A couple of weeks ago I was asked about using multiple LSAT prep books for each section during 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 will 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 encounter many choices. Even within the narrow range of quality LSAT books that we recommend, you have some decisions to make.
Choosing Your LSAT Books
I’ve listed some of our top prep book recommendations below so that we can talk further about them:
For Reading Comprehension
The Powerscore™ Reading Comprehension Bible
So that’s a bunch of books. Some cover the same material, just a bit differently. The Blueprint for LSAT Logic Games, for example, includes everything you need to know to do logic games. So does the Powerscore Logic Games Bible, but they teach it differently, each with unique diagramming techniques, tips, and strategies.
So which book should you choose? Or should you just get them all?
You obviously need at least one resource to teach you how to do each section type. However, I’ve noticed that many high scorers have used multiple books to attack the LSAT. This multiple-book approach appears to be the favored strategy among high-scoring self-studiers.
The thinking goes like this: if you study from several different books, each covering the same topic, you can pick out the techniques from each book that make the most sense to you, enabling you to customize your approach in a manner that works best for your thinking style. It’s a sensible approach, but it comes with some potential problems:
- It might be difficult to choose among different techniques, and keeping track of all the choices you make can lead to confusion. If you use multiple books, you’ll run into situations where one book gives you one way to approach something & another book gives you a very different approach. In these cases, deciding which technique to go with is hard.
- 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 methods is going to slow you down and cause you to make errors.
- Time. Studying from multiple books is going to take longer.
So what should you do? Here’s how I’d approach each section…
With logical reasoning, it’s good to hear anything that a thoughtful expert has to say about it. You never know which tips will resonate with your or which way of thinking is going to work best for you. Exposing yourself to a variety of approaches can 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 think that’s one of the things that helped me gain true mastery of the section. I went from having significant difficulties with LR at the beginning of my prep to being nearly perfect at the end, missing 0 to 1 questions per section on every single practice section. Based on my personal experience, along with what I’ve seen working with LSAT students of mine, I’m a big proponent of soaking up a lot of advice on this section.
I would recommend drawing from at least a couple of different resources to learn logical reasoning. Learning how to navigate through differing approaches is likely to serve to strengthen your LR skills as you’re 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 always looking for some magic techniques that don’t exist. The key is to be patient and build your skill on this section slowly.
Start with one resource (I like the Reading Comprehension Bible) 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.
The LG section is the tricky one. I think your decision whether to use a single LG prep book vs. multiple LG prep books is going to come 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 to approach a given task. For example, when you see the rule, “There is one spot in between G and F,” you have to know precisely how to represent that rule in your diagram. You must be able to do this quickly and consistently. If you’re juggling multiple approaches in your mind as you’re solving games, that is going to distract you from the task at hand.
On the other hand, different books provide their own set of tips and tricks, and a particular technique from one book might resonate with you more than another book.
Don’t think that you’ll necessarily be at a disadvantage using just one book per section type. With logic games, I confidently stuck with just the Logic Games Bible (LGB), used only their methods, and had excellent results. Josh didn’t know about the LGB until he’d already been studying for a while, so when he read it, he’d been using slightly different techniques. By incorporating the Logic Games Bible techniques
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 feel that a particular 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 need to make sure that you’ve locked in your approach and you are consistently applying the same methods each time you work on a game. It is okay to refine your techniques by implementing minor tweaks, but it is probably a lousy idea to make any drastic changes during the final few weeks of your prep.
Using Multiple LSAT Books
Our LSAT study schedules give you a step-by-step outline of what to do using just the Powerscore books along with LSAT preptests. How do you add additional resources to the mix? For starters, I would recommend starting the schedule at least a few weeks early to give yourself plenty of time to work through the additional resources.
Then, I’d start working with the Powerscore Bibles, as outlined in the schedules. For each question type, you’ll want to read the PowerScore Bible first. Once you’ve gone through a chapter in the Powerscore Bible, you’ll be armed with some new techniques. Now you need to practice implementing those techniques on real LSAT questions. Drill at least 20 to 30 questions of that type first. Then, and only then, should you consider reviewing a secondary resource to get a different perspective on how to approach that question type.
Remember: the question type drilling is critical. If you don’t spend time implementing the first approach you learn, then learning a second approach isn’t going to be very helpful.
For example, you may want to bring in the LSAT Logical Reasoning Encyclopedia (‘Disrespecting The LSAT’) when you’re attacking the logical reasoning section. After you’ve learned how to approach a particular question type via the Logical Reasoning Bible and completed the practice drill questions, then open up the analogous section in “Disrespecting the LSAT”, and work through the problems in there as well.
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 to you 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 a habit. When you get stuck, dig deeper by reviewing the relevant section in the bible or consulting a secondary resource.
There must be a thousand different ways to study for the LSAT successfully. That said, they’ve all got something in common: more time prepping and less time surfing the web. Now go hit the books! 😉
If you have any questions about how to organize your study, hit us up in the comments or on twitter @onlawschool. 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.