If you are getting ready for the October LSAT and studying on your own – without help from a tutor or prep course – you need to make sure you’re following a strategy and not wandering aimlessly. I asked Noah Teitelbaum from Manhattan LSAT to share some tips for how to know whether you’re self-studying the right way. His suggestions follow:
Some people choose to go it alone with their LSAT prep. Understandable – if you can be successful studying on your own, why not? If you’re going this route, here are some ideas to help guide you.
1. LSATs are not enough for the LSAT
Every LSAT season we see a few poor souls wander into our door a few weeks before the LSAT with some version of this sad tale: “I have done every single LSAT ever released in the entire history of human existence, and I’ve been stuck at a 150 for the last 3 months.” Unfortunately, the truth is that there’s not much to do to help these particular folks. What they should have done – and what you should do – is a comprehensive program. This includes a) learning some strategies – from a book (we like our guides), b) practice them using sets of questions that are broken up by type, and c) doing full preptests. If you want to get serious, do deep review of your work. Here are some ideas on how to review your work .
2. Get a map
Somewhat less sad than the soul described above is the LSAT prepper that buys some books and some LSATs and then just starts reading. For some folks – particularly those who have a knack with standardized tests – this is just fine. But for us mere mortals, it’s great to have a more organized plan. There are a few free self study plans out there (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send you one). The idea is to attack the question types in an organized manner, and push yourself to keep to a schedule. If you want some serious structure, you can buy a self-study program and follow the videos and other resources – that can be an inexpensive way to benefit from the wisdom of LSAT geeks.
3. Have an escape plan
Not everyone can find success with a self study plan but it can be hard to know that until you’ve given it a try. So set some benchmarks that will help you decide if it’s working. For example: “I need to have improved 5 points by August 20th.” If you miss your goals, start up your other prep options (join a class, get a tutor, go to med school instead, etc.). Don’t corner yourself by waiting until the last month to reach out for some help.
4. Be mean
There are plenty of horror stories of folks who end up scoring 5-10 points worse on the real LSAT than their incredible preptests. Why? Nerves is one explanation. But, there are also a lot of students don’t take realistic practice exams. Even though the published LSATs have 4 sections, the real ones you take on test day have 5 (there’s an extra experimental section thrown in an undisclosed location in your exam). So, make your practice tests real – here’s an online proctor <http://www.manhattanlsat.com/LSAT-proctor.cfm; to keep you honest. Turn off that cell phone, don’t drink water except for during your one measly break, and don’t check your answers between sections!
5. Be nice
If you haven’t taken a practice LSAT yet, you’re probably in for a surprise, it’s a tough test! Don’t freak out if you’re used to acing every test – this one is set at a higher level of difficulty than the SATs and other tests you might have taken. This allows law schools to differentiate between lots of really smart candidates (let’s face it, a lot of brainiacs become lawyers). To keep your sanity, be sure to set realistic goals – baby steps. If you score 2 points higher on a practice test, awesome! That’s how people generally improve on the LSAT, a sprinkling of points at a time. So, set your sights a few feet ahead of you, and celebrate each time you hit a slightly higher score (and expect a few dips along the way).
Good luck with your self-study program! Reach out if we can be helpful – email@example.com – we have self-study programs , and we host some online self-study groups (yes, that seems very much like an oxymoron).