Strategies and Tips for LSAT Preparation and Testing
This page provides time-tested, common-sense tips for LSAT preparation and for LSAT testing. Though these points of advice are similar to the ones you'll find in most LSAT books, they're well worth reinforcing.
Strategies for LSAT Preparation
Work through at least two comprehensive LSAT prep books. You can easily compare their features at an online bookseller and then choose among them. Keep in mind that some of these books may also be available at your college library or career center.
Stress simulated practice testing. Do not underestimate the role that endurance plays during the actual test. In preparing for the LSAT, there's no substitute for taking full-length LSAT-style practice tests from start to finish under simulated exam conditions. Time permitting, take at least one per week. If you can, take two during the week immediately before your testing date.
Start early, but avoid burnout. In preparing for the LSAT, there's nothing for you to "learn." What you need to accomplish instead is to become familiar and comfortable with the LSAT format and testing pace, and to hone the analytical and writing skills you've already developed throughout your life. 3-5 weeks of regular study and practice is ample time to gear up for the LSAT. If you start months in advance of your testing date, you'll risk losing interest and motivation, thereby "peaking" too early.
Be realistic in what you expect from yourself. Don't worry too much if your practice-test scores aren't as high as you'd like. Accept the fact that there's only so much you can do to achieve your best possible LSAT score, no matter how much time and effort you put into preparing for the exam.
Wait to take the LSAT until your senior year. The more college-level coursework requiring writing and critical thinking under your belt, the better prepared you'll be for the LSAT. Courses in philosophy are particularly useful in developing the critical-thinking skills that the LSAT is designed to measure.
Strategies for LSAT Testing
Pace yourself properly. The 35-minute time limit for each of the five multiple-choice test sections allows little more than one minute, on average, to consider each question. You'll need to work at a quick pace to give yourself a chance to consider each and every available question. So try not to dwell on difficult questions too long. Make sure you stay on pace by checking the clock every so often. During each Logical Reasoning section, check the time after every 10 questions or so. During the Analytical Reasoning or Reading Comprehension section, check the time after each discrete set of questions.
To improve your odds, make reasoned guesses by process of elimination. This is stock advice, but it's worth reiterating. If you're not certain which answer choice is correct, eliminate those you know are wrong and guess among the others. Even a cursory examination of the answer choices will often reveal at least one or two obvious wrong ones.
Answer each and every question. LSAT scaled scores are based only on the total the number of correct responses. No penalties are assessed for incorrect answers. So even a random guess is better than no response at all.
When in doubt, go with your first instinct. Second-guessing oneself is the leading cause of incorrect responses on standardized tests, and the LSAT is no exception.
Take the LSAT Writing Sample seriously. Although the LSAT Writing Sample is not scored, it is provided to each score-report recipient. Assuming that your goal is to attend the highest-ranking school to which you might gain admission, you'll be a "borderline" candidate at that school. Be assured that your writing sample will be scrutinized by that school's admissions officials as part of their decision-making process. Hence you should take the Writing Sample just as seriously as the exam's scored sections.