Looking for some of the best ways to study for the LSAT? You’ve come to the right place.
There are many tests that can be a cause of stress for students everywhere, from the SAT to the MCAT, and the LSAT is no different. This test, required for admission to most law schools in the United States (as well as many abroad), is definitely not for the faint of heart. In fact, saying the dreaded acronym alone is enough to inspire fear in the hearts of many prospective law school candidates!
However, with the right study strategies, you’ll likely find that you have nothing to fear. If you’re ready to ace the exam - and minimize your stress! - consider these helpful tips and find the best ways to study for the LSAT.
What Is The LSAT?
Before we can get into the nitty-gritty of what it takes to succeed on the LSAT, it’s important to understand what the test actually entails.
Short for the Law School Admission Test, the LSAT is a standardized test that is required for most law schools in the United States, Canada, and several other countries. It’s been around (though not in its original form) since 1948. It was first created in an effort to provide universities with a relatively standardized method of assessing applicants (in addition to GPA, which can sometimes be a bit biased).
The current form of the LSAT has been around since 1991 and consists of six sections. You’ll complete four multiple-choice sections, an unscored writing section, and an unscored experimental section. Scores can average between 120 and 180.
Although law schools look at other qualifiers and metrics when admitting students, earning a high score on the LSAT can dramatically improve your chances of getting into one of the best law schools.
Interestingly, the LSAT doesn't just test what you already know, like many other standardized tests (such as the GRE). Instead, it also has the ability to project your ability to succeed in a challenging course of study.
Most students will take the LSAT no later than the summer or fall of the year in which you are applying to law school.
Don’t wait until the last minute to register - you should give yourself plenty of time to retake the test in case you don’t do well the first time around. Register early, at least six weeks before the test, to secure a seat and avoid any late fees, too.
8 Best Ways To Study For The LSAT
1. Prepare Digitally
While the LSAT used to be a typical paper-and-pencil exam, that is no longer the case. Now, it is offered in a digital format only.
While this method of delivery works well for some students, for others, it’s nothing short of a nightmare. To prepare, you will want to get used to reading large blocks of text on a screen instead of on paper. Take as many practice tests in their online form as you can, make use of online LSAT prep courses, and consider doing some recreational reading online, too (a Kindle is a great place to start).
2. Come Up With A Plan To Practice
Preparing for the LSAT can take months of dedicated effort. While you shouldn’t let your schoolwork or other commitments slide in favor of cramming for this exam, you also need to make sure you are preparing effectively. Don’t limit your studying to binge sessions on the weekend.
Instead, consider working on one practice section each day. This will keep your mind sharp for a test that is entirely skills-based. It’s impossible to truly cram for the LSAT, since you aren’t memorizing chunks of information. Instead, you need to hone your skills - and the best way to do so is through consistent, regular practice.
Ideally, you should plan on studying for the LSAT for a minimum of two months before you take the exam. Shoot for at least two hours of studying time at least four days a week.
3. Avoid Studying With A Friend
While studying for other examinations with the help of a partner - or even a study group - is highly recommended, that’s not the case for the LSAT.
That’s because the LSAT is like no other test. The questions are analytical in nature, so what comes easily to you might be difficult for another person. If you study with another person, it may lead you to subconsciously view the test in a general sense rather than allowing you to hone in on your personal weaknesses.
4. Take Practice Tests
When you play a sport, you spend hours each day practicing your craft. Taking the LSAT is no different. You need to practice in order to get good at what you do!
Take multiple practice tests, and make sure they are full-length. When you take these practice tests, try to mimic the actual testing environment. For example, set a timer and only give yourself that chunk of time (usually a half-day) to work. Do not allow yourself food or drink except during breaks (which is what you would encounter during the actual test).
That way, you’ll not only be prepared for the content and structure of the test, but also for the rules and restrictions.
When you go through your practice tests, don’t just glaze over the information. A common mistake that people make is failing to recognize successes as well as failures. For instance, if you get a question right, don't just celebrate and move on. Instead, look at what the question was asking.
If this question was worded differently, would you still have gotten it right?
Likewise, don’t just tally up wrong answers and move on, either. Look closely at every question - particularly those you missed - and try to figure out why and how you got the wrong answer.
6. Consider Taking More Challenging Courses
Of course, if you’re reading this article for an LSAT that you have scheduled in two weeks, this tip probably won’t help you much. However, if you’re at the cusp of your undergraduate career and are trying to figure out which courses you should take to best prepare you for law school, you may want to up your game.
Take classes that will help sharpen your critical thinking. Those in topics like philosophy, logic, and critical writing are especially effective at preparing you for the LSAT. you’ll be required to analyze complex texts and theories and to present ideas in a clear, logical fashion.
The LSAT includes many of these components - as well as difficult reading comprehension sections - so these courses can help you develop the innate skills necessary to be successful.
7. Don’t Skip The Unscored Sections
You read that right - there are sections of the LSAT that are not scored. One example is the writing sample. Just because it’s not scored, though, doesn’t mean it’s not important. Law schools often assess your writing sample when they’re taking a look at your final records.
Therefore, completing these sections provides law school admissions professionals with another opportunity to assess your qualifications. There’s no reason not to complete it on the day of the test - so make sure you prep yourself for these sections ahead of time, too.
8. Familiarize Yourself With The Layout Of The Test
Taking plenty of practice tests ahead of time is a smart way to prepare for the LSAT. However, you shouldn’t assume that everything you have to learn is in the content - and not the structure - of the test.
Familiarize yourself with how the test is designed and delivered and plan accordingly. For example, the LSAT does not penalize you for wrong answers - but leaving question blank will not help you out. Therefore, it’s important that you do your best to at least guess at each and every question.
In addition, every question carries the same weight. A difficult question will count just as much as an easier one, so don’t let yourself get overwhelmed or stressed out by a few toughies. Instead, tackle the easier questions first and then move on to the more difficult ones to make the most of your time.
One more hint - the LSAT is structured so that it starts out easy and gets more difficult as you progress.
Plan Ahead For LSAT Success
It’s an unfortunate reality - so many students spend hours, days, weeks, and months preparing for the LSAT, only to find themselves late (and ineligible to take the test) on exam day because they got lost on the way to the testing center.
Don’t be that person! Instead, the week before your test, familiarize yourself with all the logistics. Make sure you figure out how you are going to travel to the test center. Decide what time you need to leave your house by, and come up with a back-up plan in case your chosen method of transportation, for whatever reason, fails (flat tires happen, people!).
Also, plan out everything you need to bring with you, from snacks to your photo ID. That way, you won’t be stressed out and rushing around in a panic the morning of the test.
The most important tip you can follow when preparing for the LSAT? Relax! Once you get to the test, you’ve done everything you can do to prepare. Take a deep breath - you’ve got this. After you’ve mastered the best ways to study for the LSAT, you have everything you need to be successful.