So you’ve decided to take the LSAT, now what? One of the first steps when preparing for the LSAT is to setup a study schedule. Following through this process will help you set your goals and a study schedule to help you meet those goals.
Step 1 – Take a Practice LSAT Test
Taking a practice LSAT test is an extremely important step for a number of different reasons. You need to determine a baseline LSAT score, this will help guide you in how much you need to study to get the score you want. Also, having a baseline score will help motivate you as you study by giving you a measure of your improvement. Motivation can be an extremely important factor in studying for the LSAT.
- To start your diagnostic exam you will can download a free LSAT practice test. You can also download and print LSAT practice tests in our LSAT Prep Course.
- Next, complete the practice LSAT under time constraints. I can’t emphasize this point enough, the LSAT is a timed exam and part of studying for the exam is about improving your time, so make sure you time your test.
- You can find instructions for timing your LSAT and a Virtual Proctor here.
- Finally, score your test to find out how you did. First, determine how many questions you got correct out of the total number of questions. This is your raw LSAT score and needs to be converted to a scaled score for comparison to other test results. Here is a full explanation of LSAT scores. To convert your raw score to a scaled and percentile use our LSAT score conversion chart.
Step 2 – Set Your Goals
Once you have your baseline scaled LSAT score ranging from 120 to180 from your diagnostic test you will have a better idea of how much studying you will need to do to get into your school of choice.
At this point, I’m assuming you’ve set your mind on a number of law schools and have reviewed their admission criteria. The admission criteria is often based primarily on GPA and LSAT scores. Using your current or expected GPA you should be able to determine approximately how high you need to score on the LSAT in order to be accepted to a given law school. If you haven’t reviewed the admissions criteria for the schools you want to go to you can review Alpha-Score’s guide to Canadian law schools or review LSAC’s UGPA/LSAT search for ABA approved law schools in the US.
By reviewing the admission criteria for the schools you are interested in you now have a better idea of the range of LSAT scores you will need. This is your goal LSAT score and should be compared to your baseline LSAT score from your diagnostic practice test. The difference is a good indicator of how much work and time you will need to commit.
Step 3 – Determine Your Time Commitment
From my experience this is usually an important step that is skipped. You need to determine a realistic time commitment on a weekly basis. For example, “I plan to schedule 10-12 hours per week or at least 3-4 hours Monday, Wednesday and Sunday.”
By setting this timeline you should mentally commit yourself to a weekly schedule. In setting your study schedule keep two things in mind. 1. It should be realistically attainable. Will you have enough time to fit it in? If not then you may need to readjust the rest of your schedule, work less, or play less and make more time for LSAT studying. 2. It should be sufficient to meet your goals. There is no clear way to determine exactly.
How much is enough?
LSAT instructors are constantly asked, “How much time do I need to prepare for the LSAT?” Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. For some students no preparation is needed and for others 6 months of working 20 hours a week may not be enough to get into the school of their choice.
As a starting point, we suggest you dedicate 12 hours a week for the first month and then reassess. Here’s a suggested schedule:
Try this schedule for one month and then check on how your LSAT scores are improving. The improvement should give you a guide to determine how much more time you need to put in. If you’re not improving as fast as you’d like, dedicate more time to your studies and add it to your study schedule.
Post your schedule on your fridge or next to your laptop or TV so you are constantly reminded of it. I used to have a saying on my wall across from my bed so I would see it every day that would say “carpe diem” or “seize the day” in Latin. Motivation is key when studying for the LSAT, do your best to stick to your commitment.
If you’d like some help developing your own schedule and setting some goals, shoot us an email at LSAThelp@alpha-score.com.
Step 4 – Choose Your Study Materials
There is a lot of options out there for studying for the LSAT, Alpha-Score has come up with a cost effective complete LSAT Prep course that we think is the best “bang for your buck” when it comes to LSAT Prep. The course has helped many of our students get the LSAT scores they needed but we will leave it to you to make this decision.
Step 5 – Start Your LSAT Prep
Once you have decided on your LSAT Prep study materials you can start your studying. Start with the basic schedule outlined above and adjust as required based on your goals and improvement.
Remember that the LSAT has 3 sections in it so you need to decide on which section to start with. We generally recommend you start with logical reasoning as it makes up 50% of the test and much of what you learn applies to the other two sections. However, if you want a jump on the other sections you can do the following:
For reading comprehension – start reading the paper or The Economist magazine every day. Read an article or two. Do not just read. Analyze! Think about what the main point is; think about what the author’s views are, how is the article structured? Also after you read it try thinking back to the details, or better yet, try explaining it to someone else later in the day. This will start to improve your analytical reading skills which will help not only in reading comprehension on the LSAT but also in the practice of law. Whatever you do, do not allow your mind to wander while you read. If this happens, stop. Focus. Re-start. Use the analysis of the things we discussed above (e.g. main point, structure etc.) to help you focus.
For Analytical reasoning – take a basic lesson or tutorial on how to diagram the games. This will help you feel more confident when taking your practice LSATs. Then you can work on the advanced skills and advanced games later. Try our free introduction to logic games.
Step 5 – Review your Progress
Everyone is different and learns at a different pace. If you’re following the schedule above, you should be doing a timed test every week, this will help you gauge your success in studying and hopefully provide you with motivation to keep going.
Continue reviewing your progress at least every 2 weeks. Once you’ve done more than a month of studying you can start looking at your test results in more detail and determining which particular question types you need help with. When you identify particular problem areas you can focus on those by reviewing particular lessons or tutorials or getting in touch with your instructor or a private tutor. We’re always happy to help out, if you’ve got a quick question, you can reach us at LSAThelp@alpha-score.com