I have just come out of the most hideous test experience of my life; the LNAT (Law National Admissions Test). I had to pay a sadistic £50 to have intense pain inflicted upon me for a service most dominatrices could only dream of providing. Never having had any particular interest in BDSM, a university application test was the last place I expected to have the culture forced upon me.
LNAT is the test many aspiring lawyers have to sit, in the hope of being accepted by their chosen universities. It has been developed to highlight critical thinking and logic amongst candidates where there is an ever increasing aptitude for straight A’s at Higher or A-Level.
Average age for those sitting LNAT is 17. Now perhaps the average 17 year old of 2010/11 is far brighter than I ever was at that age or indeed this age, but as a graduate of multiple disciplines, I cannot see how anyone could ‘ace’ such a test and still be considered remotely human.
Candidates are forced to read prose drier than 19th century contract authorities (mostly cattle and farm related for those who haven’t yet directed their sheep to that dip) and are then expected to answer 42 multiple choice questions, in 95 minutes.
Pimpsy, I hear potential and current lawyers cry.
Consider, if you will, those 42 questions are themed into blocks of 3 or 4 per different selection of desert-dry drivel, each passage at least 1000 words of prose written to punish rather than entertain or enlighten. Infact i wouldn’t be surprised if the authors hadn’t indeed written such mind numbly dull discourse as an experiment to see if anyone survived to admit to having read it. That certainly seems to be the approach of the chosen texts in LNAT.
Now put yourself in the driving theory test chair, for the LNAT is ran by the same company, and you have yourself nowhere near to an understanding of what I just experienced.
The test is primarily aimed at ‘children’ as is evident by the information on the LNAT website. For example, Problems with lack of identification can be solved by providing a letter from your school head, on school headed notepaper with a passport photo stamped by the official school stamp. Notice a theme here?
If I wasn’t in possession of valid I.D. I would have had to dig up my late headmaster (died in c.1993) and then searched the landfills of East Dunbartonshire for the long since extinct school’s official stamp.
You can also get teachers to help prepare you for the test but they advise against paying for coaches. Only bloody coach I’d have happily paid for was one going in the opposite direction of the test centre.
That’s not all, upon entering the building an ageing gent comments, “you’re a bit late for LNAT this year aren’t you?” while another chirps, “oh is this a change of career for you?” then proceeds to tell me they have people with two or more doctorates failing these tests all the time. *Cue sweet smile and noxious dose of nervous gas*
(nervous gas is similar in noxious olfactory experience to nerve gas but is the result of anxiety rather than chemical warfare. The conclusion is however, identical)
So, before I get into the test room my confidence was already plummeting. The test experience was to take it to an all new low, depths Satan himself would find a little daunting.
Thankfully my prayers to Daisy Dog were answered and there was not a single question on irony. It appears from the example papers, the Pearson Vue understanding of irony is completely at odds and distinctively more subtle than that of the general public (or at least those I showed test papers to). Could that be an irony in itself? I haven’t a clue, my once confident understanding of irony is now non-existent.
Further, the Pearson Vue concept of argument and progression of argument to me seemed nothing more than firing facts out in a particularly dry manner. Trying to determine which single word out of a thousand or more, progressed a non-existent argument becomes a near impossible task. I now no longer have a confident understanding of argument either. Are we talking points? debate? fight? scrap? pile-on!!!!!!!
Comprehension at school was not my strongest skill in English and my need to detect irony or whether “yet” progressed an argument never arose in my university degrees. In fact having already studied as part of an LLB, contract law, delict, UK administrative law and commercial law, not once did I experience anything close to the LNAT test content, or question my academic ability to such a self-doubting extent.
Needless to say, I believe I Fucked Up!
I almost ran out of time so guessed the last four multiple choice questions. Well, I have a one in four chance of getting it right…
And that wasn’t even the end of the test. I still had the 40 minute essay to write. The questions were a dream, the word count not so much. 500 words to say whether the unemployed were solely responsible for finding work.
Well ranting is my forte, so I bitched about government, business and generational expectations. Blamed the tories for everything and said we all had a responsibility. Hit 700 words, realised it’s all shite, edited a bit and finished with 42 seconds on the clock. Sadly this part of the test doesn’t get marked, it’s just compulsory excess punishment designed to finish you off if the multiple choice section didn’t quite manage it.
I left shaking.
I’ve never experienced that after an exam! Hell before today I’d never experienced it before an exam either. Results aren’t out until JUNE (!) so no point worrying about them. It’s done now.
I certainly don’t know how 17 year olds cope with it all, it’s a highly stressful exam that essentially decides the outcome of your future. I’m not convinced it picks out those best for law, unless the profession is to be filled with pre-programmed robots, who cannot think for themselves. Actually, with that in mind, perhaps its perfect.
My test results on the samples certainly don’t reflect my aptitude or particular talents and they didn’t reflect my 72% average on the LLB coursework I had undertaken previously. My exam certainly won’t flag me up to universities as untapped potential or even desirable if they rely on my LNAT score to assess my application.
At least I did come away with a “free” pair of orange earplugs. Not bad for a £50 experience in the current economic climate.