Studying for the LSAT doesn’t have to be a drag, but… it can be if you don’t approach studying for the test strategically. If you’re just starting out, or if you’re unhappy with your progress—pay close attention!
Most people don’t approach LSAT strategically, so it’s upsetting that most people settle for underachiever scores. What separates elite scorers from the average test taker is not the amount of time spent studying; rather, it’s a strategic method of preparation. The majority of LSAT takers have the ability to achieve scores in the 170s, but, sell-themselves-short, and after months of improper studying a large proportion of these students call it quits—don’t be one of these students, please.
There are plenty of effective study methods and you might find something novel that works for you—but there are also some universally known ineffective methods that you should avoid. We’re going to discuss these methods and approaches, and what you should be doing instead.
Not learning the fundamentals first
We’re not going to discuss this in-depth because it should be an obvious no-no. Simply put, if you’re planning on acing this test—you’re going to need to understand the logic behind the arguments made. Completing PrepTest after PrepTest to start off your studies is highly ineffective as you’re engraining incorrect approaches based off of your own false-intuition. You’ll never improve your understanding with this approach, and you’ll likely make it harder to remedy ineffective answering habits. While it’s a great idea to take a diagnostic test to access your baseline skill—it highly ineffective to keep reassessing your skillset before you lay down the groundwork for success.
Inadequate review of incorrectly answered questions
Don’t just skim over incorrectly answered questions—it doesn’t do you good. Spend the time necessary to review the question in-depth in order to understand why you made a mistake in the first place. If you’ve missed an LR question: paraphrase it, think of any anticipations you might’ve missed out on, go over all incorrect answer choices and explain why they’re incorrect, and finally, make sure you understand why the correct answer choice is correct and why it’s the only right answer choice being presented. Being able to explain and discuss correct and incorrect answer selections will skyrocket your understanding of this exam. This process might take you 10 minutes, or it might take you an hour—but if that means you don’t make the same mistake again, you’re one step closer to achieving an elite score!
So, you find yourself doing an absurd amount of studying; you might cover multiple LSAT topics a day or trying to cram as many PT sections into your free time as possible. Your score goes up a bit—but nothing double digits and your consistency is weak. You’re probably studying too much ineffectively—quantity studying. Imagine the LSAT being like a triathlon—athlete competitors starting out aren’t going to be running, swimming, and biking on a daily basis. If that was their training regimen they’d burn out and never significantly improve. Instead, they start out by perfecting each of the leg of the race independently, focusing on their technique, fundamentals and form first—then, they combine the legs of the race and focus on their timing. We want to approach the LSAT in the same manner—effectively, so we don’t exhaust ourselves and waste-time. By giving yourself adequate preparation time, you can target specific topics methodically, helping you stay on track. This regimen encourages quality studying by allowing you to learn the logic, fundamentals, and methods of the exam in an organized, scheduled, and strategic manner. Strategizing your studying like-so minimizes the learning curve, minimizes the amount of time spent studying and provides you with the most effective way to master the exam starting from part-to-whole.
Lack of organization and scheduling
Probably the biggest factor in the determination of success on the LSAT is a student’s ability to organize themselves. A lot of test-takers think they can cram for the LSAT—quickly realizing that mastering this exam is a lot like mastering a fine skill and it takes tons of practice. Others simply have a lack of time-management and end up studying late at night when they’re cognitively drained and don’t retain any information. We don’t have to list every instance of a poor organization because if you’re guilty of some form of it you probably already know you need to change your approach—so change it.
Not drilling by question-type
One of the most effective ways of improving your success rate with individual question types is drilling. If you’re not familiar with “drilling” by question-type, it’s when you complete multiple questions of the same type in a row. This allows you to target your studying and really focus in on mastering individual topics at-a-time. Regular drilling will not only improve your answering success rate, but it will also improve your timing by teaching you how to anticipate the correct answer choice before even reading the selection!
Exhausting recent PrepTest materials before understanding how to approach individual question-types
It’s extremely important that LSAT students use recent PrepTests for their exam preparations—PrepTest 60 and onwards provides for a more accurate representation of an LSAT exam you will encounter on testing-day. Don’t exhaust all these exams until you have a general understanding of the logic and methods necessary to succeed on the LSAT exam. Resources created to instruct methods and techniques on the exam are usually compiled from older test questions—leaving the more recent PTs at your disposal. There are plenty of free and for-purchase LSAT resources available at your fingertips (Odyssey Test Prep, PowerScore, Khan Academy, Blueprint LSAT). If you’re still struggling to grasp hold of the fundamental logic on the LSAT—consider private LSAT tutoring for targeted-instruction and guidance.
It’s not necessary to study till you can’t study no-mo. It is necessary to have a plan and to study strategically if you want to achieve a top score. If you’ve already started out studying and you’re having difficulties seeing improvements: reassess your strategic approach and change it if need be. If you’re planning on starting your studies in the future: have a plan, strategize, and make sure you work effectively. LSAT classes and private tutoring are fantastic options that provide strategy and structure too. Remember, studying for the LSAT doesn’t have to be hard, it just takes practice and the right approach. Good-luck!