Today’s advice comes from our friends at Blueprint LSAT Prep. Blueprint students average an 11-point increase on their in-class practice tests, and can enroll in live LSAT prep classes throughout the country or online LSAT courses from the comfort of their own home.
The September LSAT was this past weekend, meaning another round of happy test-takers can forget everything they ever knew about Logic Games. However, that also means a new round of aspiring Johnnie Cochrans has started looking towards the December administration.
If you’re planning on taking the December LSAT, you’ve got plenty of time. With a strict study regimen and a solid approach, ten weeks is more than long enough to prepare.
This leads us to a necessary, but much less glamorous, point: if you cannot commit to a strict schedule (because of work, school, etc.) or are unable to implement a good study plan (because you are pre-occupied, like tequila too much, etc.) then the December exam is probably not for you.
While this reasoning may seem like an Inverse Fallacy (look, we’re learning already), we’ve seen this pattern countless times before. Students who are just out of college and working their first full time job (maybe as a paralegal in a corporate law office that works them 55 hours a week) often find themselves unable to juggle work and their LSAT studies. So our first word of advice is that if you want to commit to the December test, first look in the mirror and ask yourself if it’s feasible.
Affirmative? Good. Wipe the fog from your belabored, soul-searching breath off that mirror and let’s get to work.
Your first move should be to take a practice test. We mean the very first thing, before you even start studying. The reason? You want to have a benchmark against which you can measure your progress. Then, after scoring your exam and recovering from the initial depression, spend your first week studying Logical Reasoning and Logic Games.
For Logical Reasoning, begin with diagramming. This is also an imperative skill for Logic Games, so the two coincide nicely. It’s a method that can take time to master, so start working on it right away. As you’re working through diagramming LR questions, begin your Logic Games journey with Ordering Games. This is typically the simplest game classification, so it’s a good way to get your sea legs under you. You’ll quickly notice the similarities between diagramming LR stimuli that assert variations on “If the company switches to solar, then it will lose coal investors” and diagramming LG rules that say something like “If Tyron goes before Omri, then he goes after Xi.”
How much should you be studying? At this stage in your prep,we typically recommend about two or three hours a day. It’s hard to do much more because, no matter how good you are at the LSAT, this is a mentally taxing test. You don’t want to burn out, and it does very little good to study if your mind is mush. That being said, if you’re hoping for a 170 but scored a 144 on their diagnostic, you may want to shoot for closer to four hours per day, since you have a lot of ground to cover.
WEEKS 4 & 5
Having presumably mastered LR diagramming and Ordering Games, now transition into Grouping Games and LR questions that involve characterizing the argument. Many of the skills you learned in weeks 1-3 will carry over, but new ones will be required of you, as well. Characterizing LR, for example, often involves identifying the role of a statement, or the conclusion of an argument, or the argumentative method employed.
A very common question on the LSAT is “What is the flaw in the reasoning above?” Makes sense, since you want to be a lawyer and make mincemeat out of the opposing counsel’s argument. Try to devote an hour or two strictly to Flaw Questions every day, since they’re so common and often pretty challenging.
Of course, at this point, you should be working on Reading Comprehension as well. Keys to mastering this section of the test include identifying:
- The main point of the passage.
- The primary purpose of the passage.
- The author’s attitude.
Give special attention to the passage’s structure. Is it a single viewpoint? An antithesis, comprised of two opposing views? Or perhaps a synthesis, melding two opposing views into a third option? Many questions will ask about these concepts directly, so it’s crucial to identify structure as you read through the passage.
WEEKS 6 & 7
As you reach the midpoint of your LSAT prep, you still shouldn’t need to exceed three hours of study per day. At this point, however, you’ll want to do another couple of practice tests to gauge your progress. You probably won’t have made it through all of the material yet, so don’t get discouraged if your scores aren’t quite where you’d like them to be; focus on whether you’re doing better on the concepts you’ve studied.
Next, start looking at Combo Games, which involve both Grouping and Ordering, as well as the odd, rare game that involves neither. Your LR studies should shift towards strengthening, weakening and resolving-type questions, in which you’re operating on the question stimulus. Finally, you should be looking to delve deeper in your RC analysis by noting the use of examples and cause & effect relationships, then seeing how they manifest in the questions.
WEEKS 8 & 9
As you get to the final two or three weeks before the exam, a good rule of thumb is to take a couple of untimed tests after you’ve learned all the material, especially for students who are chasing high scores (170+). Not leisurely tests over the course of a week or two, but practices in which you aim to finish in 35ish minutes, while allowing yourself to go over time if necessary (maybe up to 40 or 45 min). The point here is to eliminate time as a factor and instead test only your skills. If you’re much below your target score when taking an untimed test, you probably need to go back and spend more time on the core concepts. In contrast, if you’re able to achieve your target score untimed, that indicates it’s time to drill in order to quicken your pace.
So drill. Most everyone needs to keep drilling at this point, because timing on the LSAT is a pain in the butt. And speaking of time, it’s important to crank out a few more timed practice tests in the last few weeks of prep. Shoot for six or so by the end of November, and then another couple in the final week before the test.
In the week before the LSAT, take time to really evaluate what areas still need work. Are Sufficient Questions tripping you up in LR? Do you need more practice with scenarios in LG? Whatever the case, identify your weaknesses and focus your studying there. The day before the exam, run through a game or two and maybe an RC passage, but don’t strain yourself. The LSAT is not a cram-able test. If you don’t have it by this point, you’re not going to get it in time for the December exam.
On LSAT day, eat a good breakfast, arrive early, and shoot for a 181. Remember that it’s not what you do on the day of the test that decides your score, it’s how you approached the previous ten weeks. Best of luck!