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LSAT Study Guide: Prep with Limited Time

While we recommend spending at least a month studying for the LSAT, we understand that’s not possible for everyone. If you’re down to your last week before the LSAT and you still have a significant amount of studying to do, check out our limited-time LSAT study plan and last-minute LSAT tips below.

Top Tips for LSAT Prep with Limited Time

LSAT Study Tip #1: Practice the LSAT (Do Not Cram)

With at least some of your college courses, you could overcome procrastination by cramming, finding out what you needed to know for the final and dedicating the whole day (and probably night) before the test to drilling it into your short-term memory. As long as you could recall the salient facts during the exam, you were good to go. But this won’t be the case on the LSAT 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. Realizing this changes everything. You can no more hope to master the LSAT by passively learning about it than you could hope to master the guitar by reading a book.

Make sure the course or materials you use have a lot of real LSAT 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. Getting into the batting cages and swinging away will help you become better at hitting a baseball, but you’ll make much faster and more reliable improvement if you have a coach there who can explain what you’re doing differently between the swings that made solid contact and those that miss.

LSAT Study Tip #2: Discover Your Starting Point

Right now, or at least as soon as you’ve finished reading this post, find the next available time to take a 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.

LSAT Study Tip #3: Keep Your Prep Balanced

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. The sample study schedule below takes this into account.

LSAT Study Tip #4: Avoid Concern About That One Weird Question

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 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.

LSAT Study Tip #5: Target Efficiency, Not Speed

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.” (If you doubt me, just come back and read this again after you’ve taken a couple of tests.) 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.

LSAT Study Tip #6: Stay PositiveA Few More Right Answers Can Help Significantly

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. Without getting into complicated algorithms – and trust me, you do not have time for that before the October LSAT – the chart below points out some eye-opening information.

COMMON LAST-MINUTE LSAT PREP MISTAKES: THE WEEK BEFORE LSAT TEST DAY

 

  • LSAT Prep Mistake #1: DON’T TAKE A FULL-LENGTH EXAM EVERY DAY FROM NOW UNTIL THE DAY BEFORE THE TEST.

    This leaves less time for a more analytical approach to studying. Simply taking exams and looking at the scores will do little to improve your performance. Instead, you need to spend time reviewing each test you take to understand what you did wrong and what you need to do to get better. Without that understanding, your score is unlikely to get better on the next test.

    Even if you do review your test every day, that’s still about six or more hours of studying in one day. That can get exhausting and potentially lead to burnout. Plus, it leaves little or no time to focus on practicing on any specific concepts that troubled you on the exam. If you know what’s giving you trouble and you don’t take the time to work on it, then it’s probably going to give you trouble on the next exam, too.

    You can’t always assume that problems will just fix themselves from one test to the next. That’s why you need to take an extra day or two between tests to work on concepts individually – whether it be specific question types or improving pacing within one particular section.

  • LSAT Prep Mistake #2:DON’T WORK ON ONLY THE MOST CHALLENGING QUESTIONS.

    The more challenging the questions, the more likely you are to get those questions wrong. Sure, it’s great when you get those questions right. However, getting them wrong is still frustrating – even if they are more difficult. And, if you get too many wrong, you lose sight of what’s important – all the questions you would get right.

    You have to remember that your score is dependent on getting questions right, not just getting hard questions right. If you focus only on the stuff giving you trouble, you’ll have a hard time building momentum and you’re more likely to enter the test discouraged about your weaknesses rather than encouraged by all the progress you’ve made. Spend some time reviewing your strengths and make sure that you end your studying on a positive note. Nobody wants to go into Test Day having blown the last question in practice.

  • LSAT Prep Mistake #3: DON’T STUDY HARD THE DAY BEFORE THE LSAT.

    It’s okay to take some time early in the day to get in some last minute review or work on a few strengths to give yourself a confidence boost. However, by the time dinner is done, the books should be hidden and all you should be worried about is making sure you have everything you need for the day ahead – your pencils, your admissions ticket, directions, etc. Don’t let the day before the test be stressful in any way, shape or form. Relax. You’ve put in a lot of hard work. Let it all pay off with a great score the next day.

What to Study the Week Before the LSAT

Your goal during the week before the LSAT is to set yourself up for success on Test Day. Up until this point, you have been working to build your LSAT potential, but Test Day is about achievement.

TIPS FOR PLANNING YOUR REMAINING LSAT STUDY TIME

  • Balance stress management and study.
  • Study areas of greatest strength, not only areas of greatest opportunity.
  • The majority of your work should be under timed conditions—either Timing or Endurance.
  • Still review the Answers and Explanations for every practice problem.
  • Remember that you are going to law school.

WHAT TO DO LEADING UP TO THE LSAT

  • Get your body on schedule for the time of the test, and do LSAT questions at that same time of day.
  • Eat, sleep, and exercise.
  • Visit your test site; check on public transportation schedule, directions, parking, etc.
  • Print out and double-check your admissions ticket.
  • Check www.lsac.org for the most recent Test Day guidelines.
  • Decide whether you want to take the test or withdraw.

THE DAY BEFORE THE LSAT

The day before the LSAT is as important as the six days before it. The first instinct of most test takers is to cram as much as possible in hopes of grabbing a few last-second points. But the LSAT isn’t a test that can be crammed for. You should think of Test Day as game day. Make sure you can hit your potential when it counts. Relax the day before the test so that you can hit your peak performance when it matters most.

Sample LSAT Study Guide: Prep with Limited Time

Here’s a sample, daily schedule for someone practicing for the LSAT with limited time. It assumes that you have between two and three hours per day to spend on LSAT practice. You can adjust the schedule to account for your own availability, but follow the balance of practice activities and note the section-specific focus for different days of the week. Following this plan over your final weeks before taking the LSAT will help you improve your score as much as possible between now and then:

  • Sunday: Take a full-length LSAT (min. 2 ½ hours for the four scored sections and a ten minute break; Add 1 hour 10 minutes to take a full test with an experimental section and Writing Sample)
  • Monday: Review the first Logical Reasoning section from your Sunday test (30 to 60 minutes) AND practice 25-35 Logical Reasoning questions (two hours)
  • Tuesday: Review the Logic Games section from your Sunday test (30 to 60 minutes) AND practice 4-6 logic games (two hours)
  • Wednesday: Do timed sections from a released LSAT (35 minutes each) and review the explanations (30 to 60 minutes per section)
  • Thursday: Review the second Logical Reasoning section from your Sunday test (30 to 60 minutes) and practice 25-35 Logical Reasoning questions (two hours)
  • Friday: Review the Reading Comprehension section from your Sunday test (30 to 60 minutes) AND practice 4-6 passages (two hours)
  • Saturday: Leave one day per week LSAT free to relax and recharge. Make sure to rest the day before your official LSAT, too.

With limited time until test day, making and sticking to the practice schedule (or your personal variation on it) is essential. Many test takers who see that their time is running out try to cram in a flurry of tests, without reviewing them or learning why they are getting some questions right, but consistently missing others. Others succumb to panic, throw up their hands, and “wing it” on test day. You have the opportunity to beat both groups and make solid, repeatable improvements in your score. But act now. Take advantage of Kaplan’s LSAT expertise and become the author of your own LSAT success story.

KEEP READING: What’s a good LSAT score? ]