How to Become More Consistent on your LSAT Preptests

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Consistency is a big issue for a lot of LSAT takers. This is an example of a common question we get:

Hi Joshua and Evan. I’m taking the LSAT in three week (eek!) and I’m really worried. My practice scores are all over the map. I’ve scored as high as 168 but I’ve had some scores in the high 150’s as well. On individual sections, the swings are even worse. Sometimes I’ll get -10 on LR whereas most of the time I’m getting only 3-4 wrong tops there. What can I do to get more consistent?”

tightgrouping

Your scores will start to group more tightly as you improve.

Variability can be unnerving. You are wondering which you is going to show up to take the LSAT on test day– the great you or the so-so you. So what can you do to build consistency on the LSAT?

First off, stop worrying too much about every individual practice test score. 90% of the time your consistency problem is going to resolve itself naturally as you keep prepping. The LSAT is literally designed so that when you’ve got it down you will usually score within a range of few points on every test. As you improve, your shots, which start out all over the place, will gradually tighten up.

If your scores are still all over the place, this is often an indication that you need more time with the material before you are ready to take the test. Let’s consider the situation in question pasted above. They’ve got 3 weeks to go left for practice. It’s possible that they will develop consistency in that time. They should certainly keep prepping towards their end goal. If, however, they are still seeing wild swings the week before the test, that means they should likely hold off and take the LSAT on the next administration.

Tip: If your scores are really inconsistent (regularly falling all over a 10 point range), that’s generally an indication that you need more time with this material.

Now our question-asker also cited some trouble with variability on individual section scores. How do you fix that problem? Answer: you don’t. Wide swings on individual sections are to be expected. The culprit is something LSAC calls section-difficulty balancing. To the extent possible, they try to make each LSAT as hard as one another. However, that doesn’t mean all LG sections or all LR sections or all RC sections are created equal. Instead, they try to make it so that the total difficulty of the four scored sections adds up to be about the same for each test. Your test might contain two easy LR sectons, a medium difficulty RC, and a very hard games section. Another test might have a completely different mix.

What does this mean for you? Don’t worry about section scores taken alone. Some sections are going to be hard and you might get a bunch of extra questions wrong. It’s nothing to worry about unless your score on that whole practice test was very low.

Remember, there is always a slight dice roll effect at work when you take a practice test. Two or three point swings are perfectly normal. You’ll just have to get used to them. I’d be lying if I said there is no element of luck to this whole LSAT business. Sometimes you’ll get unlucky on test day and hit the lower end of your range. That can be a factor you consider later if you are deciding whether to retake.

The Other Element of LSAT Consistency– Focus

The other common cause of inconsistency is lack of focus. The problem might be that you aren’t bringing your A game to the table every time you sit down to take a practice test. You should take steps to fix this so you know you can bring your best stuff on the big day.

We got lots of tips to help you focus so check that out. Focus is something you can learn. Build it through intense practice and those wildly inconsistent practice scores will be a thing of the past.

 

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University of Chicago, J.D., 2012 Ready to Kickstart your LSAT Prep? Join the LSAT Mastermind Study Group

4 Comments

  1. Hi Josh,

    I’m taking the Feb. test in a couple weeks, and I’m a little worried about my consistency. I’ll have like 4 or 5 PTs in a row with scores in the 170s (as high as 176, woohoo) and then a 166. Again, 4-5 tests with 170s and boom a 164. On the low days, I’ve noticed that the test has felt harder, but I’m not sure if it really is harder or if I’m just having an off day. Other than that I can’t pinpoint any external factors playing a role here.

    I would be elated to get any score between 171-180, and I’ve been getting enough PT scores in and above my acceptable range that I’m reasonably confident I can make it happen on test day. But I can’t help panicking that test day is going to be my off day.

    Do you have any additional advice or something that might calm my nerves? Is this inconsistent enough that I should consider canceling?

    PS — My cold diagnostic was something like 156. Your blog helped me tremendously in making that near-20 pt leap since late October.

    Thanks a bunch!

    • Lauren,

      Congrats on earning the ~20 point increase in your LSAT score from a 156 to the 170+ range! Well done!

      I was also having some consistency issues when I was about 2 weeks out from test day. Don’t worry, you can lock this thing down over the next couple of weeks! I wasn’t hitting the 172+ range consistently until the week before test day.

      Here are a couple of things that I’d recommend for you:

      1) Drop whatever you’re doing and take a full, timed PT. Now.

      I’m guessing that you’re here because your last PT was low. I HATED seeing a low PT score so much that as soon as I finished reviewing the PT that I underperformed on, I’d get right back in the saddle and take another full, timed PT. Even if that meant taking 2 in 1 day. I didn’t want that doubt lingering in my head, and the best way to put that doubt to rest was to prove to myself that it was an anomaly. Don’t let that low score linger for too long. Redouble your focus & CRUSH the next PT.

      2) Take a full timed PT every day from now until test day

      Once you’re scoring in the 170+ range, you’ve got what it takes to put up a phenomenal score on test day. You’ve got the fundamentals down. You know this stuff well. Now it’s time to become intimately familiar with the flow of the exam. Now it’s time to put everything together.

      When you’re scoring as high as you are, the only thing left to do is grind through enough PTs that you begin working confidently & quickly through each section until it becomes almost automatic & reflexive. Taking a PT every day (and maybe even throw in a couple of 2-a-day sessions) will ensure that you’re 100% in the zone on test day.

      3) Don’t panic.

      You’re so close. Push the doubt, anxiety & fear as far from your mind as you can manage. You can will get there by test day. Don’t let a bad day of prep snowball by feeding your doubt. You’ve got this!

      4) Develop a pre-test routine.

      Here’s what I did: “I’d look at myself in the mirror with the UChicago Law t-shirt, and I would visualize myself as a UChicago Law student. I’d pump myself up and get my head in the “LSAT zone.” Then, I’d go sit down for a few hours of hard LSAT prep.”

      Find a way to get yourself in “the zone” before taking a PT. Stand in front of a mirror & psych yourself up. Visualize yourself working quickly & confidently through each section. You might be surprised at how effective little tricks like this are. Getting your head in the right place before you open the first section of a PT can be a powerful way to ensure that you’re running on all cylinders right out of the gates.

      5) CRUSH this thing!

      • Hi Josh,

        Awesome advice, but I need some help.

        I was doing really well, I started about 9 weeks ago. My diagnostic was a 150. After I read through all power score bibles (notes and all), I was averaging 168-169, peaking at 172. However, I find myself unable to shave off the 5-6 (sometimes 8) points I am losing on the LR (I usually get 2-3 wrong on the RC and maybe 1 on AR). It is so frustrating, as I take the exam in 2 weeks (located in Asia) and I took a one week break because I was plateauing / burning out (and I had some crazy work obligations). The first day back on the LSAT train I scored a 164! My lowest since the diagnostic.

        Not sure what the best way to proceed is, I am still working on timing and I can put aside about 6 hours everyday this week.

        Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

        Best,

        June

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