This guest post was written by Kyle Ryman. Kyle is a student at the University of Texas School of Law. He writes about pushing the bounds of performance through data-driven strategies. You can follow him on Medium, or connect with him on LinkedIn.
Your Five-Step Process To Crush The LSAT
It’s a beast of a test. And it stands in your way.
I stood in your shoes once. I started out knowing nothing about the LSAT, but after nine months of studying I crushed it in June 2016. By harnessing the science of learning, I pushed and struggled my way to a 170.
I’ve since devoted a significant part of my life to helping others crush the LSAT. You can get a high score on the exam too. It all comes down to a five-step process:
Step 1: Understand What You Need
First, you need to understand the test in a general way. The LSAT is a “rushed” test. That means it’s designed for you not to finish it. Also, your score is partly dependent on how other test-takers do. Finally, you should understand that the LSAT has three (primary) types of sections: logical reasoning, reading comprehension, and logic games.
To score higher on these LSAT sections better than your fellow test-takers, and in the allotted time, requires you to prepare for the LSAT like a boss.
You can achieve expertise with the help of LSAT test prep companies. But you should understand what these companies will provide you. These companies are selling you an exam-taking system; they have analyzed the LSAT’s patterns and organized these patterns into distinct question types. Each question type has a precise method to solve it. And so to crush the LSAT, you have to master each individual question type.
Next, you need to understand your budget. Preparing to crush the LSAT can run you from a few hundred bucks to thousands of dollars.
Furthermore, you’ll also need to consider how much time you have. You can find future test dates here. But you also need to think about the law school admissions cycle.
Applications for law school open as soon as late August. You’ll want to pick a test date that’s early enough for you to have your score back by then. That will allow you to apply early, which will give you an edge in admissions.
That’s not all though:
You’ll need to give yourself time to complete your prep course (step 3) and to rehearse for the LSAT (step 4). That means you should avoid signing up for an LSAT any sooner than four to six months from now.
Finally, you’ll need to define what your goal LSAT score is. You’ll also need to identify your preferred learning style.
Once you’ve thought about all of this, it’s time to move on to step 2.
Step 2: Find The LSAT Prep Course That’s Best For You
Guided self-study LSAT courses: Best bang for your buck
Guided self-study courses are (usually) app based. They are the best of both worlds; you get total control without having to be your own guide.
These apps often include:
- On-demand video lectures;
- Exercises tailored to your needs;
- A well-designed roadmap to get you ready for your LSAT;
- Limited access to instructors; and
- Analytics to assess your preparation.
All that does come at a premium though. These training courses range from a few hundred to a thousand dollars.
Still, I recommend guided self-study LSAT courses. It’s your best-value option. The following companies offer guided self-study LSAT programs:
Independent self-study LSAT prep courses: not for the faint of heart
Independent self-study LSAT prep courses are what they sound like; you buy some books and get started.
The benefits of independent self-study are:
- You have total control over where, when, and what to study;
- You have total control over how fast you study; and
- It’s usually the cheapest option (a few hundred dollars at most).
Nothing is free though; there is always a cost.
With independent self-study, you are your own guide through the materials. Having to both learn the material and be your own guide is mentally taxing; you’ll run the risk of burning out. If you burn out, then you’ll either switch to a different course (expensive) or give up altogether.
As a result, I don’t recommend independent self-study courses. Choose one only if you have no other choice, or if you are an LSAT veteran and are looking for a fresh start.
Though not an exhaustive list, you can buy LSAT prep-materials for independent self-study from these companies:
Live Classroom LSAT courses: traditional and reliable
These are your traditional LSAT prep courses. They are either in-person or web based lectures. Added benefits include:
- Better access to instructors; and
- The structure of attending pre-scheduled lectures.
There are three drawbacks to live LSAT classroom lecture programs though:
- These courses usually cost over $1,000;
- You’ll lose flexibility in your studying; and
- You’ll have to share access to the instructor with your classmates.
If live in-person classroom LSAT preparation is what you want, though, then these companies are some of the ones that offer them:
Private-tutoring LSAT packages: only if you can afford it . . .
Finally, there’s the holy grail of LSAT review courses: private tutoring. For those who can afford it, the benefits are immense:
- Bespoke test preparation schedules (for all or part of your prep);
- Expert selected LSAT prep materials; and
- Enhanced access to an LSAT expert (your tutor).
There is one disadvantage to private tutoring though: cost. Private tutoring regularly costs over $100/hour, and package deals can reach close to $10,000. If you’ve got the cash, though, then here are some of the companies that offer private LSAT tutoring:
Read our detailed LSAT Prep Course Reviews
- LSATMax Prep Course
- Alpha Score LSAT Prep
- The Princeton Review LSAT Course
- Kaplan LSAT Prep Course Review
- Magoosh LSAT Review Course
Step 3: Don’t Just Complete Your LSAT Prep Course, Study It
To deeply study the LSAT prep course you’ve chosen, you’ll need to make an outline. You’ll then need to organize your outline by question type.
For each question type, you’ll need to know how to identify it with precision and speed. Your LSAT study materials will teach you about different clues that indicate what type of question you’re facing. Put those clues in your outline so that you can drill them later.
Next, you need to know what rules apply to that question type. For logic games, that means knowing how to setup the game.
For logical reasoning, that means knowing three things:
- What makes an answer choice a contender (could be correct);
- What makes an answer choice a loser (cannot be correct); and
- How to recognize logical fallacies.
For reading comprehension, your preparation for logical reasoning will (mostly) carry you though. But you still need to know your annotation method backwards and forwards.
Spaced-repetition is a study-technique that helps store knowledge into your long-term memory. That will give you instant access to your stored knowledge on test day—just like an expert.
Step 4: Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse
Next, you need to start taking practice tests. These are your dress rehearsals, and they will give you accuracy and speed. You’ll need about two to three months for this step.
I recommend that you take about thirty practice tests. You can buy hard copies on Amazon or from LSAT prep companies.
A good schedule is to take two practice tests on the weekend and one during the week. All should be under exam conditions.
Focus first on accuracy. Take as long as you need to answer every question accurately. Speed will come, but not until you master accuracy.
Finally, keep track of your score and time for each section by test. Keeping track will help you pinpoint weaknesses and show your improvement over time.
Step 5: Crush The LSAT!
The fifth step is to crush the LSAT! Show up test day and take the LSAT with confidence. But that seems obvious. Why make it another step?
Nerves. Preparing for the LSAT can be soul crushing. Everybody gets some butterflies; I certainly did!
At this point you are your own worst enemy. You’ll consider withdrawing from or skipping the test, or cancelling your score.
DON’T DO IT!
If you’ve put in the time and effort that I’ve recommended, then you’re going to score at or near your LSAT practice exam score.
Because you’ve seen every trick that the LSAT can throw at you, and mastered crushing it!
In summary, to score high on the LSAT I recommend that you take four to six months to complete the following steps:
- Understand what you need;
- Select the LSAT prep course that’s right for you;
- Don’t just complete your prep course—study it;
- Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse; and
- Crush the LSAT!