DeLoggio Education Consulting

Taking the Test


Take me back to
the Home Page




While we upgrade to our 6th edition, you still have complete access to our 5th edition.

How to Take the Test

Every one of the standardized tests used for college or graduate school shares question types with some other test. Sometimes the material is virtually identical, like the reading sections of the LSAT and the MCAT. At other times, the same word covers different materials; the SAT and GRE, for instance, have some grammar questions, as well as reading passages in the verbal score; other tests include the writing sample within the verbal score, while the LSAT writing sample is not graded.

Because of these differences, the approach we start with – the one for the LSAT – will not be the complete approach to another test; as the new SAT evolves, and other test formats are confirmed, we will add information unique to each kind of test.


The commonest question on every chat board I've looked at is "How do I prepare for the reading?" As I mentioned in the section on preparing for the test , the best way to prepare for the reading is to make sure you know the content of the test; you can answer questions about material you don't understand.


Most people read "the way in which a sponge reacts to water: by absorbing.... The sponge approach has a serious disadvantage. It provides no method for deciding which information and options to believe and which to reject."

Asking the Right Questions will teach you how to make decisions about what you've read. The latest addition, bookmarked here, includes online exercises. Older additions cost much less, but may not include the online component if the original owner already used them.

If you're reading critically and interactively, you should be marking important text in the passage as well as keywords in the answer choices as you go. You should also make tentative judgments about whether an answer is probably right, probably wrong, certain or uncertain. Here's what my test booklet looks like when I'm finished with a reading passage:

Reading passage marked up

You can see that when I first read question 21, I wasn't sure about A; I gave it a question mark. I didn't like B or C very much, and I marked the reasons why I didn't like them. I liked D and E even less, so I went back and chose A.

If you can't see the reasons why you chose or discarded each answer when you go back to review your answers, you're not engaging with the passage and the questions sufficiently yet.

When I find an extraordinarily intelligent client who is having serious trouble with the reading section of the test, I generally find that her range of knowledge outside of her chosen studies is very limited. It’s difficult to answer a question about Papal authority if you don’t know what a Pope is. Similarly, it is very difficult to answer questions about the changes technology has effected on art if you’ve never studied paintings.

You might find this post helpful: How to Ace the Reading on LSAT Notes, Tips and Practice ,

as well as How and When Do I Prepare for the LSAT"?

and Standardized Tests: the Right Attitude.

This lack of generalized knowledge is the reason I include three links on my webpage, suggesting Wiki readings , YouTube clips , and appropriate journals and books.

Wikipedia -- the world in yourt onw home
YouTube Link

learning how to read actively is a prerequisite to getting a good score on the verbal section of any test. Developing the vocabulary as well as the kind of "working knowledge" that YouTube can give you will not only help youimprove your understanding of the topic, but will also help you answer questions about the subject matter.


Law Services calls one section of the LSAT "Analytical Reasoning," and another section "Logical Reasoning." Since I could never see a rational distinction between the two, I refer to them by the content involved: arguments and logic games.

Along with "Asking the right Questions ," linked above, the other book I routinely recommend for arguments and analytical reading is

  As with "Asking the right Questions," earlier editions can save you a lot of money, and I don't know of any advantage to using the most recent one; however, I haven't actually looked at the most recent one. I might buy the newer one just because I hate used books with other people's scribblings in them, but if you don't mind someone else's highlighter, go ahead and save some money!

Because arguments are based more on structure than on content, my approach might differ slightly in analyzing the question. In particular, I read the question itself (but not the answer choices) before I read the argument (sometimes called "the prompt.") But the markings in my book look exactly the same as they did for the reading that I should you above, in my own genuine bad handwriting.

Logic Games

The average test-taker has no idea why we call these horrid things "games," but to many of us, they really are interesting. You can even buy books of them, or get a monthly subscription! "Games" hasslightly tougher problems, but the Dell books are a good start. Puzzle books

The "Games" section of the test, whether on the LSAT or GRE, involves approximately the same kind of problems. (The games on the LSAT tend to be more difficult than those on the GRE.). Either way, they require you to take a set of logical statements and decide what reasonable inferences can be made from those statements. This is usually best done by drawing a diagram of some sort:

My diagram for a relatively easy game might look like this: Easy Logic Game diagram
why my diagram for a difficult game will require more diagrams, often crammed into a smaller space. My diagram for a hard logic game


As soon as the test is over, you should try to make a relatively objective assessment of how well you did and what your composite score is likely to be. If you're reasonably accurate at predicting your score, you can start fine tuning your list of schools while you wait for the results.

The Writing Section

Since the writing sections on the LSAT, the GMAT, and the SAT are fairly different from each other, I'm not trying to give a particular format here. Instead, I will recommend the only three books I've ever found particularly helpful.


Each of these books is available in multiple editions. I prefer that my clients get the 18th edition of the Harbrace Manual simply because it's the one I own; this way, we can refer to the same page and question numbers. The only reason I can think of to get a newer addition would be to learn the rules of citing webpages, graphic novels, and other more modern forms of communication.

"On Writing Well" is the best book I've ever read for teaching you (and me) not to be repetitive, how to make sure our sentence structure is clear, and that any reader should be able to comprehend the sentence. "Writing to Learn" goes a step further, showing you how to include clear descriptive language that elucidates without cluttering your writing. This will be even more important when you're writing essays to go with your applications than it will be for the short paragraph on your standardized test; readers are often more forgiving when they know that you did not have the time to review, clarify, and proofread thoroughly.



and After