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Intensive LSAT Preparation Can Change Students' Brain Structures

By Catherine Groux
Posted August 28, 2012 04:00 PM

Students can develop the reasoning skills they need to ace the LSAT.
Students can develop the reasoning skills they need to ace the LSAT.
Students who plan on earning a legal degree are generally required to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). This half-day, standardized exam is designed to measure students' acquired reading and verbal reasoning skills so law schools can get an idea of how well prepared they are for their legal careers.

Most students already know this test is challenging, but new research by neuroscientists at the University of California, Berkeley shows that the LSAT is so demanding that preparing for it can change the structure of individuals' brains.

As students strive to develop the logical skills they need to pass the LSAT, they are potentially physically reinforcing the brain circuits involved in thinking and reasoning. In doing so, they could be changing the microscopic structure of the brain and even developing higher IQs.

These findings indicate that "the ability to reason is malleable in adults," said Allyson Mackey, a graduate student who led the study. This, in turn, means that even if students initially struggle with their reasoning skills, with the right amount of preparation, they can develop the knowledge necessary to earn a high score on the LSAT.

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