So you’re taking the LSAT. If you aren’t registered yet, you can do that on the LSAC website. While it may be a bit difficult to fork over the cash (item: the credit card of a parent or significant other tends to make this process easier), when it comes to actually studying for the LSAT, things can go from difficult to brutal. In order to make your prepping progress as smoothly as possible, we’ve put together a list of five things to avoid during your LSAT study time. Without further ado:
1. Taking too many practice tests before working out the fundamentals. This is one of the most common mistakes students make while studying for the LSAT. This typically happens for two reasons. First, it’s easier than working on the theory of how to approach the test and practicing those methods through boring, repetitive drills. Second, it’s nice to get results: it’s fun to get a score — much more fun than just correcting a bunch of random Reading Comprehension questions. Of course, practice tests are a critical part of any LSAT prep, but they have to come at the right time — namely, about halfway through your prep, once you’ve had some time to focus on the basics.
2. Failing to learn from your mistakes. This ties in nicely with the last point. We see many students who spend hours on their LSAT prep, but without learning why they keep missing the same questions over and over again. This becomes especially critical in the second half of your prep, once you’ve learned the basics and have started taking more practice tests. Doing timed sections and full-length tests is not enough. You have to take the time to go through and understand why you missed particular questions. Did you miss a crucial deduction on that game? Why? How can you avoid that mistake next time? If you only take away one piece of advice from this post, let it be this: Learn from your mistakes.
3. Reading too quickly. This one applies to all three sections, contrary to intuition. We see lots of students who, because of time pressure, try to read every stimulus, game, and passage as quickly as possible. This is really problematic on the LSAT, which tests your ability to break down logical statements. If you’re reading too quickly, then chances are you’re not able to analyze the statements you’re reading. Focusing on timing is very important, but it has to come after you learn how to deconstruct logical structures. This is why at Blueprint we don’t start focusing on timing until late in our course.
4. Spending too much time on the answer choices. This tendency is especially problematic for Logical Reasoning and Logic Games. For LR, it is critical to spend enough time on the stimulus (1) to fully understand the argument or set of propositions, and (2) to anticipate the correct answer. Sometimes, anticipating the correct answer isn’t possible, but the vast majority of the time, you’ll be able to do so. This will allow you to identify the correct answer quickly while avoiding alluring incorrect answer choices. These two steps should take up about 80 percent of the time you spend on any given question. The same principle applies to the Logic Games: you must take the time required to find big deductions before jumping into the answer choices. This translates to maybe 3-4 minutes on the setup and 45 seconds to one minute per question, depending on the question. Of course, some questions take 15 seconds, and some may even take 2 minutes. The critical point is to get all of the big deductions before you jump in, as this will let you really speed through the questions.
5. Don’t let your prep get you down; instead, focus on improvement. Studying for the LSAT can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s so important to focus on correcting your mistakes and improving your weaknesses. When you see yourself improving, you’re encouraged, and this can help overcome the stress inherent in LSAT prep.