Teach The Right Skills
LSAT writers are extremely good at testing certain types of skills. We at 180 Degrees LSAT have analyzed LSAT exams to determine exactly what these skills are and we focus on teaching you those particular skills rather than merely teaching you tricks and hints. This is about learning for the long-term - the type of learning that will not only get you the success you want on the LSAT but will make you a more successful thinker for life.
This approach may seem obvious, but it’s far less common among other LSAT tutors than you might imagine. Teaching tips, tricks, and hints is much easier (and far less effective in getting you a higher LSAT score) than actually teaching the skills, knowledge, and fundamentals that the LSAT tests.
Emphasize the Importance of Critical Thinking
The LSAT tests a wide range of abilities, but dynamic, critical thinking is the most essential skill to master the LSAT. Unfortunately, many people lack critical thinking skills as our modern education systems are generally not designed to build them. Throughout high school, college, and sometimes even graduate school, students are rarely asked to come up with their own ideas. Instead, they are told what to think about certain ideas or they are told that certain approaches are the only way to understand those concepts. Since this way of thinking is so prevalent, test prep companies consistently use this very approach to teach the LSAT. While this may bump your score up by a few points, it will never allow you to reach your true potential: on the LSAT, in law school, or in your career.
Give You a Strong Learning Foundation
An easy way to understand the difference between the formulaic thought that most test prep companies teach, and the type of dynamic thinking that we teach at 180 Degrees LSAT, is to consider the following example:
Anyone with a very basic knowledge of cooking can prepare a dish by following a recipe. However, if anything goes wrong (it was left in the oven for five minutes more! Sacre bleu!), anything slightly unexpected happens (not enough sugar!), or the recipe is slightly illegible (ah that was 3 teaspoons of chili powder, not 8!), disaster strikes. This happens, not because it’s impossible to overcome these hurdles, but rather because one lacks the fundamental knowledge necessary to tackle these problems. Cooks who can only follow a recipe are not thinking organically and are unlikely to reach a level in their craft where they are able to create their own dishes. On the contrary, someone with a strong grasp of the foundations of cooking can, when disaster strikes, use judgement to determine whether a dish is still edible, use insight and creativity to substitute something else for the sugar, or use their improvisational skills if the recipe is illegible.
Similarly, if you have developed a strong foundation in dynamic, critical thinking, and if the LSAT test writers throw a unique or unusual question type your way, you will be able to adapt and answer the question correctly. Mastery of critical thinking makes all the difference between an average LSAT score and an LSAT score in the top percentiles.
Give You a Dynamic Edge Above the Rest
Unfortunately, unlike cooking, the LSAT is purposely tricky, and it can be very unpredictable. For example, the June 2010 LSAT (Preptest 60) featured a logic game commonly referred to as the “mulch” game. Actually, it was a simple game that didn’t involve many deductions and shouldn’t have taken a long time. For anyone who approached the test from a holistic, dynamic perspective, the game should have taken under 6 minutes to solve. But for most of test-takers, the problem was incredibly difficult. In fact, there were many complaints from people who felt that the game was too difficult when combined with the rest of the section. The game was deemed so difficult for so many people because it was unusual – not because it was actually hard. Students who had been taught formulaic responses to each common type of game were baffled by this game because their teachers hadn’t, and indeed couldn’t have, foreseen that this type of game would appear on the LSAT.
But 180 Degrees LSAT students didn’t find the mulch game difficult at all because of the holistic way they had been taught: they recognized that it was unusual, and they put their critical thinking to work to successfully solve it.
A Philosophical Mindset is Key
The dynamic critical thinking essential for the LSAT is very similar to the field of philosophy. One of the writers of the LSAT described his job this way:
“Reviewing, revising, and editing test questions draw heavily on the analytical skills taught in analytic philosophy — close reading and analysis of texts, careful drawing of implications, identifying ambiguities and category mistakes. Since much of the LSAT consists of reasoning questions, my specific training in logic and informal logic was directly applicable, along with the general philosophical skill of argument analysis.”
Someone trained in the study of philosophy, as our tutor Larkin Robson is, can instantly notice the philosophical underpinnings of the LSAT. This is part of the reason why philosophy majors tend to have a substantially higher score on the LSAT - as can you, under the tutelage of Larkin.
At 180 Degrees LSAT we strongly believe that a test designed and written by philosophers should be taught in a holistic manner by another philosopher.