If you’re preparing for the LSAT, you might appreciate these 3 LSAT tips. I’ll tell you how I discovered these tips and what these tips are so you can apply them to your LSAT journey.
My LSAT journey is not typical of most students. My score increase from my cold diagnostic was greater than most students should expect. And, achieving this score increase took me a great deal of time. If I had to guess, I’d say I’m in the 99th percentile for the total amount of time I spent studying for the LSAT. I spent a total of 12 months studying full-time, totaling around 1,000 hours.
And while this type of dedication may seem admirable, it’s actually a sign of a problem that I had: when I started studying for the LSAT I had no idea what I was doing.
I thought I could just enroll in a course, skim through it, then start taking practice tests until I got a 170 and went to Duke. That was far from the truth.
So, needless to say, looking back on my LSAT journey, I have some regrets. But you’re in luck. My mistakes can help prevent you from spending more time than necessary preparing for this test.
Here are 3 of the most important things I wish I had known when I started studying for the LSAT.
Instead of taking a targeted approach to each section of the LSAT, I instead adopted a brute-force, scorched-earth tactic. I tried to study for the entire test, all at once.
What I instead should have done is learn each LSAT section individually and reach an elite level of understanding before moving on. What I urge most students to do is to study the sections in the following order:
LG is the most common section for students to struggle with at first. If you’re like me, these games were completely foreign to you, and when I first encountered them on my diagnostic I got to work bubbling in a Christmas tree. So, if you’re performing the worst in this section, it makes sense to get better at it first.
But there are other reasons I urge you to study this section first.
Logic Games and Logical Reasoning obviously both test students on the subject of logic, but Logic Games will test you on a specific type referred to as “formal logic.” This type of logic is formulaic, predictable, and “simple.” Understanding the formal logic of the Logic Games sections will give you the fundamentals to approach the logic of the Logical Reasoning Section.
The other reason I encourage you to study Logic Games first is that this section is the most learnable. This is not to say it is the easiest section, but most students will find that they improve the most on the Logic Games section. The amount of time you spend studying this section, therefore, will likely pay off.
Lastly, improving your score on your LG section will give you the confidence to continue working to improve your scores on the other two sections. It will show you that this test is learnable, and it rewards hard work.
After mastering LG, it’s time to move onto Logical Reasoning. This section has a similar level of learnability to logic games, just to a lesser degree. Understanding the formal logic in the games section will give you the fundamentals to learn this section, but you will have to continue to build upon your understanding of logic to do well.
The most important thing to consider about Logical Reasoning is that the LSAT has two of these sections. Improving your Logical reasoning performance by just 5% will result in a score increase of 10%! With the LSAT, that can be the difference between not getting accepted into a school, and getting a full scholarship.
The last section I recommend you study is also the hardest to improve on. So if your cold diagnostic scores in reading comp was a -5, congratulation! But if you, like many students, scored closer to -12, don’t fret.
Though reading comprehension is the most difficult section to improve in, it definitely can be done. When I began studying for the LSAT, I averaged nearly double digits questions missed in reading comp. By the end of my studies, I was averaging -2.
If you’ve been reading around our website, you’ve probably already heard me mention this. But this tip maybe the Golden Rule of LSAT prep. Do NOT waste practice tests.
Real LSAT questions are the most valuable study material in your test prep. The LSAT has particular language and tests specific concepts, and you need to get used to these things throughout your prep. The LSAT also experiences subtle changes over time; so the most recently released prep tests will be the most similar to the test you’ll take on Test Day. Though earlier tests will also be helpful during your prep, it is these recent tests that you need to save for when you’re ready.
So, I recommend students start with earlier prep-tests when they begin studying. Until you’re near your goal score, don’t even look at prep tests from 2010 or more recently. Focus on tests from the early 2000s or even the 90s.
And, under no reasonable circumstances, should you quit in the middle of a timed section. Doing so makes that section useless in working on the timing of the LSAT, and getting used to that timing is one of the most important parts.
If you’re taking a full-length practice test and for some reason, you don’t want to finish, just finish the section you’re working on and save the remaining sections for drills. If you’re taking a timed section and decide you don’t want to finish, get over it and finish the section.
Do anything you can to avoid wasting practice tests. LSAC only releases a few a year, so you’ll (hopefully) be in law school by the time you get access to new materials.
This last tip is what would have saved me hundreds of hours of LSAT prep. Luckily for you, my mistakes can help you avoid doing the same thing.
Increasing your LSAT score isn’t about how many full-length practice tests you do or about how many hours you spend studying. It’s about understanding what the questions are asking you and knowing where to find the information to answer them.
Therefore, the best way to increase your LSAT score is to slowly and carefully study the test. Instead of drilling 5 sections a day, drill 2 or 3 sections. After taking those sections, timed, go back through the section and understand not only why you got questions wrong, but also why you got questions right.
A correct answer choice on a practice test counts for nothing on the real LSAT, but understanding why you go the correct answer to a question on a practice test will help you get those same questions right on the real test.
So don’t try to do as many questions as you can, and definitely don’t just devour as many practice tests as possible, but instead focus on the quality of your studying. Study smart, not hard, and you’ll see your score increase faster.
Reading these LSAT tips won’t raise your score (unfortunately). But if you take this advice into account and start studying for the LSAT with the right LSAT prep course for you, I promise that you will see results. So, get to work! You’ve got logic to crush.
Further reading about the LSAT
John Wilson Booth grew up in Alabama and attended the University of Alabama. He moved to Salt Lake City after graduation and began studying for the LSAT. His cold diagnostic score was a 154 and he self-studied to a 171. Now, he works as a writer as he decides which law school to attend.