Sometimes good isn’t good enough. If you’re ambitious about how to get into law school — especially an Ivy League or top-tier law school — you may need to find ways to improve your LSAT score.
Whether you’re basing your current ability on a practice test or have taken the real deal, there are some measurable steps you can take to improve your score on the LSAT.
Here’s some insight into how to study for the LSAT so that you get into those coveted 170s and 180s. You may even figure out how to get a perfect score on the LSAT.
Spoiler alert: you’ll have to work very hard. But there are some tips in here that are going to make it a little bit easier.
Besides following these LSAT study tips, use these techniques to help you bump up your score.
Originally published on August 4th, 2020, this article was updated, fact-checked, and republished on July 10th, 2022.
How to Improve Your LSAT Exam Prep Process
First and foremost, you shouldn’t prepare alone, especially if you are trying to get a 180 on the LSAT. While you certainly can study solo, a completely self-directed, DIY approach isn’t the way to get a better score.
While there are many excellent LSAT prep courses, some are geared towards students aiming for a higher than average score. For example, the Princeton Review has an option that guarantees a score of at least 165.
This is because they have highly qualified instructors and demanding study schedules. It’s a rigorous process, but it works. Find the right LSAT review course, pick the right format (in-person, virtual live-streamed, or on-demand) and commit.
The providers of these courses offer textbooks, curriculum, calendars, and study supports that have worked time and again for students. If you’re aiming for a high score, these resources can help you get there.
If you want even more support, consider investing in some private tutoring. Check out this comparison of the best LSAT tutoring programs, and find the best fit.
Create a Study Schedule and Follow It
Once you have the right program, there are two things you need to do first:
- Take a practice test
- Set a study schedule
The practice test provides a home base, so to speak, for your study plan. Knowing how you will do on the test is foundational to your studies.
Because you chose to read this article, you may have already taken the LSAT at least once. If so, that is your current test score.
You may want to know how to get a 170 or 180 on the LSAT. You may be trying to go from a 150 to 180 or a 160 to a 170. Whatever gap you’re closing in on, a study schedule is a must.
As you already know, the LSAT requires hours of intense study. Especially if you are trying to beat a previous score, you need dedicated time to develop your reasoning, logic, and communication skills.
If you need some guidance on how to structure an LSAT study schedule, and what timelines are optimal, here’s a month by month LSAT study plan you can use.
Practice Extensively With Flashcards to Improve Speed
LSAT flashcards aren’t about learning the facts. They are prompts that help you practice quick recall of LSAT concepts, vocabulary, and tools for solving problems.
Remember, you have only 35 minutes to complete each section on the LSAT. Improving your speed at understanding the problem and identifying solutions is one of the best ways to improve your LSAT score. That’s exactly what extensive use of flashcards can do.
Magoosh, PowerScore, and all of the big players in the LSAT prep world have flashcards. Some of your options are digital and some directly accompany textbooks and other study materials. All of them are helpful.
Repeated exposure to the same concepts will help you create mental road markers that can accelerate recall. That just means you’ll be able to get to the info faster in your brain, even when you’re under the pressure of the test.
Besides using flashcards, developing strategies for different types of questions can help you solve LSAT logic games faster.
Spend More Time Learning from Your Wrong Answers
Most of the lectures you hear and texts you read will be an explanation of LSAT questions and answers. However, a significant portion of LSAT prep (surprising to some students) includes taking practice tests and getting answers wrong.
Because the LSAT is skill-based, you learn by doing. Study programs that promote their ability to help you get a high score on the LSAT include dozens of versions of the exam to practice on. This will help expose your own specific strengths and weaknesses.
Get comfortable with your weakness. There will be some areas—whether logic reasoning, analytical reasoning, or reading comprehension—that will come more naturally to you than others.
Don’t camp out where you’re strong. Focus on areas where you stumble. If a question doesn’t make sense, spend extra time with it to figure out where you went wrong. Ask questions and wrestle through until you get a breakthrough.
Stick to a Schedule and Include Breaks
Keep in mind, as you prepare, that you cannot binge for the LSAT. It is not a test to cram for because it isn’t ultimately about facts and memorization. It’s about skills. These skills take time to develop.
You may be studying for two, three, or even six months for the LSAT exam. Whichever study schedule you pick, most study plans have you dedicate a minimum of 12-15 hours a week to prepare for the LSAT. This is the right amount of time.
If you work too hard, you won’t actually move further, you’ll just spin your wheels. Avoid burnout by taking breaks and adhering to your study schedule: don’t study too little or too much.
Increase Practice Test Speed and Time Yourself
Sometimes, candidates score lower on the LSAT simply because they run out of time. It’s easy to get caught up in the subject-matter of reading comprehension texts or to over-analyze logic games.
Timed practice, and even proctored tests, will give you real insight into the rhythm you have to commit to through the entire LSAT.
Timing the LSAT right is key to getting a high score.
Don’t Give Up During the Exam
There are no penalties if you get an answer wrong in the LSAT. However, blank answers have no hope. Even if you are guessing in a rush, it’s better to answer every single question.
That one question you leave blank, out of despair or frustration, could end up being the extra points you need to bump up your score. And if you get it wrong, you can’t lose points.
How to Prepare in the Week Before the Exam
Studying for the LSAT is a major commitment that will take several months if you’re taking it seriously. You will need to adjust your lifestyle to account for it.
Don’t blow it once you’re at the finish line. Especially if you are re-taking the exam, it’s easy to scrutinize everything you did “last time” and want to do it differently. Having a routine, and relaxing a little, may be the key to a clear-headed and alert LSAT test day.
Here are some tips to make that happen.
Begin to Wake Up Early
For the United States and Canada, the LSAT starts at 8:30 am. Once you have scheduled your LSAT exam date, plan to adjust your sleep schedule so that it will feel natural to wake up on time.
Depending on your LSAT test center location, you may have a long drive to get there. Plan all of this. Start waking up as early as you will need to on test day.
Don’t let the day of the test be a shock to your system. Get into a routine and practice it before the day of the LSAT.
Get Your Test-Day Supplies Ready
Your mental game can have a big impact on your score. Any stress or distractions on test-day can ruin your concentration and leave no time for calmly reviewing notes or relaxing your mind before you go in.
Rushing around to get organized the night before, or the morning of your test is a sure way to increase your stress.
On the day of your LSAT, you will have to bring a current photo ID and a clear ziplock bag. In that bag, you can have a wallet, keys, your ID, tissues, a beverage in a plastic container, and any medical products (like insulin or medications) that you might need.
Remember that you will have to electronically sign the LSAT Candidate Agreement and have an admission ticket. Get all of this together well in advance and be ready to go.
Questions on the specifics? Check out the LSAC guidelines for what to bring on the day of the test.
Focus on Process: Not the Outcome
Once you’re in the LSAT and the time is ticking down, you may want to mentally check in to the finish line. Try not to do that.
If you’re constantly focused on the result, you’ll waste precious seconds thinking ahead and doing mental calculations.
Instead, focus entirely on the task at hand, using the strategies you’ve practiced, and proceed at a steady pace.
How to Help Yourself During the LSAT Exam
Once you are taking the LSAT exam—whether it’s your first time or not—you’ll probably feel some anxiety or stress.
This can be advantageous, if channeled correctly. Adrenaline helps you focus. Taking proctored tests in a real-life classroom may help you learn how to channel this energy effectively.
If you have studied to get a high LSAT score, the test day should not be the first time you’ve sat down to write the LSAT — but it may be the first official one. You’ve got this. Here’s some guidance to help you keep calm and carry on.
Get the Timing Down
Pacing is key. There are two parts to the LSAT:
- Part one has five, 35-minute sections: one for reading comprehension, two for logical reasoning, one for analytical reasoning, and one experimental. These are multiple choice questions. The experimental section doesn’t impact your final score, but you won’t know which one it is.
- Part two is a 35-minute writing sample, which isn’t scored but goes to law school admissions departments.
As you work to improve your LSAT score, timing is everything. You’ll work to nail the answers with perfectly crafted written copy or meticulously chosen solutions in the right amount of time.
During your practice tests, pay attention to time limits and which sections or types of questions tend to slow down your pace.
Prioritize the Questions You Can Do Quickly
Prioritization may be a valuable method for you to get a higher score on the LSAT. Once you’re in the test, you already know the kinds of questions that are easier or faster for you to answer.
Tackling these first may leave more time for the kinds of questions that typically trip you up.
Learn From Every Answer
Yes, answer every question (because there are no penalties, remember). Also, review your answers. Just because you’re attempting to get it all done doesn’t mean you should leave any room for error or be sloppy.
Especially when resolving complicated puzzles or games, it’s vital that you don’t miss a single detail that could be a clue to the right answer. If you have a shade of doubt, revisit it.
Process Eliminate on Every Question
This doesn’t apply to logic games, but you may find success using the elimination technique for the multiple choice questions. This means that you first pinpoint the obvious “no” before diving into the possible correct answers. This could save time.
Keep Your Pencil Moving
This is metaphorical advice, since the LSAT went digital starting July of 2019. The point: keep going.
Having done practice tests, you know the clip you’ll have to work at to get through the right amount of questions. Don’t camp out. Especially once your brain starts to fatigue, you’ll be tempted to linger and labor over questions or games for too long. Don’t fall into that trap. This is what you’ve practiced for: you know the pace, now stick to it.
How to Improve Your LSAT Score
All of these tips are going to help improve your LSAT score. It’s important that you’re clear about how hard the LSAT really is. Consider choosing a comprehensive LSAT review course to help you cover all the bases.