LSAT is the golden key to a prestigious law institute. Aspirants always aim to outperform on the test to secure a seat in a good college. While the general challenges and strategies to crack the LSAT have always been in talks, the population of individuals with learning difficulties is often overlooked during such discussions.
Even though there are resources and accommodations made to incorporate a diverse population, individuals with learning disabilities lack awareness and are often disappointed due to discouragement.
So, the below-mentioned blog talks about the accommodations made for aspirants with dyscalculia, their challenges, and the strategies they can use to perform better on the LSAT exam.
Dyscalculia and LSAT: A tough nut to crack?
LSAT is amongst the most prestigious exams in the world. No doubt, it’s a tough nut to crack, and for individuals dealing with learning disabilities, the journey is even more complicated and exhausting. Of the 5 sections, Logical reasoning, Analytical reasoning, Reading comprehension, Variable section, and Writing sample, LSAT’s heavy reliance on the logical reasoning component is a tough battle for dyscalculics.
Adding to that are the time management skills required to excel at the test. For most dyscalculics, learning to reason, understanding relationships and patterns, and processing everything within the stipulated time has been inconvenient. Several amendments and accommodations have been made to tackle the problems faced by the learning disability population.
Challenges dyscalculics might face during LSAT preparation
Learning disabilities, like dyscalculia and dyslexia, often don’t affect the individual’s intelligence quotient. Most individuals with dyscalculia have average or below-average intelligence. However, there are academic-related difficulties that can’t be ruled out for better performance in exams like the LSAT.
1. Slow reading and processing
Individuals with learning disabilities take more time to read and understand the content of the questions. Due to slow reading and processing, individuals with dyscalculia face trouble completing the exam on time. Nevertheless, practice is needed to increase their reading and processing speed for better performance on these tests.
2. Logical Reasoning
Even though dyscalculia is related to mathematical understanding, individuals with dyscalculia can show problems in writing. The LSAT writing sample is an essential section of the exam, which showcases an aspirant’s ability to logically reason and articulately present an argument. Dyscalculia’s impact on one’s logical reasoning tied with problems in writing can make things worse for dyscalculic individuals.
3. Time Management
Time management and organization are yet another challenge facing dyscalculics. As the exam is heavily logic-based, there are even more troubles for dyscalculia and organization, and proper time management is needed so that enough time is given to each section of the paper. Time management and organization is also important area for dyscalculics to work on, as working memory and impaired inhibitory function (interference suppression), can cause distraction and require more time given to every question. The only good savings is good practice and proper time management for individuals with learning disabilities.
Accommodations for students with dyscalculia taking LSAT
Like SAT, LSAT demands much greater mental resources and effort from aspirants, which poses a significant challenge to individuals with dyscalculia. However, LSAT keeps in mind these challenges and has made some reservations to make things easier for the test-takers diagnosed with dyscalculia.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), individuals are entitled to the following academic accommodations:
- 50% increased time on all the sections of the test – As individuals with dyscalculia would need extra time to read and process information
- An electric reader or a human reader reads out the content and instructions on the exam
- Speech recognition software is allowed for dyscalculics, as it helps with writing lengthy and properly phrased answers
- Large prints for the pen-paper format – on which the questions can be attempted easily
- Permitted use of the computer for the writing portion- as systems come equipped with the speech recognition software
Even though such accommodations are in place, getting them operationalized is tough. Several applications are rejected due to lack of credibility, use of improper or no psychological tools, etc. Hence, when applying for accommodations, it is imperative to maintain a file of all the proper documentation so there’s no room for rejection.
Tips and strategies for LSAT preparation
A significant portion of people with dyscalculia can contribute to the field of law if they learn to take proper guidance and apply it in their lives. Not only can they crack the LSAT, but they can also perform well in their careers. So, below are some tips and strategies that can help prepare for the LSAT.
1. Practice Active Reading
Active reading is an essential strategy and is suggested for almost every competitive exam. In the LSAT, active reading can also help build mental resources for verbal comprehension and writing sample portions. It involves asking oneself questions pre and post-reading, forming questions yourself rather than simply answering the already given, creating a visual map for the concepts, and explaining the gist and essential concepts of the reading to someone else.
2. Work On Critical Thinking
Critical thinking is a course of mental action; not only is it effort-intensive, but it also helps us analyze situations better. As the LSAT requires a test-taker to go as deep into the details as possible, practicing a critical approach, looking at the pros and cons, coming up with different solutions, and then proving them right or wrong based on logical reasoning can help in several sections of the LSAT. Another way to develop critical thinking skills is by taking classes in philosophy or critical writing.
3. Answer Every Question
LSAT doesn’t have a negative marking. So, for individuals with dyscalculia, the best thing to do is to answer every question on the test paper. This strategy not only secures test-takers from losing out on wrong answers but will also allow better time management and exposure to all the kinds of questions on the paper.
4. Play Logic Games
Logical reasoning is the backbone of the LSAT; hence, aspirants can improve logical reasoning only by practicing many logic-driven activities. Technology has made it easy for aspirants to practice logical reasoning in a fun and immersive manner. Several games can help dyscalculics build their logical reasoning without feeling like a task.
5. Reflect And Analyze
Logical reasoning doesn’t get over like the game; in reality, the actual analytical reasoning effort begins after the game ends. Aspirants need to have their minds always reflecting and analyzing the patterns and relationships among things. When playing logic games, it’s essential to go back and see why the answer was wrong and what led to the defeat.
6. Find Out About Latest Technologies
The latest technologies have helped individuals struggling with disabilities. Many non-governmental organizations help individuals access resources and materials specially curated for individuals with learning disabilities.
7. Join Student Communities For Individuals With Disabilities
College and Facebook communities are working towards uplifting and better inclusion of individuals with learning disabilities in education and profession. Hence, becoming a part of such communities would help instill confidence, greater acceptance, representation, and access to helpful resources.
- Learning Disability Professional Group – The community supports and creates awareness of different types of learning disabilities.
- Adults with learning disabilities – The community shares podcasts and important information on living with learning disabilities as an adult.
- Stop discrimination against special needs– The Facebook page is intended for peers and families of individuals dealing with learning disorders and expresses support through positive posts.
Dyscalculia isn’t just about numbers. It affects one’s ability to logically reason, form arguments, and involve in deeper thinking. For LSAT aspirants, the battle’s only half won after securing the accommodations, as more significant effort and perseverance are needed on the part of test-takers diagnosed with dyscalculia. With the above-mentioned suggestions and strategies, one can identify the roadblocks and target the areas of improvement.
- Cárdenas, S. Y., Silva-Pereyra, J., Prieto-Corona, B., Castro-Chavira, S. A., & Fernández, T. (2021). Arithmetic processing in children with dyscalculia: an event-related potential study. PeerJ, 9, e10489. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.10489
- Morsanyi, K., Devine, A., Nobes, A., & Szűcs, D. (2013b). The link between logic, mathematics and imagination: evidence from children with developmental dyscalculia and mathematically gifted children. Developmental Science, 16(4), 542–553. https://doi.org/10.1111/desc.12048