The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is an essential part of your law school application. According to the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), the non-profit organization that administers the LSAT, studies have generally indicated that the LSAT is an even better predictor of first-year law school grades than an individual’s undergraduate grade-point average. Among other things, the LSAT tests your analytical reasoning ability and your reading comprehension. The good news is that all ABA-accredited law schools accept the LSAT, so it is the only standardized test you will need to take as part of the admission process. (It is worth noting that a growing number of ABA-accredited law schools will also accept the Graduate Record Examination or GRE, but that exam is still not universally accepted.) Since most prospective law students likely have not taken a standardized test since the SAT, it is important to give yourself enough time to prepare for the LSAT. Mitchell Hamline School of Law suggests studying about 160 hours for the LSAT (or no less than two months in the aggregate, on a part time basis) in their recommendations to prospective applicants to the Blended Learning Program. Similarly, LSAC recommends roughly three months of study time, while acknowledging that this period may be longer or shorter for test takers based on how many hours a day they can dedicate to LSAT preparation. Based on your work or school schedule, you may even want to consider up to six months of study time.
Be assured that, with sufficient time and effort, you can increase your LSAT score. Familiarizing yourself with the test format, improving your vocabulary, exposing yourself to different types of logic games, and practicing under timed conditions can all make a big difference in your performance on test day. No matter how you plan to study for the LSAT, it is important to have a plan in place and to create a schedule.
As a first step, consider taking a timed practice LSAT before you start studying. Doing so will help you to establish your baseline score. From there, you can determine how much time you think you will need to prepare for the real thing. A practice test will also help you start to think about your admissions goals and which law schools are potentially within reach. Make sure to take a practice LSAT far enough out from any application deadlines in order to give yourself sufficient study time.
Once you have your baseline score from your practice test, identify your strengths and weaknesses. Are you particularly strong in the reading comprehension section, but less comfortable with logic games (or even a particular type of logic game)? Were you able to answer every LSAT question in the time allotted or was there a certain question type that required significantly more time? Your LSAT study schedule should take into account those areas that will require more time for you to get up to speed. In addition, go to LSAC’s website and look at dates when the LSAT will be offered. Work backwards from each test date to determine what study timeline will work for you.
Take a look at your average week and start putting together your LSAT study schedule. Are you more productive in the morning or at night? If you are currently in college, are you better off studying before or after your classes? If you are working, can you create an LSAT study plan that allows you to maximize time on the weekends? It is advisable to make sure that you are getting in at least one hour of studying every day, in order to reinforce new concepts and build upon them. In addition, you can use windows of time in your day such as riding public transportation or lunch breaks for vocabulary review.
If you think you could benefit from a structured LSAT study schedule, there are a wide range of resources available to help you, including LSAT prep courses, tutors, books, and apps. These options vary considerably in price, so make sure to do your research!
From the very beginning of your LSAT prep process, start building good habits so that you are ready to go for the actual LSAT. Each study session should be focused with a clear plan. Try to re-create test day conditions. For example, put your phone somewhere out of reach (since it will not be allowed in the room on the actual test date). When you go through practice questions, make sure to go over each incorrect answer to understand why you go it wrong. Make a list of any words in a reading comprehension section that you did not know and add them to your vocabulary list. Do not be afraid to modify your study plan as needed if you find yourself struggling with a particular section more than the others.