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LSAT Prep Increases Reasoning Skills

Update Date: Aug 22, 2012 12:55 PM EDT
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Children Busy With Other Activities Seldom Read (Photo : Flickr/Despotes)

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of California Berkeley suggests that even if you are not preparing or intending to prepare for law school, LSAT prep-courses or materials can help bolster your reasoning skills.

Experts have found that intensive preparation for the test actually "changes the microscopic structure of the brain, physically bolstering the connections between areas of the brain important for reasoning," as reported by Berkley press.

The results show that training people in reasoning skills--which is the primary basis of the exam--can reinforce the brain's circuitry in thinking and reasoning and could even boost people's IQ scores.

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While the MCAT requires extensive memorization and math skills (with years of college preperation), the LSAT's contain brain teasers and logic tests that simply requires particular or altered way of thinking.

"The fact that performance on the LSAT can be improved with practice is not new. People know that they can do better on the LSAT, which is why preparation courses exist," said Allyson Mackey, a graduate student in UC Berkeley's Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute who led the study.

While this is good news for persons seeking to go to law school, it is better news for those with poor reasoning skills and can act as an exercise for their brain. Moreover, while popular opinion dictates that people are innately intelligent and so naturally follows the conclusion that some will succeed while others will fail, the study promotes a more positive message.

"How you perform on one of these tests is not necessarily predictive of your future success, it merely reflects your prior history of cognitive engagement, and potentially how prepared you are at this time to enter a graduate program or a law school, as opposed to how prepared you could ever be."

Essentially, in the case of the LSAT, practice can and does make perfect.

"I think this is an exciting discovery," said John D. E. Gabrieli, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who was not involved in the research. "It shows, with rigorous analysis, that brain pathways important for thinking and reasoning remain plastic in adulthood, and that intensive, real-life educational experience that trains reasoning also alters the brain pathways that support reasoning ability."

I don't know about you guys, but I intend to test this theory starting, with Barnes & Noble test-prep section. 

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