How to Survive the LSAT

So, you’ve decided that law school is for you. Now, you’re faced with tackling the beast that is the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). Along with a notable grade point average, stellar curriculum vitae and personal statement, taking the LSAT is required for admission into most Canadian law schools (with the exception of those in Quebec). No pressure, right?

I took the LSAT for the first time this past June and truthfully, I didn’t quite reach the score I was aiming for. Luckily for hopeful lawyers, we have more than one shot. Most Canadian law schools only take your highest score into consideration – although, some look at the average of all your attempts.

I plan to take the LSAT again during the February testing. In the meantime, I’ve gathered some tips and tricks to help you survive the LSAT.

 

1) Start studying early.

Give yourself ample time to write the LSAT more than once before you apply to law schools. I did my first attempt in the summer before my third year, which means I have plenty of time to retake it before I apply to law schools in my fourth year. 

The Princeton Review recommends at least three months of studying before your test date. At times, preparing for the LSAT can be mentally draining. To combat this, avoid juggling too many things while studying. This may mean picking up less shifts at your part-time job or opting out of summer school.

2) Take a diagnostic test.

The Princeton Review offers a proctored, mock LSAT day at Carleton every year! Also, the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) usually releases a sample LSAT online that you can access at no cost. Be sure to take advantage of these opportunities take a diagnostic test for free. Doing so gives you a baseline score to work on, and an idea of your strengths and weaknesses moving forward.

PRO TIP: Khan Academy, in collaboration with LSAC, now offers a free LSAT prep program online! It diagnoses your strengths and weaknesses, creates a personalized practice plan and tracks your progress.

3) Set a realistic goal score.

The LSAT is not a pass or fail test. Test scores can range from 120 to a perfect 180 and many law schools publish the average LSAT score of their first-year class. Do some research to gain a sense of what a good score is for the specific law schools you are interested in applying for and aim for that.

4) Prep course or self-study? That is the question.

Prep courses can be pricey, so take advantage of early bird discounts. Research what course best suits you as they vary in duration, platform and extra resources offered. Beware that some prep courses cover each lesson at a brisk pace, so keeping up with homework is a must.

Conversely, if you choose to self-study, you can approach the material at your own pace using the many LSAT prep textbooks available for purchase. However, you have to be your own motivator. Create a study schedule and stick to it.

5) Pacing and timing is an LSAT art form

This may sound counterintuitive, but don’t try to do every question on the test. Easy and difficult questions (relative to you) are worth the same amount of points! While you study you will discover certain question tasks you breeze through and others you continually trip on. Pay attention to this pattern and answer the easier questions first and the more difficult ones on your second go-through each section.

When doing self-proctored tests at home, mimic exam conditions as much as possible. Time yourself using an analog watch and no phone breaks! This will make taking the real LSAT feel familiar.

6) Eliminate four wrong answers instead of finding the correct one

The LSAT is tricky because the answer choices on some questions look similar. One strategy is to determine what is wrong with four of the answer choices, eliminate them and choose the one you have left. That one is probably the right answer and you don’t even have to know why it’s correct!

7) On the days leading up to the test…

Read the rules carefully. LSAC stipulates the dos and don'ts of the test to the tee. They are specific about what you can and cannot bring into the test room with you – right down to the HB wooden pencils and sleeveless erasers.

Don't attempt new practice questions the night before. Instead, relax and get a good night’s sleep.  

8) On test day: BREATHE.

Eat a good breakfast, bring a snack and try not to drink too much water during the test. The time won't stop for bathroom breaks.

 

At the end of the day, studying for the LSAT may seem tedious and repetitive but there’s an Elle Woods in all of us. If you take one thing away from this article, remember: the LSAT requires preparation. Practice, practice, practice and don’t forget that you have more than one shot. So, get to it!