles I have are electronic copies, so that's all good. For the files, maybe the best thing to do is PM me your email address and I'll send you a zip file or something. As for the book, let me know via PM if you'd like it

Sorry for so many questions, I am pretty naive regarding the LSAT. I've just finished my VCE last year, so all this transition stuff are quite new to me. Since I've missed out on Monash undergrad law, I am now undertaking a Melb Arts course. Kind of kicking myself now though, since I've met the clearly in ATAR requirements for undergraduate Law in ANU, but I've never really thought about enrolling for interstate. Hence, I am currently thinking of a transfer next year, either Monash or ANU, if possible. Just a personal question, why did you choose Melbourne JD? Couldn't you just do your post-grad JD in ANU?
I'll probably apply for ANU too, and also Monash. Mostly though I'd like a change of scenery. Canberra is lovely but I don't really want to spend that much more time there. Another consideration of mine is doing a JD part-time and working, in which case I have a preference for Monash because they actually let you do the JD part-time, unlike Melbourne Uni. Also, I would prefer to work/settle in Melbourne than in Canberra generally.

Eriny

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Re: Thinking of a Melbourne JD? LSAT discussion thread
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2011, 11:45:43 pm »
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Also interesting: USyd thinks that a 150 on the LSAT redeeems a less-than-stellar GPA http://sydney.edu.au/law/fstudent/jd/apply_international.shtml

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Re: Thinking of a Melbourne JD? LSAT discussion thread
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2011, 11:55:15 pm »
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Haha, thanks Erinyy! Yeah I understand the above paragraph. 2.5 Months? I have heard people who dedicated a good few years of their life for it! Mmm, I guess I will be one of them :S  Is it really that learnable? Oh yeah, Sydney's JD requirements are apparently pretty low. Weird.
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Re: Thinking of a Melbourne JD? LSAT discussion thread
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2011, 12:04:28 am »
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I read somewhere that the fee for Melbourne JD is almost 100k...does this apply to every single student that undertakes the course? Or are there any CSP-equivalents for this course?