Nine months ago, I embarked on an agonizing, physical, emotional, and mental transformation. It was exhausting, both for my brain and my heart, and left me often in tears. In the end, I can 100% say it was worth it because I am the proud mother of a 170+ LSAT score. For context, the LSAT is the entrance exam for law school, much like taking the SAT or ACT to get into college. LSAT scores range from 120-180 with test-takers scoring on a bell curve. Very few people get a 120 and very few get a 180, and people who get a 150 usually fall firmly in the 50th percentile, meaning 50% did worse and 50% did better.
I recently received the results of my August LSAT-Flex test, after a long three-week wait, and I almost collapsed when I saw my number in little, black font up on my screen. I refreshed my screen twice to make sure it was not a mistake before I called my Dad sobbing that I had gotten the score of my dreams and was going to law school. My dad, in pure Dad-mode, then contacted every relative to tell them the good news.
I have been passionate about the law for as long as I can remember. I have memorized the scripts of Legally Blonde and My Cousin Vinny and have been humming the Legally Blonde musical this whole summer. But when I first started studying, I was struck with doubt and fear. Everyone I knew was counting on me and believing in me, and this was the hardest test of my life so far. I needed a plan and fast. Obviously, my plan worked out, but there is no one plan that works for everyone, so I have decided to share my 7 tips for getting an LSAT score that will also leave you crying on your bedroom floor at 9 AM in front of your bewildered roommates.
- Manage expectations
Likely, you are not Elle Woods. Even if you study for months, the chances of getting a 179 or 180 on the LSAT is pretty unlikely. Statistically, it’s improbable. Of course to get into the big T14 schools (the top 14 law schools in the United States according to U.S News & World Report – currently Yale has number 1), you really want to aim high, but the T14 are not for everyone, and nor should they be. There are many amazing law schools across the country with clinics (internships) and concentrations (similar to majors) focusing on your interests where you want to practice law post-graduation. Figure out where you want to go and figure out what score you need to get in and even get some scholarship money. The 509 disclosures from the American Bar Association are a great, factual, and unbiased source that lets you know exactly what law schools are looking for what scores. Then, build your plan around this score. And remember, this score does not define who you are, what you can accomplish, and what kind of lawyer you will be.
- Find suppport
Elle Woods did not get to Harvard by herself, and while you don’t have to enlist your family, a film crew, a tutor, and your entire sorority, you are not going to get through studying by yourself. Reach out to your friends and family for support and encouragement. Look at online groups like the Reddit LSAT page for levity and advice, and see if any of your classmates or acquaintances are also studying. Having someone you can text a meme about logic games to and not get a judgemental emoji back means more than you know.
- Start studying early
“What? Like its [getting a 179 and acceptance to Harvard] hard?” says Elle Woods, from Legally Blonde. To answer Ms. Woods’ infamous question, “Oh my god, yes. It’s so hard.” Studying for the LSAT really is not easy. At all. First, it’s a grueling test. Typically around 4 hours long with 5 sections, the LSAT-Flex being given in light of the pandemic is 2 hours with 3 sections: Reading Comprehension, Analytical Reasoning, and Logical Reasoning. For a test of this duration, you need stamina, time management, and practice, practice, practice. I started studying nine months before my scheduled exam date. This gave me plenty of time for curveballs like midterms, a vacation, and yes, the world as we knew it ending. Also, I was able to not feel as stressed out when studying. Even when my score went down I knew I had time to do better. At a minimum, set aside two months to study.
- Make a schedule and be willing to throw it out
Much like life, studying for law schools means rolling with the punches. My initial goal was to get a 180 on the LSAT. As I studied more and more, I realized that this simply was not attainable based on my score results. I also thought I could study for two hours a week. When it got closer to the test date, I started studying four hours a week. Having a schedule of what days and how long you study for can be really helpful, but you need to be willing to make changes.
- Find a system that works for you
This is not the time to reinvent the wheel. There are many resources for studying for the LSAT. Khan Academy, 7Sage, prep books, and more are all great resources. I personally did Khan Academy which was free and through the makers of the LSAT, but it is not for everyone. Most importantly, you need to take as many practice tests as possible. Previously used LSATs are released every year, and you can study from these online and in books. When you register for the LSAT, you even have access to two free practice tests.
- Figure out your strengths and weaknesses
With three sections of the LSAT, there are parts that you will be better at than others. I am really great at Reading Comprehension, and I don’t think I ever spent more than five hours studying or practicing this section. On the other hand, I really struggled with Analytical Reasoning or famous logic games. I probably spent 75% of the last nine months doing practice sets of logic games. To break that down further, a lot of Analytical Reasoning falls into three basic categories: mixed, ordering and grouping. I really struggled with mixed and grouping scenarios, and I spent most of my time practicing which paid off.
Likely, almost everyone could get a perfect score on the LSAT if they had all the time in the world. LSAT is not a test based on memorization or even learning. It’s about adapting your way of thinking to identify patterns and process information logically. If anything, the only thing to memorize is what logic game requires which set up and that kinds of logical fallacies there are. The point is that the difficulty of the LSAT is largely the time. Only having 35 minutes to answer about 27 questions is really hard. That’s about a minute per question. You need to time yourself and even set your timer to less than what you will have on the test to prepare.
Now get out there and start studying! Good luck. See you at law school!