What I wish I knew before starting my LSAT prep

LSAT study skills

how to plan for the LSAT

So, you want to go to law school? The LSAT is no joke. But if you put in the time and energy into preparing for the test, you can and will be successful at this test.

These are the lessons that I learned while studying for the LSAT. Hopefully my experience can save you some time and headaches as you begin to study for the test.

#1 Make a realistic schedule and stick to it

Coming from someone who has made and broken more workout schedules than I can count, I understand how difficult this one can be.

Making a schedule that you won’t be able to stick to is a recipe for disaster. Of course, it would be ideal to study multiple hours each and every day, but that’s not realistic for most people. It’s best to take the time before you begin studying and figure out how many hours you can realistically devote to the LSAT each week.

Now for the hard part: actually sticking to it. I can’t see the future, but one prediction I am sure of is that there will be some reason to skip every single practice session you plan. The key is being disciplined and sticking to your schedule. If you can’t do this, you will not see your score improve, and you certainly will not reach your goal.

#2 Treat every practice test like it’s the real deal

There’s a common saying in the sports world: “Practice like you want to play.” That is, creating a game-like environment during your practice can help you be better prepared for high-pressure moments associated with games.

This goes double for the LSAT. It’s important that you create a test-like environment before test day. You could do this by playing background noise, using a timer that gives a 5-minute warning (the 7Sage LSAT Prep app does both), and not drinking any water or eating until the break. All of this helps to prepare you for the high pressure associated with test day. Instead of focusing on your nerves on test day, you can focus on the material in front of you.

#3 PT scores are something… but they aren’t EVERYTHING

While it’s important to treat each PT like a real test, it’s also important to remember that practice test scores are an imperfect measure of progress. When the LSAT gives score reports, they come with a range of +/- 3 of the actual score. That is because there is normal variance associated with the LSAT.

When you finally hit 170, you may feel like you broke through the barrier that was keeping you from your dream school, only to be let down when your next score is a 165. It happens. The 170 indicates that you’re capable of reaching that score on a real test. But the 165 indicates that the 170 may have been on the higher end of your range. As your prep continues, your average will increase, and the 170s will appear more consistently.  

#4 Slow down – not all logical reasoning questions are created equal

Often, a tester’s first instinct on the LSAT is to try to answer every question. Since there is no penalty for wrong answers, you should of course bubble in every question. However, not all LSAT questions are created equal, specifically in logical reasoning sections. The first ten LR questions in any section, for example, tend to be the easiest. Conversely, the last five tend to be the hardest.

Because of the instinct to answer every question, many test-takers rush through the first ten, to ensure that they have time to devote to the last five. By rushing through the first ten questions, they sacrifice accuracy on the easier questions so they have time to attempt much more difficult questions. To again compare the LSAT to sports, this would be like using poor fundamentals on lay-ups in order to take more long-range jump shots. In basketball that might make sense because of the 3-point shot. But there are no 3-pointers on the LSAT. Each question counts for the exact same amount.

So, my advice is: go ten for ten on the lay-up questions, even if it takes more time than you think it should. You might not have enough time to finish every question. That is alright! Take the easy points. As you become more skilled at the LSAT, you will not need to spend as much time on the first ten, and you will be much more capable of answering all of the questions in the section accurately.  Until then, it is acceptable to guess on the last few questions of an LR section.