Whether you signed up for the LSAT long ago or just made the decision to apply for law school, you’ve got work to do if you’re going to take the LSAT in the near future.
As a test prep company who has coached several thousand LSAT test-takers, here are six last-minute LSAT prep tips for you to make the most of your time between now and Test Day.
In your undergrad classes, you could get away with procrastinating, cramming, and dedicating the whole day (and night) before memorizing a study guide. But this simply won’t cut it on LSAT prep because, quite simply, there’s nothing to memorize.
The LSAT rewards the application of law school skills such as incisive, critical reading and logical reasoning to a range of subject matter so wide there’s no way you’ll be familiar with all (or even most) of it. This is a test of what you’re able to do, not of how much you know.
Make sure the course or materials you use have a lot of real LSAT prep questions, sections, or tests to work with. Just as importantly, make sure all of the questions and tests have clear, complete explanations so that you can review everything you get right and wrong.
Right now, or at least as soon as you’ve finished reading this post, find the next available time to take afree complete practice LSAT. You’ll need about three and half hours to take a full-length, timed test. But once you do, you’ll have a much clearer picture of your strengths and weaknesses, and of what LSAT questions are all about.
Again, having explanations available for all of the questions is an enormous plus. In some cases, you’ll realize that you simply misunderstood what the question was calling for. In other cases, you’ll realize that you selected a correct answer, but could have done so much more efficiently by recognizing a pattern or process that the testmaker uses over and over.
The LSAT always contains four scored sections: two sections of Logical Reasoning (~50 questions), one of Reading Comprehension (~27 questions), and one of Logic Games (~24 questions). Many test-takers will discover that they’re weaker in one of those sections and try to improve their score by focusing exclusively on this one area of opportunity.
The fact is that all 101 questions are scored equally and adding four right answers to your strongest section will help your score just as much as adding four right answers to your weakest one.
For those of us who follow the LSAT, every test administration seems to produce one or two outstandingly difficult or unique-looking questions. We’ll argue about how best to crack these tough little puzzles and where they fit within the standard taxonomy of question types. Some self-styled LSAT prep gurus will even try to make their reputation by showing off a trick or two for the weirdest examples.
But in reality, these outliers have a small impact on your score, especially when compared to the standard questions and games that show up in large numbers on every administration of the test.
Someone like you, practicing with limited time before test day is far better served by gaining confident mastery of Assumption, Strengthen/Weaken, and Inference questions, Sequencing games, and the standard Reading Comp passages and questions than by seeking out obscure question types, even if those oddballs seem like the hardest problems to solve.
You need a teacher or material that knows the test inside out and can guide you to the most valuable question types so that your practice is guaranteed to turn into points on your official LSAT.
There is no denying that timing is the greatest challenge the LSAT presents for an enormous number of students. You will, at some point in your practice, say “I could get every one of these if I just had more time.”
In response, most test-takers try to read faster or cut corners in their analysis. This is a big mistake. Most of the wasted time on the LSAT actually comes from rereading and second guessing. Test-takers patient (and practiced) enough to read an argument one time, analyze it, and predict the correct answer before testing the choices will easily outperform someone who tears through the argument, but has to reread it as they consider choice (A), and then (B), and then (C), and then (D), and so on.
The same is true in Logic Games, where the highest scorers may take as much or more time to sketch the game’s setup and make its entire string of deductions as they do to answer its set of questions. Gaining mastery and confidence will make you more efficient, and in the end, allow you to outperform haphazard test-takers who are trying to simply work faster, not smarter.
A few more right answers can make you a much stronger applicant. For as much as pre-law students talk about the 120 to 180 range of LSAT scaled scores, the same students often have little insight into how those scores are calculated.