For those prepping for the LSAT, you have a several months until the test. We recommend you study at least 3-4 months to hit your best score on the LSAT (see our prep schedule for a full LSAT study regimen).
We thought we’d give those of you new to the LSAT some general tips to make sure you are doing this right. Apologies to our regular readers, because you will have seen this advice before.
However, for the newbies here’s your welcome to the (wonderful?) world of LSAT prep. We have lot’s more 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. Josh scored his 177 through self-study, I scored my 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, 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 a former LSAT tutor who is serious about the LSAT, I’m basically waging war against 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.
Instead, here is a list of companies that know their stuff: Powerscore, Manhattan LSAT and Blueprint (Fox Test Prep and Graeme Blake’s ‘Hacking the LSAT’ series are also good for explanations).
- The Logic Games Bible
- The Logical Reasoning Bible
- The Reading Comprehension Bible
- The LSAT Superprep
- 10 Actual, Official LSAT Preptests
- Next 10 Actual, Official LSAT Preptests
- 10 More Actual, Official LSAT Preptests
- 10 New Actual, Official LSAT Preptests
- 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, do the 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
Josh and I are here as a free resource to you. Ask us anything in the comments to any post or on our twitter @onlawschool and we are happy to help. 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.