LSAC has released over 60 past LSAT tests for preparation. Which of them are any good?
As you study for the LSAT, the bulk of your time should be spent completing and reviewing real LSAT exams from past administrations. However, knowing which tests to use can get tricky.
In general, the more recent the test, the better. But that doesn’t tell you much, because if you’re only studying from the past couple tests, you’re not working through enough material. Here’s a quick guide for the important changes that LSAC has put into place over the years so you know what to expect from the older tests. (If you just want the final verdict, skip down the The Bottom Line).
PrepTests 1-17: While LR and RC sections look similar in very early tests you’ll find a lot of logic games that won’t appear on later exams, like mapping and circular games. For this reason, these tests generally aren’t as good practice.
PrepTest 18 is a good place to start for modern, effective LSATs. This corresponds with the 10 exams published in LSAC’s 10 More Actual Official LSAT PrepTests. PrepTests 19-50 will broadly be very similar, with only minor changes that shouldn’t change the way you study.
The June 2007 test, the free exam released by LSAC, ushers in some significant changes. The June 2007 test, because it was released as a free PDF, is not counted in the LSAC’s PrepTest nomenclature, so December 2006 is Preptest 51 and September 2007 is PrepTest 52. This test really ushers in the age of the modern LSAT. With a few slight exceptions, tests from June 2007 on will look and feel very much like what you’ll face on the day of your LSAT.
In particular, this is the exam that ushered in comparative reading passages in reading comp. Probably more importantly, this is the exam where LSAC really started to turn up the difficulty on RC passages in general. This means that students who go from older tests to newer tests will find they miss 1-3 more RC questions per section — but often aren’t sure why. That’s why.
Further, on the more modern tests you start to see more “hybrid” logic games — that is, logic games which ask you to order and group, or order and match, or group and match. As on the current test, the most difficult logic game in a given section is usually a hybrid game, whereas in older LSATs it was more likely to be a game that you really had to puzzle through setting up. The challenge on logic games is now much more about working the questions and discovering inferences rather than puzzling over what sort of diagram to make.
In the years since, LSAC has made only very slight changes to the LSAT that shouldn’t change the way students study. For instance, older LR sections included a couple stimuli which would be followed by 2 questions; now, every question has its own stimulus.
PrepTest 66: This June’s LSAT added logic games on 2 pages. While this is a major change, you can simulate the change by simply using an extra sheet of scratch paper for each game (1 per section). That said, it’s worth getting a copy of this exam to see what the format looks like.
Bottom Line: You should plan to do the bulk of their study between PT30 and the most recent test (currently PT66). Some students who insist on doing as much practice as possible can certainly get the older exams, but they’ll notice substantial differences.
Then, you should arrange your study schedules starting with the older exams and working forward in time. That way, the last 10 or so tests you take for practice will be in the same format as what you’ll find on test day.
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