By the time LSAT test day arrives, you should know how to methodically approach each and every LSAT problem that is likely to arise with confidence. You should be able to diagram any conditional statement and any logic game no matter how tricky. The techniques for approaching problems should come to you automatically by test day.
Once you have the techniques down, what’s stopping you from getting a 180? For most people, the answer is TIMING.
Once you’ve mastered the technical aspects of answering questions correctly, improving your score becomes a matter of getting faster at answering LSAT questions and managing timing throughout the exam.
Applying the following tips can significantly increase your LSAT test-taking speed and help you manage time more effectively.
Circle Hard Questions To Come Back To Them
We’ve passed on this advice plenty of other places, but it bears repeating here: Don’t spin your wheels on any one question forever and ever. There are easier questions to answer on the other side just waiting for you to destroy them! If you are planning to hit a 170+ for example, no LR question should be taking you longer than 3 minutes (only rarely should one even take over 2.5 minutes). If you approach what feels like a long time, consider just marking the best answer you have now and move on, circling that question so you can come back to it at the end.
Do this, and it becomes a whole lot more likely you will in fact have time at the end of the section to come back. Sometimes those scary questions get a whole lot easier on the second pass. Don’t waste time and get frustrated trying to force it when it’s just not happening. Practice will help develop a sense of how long a problem should take, another reason not to slack when it comes to doing plenty of timed sections.
Do however always eliminate what answer choices you can on the first pass. You should never give up on a problem before at least reading the answer choices and eliminating clear losers. This way, you have a good shot at getting it right on the guess you make before circling and moving on. Usually, hard questions are hard because you can’t choose between two answers. Try to always get to a 50/50 guess or at least 1 out of 3 guess before moving on.
Build Pace Gradually
This is more a tip for the December LSAT takers, but it can apply to your last few weeks as well if time is still a significant issue. If you are having trouble getting faster, don’t try to leap to the ideal all at once. Say you can complete the section comfortably and accurately in 40 minutes. Don’t shoot to do it in 35 minutes the next day. Instead go down by a minute each day or even slower if that isn’t working out. You’ll always find little places to pick up time. Doing it all at once is too daunting and leads to freak outs.
Burn Through Easy Questions
When I first was starting my LSAT prep, I was giving easy questions way more attention than they were worth. I’d be like, “was it really that easy?” and spend too much time checking the answers over to make sure I was right. Don’t get caught up second-guessing yourself on easy questions. Kiss them and dismiss them.
Obviously there is a line to walk here. You do always need to check all the answer choices and you should be able to identify at least vaguely why wrong ones are wrong and why the one you are choosing is better. However, every LSAT contains plenty of relatively easy questions and yours will too. Learn to recognize them and go on your merry way. Take LR for example: most of the first 10 questions should be fairly easy and ideally shouldn’t take much more than a minute each to do (some should take even less). When I got good at the LSAT, my target time control on LR was that I liked to be through the first 10 questions with 25 minutes at least left on the clock. That gave me 25 minutes to do the next 15 or so questions and go back to any I couldn’t answer with 100% on the first pass.
Developing the sense to know how long a problem should take comes with practice, which is part why we’ve been yelling at you for several months now to practice at lot. Some logic games are only going to take 5-6 minutes. If you’ve encountered some of these floaters before, you will learn how to spot them and whack them out of the park.
Build And Maintain Test Taking Stamina
If you haven’t done 5 sections of LSAT questions the full simulated way yet, then you haven’t been following our advice. Correct the mistake and do it now. In the last month of your prep you should be doing at least 2 full simulated tests a week. Without building stamina through this practice, your pace will tend to fall off in later sections. On days in between full simulated tests you should still be doing individual timed sections with review in between. See our full schedule for all the details on this.
In addition to helping with test-taking stamina, all this practice will be slowly helping you build speed whether you realize it or not.
Warm Up A Little Before Simulated Tests
We find you will do LSAT questions fastest if it isn’t the first thing you have read on a given day. Read the Times or the Wall Street Journal with breakfast before you hit the LSAT preptests. You should be doing this on the day of the actual exam as well. It’s not a big difference, but every little thing helps on the LSAT. Find an advantage wherever you can.
Extra LR Speed Tip: Consider Skipping Parallel Reasoning Questions Entirely
This is for test takers still getting over -5 regularly on the LR section: parallel reasoning questions tend to be really time consuming. If you are getting more than 5 wrong on an average LR section, the time applied to these questions might be better spent elsewhere. You can always come back to the PR questions if you have time at the end. Remember that though they take a long time, they are each worth the same one point as every other question. You may pick up two points elsewhere with the time you spend on getting one from a PR question.