A couple weeks back when we introduced our 2014’s Best LSAT prep resources list, the question came up about using multiple books for self-study. How many LSAT prep books do you need? Is it wise to use materials from a bunch of different LSAT companies when you are doing your prep? Here we’ll talk about this, and also how to prep if you do choose to use multiple books for your self-study.
When you go to self-study for the LSAT, you are confronted with a lot of choice. Even within the narrow range of quality LSAT books that we recommend, you have some decisions to make. So we can talk about it, I’ll list the prep books we currently recommend here:
For Logic Games:
For Logical Reasoning
For Reading Comprehension
Choosing Your LSAT Books
So that’s a bunch of books. Some cover the same material, just differently. The Blueprint for Logic Games, for example, covers everything you need to know to do logic games. So does the Powerscore LG Bible, but they teach it differently, with different diagramming techniques and different tips and strategies.
So how do you choose? Do you have to?
You obviously at least one resource to teach you how to do each section type. In recent years, however, a ton of high scorers have used multiple books to attack the LSAT. I’m going to say cautiously that it appears to be the favored strategy among high-scoring self-studiers. The thinking goes like this: you study from several different books covering the same topics, picking out the techniques that make the most sense to you and work the best for your thinking style. It’s a sensible approach, but it comes with some potential problems:
- Deciding between techniques is tough. With logic games in particular, you have to choose one diagramming technique for each type of rule and apply that consistently. Switching back and forth between techniques is going to slow you down. It might be difficult to choose among different techniques, and keeping track of all the choices you make can lead to confusion.
- Time. Studying from multiple books is going to straight up take longer.
So what should you do? Here’s what I think:
With logical reasoning, it’s good to hear anything that a thoughtful expert has to say about it. You never know which tips or which way of thinking is going to work best and give you something to latch on to that helps your logical reasoning strategy.
When I was studying, I was like a sponge for logical reasoning advice. I thinks that’s in large part what helped me gain true mastery of the section. I went for having significant difficulties with it to getting none or one wrong tops on every single practice section. Because of that, and what I’ve seen with other LSAT students, I’m a big proponent of soaking up a lot of advice on this section.
I would definitely get a couple resources to learn logical reasoning. Learning how to navigate through using different approaches will only strengthen your skills for working with the problems.
With reading comprehension, I don’t think it’s often necessary to get a ton of advice on the section to do well. Here’s what I would do with RC: try your skills out after you’ve learned strategy from just one source. Practice for a while. Only if you are having trouble improving, then you might want to go back to the drawing board and seek some other advice.
The point here is that reading comprehension requires a lot of practice to improve, and the improvements tend to come slowly. I don’t want people freaking out if things aren’t going great at first, then running around constantly looking for some magic techniques that don’t exist. The key is to be patient a build your skill on this section slowly.
Start with one resource (I really like theReading Comprehension Bible for reading comp), and work off that. It should be enough for a majority of test takers to see maximum improvement. If by the midpoint of your prep you are still struggling to make any gains , then you may want to seek some more resources.
This is the tricky one. I think a bit of it comes down to learning style. Does the idea of knowing two different ways to do something freak you out or give you comfort? Remember that you have to pick one way or the other usually. When you see the rule, “There is one spot in between G and F,” you have to diagram that consistently. Picking between ways of doing that might be distracting.
On the other hand, different books provide different little tips, and you might like the presentation in one book better than the other.
Don’t think you’ll be at a disadvantage using the just one book per section type strategy. With logic games, I confidently stuck with just the Powerscore Bible, used only their methods and had great results. Josh did the same. The two LG specific books the list above are both complete, comprehensive resources. Either one will give you all the tools you need to beat the section. However, if you think you like seeing things two ways and think it won’t get confusing, don’t hesitate to work with a couple of resources.
One more thing: If you really feel that a prep company’s LG strategies just aren’t clicking for you, by all means, try something different (as long as it’s not Kaplan or Princeton review). However, make sure that you’ve given the strategies a fair chance. It takes more than a week to learn how to use new techniques. Make sure you’ve tried things out for at least a few weeks before you even consider a switch.
Also realize that switching techniques can put you back a bit. By the last month of your LSAT study, you should definitely be locked into the techniques you are going to use on games. Making minor changes is okay, but totally switching up strategies is probably a lousy idea that late in the game.
Using Multiple LSAT Books
The study schedule that we have gives you a 3 month outline of what to do using just the Powerscore stuff. How do you add other stuff in? I would recommend tacking some extra time on to the beginning of the schedule, at least a few weeks. Start working with the Powerscore Bibles first, working through the Logic Games Bible and The Logical Reasoning Bible.
When you hit the three-months-from the LSAT point, start bringing in the other books according to that schedule.
Now, you may want to bring in the LSAT Logical Reasoning Encyclopedia (‘Disrespecting The LSAT’) when you start attacking the logical reasoning section. I would kind of work this in with the Logical Reasoning Bible. After you learn how to approach a section via the Bible and do the practice problems, then do the analogous section in Disrespecting the LSAT, doing all the problems there.
Bear in mind the two books are kind of counterpoints to each other, and will have very different advice. The techniques that you like and that make the most sense are going to kind of naturally come to the front of your mind. That’s totally okay.
In general, adding books is just business as usual: you read the instruction, do the problems, then seek out more practice using practice tests. Adding prep resources isn’t reinventing the wheel. Don’t freak out that there is some precise way to do it that is the only way to unlock your LSAT powers. Just follow the usual game plan: learn techniques, then practice them until they become habit.
There must be a thousand ways to study for the LSAT successfully. That said, they’ve all got something in common: more time prepping and less time not prepping. Go out and hit the books.
If you have any questions about how to organize your study, hit us up in the comments. Also, if you’ve had experience with these LSAT books or any others, please feel free to discuss it the comments. Other readers will definitely appreciate hearing your story.