If you are reading this blog post, you may be at any number of places in your LSAT journey. Perhaps you have not yet started studying. Possibly you are not satisfied with your progress so far. Indeed, maybe you have already taken the LSAT and are seeking to improve your score. Regardless, this post is for you. Much like Mr. Miyagi stresses in The Karate Kid movies, the LSAT is about balance — between learning and practicing, between reviewing old questions and diving into new questions, and most importantly, between studying and relaxing.
The LSAT is not something that should be crammed. You may know people who studied for a month and ended up with a phenomenal score, but in my experience, this method more often results in not only less satisfactory results, but substantial stress.
Succeeding on the LSAT requires just four things: organization, dedication, flexibility, and confidence.
You may be thinking, “Of course, but what do these traits look like in the context of the LSAT?” Here we go!
“Wax On, Wax Off” or...have a studying outline before you start studying
For various reasons, including their law school timeline, people have different amounts of time that they are able to commit to studying for the LSAT; some people have several months or even a year to study, while others only have a single summer. If you know that you will have other significant commitments while you are studying, such as college courses or a job, I would recommend that you dedicate no fewer than six months to studying. Indeed, if you are unsure, I would generally recommend that you set aside more time as opposed to less. If you are anything like me, there will be setbacks; this is normal. If you have more time, you will feel less pressure and be able to adjust more easily (more on this later).
Fortunately, there are numerous LSAT study plans on the Internet already. I highly recommend the PowerScore study plans (and thus their materials as well), but if you are committed to a particular test prep company, it will likely have its own excellent study plan. Regardless of which plan you choose, you will likely deviate from it at various points, which is totally fine; the purpose of the study plan is to keep you on track and provide some perspective as to your intermediate goals throughout your studying process.
“Must First Learn Balance” or...focus on techniques before diving into practice tests
With both karate and the LSAT, practice is the key to success. But it is important to practice the right way; otherwise, you are just solidifying bad habits. I definitely recommend that you take a timed diagnostic test to determine your baseline score and figure out which sections you need to work on the most, but that should be the last practice test that you take for a while. No matter how straightforward and boring the practice exercises may seem, do them and take them seriously. This will help you develop sound techniques, which will help you answer more questions correctly and do so more quickly, which is very important on the LSAT with its short sections of only 35 minutes each.
After you start taking practice tests, approach them seriously as well. Simulate the conditions of the actual test; do not check your phone, and do not give yourself extra time. This will give you a more realistic assessment of how you are doing and make you feel more confident on the day of the LSAT. After you have completed and scored a practice test, as tough as it is, go through each question again, focusing particularly on the questions that you got wrong. Make sure that you understand why you did not get them correct. Circle the questions that you still do not understand at the end of your review, so you can make sure to figure them out later.
Throughout this whole process, it is great if you can find ways to make your studying as enjoyable as possible. By the time I took the LSAT, I enjoyed the logic games, and I have actually learned some interesting facts from the reading sections. Sometimes, this is easier said than done, and the best way to make studying fun is to eat your favorite food while studying (ice cream for me). Ensuring that you are not miserable will help your performance.
“Best Karate Still Inside You — Now Time Let Out” or...make adjustments when necessary
As I suggested earlier, you will not follow your study plan perfectly. Sometimes you will do exceptionally well on the exercises or problems that you are assigned one day and you will be able to get a jumpstart on the next section. Other times, you will fall behind because a particular concept or set of problems is challenging and you want to spend more time on them. Be willing to be flexible — both with respect to how many days you commit to material and to the ways in which you learn the material. I generally thought PowerScore was terrific, but I was struggling on logic games, so I bought a different book, revamped my approach, and ended up getting a perfect score for this section on the LSAT. To paraphrase Captain Barbossa from Pirates of the Caribbean, your study plan is a guideline, not something that must be strictly followed to the letter.
“Lesson Not Just Karate Only” or...do Not Let The LSAT Consume Your Life
The LSAT is undoubtedly important, and you should not expect it to be easy. It was one of the more stressful periods of my life. But it should not consume you. Take breaks while studying, especially when you feel as though your mind is not fresh. If you have a tough day of classes or work and you really do not feel like studying that day, consider taking the entire day off. About a month before I took the LSAT, a friend asked me how I had been on the phone, and I realized that I had done nothing in the past two weeks except work and study for the LSAT. As a result, I immediately relaxed my studying schedule, and ultimately performed very well. Do not hesitate to do the same!
Aside from learning that I really like movies, I hope this blog post gave you a plan of attack for the LSAT that will enable you to succeed and remain happy at the same time. You can do this!