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Creating an LSAT study schedule that works for you is very important early on in the process. Studying for this test takes discipline and a lot of hard work. The quality of law school that you can get into will depend in large part on your LSAT, so it’s a good idea to approach it like a job – with a study schedule and course of action. In this article, we’re going to get into the nuts and bolts of what it takes to find a plan that you’re comfortable with that will yield the highest possible LSAT score.
1. Take A Baseline Test
A good place to start is to take a baseline test so you know where you are in the process. It is recommended that you take a baseline test 9-12 months before you plan to take the LSAT. This is a full practice test that you’re going to tackle without any prior preparation. You probably have a few law schools that you want to apply to based on your GPA, so this baseline test will help you gauge what you need to score on the LSAT in order to gain admission to your prospective schools.
Some people do well on the baseline test and some don’t (naturally). If you have a poor score at the start, you shouldn’t worry. Many people who score poorly at the beginning go on to do well after they’ve prepared.
Once you know how much you want to improve, you can measure the amount of preparation that you actually need.
2. Sign Up For A LSAT Prep Course
After taking a baseline test, it’s time to select and sign up for an LSAT prep course. An LSAT prep course will help you learn strategies for taking the test, help create a disciplined plan of action to prepare and help you improve on sections you may struggle with.
LSAT prep courses are taught in a variety of formats, and the one that suits you will depend on your schedule, budget, and individual needs. Our team reviewed the best LSAT prep courses to help you select the course best for your needs.
3. Budget Your Time
Based on your recommended length of study time, and the prep course that you select, you’re going to need to budget time and make a weekly schedule of what you will study, as well as when to take practice tests. Remember, the test does not just measure your ability to solve and analyze problems and questions; it also measures stamina (both mental and physical). So you can think of practice tests as a way of conditioning yourself to take the actual exam. Based on the recommendation above, you should expect to spend at least 20 to 25 hours a week in preparation for however long you need to prepare based on your goals and baseline test.
You might think to yourself, “Where on earth am I going to find an extra 20 to 25 hours a week?” You can do this by taking a lighter course load in the months leading up to your exam, or by taking time off from work, if you can. If you’re truly set on going to law school it is important to think of this as the number one priority of your life in the months leading up to the exam.
4. Mapping Out Your Study Plan
Now that you’ve budgeted time for your LSAT prep, it might be a good idea to know what you’re studying, and when. Students who do this tend to be more successful than students who don’t.
Using the time you budgeted in step 3, take time to develop a clear study plan for each week leading up to your LSAT exam. When you begin preparing for the LSAT, you will likely have a lot that you need to learn. As you continue to study, you will begin to refine the information you have gathered. Eventually, as you get closer to test day, you will be implementing ways to practice the information you have learned.
5. Learning Methods To Dissect The Test
So in the beginning, you’re learning about the LSAT and ins and outs of the different sections of the test. This is the point at which you’re going to be working through your test preparation materials and forging through your outlined course of action for the next several months Once you do this, you should familiarize yourself with the test by taking your practice tests, untimed at the start. It is more important that you are comprehending the material than finishing on time – something that you will work up to toward the end.
By familiarizing yourself with the test, make sure you are comfortable with:
- Identifying your strongest and weakest strengths in the test
- Dissecting and identifying different questions within various questions within the test
- Familiarizing yourself with diagramming questions in the Logic Games portion of the test (this is the section that most people have trouble with initially)
- Figuring out a strategy for approaching passages
6. Refining How You Approach The Test
From here you are moving from focused learning to more mixed drilling and practice. At this point you’re going to have a basic understanding of the test, and its sections, and an even further understanding of the sections where you need the most improvement. You’re going to be improving the methods that you learned for dissecting each question and practicing (again and again) the methods that you’re most comfortable with.
Once you get more familiar with the techniques with which you’re at ease, you can begin to transition into taking timed practice tests. A good barometer of this is to recognize when your accuracy begins to level off in your untimed practice tests.
7. Practicing The Practice Test
You’ve got your refined methods down. Now the goal is to become comfortable with taking the practice test, so that come test day, it seems like just another practice test. Your goal in this final stage of test prep is to take the techniques you’re most comfortable with and repeatedly execute them, over and over again. If you’ve practiced enough, you should know your approximate score before you even take the actual test.
There are also a few proven tactics you can use in this portion of the preparation that will make you feel as comfortable as possible on test day:
- Continuing to review and drill your weak points
- Taking two tests in a row to build stamina
- Completing sections in 30 minutes instead of 35 minutes
- Taking time off in between sections
Simulating practice test conditions is also very important. Try to create an environment of a proctored test by taking it at, or near, the same time that you will take your actual test, and maybe in a public space where other people are present, like a library, to simulate actual test day nerves. In addition, other variables like the three pillars of health (eat, sleep, and exercise), or cutting out drugs and alcohol will all help to have your mind as sharp as possible as you near your test date. You want yourself in the best condition to perform in the upcoming mental marathon called the LSAT.
At 3-6 months out from your LSAT, it is recommended that you take at least one practice test weekly. When mapping out your study plan, you should account for time to review the major concepts from your LSAT prep course, time to take a weekly practice test and time to review other materials such as logic games practice.
It may also be helpful to create a spreadsheet to document your LSAT scores from the baseline and each practice test. This spreadsheet will then allow you to track your progress as you continue to learn and improve. If for some reason you are not improving, you also are aware of the issue and can stay on top of it to get the help you need.
After reading this article, we hope you understand the commitment that goes into preparing for the LSAT. And you should have a good idea of what needs to take place between your baseline test and the real test day. As mentioned above, you want to get to the point where you feel like your actual test is just another practice test – almost that same feeling as when you go into a test for one of your classes and know the content frontward and backward. That is the feeling you want to have on test day.