1. Your college background can help.
While the LSAT is not a test of academic knowledge, such as legal history, taking the right classes can help polish the mental skills the LSAT tries to measure. For example, courses in philosophy, law, ethics, history, literature, and political science will improve your reading comprehension and reasoning skills for the Logical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension sections.
The best suggestion: if you still have time, taking one or more classes in formal logic. Formal logic is one of the most challenging topics on the LSAT. You’re basically getting college credits for LSAT prep.
2. Don’t expect to get everything right.
On a typical academic tests, you would be barely passing if you got 65% of the questions correct. On the LSAT, however, that score would put you in the 75th percentile! To put things in perspective:
- You don’t need to respond correctly to every question to attain a “perfect” score of 180. In fact, you can get 2 or 3 questions wrong.
- If you get 75% of the LSAT questions correct, you will score higher than 90% of all test takers.
- If you get 50% of the LSAT questions correct, you will score higher than 40% of all test takers.
3. Never Leave Bubbles Empty.
In the last minute before the test is over, make sure to hurry back and fill in all of the answer bubbles. There is no penalty for incorrect answers, so you have nothing to lose by filling in all the bubbles randomly. If you have to fill in 10 empty bubbles with random answers, the odds are that you will get two right. That could make the difference between an LSAT score of 157 and a 159.
4. Don’t try to solve all the questions.
Even a good LSAT score (75th percentile or about a 168) only requires answering 65% of the questions correctly. The optimal approach for most test takers is to slow down. Rather than hurrying through all of the questions, you are better off answering fewer questions and giving each a full effort. Many questions have “trap” answers specifically designed to catch students who hurry through the test.
All the LSAT questions have the same value. The hardest questions will count just as much toward your final score as the easiest. Skip the questions you are least comfortable with. (Note: even when you “skip” questions, always make sure to fill in all of the bubbles). Generally, the difficulty level of questions increases as the section progresses. So question 2 will usually be harder than question 1, etc. We explain specific timing and skipping strategies in our free LSAT prep course.
5. Practice under similar conditions.
How does Tiger Woods prepare for the high-stakes/high-nerves game of golf? He always tries to practice exactly as if it were a real tournament.
When you practice for the LSAT, use the same approach.
- Try taking the entire test, just as you would on test day, not just one section at a time.
- Practice at a desk (preferably in the morning) in a crowded room, just like test day.
The key strategy to answering questions is P.o.E. (Process of Elimination). In the Reading Comprehension and Logical Reasoning sections, many of the answer choices can be justified with some creativity. Focus on why answers are wrong rather than why they are right. Skim through your choices and eliminate answers that are clearly incorrect or have flaws (the new Digital LSAT has an easy feature to grey out choices). If you can eliminate two of the choices, you can increase your chances of getting the right answer dramatically (from 20% [1 in 5] to 33% [1 in 3]).
7. Learn the little tricks and techniques.
The test creators have come up with hundreds of tricks they can use to lead test takers to select the wrong answer. The more of these tricks that you become familiar with, the higher your score will become. These tricks are not all dependent on the question type. For example, one trick is to put a baited wrong answer above the right answer, which leads many test takers to choose the trap choice and never even read the correct choice.
8. Keep on going!
The LSAT test day is over four hours long. If there is anything it measures, it’s raw determination and focus (which is also what it takes to succeed in law school). Practice. Practice. Practice. Students who get the highest LSAT scores spend at least 50 hours preparing.
Next LSAT: January 16/17
Next LSAT: January 16/17