LSAT Preparation Best Practices
March 19, 2012
Practice is the key to achieving a top LSAT score. The key to successful practice is in the details. As you begin your LSAT preparation, test day should dictate how you study. Build good habits and make sure you have developed a method so your test taking rituals are second nature by test day. Details, such as what type of pencils to use, may seem insignificant, but making test day as seamless as possible is necessary to achieving the score of your dreams. Assemble a LSAT bag of pencils, highlighters, erasers and pencil sharpeners and use it whenever you practice. Working out any kinks is essential to your peace of mind on test day.
Pencils: Mechanical pencils are not allowed to be used on LSAT test day. Do not practice with mechanical pencils. Starting with your first day of LSAT practice, you should use wooden #2 pencils. Not all wooden #2 pencils are created equal however. My personal pencil of choice for the LSAT is Ticonderoga Black. I like the way the Ticonderoga pencils write and I love their erasers. You do not have to use Ticonderoga pencils, but you must be fully in love with some type of pencil by test day. Test out different pencils until you find the pencil brand you love. Then use it for all your LSAT practice.
Highlighter(s): Highlighters are allowed to be used in your test booklet on test day. During your LSAT practice, develop a style of using a highlighter when and where it helps you most. You can use different color highlighters to signal different arguments on Reading Comprehension passages or to mark a word or sentence in a Logical Reasoning stimulus. Practice with highlighters so the method that works for you is second nature by test day. There is no right or wrong approach to highlighting – find the approach that works for you and use it consistently during practice.
Pencil Sharpener(s): Obviously, you cannot bring battery operated or electric pencil sharpeners into the LSAT, although many students have tried. There will not be pencil sharpeners provided by the testing site either. Buy a few small, plastic pencil sharpeners, preferably with an attachment to catch shavings. I would encourage you to bring enough sharpened pencils so you don’t have to sharpen pencils except during the break. The most common technique used for pencil sharpeners is to place them in a small sandwich sized ziplock bag. Sharpen your pencil with the sharpener in the bag so you don’t have debris all over your desktop. Also, you might want to bring a back-up pencil sharpener in case the first one gets clogged.
Big Eraser: Although you do have an eraser at the end of your pencil, there are times when a large, pink eraser comes in handy – like if you grid an entire section incorrectly and have to erase it and start from scratch. Or you realize your Logic Game set-up was completely wrong and you have to re-sketch it. Have a big eraser just in case. Be sure to find an eraser that does not smudge or tear up the page. Search high and low until you find an eraser that leaves the page clean and clear.
Analog Wristwatch: Practice timed sections using an analog wristwatch placed in front of you on the desk. I suggest resetting the watch to 11:25 at the beginning of each timed 35 minute section. This makes it much easier to visually assess how much time is left until the end of the section when the watch reaches 12:00. As each successive section begins, reset the watch again to 11:25. Trust me – this is much easier than leaving your watch on the actual time and trying to track 35 minutes in your head. Every time you practice, place the watch in front of you. Get used to this method of tracking time so on test day you are a well oiled, LSAT machine.
Pencils and erasers might seem like inconsequential pieces of your LSAT preparation, but getting your routine and comfort level worked out during these months of practice will pay off on test day. Now go to your nearest office supply store and start speed dating different pencils until you find the pencil that steals your heart.