LSAT Preparation Tips and Advice
The LSAT is designed to test a pattern of reading and reasoning that seems to correlate to success in the first year of law school. A few people will have already acquired the skills tested by the LSAT at some other point in life, but most people will need to study hard in order to get a high score on the LSAT.
This test is one of the critical factors in law school admissions. Because of that, one of the most important tips anyone can give you is “study.” Admissions committees place a lot of emphasis on the test and it is next to impossible to get into a top-rated law school with a low LSAT score.
To begin studying, familiarize yourself with the test content and format. (See our section on the LSAT Test Structure.) Sit down and take a practice exam in quiet, exam-like conditions (no texting, checking Instagram, etc.). You can download a practice exam from the LSAC website.
You should use a real LSAT for your first exam, and study only from actual, former LSAT questions. The simulated questions published by some companies bear little resemblance to actual LSAT questions and can give you skewed results!
Do not fret too much over this first score. It is only a starting point and you will get much better as you study. This first test is only to familiarize you with the LSAT; this first score will also serve as a benchmark so you can see your improvement as you study.
Once you’ve taken that first practice test and have a sense of what is on an LSAT exam, it’s time to sit down and begin studying. To help you along, here are a few pointers on how to make your studying more effective.
Give Yourself Adequate Time to Prepare
The LSAT is not a test of knowledge; it tests critical reading and reasoning skills. These skills can be learned, but cannot be substantially improved over a short period of time. You cannot cram all of your LSAT studying into a few weeks and expect a large improvement.
You should structure your study plan just as you would structure an exercise or weight-loss plan. You will need to set aside adequate time to reach your goal and work consistently several times per week. Block out study times each week and stick to them!
Find a Good Study Location
If your home is too distracting, find a good local library or local university where you can study. In fact, having a location to study other than your house or apartment will help make your study time feel more structured and will force you to concentrate on your studying, since you will not have the distractions and temptations of home. Coffee shops and bookstores are not as desirable as libraries, since they can be loud and contain distractions that won’t be present on test day.
Handle Friends, Family, and Job
Not everyone will understand how important your LSAT is to your future. Friends and loved ones can feel shafted by your frequent studying, so it may be a good idea to speak with them ahead of time about your study schedule. Explain to them that you won’t have as much time to go out or to visit. It’s also important to explain to them how long it takes to study for the LSAT; the common conception most people will have from college is that studying for a test only takes a week. Your marathon LSAT studying will perplex them and some of them may even kindly, but misguidedly, try to rescue you from your constant studying by encouraging you to take the exam before you are ready.
Likewise, if you have an understanding boss, explain to him or her that you are studying for the LSAT and will not be available to work weekends or overtime. You’ll need to treat your study time as an important engagement that you cannot afford to miss; do not be tempted to postpone it simply because it does not seem imminent. This can create a dangerous precedent of constant postponement that can lead to you needing to postpone the exam and even possibly to postponing law school!
If you have trouble sticking to your schedule, set up rewards for doing so. If you stick to your schedule for an entire week, allow yourself to buy something or do something that you really enjoy. Set up your “reward” at the end of each week, so you have something tangible to look forward to after a hard week of studying.