If you’re just beginning your LSAT preparation or have just joined us at Next Step Blog, here are the top 10 tips to increase your score on the LSAT.
1. Set goals and create a study plan. Here’s a 3-month study plan you can use as a jumping-off point. Although everyone wants to maximize their score, goals are helpful for motivating students to push past plateaus. You should also have an idea of what kind of time commitment you can make to the test. Plan to work on the test at least 10-15 hours a week.
2. Take it early. The best time to take the LSAT is either February or June the year before you plan on entering law school (during/after Junior year for college students). Many students make the mistake of taking the LSAT too late. Law schools roll their admissions, meaning that they start evaluating applications as they come in. Because of this, applicants at the beginning of the admissions cycle are competing for more seats. Most law schools have an application deadline in February or later, but the very few spots left are for extraordinary applicants. By taking the test in June, students have the advantage of having score in hand before applications are accepted so they can submit as soon as the admissions season begins. February test-takers have the additional advantage that should they perform poorly, they can retake in June and still be on time.
3. Consider your prep options. Students can study on their own from books (or videos which, however well-edited, are pretty much the same as study books), take a class, or receive one-on-one tutoring. Here’s an overview of those options.
4. Understand logic games diagramming. Logic games give beginning test-takers the most difficulty. The most important skill for games is to be able to quickly and accurately diagram the situation out. A rule of thumb for diagramming is “if it’s in your head, write it down.” The more you put on paper, the easier the game will get.
5. Master basic formal logic. Formal (or “symbolic”) logic is a critical skill for both logic games and logical reasoning. You aren’t ready to take the LSAT if you’re not an old hand at diagramming statements out in formal logic, understanding common fallacies, and finding the contrapositive. Any decent tutor, course, or LSAT book should teach you this skill, but many don’t spend enough time making sure you master these concepts.
6. Understand the basic structure of arguments. Arguments in logical reasoning are comprised of a premise(s), assumption(s), and conclusion. Being able to identify these three components is critical to effectively solving 80% of questions on logical reasoning, so this skill should be at the center of your LSAT prep.
7. Predict answers. For many questions in logical reasoning (and some in reading comprehension), effective test-takers learn to predict the answer mentally before ever looking at the answer choices.
8. Get comfortable with process of elimination. Many harder questions in logical reasoning and reading comprehension can best be attacked by process of elimination. Evaluate each answer choice — if it’s wrong, cross it out. If it might be correct, it’s a “definite maybe.” It’s ok to not be able to instantly identify the right answer; you’d much rather eliminate 3 possibilities than guess completely or skip a question.
9. Practice smart. After you complete a section or full test, it’s imperative to look back and understand why you missed what you missed. Pure repetition will only help you improve so far; students must diagnose their weaknesses and address them in each study session. Here’s how to get the most out of practice tests.
10. Prepare for test day. Test day is an incredibly high-stakes, nerve-wracking experience (as if you didn’t know that already). Preparing yourself mentally and physically for the ordeal can mean the difference between putting all your training to good use and getting a disappointing score because you weren’t in the right frame of mind. Here are some test day tips .
Feel free to post any questions in the comments or contact us at [email protected].
Image courtesy Sam_Churchill