How should I study for the LSAT?

Whether or not you’re taking a course, as you begin your LSAT preparation, you need to have a plan in place for your individual practice. You should train for the LSAT the same way you’d train for a major athletic event. Your focus needs to be on good form (consistently using methods that help you answer questions correctly), speed (making your way through each 35 minute section at a pace that allows you to earn as many points as possible), and stamina (developing the ability to finish the test as strong as you started). If you’re wondering how to do that, here it is in a nutshell:

  • STAGE 1: Break it down

    Speed is off the table for now; your sole focus should be on learning the best methods for each type of question, and practicing those until you understand them and can use the approaches that lead to correct answers. A sample study session in this stage might consist of reading information about Assumption questions, for example, and about different methods for answering them. A set of 10 to 20 Assumption questions might follow this, and then you’d wrap it up by reading the explanations for each question.  That includes the questions you got right; all too often, students get the right answer in the wrong way, and end up losing a valuable learning opportunity by not reviewing their work.
    This stage could take as long as a couple of months.  There are a lot of different kinds of questions on the LSAT, and depending on how much time you have to devote to studying, this stage can take quite a while to get through.  Again, don’t focus on speed at this point; you want to do these questions right before you try to do them fast.

  • STAGE 2: Build it back up

    Now you can think about speed!  Once you’ve conquered each question type, start practicing on timed 35 minute sections.  After you finish a section, review it while it’s still fresh in your mind.  Plan on spending about 60 to 70 minutes on review, and focus on understanding not only why the correct answers are correct, but also what makes the wrong answers wrong.  Don’t try to do more than one session of section practice and review per day; more than that and study fatigue might have a negative impact on your retention.

  • STAGE 3: Stay in it for the long haul

    At this point, you should start building the stamina to stay still and focused for a total of six 35-minute sections.  Take no more than one full-length test per week, in conditions as close to those of the actual exam as you can manage.  That means that taking the test in a quiet environment, with a desk and a chair, is ideal; taking it while curled up on your couch watching television with your roommate is not.
    After taking the test, you shouldn’t try to review it right away.  Give yourself a little time to recover, and spread your review out over the following week.  Since one of the test sections is experimental, that leaves you with four multiple choice sections and a writing sample to review.  Do one per night, and don’t forget to give yourself one or two evenings per week off!  Taking some time for yourself is key in a stressful time like the period leading up to the LSAT.

And with those three stages as a guide, you should be well on your way to LSAT success! Remember, everyone learns differently, so feel free to modify this as you become more aware of what works for you. If you’re in Stage 3 and think that some Stage 1 practice on a specific question type might benefit you, do it! Additionally many students take a LSAT prep course to prepare for the LSAT.

Why Take A Practice Course?

The decision to take an LSAT prep course is not one to be made lightly.  Beyond the obvious issues of cost and time commitment, it is also a promise you make to yourself. By taking this step, you are demonstrating the desire to attend law school and the conviction to see that goal fulfilled. We at Kaplan are aware of this, and strive each and every day to make your experience and success our number one priority. In an effort to help you make that decision, here are some of the benefits you can expect from an LSAT prep course.
First and foremost, a prep course prepares you for the types of questions that you will encounter on test day. Each section of the test has several different types of questions, and often the best approach to a given question differs from that of another type. By completing a Kaplan course, you will be familiar with every question type that you might encounter on test day. You will not only know the most effective method to approach the question and find the answer, but also the most efficient method to approach the question and find the answer; you will be able to dissect the structure of the question to best understand the test makers’ intent. In short, your knowledge of every LSAT question type will allow you to always progress through the test without fear or hesitation.
Another note on efficiency: beyond just being able to answer questions, it is imperative that you be able to do so in a timely manner. Kaplan is well aware that the LSAT demands a brisk and strenuous pace of its takers and seeks to prepare them for exactly that. A prep course provides numerous strategies for making the most of your time and gives you the ability to answer every question. In an ideal situation, everything goes according to plan and you are able to cruise through the LSAT completing every question before “time” is called. However, we are not always blessed with the “ideal.” There may be an instance where something arises (either from within the test or an external factor) that prevents you from attempting every question in a section. A prep  course will even prepare you for these contingencies as well. By knowing which questions to skip or save until last, you make the most of your time and guarantee that you attempt the maximum number of questions. It’s better to know which questions to chalk up for the sake of your score than to get bogged down in a monster and lose several precious minutes. Besides, even if you had to skip two questions in every section, you are still attempting enough questions to potentially put yourself in the 99th percentile!
Kaplan has put a lot of time and effort into researching the LSAT to know not just what types of questions the test contains, but also the regularity with which they appear. This is essential when it comes to creating the best possible study schedule. With a Kaplan prep course you will use a program called Smart Reports that creates a detailed analysis based upon your personal performance. You will learn which areas you should focus your study upon in order to see the greatest increase in your score. By devoting the most time to the question types that appear most regularly and that you struggle with the most, you guarantee that you are preparing for the LSAT to the best of your ability.
Though a prep course may not be for everyone, if you are serious about maximizing your score on test day a prep course is definitely worth careful consideration
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