So you’re thinking about going to law school and now you’re trying to figure out how to tackle the LSAT. The LSAT, or Law School Admission Test, is administered four times a year for prospective law school attendees. A high score on the LSAT exam can make the difference between getting into your top choice law school or a lower tier institution (or not getting into any of the schools you apply for). While preparing for the LSAT is critical, it’s even more important to prepare correctly. Read on for five common LSAT study mistakes and how to correct them before it is too late.
Not Giving Yourself Enough Time
While many LSAT test prep courses last just three months, such a short period of time is not adequate to prepare for a test that is weighted so heavily in law school admission. Many experts advocate preparing for the test for a full year before your first attempt. Although you can take the LSAT up to three times within a two-year period, all scores are reported—which means you should do your best on the first go-round. Since most prep-courses last about three months, some students assume that is all the time they need. However, no matter how well you feel you are doing with the prep-course, you need more time to devote to other study methods. Even if you don’t need the full year, giving your self a “cushion time” will greatly reduce any stress or anxiety you are feeling about the test.
Relying Solely on Practice Tests
Practice tests serve an important function in your LSAT preparation, in that they familiarize you with the test’s timing, format, structure, and actual sample questions from past tests. However, you also need to spend time figuring out which problems you got wrong and why. Analysis of your weak points and focusing on those is much more effective than taking multiple practice tests without training in between. Many students find it helpful to couple the use of practice tests with a practice course. That way, you have an instructor who can help you on the questions you missed and give you direction—allowing you to improve. Taking hundreds of practice tests won’t do you any good if you aren’t making changes and improving your score with each test.
Focusing Too Much on One Section
Most test-takers have the most difficulty with either the logic or reading comprehension sections. However, if you devote too much of your prep time to the sections you have difficulty with, you’re missing a critical opportunity to boost your scores in those areas where you might feel like you’ll fare better. Focus your prep on individual question types you struggle with throughout the test, rather than on specific sections. Putting time and focus into your strengths as well as your weaknesses will give you a better chance of getting a better score all around. No matter how confident you are with certain sections, don’t run the risk of being over-confident and failing to properly study for those sections.
Going it Alone
An LSAT study group can be an invaluable tool. Not only does it help to run practice questions and discuss difficult problems with a group who’s going through the same thing, you’ll also have the fellowship that may be lacking if you’re spending most of your free time preparing for the test. Not only do your peers add some extra help, but enlisting the help of a tutor can really help you with any sections you might struggle with. Meeting with a tutor one-on-one can be of great benefit to you as you complete practice tests and need someone to point out your mistakes. If you do practice tests on your own, you may not know why you are missing certain questions. A personal tutor can work with you to correct mistakes in the beginning so you are confident by the time the test comes around.
Relying Solely on Prep Courses
While there are no shortage of expensive LSAT prep courses available, these classes aren’t the be-all and end-all of preparation. No amount of money can help you learn material that you aren’t familiar with, so diligence is much more effective than paying for classes. You can’t expect an instructor to prepare you for the test—you need to prepare yourself. If you plan on attending the prep-course a few times a week and then never studying on your own, you will struggle. If you’re engaged in the course and have the self-discipline to have your own study time outside of class, your scores will be higher. Some students don’t understand why they don’t do well on the test after going to the prep-class every day. Well, going to the class doesn’t ensure you learn the material, while studying on your own will give you the boost that your memory and brain needs for this type of test.
Taking the LSAT is no small task in and of itself, and getting a good score is a beast all it’s own. You probably already know that it takes serious preparation and dedication to do well on the LSAT, but it is important that your are preparing correctly, not just preparing period. Follow the warnings above to keep you from wasting time on study methods that won’t get you anywhere. Set up a strategic plan for your study, apply the necessary discipline, and you’ll likely be pleased with the outcome.