How to Study for the LSAT: An Expert’s Guide

 Here’s How To Study For The LSAT The Easy Way

The LSAT is an important part of your application to law school, and you should learn how to study for the LSAT to achieve the best score possible on the test. Although it’s possible to get into some law schools with a mediocre LSAT score, the better your score, the better the chance you’ll be accepted into a competitive school.

An Overview of the LSAT

The LSAT is a standardized test that assess your verbal reasoning and reading skills. These are the skills that lawyers need to read and interpret law texts and formulate both verbal and written arguments.

There are five multiple-choice sections on the LSAT. You’ll have 35 minutes to complete each section. Only four of the five sections count towards your score. Those sections include:

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Analytical Reasoning
  • Logic Comprehension (2 sections)

The fifth section contains questions that help the test makers try out new questions. It is mixed into the test so that you are not aware of the section that is not scored.

At the end of the multiple-choice sections, an additional 35 minutes are required for you to provide a writing sample. Although the sample isn’t scored, it is sent along with your test results to the law schools so that they may assess your writing skills.

The materials within the test itself may not be like other reading materials you’ve encountered during your undergraduate courses. They may include difficult, lengthy passages with multiple facts within from which you must draw conclusions and use to support arguments. The sentences will be complex, and you will need to be able to break them down into their precise meanings.

Logical reasoning isn’t something that’s taught in most classrooms these days. If you have the opportunity to take logical reasoning or a logic course in either your philosophy studies or math studies as an undergraduate, take it, especially if you plan to go to law school. Such classes provide good preparation for the type of reasoning you will need on the LSAT and in your career. You can learn more about the test in our LSAT Test Overview.

How Is the LSAT Scored?

Your LSAT scores are reported in score bands. These are estimates of your ability based on the averages of your scores and other’s taking the LSAT. The score bands represent percentiles. Law schools look for candidates in the 80th percentile or above.

The basic scores range from 120 to 180, with 180 the highest you can earn. Scores are also reported by your percentile rank.

How to Study for the LSAT: Your Guide

You can’t cram for the LSAT. You should allow yourself at least eight to twelve weeks to adequately prepare for the LSAT. Some sources say that you should allow 20 to 25 hours per week, for a period of two to three months, to study for the LSAT. If you are already working full time, in college, or tending to a busy family, that can be difficult. In that case, leave several extra weeks so that you get as much practice as you can before the test date.

The following steps can help you study for the LSAT and do your best on the test.

Step 1: Take a practice exam.

The first step is to take a practice exam. The LSAT organization offers free practice tests, or you can find one from the many resources listed at the end of this article.

Take the practice test under timed conditions to mimic actual test-taking conditions. Once you’ve completed the sample test, compare your scores to the accepted scores at the schools you wish to apply to. This will give you an idea of how far you may need to raise your scores, and how much studying you might need to do in order to gain admission to the school of your choice.

Step 2: Create a study plan.

Your LSAT study plan should focus on helping you practice those types of test questions that you may be struggling with. The sample LSAT that you took in step 1 helped you identify questions that may be more challenging for you. These are the questions you need to practice more than any others to achieve a desired score.

Take a calendar and start blocking in time to study. Make sure you leave time to take at least one complete LSAT exam each week so that you can see your progress on the overall test.

Step 3: Practice exam sections with a timer and without one.

Practicing with a timer is helpful, but spend some time practicing without one, too. If it makes a big difference in your scores, then you may not be reading quickly enough and should focus on improving your reading comprehension and reading speed.

Step 4: Take complete practice exams for two weeks before the test date.

For the last two weeks before your LSAT testing date, spend time taking complete exams. By taking plenty of full-length practice tests, you’ll not only familiarize yourself completely with the test format, but you’ll gain confidence as you tackle the sections again and again. This will help you feel less nervous, too.

The night before the LSAT exam, make sure you have the directions to the test center ready, a printout of your receipt and admission information to the testing center, and your photo identification ready. Try not to study the night before the test. Instead, get a good night’s sleep so that you’ll be ready to tackle the LSAT on testing day.

Can You Retake the LSAT?

While you won’t be penalized for retaking the LSAT, schools have access to all of your test scores, not just your new test scores. There’s no such thing as score choice with the LSAT. You can’t choose which scores to send on to schools and which to hide.

If you were sick on the testing day or something happened that you think seriously impacted your scores, it may be a good idea to retake the test. Although you can raise your score by a few points, it’s rare that you can boost your scores significantly by retaking it just because you scored poorly on the first round.

The LSAT committee looks at scores of those who retake the test. If your scores are wildly different, they may flag them for review. Law schools typically average two or more scores and take the average as an indication of what you can do in college.

What About Studying Law Books?

Yes, the LSAT tests your ability to read complex passages, but law books won’t help you prep the way you think they will. The test isn’t measuring your knowledge of the law, but your ability to reason and form arguments in support or defense of an idea. This isn’t the kind of thing you can learn from law texts themselves. Your time is better spent practicing with sample LSAT tests.

LSAT Test Prep Resources

Books containing copies of several LSAT tests make it easy to take several sample tests at once, and to have testing resources on hand at all times. There are also many sample practice LSATs online.

  • TestPrepPlace: Get started by reviewing our sample LSAT Test Questions.
  • LSAT: The official testing website features one full-length LSAT to practice with as well as sample questions from each section so you can get a feel for the test itself. This is also the website to use to read more about the LSAT, register for the test, send scores, and find information on financial aid and admissions to law schools.
  • Peterson’s: Peterson’s offers LSAT test questions online. You can practice by section or sample question.

The LSAT remains an important part of your law school application package. With enough time and diligence, you can learn how to study for the LSAT to achieve your best score.