The Law School Admission Test is required to get into law school. If you want to become a lawyer, you’ll need not only to pass, but to get a high score on the exam. These LSAT tips can help.
Passing the LSAT is easier said than done. The LSAT is unique, and unlike any other test you’ve taken.
There are three types of questions designed to test your critical thinking skills. You’ll need to dedicate a good chunk of time to study and preparation before you take the LSAT.
An LSAT perfect score is 180. The average score is 150, but you can expect to get into a good school with a score between 120 and 180.
Got your heart set on a perfect score? Read on to learn how to study for the LSAT and how to improve your LSAT score.
Here is the basic structure of the LSAT:
- There are five multiple-choice LSAT sections, of 35-minutes each (⅘ will count toward your score). The questions will cover:
- Reading comprehension
- Analytical reasoning a.k.a logic games
- Logical reasoning
Let’s get a deeper look into each element and get tips on the best way to study for the LSAT.
LSAT Logical Reasoning Tips
The logical reasoning portion of the test is in two sections. This means that it will comprise half of your score. It is intense and fast-paced. You will have 35 minutes to answer between 24 and 26 questions. You’ll do that two times.
Many students think this part of the exam is the most difficult, but there are ways to practice and prepare.
Here are some helpful LSAT logical reasoning tips.
Identify the Question Type
There are a few different types of questions in the logical reasoning section of the LSAT. You will need to practice to learn how to answer each type. Organizing your study this way will prepare you to quickly identify what type of question you’re dealing with and how to solve it.
The questions you’ll encounter will fall into one of these categories:
- Flaw questions, where you have to find an error in an argument
- Assumption questions, where you have to identify a lack of evidence or a problem with a conclusion
- Strengthen questions, where you will be asked to add to an argument and conclusion
- Inference questions, where you will be asked to find a statement that is best for the argument
- Paradox questions, where you will find similar argument structures
- Weaken questions, where you’ll find detracting statements
- Principle questions, where you will choose answers based on ideas or principles
Once you nail down which of those question types you have in front of you, you’ll employ the strategies you practiced to get the answer correct.
Read the Argument Carefully
Don’t just read the words: make notes, comment, and grab key phrases or keywords. Get to the heart of what the question is asking.
You want to see it from up close, for details, and far away, for a broad understanding of what it’s getting at.
Quickly Review the Question Type
Each question will ask you to respond in a specific way. You identified that above. However, once you get worn out in the test, your frazzled brain may skip over or forget important elements.
Don’t risk incomplete or inaccurate answers. Circle back to what you’re supposed to do one more time.
Analyze the Answer Choices
There may not be a clear-cut answer. That’s part of the test’s design. You will have to compare several good options to choose the best one.
First, cross out the wrong answers. Second, read every single word very carefully. Third, don’t pick your first choice and move on.
Carefully read every single good answer to make sure you’re picking the correct one.
Remember your timing. You do not have time to loiter on any given question. Make the best choice and move on to the next question.
LSAT Analytical Reasoning Tips
Analytical reasoning is the logic game portion of the test. This scored section requires some serious mental aptitude.
There are 23 to 24 questions. They come in four sets, or logic games, of between five and eight questions each.
There is a pattern within the sets. Every logic game on the LSAT has a premise, conditions, and questions. Here are some of our best LSAT analytical reasoning tips.
Recognize the Logic-Game Pattern
There are a few patterns you may encounter in the logic games. That being said, there are no specific or official categories. Most likely, you will see these basic patterns:
- Selection: select subjects
- Linear sequencing: line up in order
- Grouping: divide into 3+ groups
- Attribute: assign characteristics
- Non-linear spatial: determine arrangement in two dimensions
- Logical: cause and effect relationships
Your score relies on your ability to apply a different strategy based on the pattern you encounter.
Here are some more LSAT logic games tips.
Read Game Conditions Carefully
At the beginning of each game is a passage outlining the conditions. This section defines the relationships of subjects in the game.
This is hugely important to understand, either from the text outright or by deduction. Don’t make assumptions. Remember that all of the information you need to get the right answer is contained in the question.
The conditions aren’t meant to confuse you, so interpret them with care.
Don’t Try to List Every Outcome
You could get bogged down in “every possible combination.” Don’t do that. There are endless possibilities if you veer even minimally outside the parameters of the game.
Focus on the overt content and only infer or deduce if you must. Then, follow the directions to the letter.
Use a Diagram or a Pattern for Each Game
Practicing this is key. You will create your own system for diagramming logic games. Sketching it out will help you visualize the stated relationships and apply rules accordingly.
A good diagram will help you move faster and perform better on the logic games.
Look For a Key Rule
Within each logic game is a basic idea or concept. It won’t be obvious in most of the logic games. Look for a key rule. If you can identify it, the puzzle will be much easier to solve.
Don’t Do More Than Needed
This is partly a time-management tool, but it’s also important for answering questions correctly. If you linger too long, you’ll run out of time.
You will also run the risk of overworking or overcomplicating your process. If you do, you could miss important facts or over answer, which could steer you into faulty premises, assumptions, and wrong answers.
LSAT Reading Comprehension Tips
The passages in the LSAT are composed of three to four paragraphs that follow a main theme. You should have a practiced strategy for tackling these.
Part of that strategy should be creating memory tags to revisit important information in the lines of text. Get in your mind that each one has a big idea and hold onto that.
You will have four passages in total, each requiring you to make connections, apply facts, and interpret information. You’ll can do that by using these handy LSAT reading comprehension tips.
Take Notes When Reading
Don’t rely on your memory. While you’ll practice spaced memorization and other techniques as you study, take actual notes while you are reading. Key words, phrases, ideas, and important concepts will all come up again. Flag them to revisit when you need to.
There is no “fluff” on the LSAT. Every word is placed with intention and you should pay attention to it. This means that you need to read with complete focus.
Don’t skip over content, or let your eyes move too fast. You will need to practice this. It’s essential that you absorb as much as possible in a short amount of time.
Keep in Mind That Details Support Functions
The devil’s in the details. Or, in this case, the answer could be. Consider why certain details exist. What is the author getting at? Don’t dismiss details, even if they don’t seem relevant at first. They are typically going to support the function of the text.
Look for the Big Picture, Not the Details
This tip applies both to the content and structure of the passage you are reading. This is part of your “zoom in” (get the details) and “zoom out” (see the big picture) strategy. It’s important that you get the big idea and then correctly interpret the details that support it.
Keep an Eye Out For Concessions
As you read with absolute attention, you need to look for concessions. There are moments where the author may give a point to an opposing argument. This acknowledgment may appear to make the core idea weaker. However, you have to recognize where most of the time is spent and what the real thesis is.
LSAT Writing Sample Tips (Essay)
When you take the LSAT, you get 35 minutes to write a short essay. The writing will be in response to a prompt that may or may not be about legal topics. Whatever the subject, you will have to defend one side of an argument. This writing style is important in law school, so you must demonstrate it on the test.
This section is not scored. However, it will be sent by LSAC—along with your LSAT score—to every law school to which you apply. Your admission could be impacted by this writing sample, so do your best. Here are some LSAT essay tips and LSAT writing sample tips to help you.
Know What You Are Up Against
You will face the essay writing at the very end of the LSAT. You could be tired. That is why you need to practice, so that writing this way will come naturally, even if you’re a little out of it.
Pick a Side and Go With It
Don’t focus so much on the “what” of the argument. It’s best to pick a side as fast as you can. It is a waste of time to agonize over this decision.
Lead With Your Conclusion and Then Stay Organized
Decide right from the beginning what your closer will be. Once you know how you will conclude, you can reverse-engineer a slick argument.
Make sure that you have a coherent structure. Every paragraph should have an outline with strong information. Don’t waste words or use extraneous language. Keep it concise.
Be Honest by Addressing the Weaknesses in Your Argument
Don’t pretend that your argument is bulletproof. Addressing weaknesses is an important acknowledgment that you see the full picture. There are downsides to any side of an argument — nod to those while standing firm in your position.
Don’t Bring in Outside Information
You are only trying to prove one point: that you can argue well. Don’t get caught up in the actual subject you are writing about. You don’t need outside references, statistics, concepts, or other material. Just write clearly and use a narrative style instead of a cold delivery of facts.
Last-Minute LSAT Tips
The LSAT is not a test you should take lightly. However, life may have thrown you a curveball that has you studying last minute. If you’re wondering, “how long should I study for the LSAT,” or “when to start preparing for the LSAT,” the typical answer is 150 is 300 hours, or about three months before you want to take it.
If last-minute prep has to happen, you don’t have to give up. It’s not ideal, but you can make it.
Here are some last-minute LSAT study tips.
Practice (Don’t Cram) for the LSAT
You cannot cram for the LSAT. You may be able to accelerate the study process. However, the LSAT is not about regurgitating facts. You need to develop certain skills.
If you really want to try to take the LSAT without much time to prepare, you will need to practice those skills as much as possible.
Discover Your Starting Point
Take at least one practice test to see where your skills stand before you begin studying.
You need to get clear very quickly about how you would do and what your weakest areas are. Prioritize those areas. Create a study plan that focuses on which skills you need to work on right away.
Keep Your Study Balanced
Focus on quality. You may want to work day and night to get through it faster, but you have to balance work and rest. Retention is important.
Plus, as you practice, you’re flexing new muscles that have to recover a little. Consider the value of breaks just as much as your high-energy time studying.
Most importantly, you need to practice for all areas of the test. This means practicing logical reasoning and reading comprehension just as much as logic games. Even though you do want to shore up weaknesses, you need to cover all of your bases.
Avoid Concern About That “One Weird Question”
During practice, you may encounter some questions that seem way harder than others. Don’t get distracted by the idea that those are the norm. You want to spread out your study time to cover all of the types of questions you will encounter on the LSAT.
Target Efficiency, Not Speed
Yes, you will have to move faster if you have fewer weeks to study. That can’t derail your attentiveness. Focus on being efficient to get the most out of every study session.
Even people with several months to study may wish for more time. At some point, you’ll have to know you gave it your best shot. You can do this by creating a methodical, disciplined study plan for as much time as you have.
Stay Positive and Don’t Panic
You got this!
But either way, you can’t panic. You will need a ton of discipline to prepare for the LSAT in any amount of time, especially if your timeline is shorter than average.
It’s also a good idea to find an LSAT review course to help you study more effectively for the test. Check out our review of the 5 Best LSAT Review Courses, including Alpha Score LSAT Review, Kaplan LSAT Prep, Magoosh LSAT Prep, and more.
We also have a list of the best LSAT prep books you can purchase individually.
Focus on doing what you can with the time you have. If you go into the test cool, calm, and collected, you have a much better chance of maintaining the focus you need to pass.