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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 an excellent refresher.

However, for the newbies here’s your welcome to the (wonderful?) world of LSAT prep.  We have a ton of solid 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 high score. I read recently that some Canadian universities were offering free LSAT prep courses for those who couldn’t afford it, the idea is that these students were at some disadvantage if they didn’t take a class.

While it’s not a bad idea to take a good free course if it’s offered to you, the notion 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 high score too.

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

I find that when I’m learning something new, I get more out of sitting down and diving into a textbook rather than sitting through a boring lecture. On the other hand, some people would rather hear it from somebody else (tutoring can be beneficial for this type of person as well).

Both approaches are fine. An online course has the disadvantage that you can’t have a concept 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 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 teach the full 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 okay 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
  10. 10 Actual, Official LSAT Preptests: Volume VI

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 probably going to be okay, but 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 need to go to some law school 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 confident 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.  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 some 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.

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16 Comments

  1. 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!

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  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. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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!