Jeana's World of Law

Jeana's World of Law

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tips for Conquering the LSAT

A good score on Law School Admission Test, or the LSAT, is viewed by many to be the most important part of getting into a top-tier law school. Rather than testing what you've already learned, it's designed to measure and project your ability to excel in law school.

The test is broken into five separate sections: analytical reasoning, two logical reasoning sections, reading comprehension, and a writing section. The writing section is unscored, but it's provided to each law school to which a given student applies.

Given that the LSAT is considered by many law schools to be the most accurate measure of your ability to perform in law school, it is given a tremendous amount of weight in the application process. Admissions officials feel that solid performance in undergraduate classes might not necessarily correlate to success in law school. So, it's important to invest significant time and energy prior to taking the LSAT. Use these seven tips, brought to us by US News, to get started (I know I will):
  1. It's a marathon, not a sprint. Oftentimes aspiring law students will let LSAT preparation slip by the wayside during their busy weeks in school or at work, only to spend hours on the weekends cramming and taking an endless number of practice tests. While practice tests are important, it's best to keep your mind LSAT-ready at all times, practicing a new section each day with the occasional or weekly practice test thrown in the mix, experts say. Andrew Brody, national content director for LSAT programs for the Princeton Review, compares preparing for the LSAT to training for a marathon. He encourages students to keep their minds sharp at all times, but not to overwork them. I'm taking this advice, and am planning on taking the LSATs in June 2013. I thought about February, but realized that would not give me adequate time to prepare myself, which could potentially lead to not getting into the law school of my choice.
  2. Help yourself, not your buddy. While there are benefits to studying anything with a friend, the LSAT exposes your personal strengths and weaknesses more clearly than any other standardized test, experts say. Given the analytic nature of most questions, what comes easily to one person may prove to be a challenge for their friend. Studying in a group can be detrimental, given that it might make you prone to review the test in a general fashion rather than focusing on your specific weaknesses. Because the test does not quiz you on content but rather how you use logic and think analytically, cramming with a friend is of little benefit. It's best to learn what gives you the most trouble and drill yourself on those questions alone or with the help of a tutor or LSAT instructor. I agree with US News on this one. I opted for a LSAT tutor, and he said the same thing. My focus is me, not anyone else.
  3. Don't just practice. Analyze. Because of the unfamiliar nature of many of the questions you'll encounter on the LSAT, you must practice them regularly to get accustomed to their format. The first time, it is advised to take a test "cold" - without studying. From there, mere practice isn't enough, however, testing experts say. After you work through a timed practice section or timed practice test, don't just tabulate your results and record your score. Instead, look closely at each question you missed and try to discern what led you to the wrong answer. Students who have received high scores on the test note that practice without analysis leads to little improvement. This unfortunately is my least favorite part of studying for the LSATs. When I complete a practice test, I want to be done. Going back and looking over wrong answers can be daunting, but it is true that learning from mistakes can lead to improvement.
  4. Save some time to play. Testing experts agree that the test's analytical reasoning, or "logic games" section, is one of the most difficult sections for students to wrap their minds around initially because it's vastly different from anything else they've seen on standardized tests. The four games in the section each pose five to seven questions that require students to understand complex hypothetical relationships between multiple parties or objects. The easiest way to solve these is to diagram the relationships so they can be more easily visualized and understood than what can be garnered from simply reading the text and answering the questions. Luckily for me, I love logic games. But the LSAT ones are a whole different ballgame. I bought a LSAT logic games practice book, and try to work through them one at a time.
Other self-made tips that I've found to help, which others have seem to found as well according to my google searches of LSAT tips, have been to study in chunks (one section at a time), take timed practice tests (several if not infinite), and to be on top of the studying schedule. I have created my own study schedule, with an official practice LSAT test scheduled for March. Unlike several college students prepping for the LSAT, I am out of college and working full time, which makes studying difficult. February would be to soon, but would you believe it, Monday, June 10th can't come soon enough! 

So, when should you take the LSAT? Check out this Above the Law article for more help.

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