facebook_pixel

We thought we’d give those of you new to the LSAT some general tips to make sure you are doing this right. If you’re a regular reader, you may have seen this advice before, but it’ll still be a good refresher.

However, for the newbies here’s your welcome to the (wonderful?) world of LSAT prep.  We have a ton of great LSAT advice on the blog, and a lot more on the way, but start with these general tips and you’ll be on the right path.

1. LSAT Self-Study, Prep Courses, And Online Courses Are All Legit

You can use any of these methods to get a great score. I read recently that some Canadian universities were offering free LSAT prep courses for those who couldn’t afford it, the idea being that these students were at some kind of a disadvantage if they didn’t take a course.

While it’s not a bad idea to take a good free course if it’s offered to you, the idea that prep courses are necessary to score high is pure nonsense.

Self-study is as effective as taking a course so long as you are motivated and disciplined enough to set a rigorous schedule and stick to it. This applies to all skill levels. I scored a 177 through self-study, Evan scored a 173, and you can hit a great score too.

That said, a course, online or otherwise, is also perfectly reasonable way to approach LSAT study. The choice as to how to study really comes down to learning style.

I would rather read how to do things. Some people would rather hear it from somebody else (tutoring can be really helpful for this type of person as well).

Both approaches are fine. An online course has the disadvantage that you can’t have something explained differently if you are struggling with it (unless, of course, you join the LSAT Mastermind Group), but on the flip side you can replay the lectures.

Think about how you’ve done your best learning in the past and go with that. Don’t waste time or energy worrying that you could have done better with a more expensive method.

2. Don’t Use Terrible Prep Books

As an LSAT tutor who is serious about the LSAT, I’m basically waging war against LSAT prep books like LSAT for Dummies & pretty much anything from Kaplan and Princeton Review.

I think they have no business in the LSAT world. They don’t go in-depth enough to actually teach the wide range of techniques you need and much of the advice they do provide is horrible. Yes, some of their strategies are okay, but you the student will never know what is fine and what is terrible.

Below are the books we most strongly recommend for the core of your LSAT self-study. This list includes the actual, official LSAT prep tests that you will need to prep properly:

  1. The Logic Games Bible
  2. The Logical Reasoning Bible
  3. The Reading Comprehension Bible
  4. The LSAT Superprep
  5. 10 Actual, Official LSAT Preptests
  6. Next 10 Actual, Official LSAT Preptests
  7. 10 More Actual, Official LSAT Preptests
  8. 10 New Actual, Official LSAT Preptests
  9. 10 Actual, Official LSAT Preptests: Volume V

3. Stop Partying

If you want to do your best on the LSAT, you can’t be out getting wasted all weekend. I know some of you won’t like to hear that, but doing your best on the LSAT requires you to get your brain working at full speed.  Though one or two drinks here and there is going to be fine, just don’t overdo it.

Anyone who takes the LSAT should be serious about doing their best. The only exception is if you are rich, your parents are paying for law school, and you just need to go to some law school in order to get a job at your father’s firm.

Everyone else can benefit from the scholarship money and better opportunities that come with a higher LSAT score. Not drinking hard for at least a couple months before the LSAT is going to help you get that higher score.

4. Start with Untimed Prep

You won’t learn as fast if you start out trying to do questions under timed conditions. Early in your prep, as you’re learning the fundamentals, it’s best to work through LSAT prep questions with no time limit and focus on accuracy before moving on to timed prep.

After you are reasonably accurate, you will move on to timing individual questions, then finally to full timed sections and simulated preptests. Check our LSAT prep schedule for an in-depth look at the various stages of your LSAT prep.

5. Don’t Look At Answers Right Away

It’s tempting to check answers right away after you do some timed problems, however, each time you do this you are robbing yourself of valuable practice.

Don’t look at the answer for a problem until you are reasonably certain you know the correct answer (or have at least tried damn hard to get it).

This means going back over every hard question and redoing them untimed before you see what the answer is. Here is a complete method for how to review LSAT questions. Bookmark that link so that you can find it when you start doing timed prep.

6. Recreate Test Conditions As Accurately As Possible

When you get to timed prep, learn how to do the test under fully simulated conditions so that taking the actual test will feel automatic.

This is necessary both to build stamina and get as comfortable as possible so that the only thing you are focused on is answering the questions when you do the real thing.  Recreate any detail if you can no matter how small.

If you can, definitely visit your test center to see what the test room will be like. If your desks there are small, find a small desk to practice on.

7. Ask Us Questions

Evan and I are here as a free resource to you. Ask us anything in the comments below or hit us up on twitter @onlawschool and we are happy to help.

If you need a little extra guidance, I encourage you to consider joining the LSAT Mastermind Study Group. Members have access to private forums & weekly office hours sessions, where Evan & I answer any question you have from the time you join until the day you start law school.

Current members say it’s “the best deal in LSAT prep.”

[The LSAT Mastermind Group costs] less than 1/10 for what you would pay for a classroom course but you get so much more. There are weekly hour and a half office hours where you can ask any LSAT question you want. You can post questions you have in forums and so you can do other things until your question gets answered. And there are no extension fees at all! The membership never expires.

You will not be disappointed if you join.

Brent

Good luck and enjoy the process. You are going to be a better, smarter person if you devote the time it takes to do this right.

16 Comments

  1. Can you please explain in lay terms the difference between sufficient and necessary conditions? Also, I have been using Kaplan to study for the logic games and Manhattan Prep for logical reasoning and reading comprehension. Why do you say that you are “waging war” against Kaplan? Is there a way to study for the essay question? I know it doesn’t count towards the score, but if it’s going to law schools I apply to I want to make it as good as possible.

  2. I graduated college in December 2008 with a BA in religion and minors in music and ethics and a 3.3 GPA. Right after graduation I got a job I loved running a non-profit environmental and alternative energy educational program through the university that involved classroom teaching, grant writing, curriculum development, and program management, among other things. I did that for a year and a half until I hit a point where I couldn’t advance and do more without an advanced degree. I knew I wanted to continue this sort of work, so I went to a top-20 two-year library and information science graduate program, where I earned my MLIS with an emphasis in research, reference, and instruction in eleven months while working part-time (~20 hrs/wk) with a 3.9 GPA. Library jobs are extremely competitive, especially in research and reference, and many consider a single masters (the MLIS) to be an entry-level degree and expect a second advanced degree, so I was unable to find library work right away. So, I took a job I enjoyed as a TA in a high school special education classroom because I needed money. Shortly after that, my husband got a job out of state and I had to stay back to finish the semester at my new job. I moved to be with my husband after Christmas and worked several jobs through 2012 (Sylvan tutoring, daycare teacher, secretary, sub teacher, and teaching and developing curriculum at a prestigious museum).

    At this point we decided to have a baby, so I had my first son in 2013 when I was 27 and became a stay-at-home mother. This new non-working role lacked challenge, which became very depressing for me, so I began freelance academic editing, mostly helping graduate students finish masters and doctoral theses. I love academic work. I love quickly learning a great deal about a specific subject and applying that new knowledge. Organizing esoteric information to be informative and persuasive is fulfilling, challenging, and fun for me. I now have a second son and am looking forward to going back to work when he goes to school.

    Knowing that in order to do what I want to do (research, writing, academic work) I need a specialized second advanced degree, I considered PhD programs in a few areas, but there is no field that interests me as much as law with its byzantine nature, seemingly endless potential for study avenues, challenge, and immediate and obvious relevance. I have little interest in filing motions or appearing before a court to represent individuals or organizations; I most want to practice law as an academic pursuit as a librarian, professor, or clerk (which I think does involve some administrative duties I could enjoy). I realize academic dreams require top-tier brand-name schools. I’ve started studying for the LSAT and plan to take it this fall or winter (I have more time to study now while the kids are babies and take naps and don’t need me to take them to soccer or such) and then go to law school in 2017 or 2018 when my kids are in school.

    I am wondering what you think of my plans and chances for success. Any advice you have would be helpful and appreciated.

    • Sound like you’ve done your research and come up with a solid plan for success!

      As you seem to have already figured out, post-law school positions in academia are highly competitive, so I’d recommend aiming for a top law school (see: Want To Be A Law Professor? Go To An Elite School, Says New Study)

      Your undergrad GPA is a bit on the low side, so you’ll want to maximize your LSAT score (see: Getting into Law School with a Low GPA).

      I’m expecting my first child in March, so I can only imagine how tough it is to set aside LSAT prep time with little ones running around. I’d recommend taking a look at some of the books that helped me get a 177 on the LSAT. Try setting aside an hour each week for LSAT prep, and plan on ramping up your prep with a higher intensity study schedule once you’re about 4 months out from test day.

      If you’d like a little more personal guidance along the way, we’d love to have you in the LSAT Mastermind Study Group. We are probably moving to a monthly memberhship fee model soon, but we’re currently offering lifetime memberships, so if you join now you’ll have access forever, with no additional cost, so you can enjoy the benefits from the day you join until the day you start law school, without ever paying any additional fees.

      • Thank you! Based on what you’ve seen lately and my grade trends (mediocre undergrad to very good graduate (though I know grad gpas themselves don’t typically count in admissions decisions)), diverse (?) work experience, the fact that I’d be “nontraditional”, and assuming an above average lsat, do you think I’d have a chance at decent scholarships? Or, what could I be doing now (in addition to academic editing and some volunteer work Im already doing) to improve my chances?

        Congratulations on the baby! Nap time is as much a joyous time as their waking hours 🙂

  3. Hey Joshua,

    Thanks for posting such great information! I have a quick question for you: what advice do you have for improving consistency? I’m taking the LSAT in two weeks, and am trying for a 3 point increase from my current PT avg (157 to 160). The main issue I’m having though, is that I’m still unhappy with my LR scores, and there’s no one question type that I struggle with more than others. When I review my PT’s, I find that I’ll get 1 wrong for a few different question types, and the question types are different for each PT. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  4. Do you guys know anything about Powerscore’s advanced courses (the Advanced LR Course & the Advanced LG Course)? I’m wondering if they are worth the time and money.

  5. Hi Joshua,
    First, thank you for all of the great advice you provide on improving our scores, your words of wisdom are most helpful. I have a few questions about reading comprehension strategy and test-day advice and would greatly appreciate your thoughts.

    My situation – I have taken the LSAT twice. Diagnostic was 156, my most recent was 164. I am retaking in February, and I am applying for fall 2015 admission. I have taken 30-40 practice tests in the last few months, and have consistently scored between 169-173, so you can understand why I want to retake after a 164.

    My problem lies in reading comprehension. I never miss more than 1 or 2 points on LR and LG sections, but I am constantly tripped up by RC, particularly subject matter with which I am unfamiliar – natural sciences, advanced physics, English common law in the 17th century, etc. I find that when I can’t relate to the material, I have a hard time fully understanding it in 5 minutes. More often than not, I run out of time on the last passage due to spending too much time on tricky passages and questions. Any advice for overcoming “complex” or “confusing” passages? Obviously, I don’t have much time to sit and read the Economist with 3 days left before test day, but anything that can help me miss just 2 or 3 less questions in the section would improve my score. How can I move past the fact that I don’t understand the details of the passage and still be successful with the questions?

    My other downfall is test-day focus. When I am reading a 4 paragraph passage during the actual test, I find it almost impossible to comprehend – dates get blurred, authors stance gets lost in the details, and often the inference/extension questions totally stump me. My mind is moving at light speed, which isn’t terrible for LG or LR, but when I have to stay focused on one thing for 3-5 minutes, I often get lost. Any tips for slowing down or calming down on test day? I know this is a personal issue, but any advice you have for someone who gets pretty worked up on test day would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you for all of the work you do – we all greatly appreciate the help and encouragement.

  6. I about to graduate from a Top 50 Undergraduate School with a 3.2 GPA in a liberal arts field. I speak Chinese as a second language, spent a semester back in 2013 abroad, and have had a number of internships. I got around a 167 on my LSAT, and have held leadership roles in 2 large groups on campus. My GPA is lower than most of the top schools’ median, but am I still a compelling applicant? You mentioned that soft factors matter with a low GPA, so what can I specifically do to raise my chances of going to a T14 school?
    Thanks,
    How to Be Better

  7. Hello.
    I am a rising sophomore pursuing my undergraduate degree. I am very passionate about scoring above 172. I have already started studying from powerscore books. But I really want you to guide me how to tackle studying for LSAT and achieve a high score. Also when should I take the exam ? I want to apply for law school in my senior year so I can attend school in the fall after I graduate. Do you think that’s right? Also can you help in study schedule during school year to achieve above 173?
    Thanks a lot. I constantly read your articles for guidance. I’ll really appreciate your help

  8. Thank you so much for all of this useful information. I’ve been scouring your website for hours reading different articles you’ve posted. I have a few questions:

    1) I’m planning to take the LSAT in December 2015 and am wondering if there’s such thing as giving myself too much time to prep. I don’t have a job right now, so I dedicate a lot of time to prep. I’m a horrible test taker so I was thinking the more time the better. If I’m starting now (July 2015) am I working within a good timeframe to be best prepared?

    2) Is your article “How to find the best LSAT prep course” up to date? Would you say these are still the top courses you would recommend or are there others as well?

    3) I can’t decide if taking a live course, online course, or if studying on my own is the best course of action. Would you say that a live course would help simulate real testing conditions, with other people in the room? I am easily distractible during tests and struggle with this factor. Does a live course advance learning in that questions and suggestions made in class are otherwise missed alone or online? With that being said, I absorb material really well on my own, but I feel like I’m lacking some guidance on where to begin.

    4) I may sound naive in asking this, but how much does the law school you go to really make a difference? Isn’t how you score on the bar the most important factor? I understand that all schools will vary on how much they are able to prepare you for the bar, and some of the higher ranking schools may better prep you…but is it really worth the money? Doesn’t it mostly come down to how hard you study and therefore how well you can perform on the bar? Are there any statistics on which school people go to, how they scored on the bar and the jobs they landed?

    I know this is a lot, but you seem to be a great resource and I appreciate any information you can provide me, thank you!

    -Miranda

  9. Hi both,

    I am trying to decide between taking the October and the December LSAT. I graduated with a 3.75 from a top university, and I hope to go to a T6 law school, but definitely a T14. I started studying for the LSAT
    earlier this month, and I am feeling like the October LSAT is cutting it close. However, I have read that applying to the top law schools with a December score puts you at a disadvantage. I would really appreciate hearing your thoughts and advice.

    Thanks,
    Sophia

  10. I am a 57 year old non-traditional student who works fulltime. I have decided i want to attend law school at night, do you have a program that would work for me?

    Thank you,

    Tom

  11. Khiana Duncan on

    Hi there, the current LSAT has a total of six sections including both the essay and experimental portion on the exam. I can’t seem to come across any practice tests that have six sections. Are there any available or can I just pull them from extra or old tests. What’re your thoughts!

    Thanks a ton in advanced!

Leave A Reply

Want to increase your LSAT score?

Smart Choice. I'll send you a free copy of my ebook to help get you started.

"Getting Started on the LSAT: A Complete Guide to Prepping the Right Way"

Cool. I'm sending an email your way...

 

Check your inbox & shoot us an email at support@lawschooli.com if you have any questions!