Resource Roundup

Resource Roundup! May 23

As Chance the Rapper would say - "and we back"! We're in the final stretch for the June LSAT, so here are a few treats to guide you through the final days. 

THE SHORT READ

1843 Magazine, from the Economist, is back with their second issue! Definitely check out this brilliant piece on how smartphone tech and changing consumer appetites are changing the fashion industry. If you're like me, you're...less-than-knowledgeable about the current state of high style, and reading about it in this piece will stretch your horizons. 

THE LONG READ

I have a bad habit of starting several books at once and reading through them in parallel - a chapter here, a chapter there. Thankfully, my current books all stand out from one another, and none more so than Wanderer, Sterling Hayden's delightful, rambling autobiography. Part tell-all of one of Hollywood's greatest leading men (and greatest critics), part memoir of a year spent as a fugitive at sea, Wanderer will keep your head spinning (and deciphering Hayden's nautical lexicon will drive you to focus on structure and make you apply your reasoning skills). 

THE ENDORSEMENT

Sleep! I mentioned this last time, but I can't stress it enough - getting enough sleep is crucial, both for your prep and test-day performance. Plenty of studies talk about how sleep deprivation yields the same effects as drinking for motor vehicle use, and you wouldn't take the LSAT drunk, would you? So, grab some over-the-counter sleep aid ("Melatonin +" by Nature's Own is great), and hit the hay. The test prep will still be there when you wake up. 

THE ENDANGERMENT

Psyching yourself out before the test can happen in a number of ways, whether it's letting one bad prep-test get to you or hearing about somebody else who choked. But the inverse can also happen; getting cocky and sabotaging your prep can be just as dangerous. 

The only way to avoid these pitfalls is to take the long view. You've been preparing for the test for a long time - while it's never to late to sharpen up, you need to recognize that the best thing you can do is let yourself run the race you've been preparing to run.

So, stay sharp, get enough exercise and sleep(!), keep your mind calm, and crush it out there. 

Your moment of Zen

When confronted with the enormity of the world, you can either shrink down or stand up. Confront it with the live stream from the International Space Station, and stand up to do great things!

Resource Round-Up: May 9th

Resources! Resources! Get 'em while they're hot! Now on Mondays!

The Short Read

A few weeks back, The New Yorker published Madness, a difficult, gripping read on the abuse of mentally ill prisoners in Florida. It's a narrative that will both expand your empathy and provide another perspective on how far the criminal justice system still has to come. 

Also, if you aren't getting the Opening Statement newsletter from the Marshall Project, now's the time to sign up. You'll get a hit of top-notch, public interest reporting on the law and criminal justice, every morning. 

the long read

Last Friday, I got on a plane to visit family, and began reading The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, by Jeff Hobbs, and didn't put it down throughout my hours of layovers and plane time. Hobbs tells the story of his Yale roommate Robert Peace, a brilliant man who struggled to define himself throughout his tough Newark upbringing and was tragically murdered at 30 due to his involvement in the drug trade. It will break your heart, but it's a must-read. 

The endorsement

Exercise! No, seriously - don't forget to take seriously good care of yourself as you prepare for the test, especially now that we're exactly one month out. This entails getting enough sleep, getting the right nutrition, and staying active - your mind will thank you as much as your body. 

The endangerment

Listening to too many recommendations about how to prepare for the LSAT can be a real drag on your enthusiasm and performance on the test. The only thing that matters on your test-prep journey is finding what works for you. If you've found it, and you're seeing good gains in your score, keep at it. If you're still not sure what works, keep looking - but don't sacrifice what works for you just because it's not what your friend or someone online (like me) recommends. 

I've said it before and I'll say it again - you have to run your own race. Keep running. 

Resource Round-Up: April 12th

Howdy, students! Some creative projects and my gearing up for the June tutoring harvest have kept me from blogging as much as I'd hoped, so this post is the first in a casual installment I'm calling the Resource Roundup. A big reason I wanted to start ZenLSAT was my frustration over how difficult it was to find honest feedback on what LSAT resources were out there and how good they were.

As I write in Beyond the LSAT, however, I think there's a lot of value in utilizing non-LSAT-specific resources while you prepare for your test. So, whenever I find enough resources I like, I'll put them up here. 

The Long Read

I'm gearing up to write one-month fantasy novels with a few friends, which means digging back into the fantasy books I love and trying a few new ones on. Both The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss and The Magicians by Lev Grossman detail the semi-magical education of their young protagonists, but they do so in very different ways than most books (and from each other).

Reading literary fiction is a great way to expand your vocabulary and build your empathy - and you'll also appreciate the protagonists' frustrations and trials as their magical learning parallels your less-magical LSAT learning :) 

The Short Read

I was very excited to receive the first issue of 1843, the new bi-monthly magazine from The Economist, in my mailbox the other week, and even more excited when I realized how well-suited its writing is to LSAT Reading Comp practice. 

1843's articles on culture, technology, and politics are engaging, but are technical enough that they also demand the kind of careful reading you'd need on an LSAT RC passage. I wouldn't be surprised to see both "Versailles in the valley" and "Rational reproduction" excerpted on future LSATs.

The Endorsement

There's never been a better time to brush up your logical reasoning skills, because now there are dozens of online courses that teach you computer programming languages. I recommend Udacity.

Learning a programming language is a really excellent and really different way to exercise your logical brain and to get practice with thinking in terms of logical structure because, unlike human languages, programming languages have to work very precisely. If you can't precisely wield your "if statements" and understand Boolean values, your program simply won't work. 

I've been taking CS101/Intro to Programming with Python on Udacity, and couldn't be more happy. It's 100% free and the instruction is very clear. Give it a try!

The Endangerment

There are a lot of LSAT / law school resources that can be double-edged swords in their ability to help and hurt you on your law school journey, and none fit the description better than Top Law Schools (or TLS).

TLS has an incredibly useful forum for people who are applying to law school to connect with other applicants, law school professionals, and current law students. I really would've gone mad without it.

However, it's also easy to go mad with it, because it's easy to get sucked into the vortex of talking and thinking about things that you can't necessarily control. It's also hard to decide which of the conflicting opinions on the site you can trust, and how many grains of salt need to be taken with each piece of anonymous advice you get. 

So, go! But be warned.

A Moment of Zen

While your LSAT journey may be stressful, it will never be as stressful as these dogs struggling with stairs.