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?”
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 sections, 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.