As you begin your LSAT prep, don’t worry too much about working within timing limits. While you’re trying to develop mastery (which will take a while), you may want to spend more than the average amount of time on a problem type. That’s OK for the first couple of weeks. Just be aware that you’ll have to tighten up the timing before too long. The averages – which you can be a little loose about for a while if you like – are:
You’ll feel better about timing if you elect to analyze your timing before you correct a quiz or test. Once you start assessing which questions you’ve gotten right and wrong, that takes up all your attention. You get distracted from the separate issue: how did you handle timing?
So: When you finish a 35-minute section, don’t correct/score it right away. First analyze your timing decisions:
Did you get to look at all the questions? Did you feel you were in control, or did the test control you? Where did you get bogged down?
Where did you become bold and say, “This one’s not going anywhere; I’m going to move on”?
Thinking about these kinds of questions will help you make better choices next time.
After you’ve completed the first 4 pages of an LR section, jump to the end of the section and work backwards. There are often low-difficulty questions hidden at the end of the section.
On the topic of LSAT timing, a common question is “how much time should I spend studying for the LSAT?”
The simple answer is “as much time as you can spare.” The LSAT isn’t like most other standardized tests, which ask you to understand and use content. The GRE rewards you for knowing trigonometry, the MCAT requires you to know organic chemistry, and the GMAT is much easier if you’re good at math. The only thing you need to know for the LSAT is how to read. Everything else on the test is skill, not actual knowledge. It would be impossible to solve a physics problem without knowing some physics, but anyone can solve a logic game given enough time. The more practice you get with these problems, the better.
Unfortunately, most of us haven’t been practicing with Logical Reasoning problems and doing Logic Games since high school. (You philosophy majors sit down.) That brings us back to the original question: How long should you prepare?
Like any other process that’s focused on learning how to solve problems, most of the benefit of LSAT preparation comes from spending time practicing. Just like law school, our class is designed so that you should spend between three and five hours outside of class for every hour in class.
Most of your progress, though, comes in the 150 to 260 hours you spend outside of the classroom working with the solutions you learned in class. That puts the total at between 200 and 300 hours of studying, for those keeping score at home. That includes not just working on problems but also studying the answers and explanations for every single one of those problems. A lot of people can get a few questions right on a hunch, but answers and explanations push those students to the next level by making them understand what those hunches meant and how to apply them to other questions.
200 to 300 hours is somewhere between 5 and 8 weeks of 40-hour-a-week, full-time study, and that’s something most people can’t manage to do all at once. It’s therefore imperative to start early. The longer you wait to start, the more you’ll need to do.
Previous: How should I study for the LSAT?
Next: Managing LSAT Stress