What are some of the most important things and strategies to approaching the LSAT for law school?
The LSAT is made out to be a very daunting examination. Even though it is a little further down the road for me, I would really appreciate some insight into how the test works, and the best way to tackle it! #law #lawyers #lsat
The LSAT has 3 types of questions - Reading Comprehension, Verbal Reasoning, and Logic Games. Reading Comp and Verbal Reasoning are like a much harder version of what you might encounter on the SAT verbal.
Reading Comp questions generally involve reading a passage and answering a series of questions based on what is said or implied in the article. It is designed to test your ability to absorb a longer passage quickly and think critically about it. For Reading Comp, having a clear strategy is key. A lot of people have a lot of ideas about strategy... most of them are wrong or misguided, including the most expensive courses out there. Don't trust anyone who insists their way is the only way and that your are making a mistake by not following their strat. You need to make a series of decisions: do I read the passage first or read the questions first? Do I read carefully or do I skim and go back? Should I take notes in the margin or underline relevant sections? Once you make your first pass through the passage, you need to decide whether you make a simple outline or dive into the questions. The simple outline might jot down Author's main idea or thesis, the overall tone of the article, and your best guess at the author's purpose. The only way to make these decisions is by doing practice problems.
Verbal involves reading a short blurb and answering questions that test your ability to analyze or attack an argument. There are many common question types -- and commercial test prep companies generally have an over-elaborate and confusing system for memorizing each of the 20 or so question types and what to do. I would suggest you take practice tests and see what questions you get wrong, then analyze them until you understand the best answer.
Logic Games are the most unusual, and generally the most tricky section. You will get 4 games. Each will be something like: there are 4 kids, Al Bill Chris Dan, each kid has a hat, a pet, and a house. Then there are 'clues': Al has a rat and does not live in the yellow house. Bill's hat is blue and he lives next to Cris, who has a cat. Etc Etc. You've probably come across a question like this in your math class at some point. The difference here is the time pressure... it is very difficult to get a perfect score on the logic games section... that being said, it is possible because I have done it!
Here is the strategy I followed, which allowed me to destroy the LSAT and get a score of 178 out of a maximum possible 180. I bought a test prep book from a commercial provider (Kaplan, Princeton Review, Barrons - they are all basically the same). I did a few practice tests initially and realized I was doing horrible on logic games. They just seemed cruddy and poorly written. I then bought a book of 10 real old LSATs... and realized something - the commercial books sucked at writing Logic Games as well as the LSAT writers! So that really helped my logic games, as I said above I did not miss a single question.
The other thing I realized was that the LSAT is incredibly tiring. There are 5 sections, including experimental, and that is 3-4 hours of test taking. In order to develop stamina, I started doing entire LSAT tests (minus experimental and essay) on Saturdays. In my experience, most people do the worst on the last section, regardless of what it is because they are tired and just want the test to be over.
The other thing I forced myself to do was to go over my tests right after I finished taking them. This was incredibly painful, because it generally took another 1-2 hours, but it was the only way to remember what my thought process had been when answering the question the first time.
I started my studying 6 months before test day. [This is something most people really bungle. A lot of my LSAT students (because I taught the LSAT for several private companies) signed up for the class at the last second and thought it would magically get them into law school. Nothing could be further from the truth. Expensive, multi-thousand dollar classes pretty much only have one benefit... students are more likely to do their homework if they are paying that much money. That's it... that small fortune is basically a way to motivate the student!]
I only studied on Saturdays, doing the full practice test and the review of wrong answers. As I got about 6 weeks away from the test, I focused on my weak areas, which were logic games and the very hardest reading comp and verbal questions. I started doing single sections (30 mins) on my 'off' days and also came up with my own scheme for doing logic games. I didn't need to 'cram' or panic because I knew my preparation was good. Two weeks before the test, I got a score in practice that I was happy with. 1 week before the test I beat the previous week's score. At that point I stopped studying and just relaxed. The night before the test I went out for dinner and a movie and went to sleep early. On test day, all my studying paid off. It felt like my hands knew what to do and my conscious mind was just a passive observer, occasionally fixing mistakes or catching things.
When I got my scores back, I had missed 2 reading comprehension questions and one verbal. My score of 178 was better than all of my professors in law school. I had spent a grand total of $100 on my test prep - $40 for the commercial LSAT study book, and $60 for the book of 10 real LSATs. I came full circle to teach the LSAT, and realized just how many of my students were lazy and unwilling to do the basic homework despite they or their parents paying $2000 for the class!
You cannot succeed on the LSAT if you aren't willing to work hard... but if you are, it can open the door to a better career. Hope this helps!
The LSAT is not easy. Many tricky areas. I found doing logic puzzles very helpful. As in a previous response, a prep course is invaluable. I did poorly once and took it again and totally aced it so don't be discouraged.
Hi Alexis. There are three things I'd suggest: (1) hone your reading comprehension and writing skills at every turn; (2) enhance your match and logic skills; and (3) take an intense preparation course from a reliable provider. While the LSAT is difficult, proper preparation can make a world of difference.
Paul V.’s Answer
You need to practice a lot. There are lots of software programs and books with sample questions, answers and explanations. The LSAT is basically a timed reading test. If you had more time, you could probably score highly, but the pressure of being timed makes the LSAT difficult because for each of the various sections, the time will run out before you have answered all the questions. Don't choke. When the proctor tells you "two minutes left," stop writing and make sure you fill in an answer for all the remaining questions you haven't answered yet. Choose one letter: a) b) c) or d) and fill them all in with that one letter. Statistically, you should probably get one or two correct answers even though there's not enough time to finish all the reading and questions. Of course, get a good night's sleep the night before, eat something before the test, and use the restroom too, before the test. Good luck.