The process of becoming a lawyer starts with getting into law school. The typical application involves a number of components, including the personal statement, which is the applicant’s chance to tell his or her story. Another important component is the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), a standardized test.
Getting a high score on the LSAT makes it much easier to get into a top-tier law school. However, the LSAT is unlike any other test the vast majority of applicants have taken, so it is important to prepare thoroughly. For most people, this means months of dedicated preparation.
The LSAT consists of five sections, each of which is 35 minutes long. One section focuses on Analytical Reasoning and another on Reading Comprehension with two testing Logical Reasoning. Each exam has a fifth, unscored section used to validate questions that may appear on future iterations of the test. The LSAT also includes an unscored writing segment that you take on your own time.
Schools receive the writing sample along with your numeric score. The maximum score on the test is 180, but a score of 170 puts someone in the 97th percentile, so it is important to keep that in mind. Some tips to consider when studying for the LSAT include:
1. Take timed practice tests to get a feel for time management.
You should practice taking timed sections to understand how to manage your time effectively. When taking the LSAT, it is important to remember that all questions are weighted equally and there is no penalty for getting something wrong. Thus, you should not avoid answering a question if you are not sure of the answer.
Typically, the questions get more difficult as you progress in a section. A great strategy is to do a run through to answer all the easier questions and then return with any extra time to focus on the more difficult ones. Never put yourself in the position of missing easy points because you put too much time into the hard questions. They are all weighted equally.
2. Give yourself time to get a handle on the Analytical Reasoning section.
The Analytical Reasoning section, also known as “logic games,” is considered one of the most difficult for test takers. People struggle because this section is unlike anything on any other standardized test. The section consists of four puzzles that require you to understand complex hypothetical relationships and answer questions.
When you start studying for the LSAT, this part may seem difficult, but you can train yourself to think logically with enough time and patience. If you dedicate lots of time to practicing the logic games, then you will likely see a lot of improvement. Once you get the mindset down, this section will become easier.
3. Analyze your performance on practice tests.
People generally understand the value of taking lots of practice tests as they prepare for any exam. With the LSAT, taking these tests is not enough. To make true progress with your studying, take time to analyze your performance. Ask yourself why you got certain questions wrong and what you can do in the future to be better prepared for similar problems.
Moreover, mark the questions that you struggled with and eventually got right. Did you get them right because you chose the correct answer out of luck or did your logical skills eventually lead you to the right choice? Dealing with these issues takes a significant amount of time but will ultimately beat do a better job of preparing you for the LSAT than another set of practice questions will.
4. Choose review courses and study materials carefully.
Since no coursework at the college level is designed to prepare someone for the LSAT, most people will invest in study materials or a review course to help them get ready. These investments can be a good decision, but more is not always better. In other words, it generally pays to do some research and invest in one or two resources that will likely have the biggest payoff for the investment.
As you approach different resources, think about how you learn best and make sure you choose materials suited to that style. People have vastly different ways of learning, so understanding how you best acquire and retain information can make it much easier to figure out the resources that will work best. For example, some people do well with review books they can go through at their own pace whereas others may benefit from lectures and live tutoring sessions where they can ask questions.
5. Dedicate plenty of time to the Logical Reasoning sections.
Because the Logical Reasoning portion of the LSAT spans two sections, this skill essentially accounts for half of your final score. For that reason, you should dedicate more time to this than the other two sections and ensure you feel comfortable with it. Logical reasoning is an important skill for legal professionals, so the skills gained by studying for these questions is directly applicable to law school classes.
Many people find this portion of the test stressful, but the key is identifying specific types of questions. The questions generally follow one of a handful of different patterns, such as argument, assumption, inference, and more. Become familiar with these different types of questions and pay attention to the ones that cause you more problems. Then, you know exactly how to focus your efforts moving forward with a study schedule.