What Nobody Tells You About The LSAT

If you’re dreaming of going to law school, taking the dreaded Law School Admissions Test is an unnegotiable part of your future. This excruciatingly painful test is both mentally and emotionally draining, and it will push your brain to limits you have never known before. The content is completely unrelated to anything you have ever learned about in school, and you’re going to feel discouraged (and quite frankly, just plain stupid) when you begin the journey of studying for this awful test. But don’t give up on your dream of law school just yet! The LSAT is the hardest academic test I have ever completed, but I got through it, and you can too. Here are a few things I wish somebody told me before I started studying for the LSAT.

1. It’s all in your head 

I am convinced that the LSAT is not a test of your intelligence, your reasoning skills, or your potential as a future lawyer. It is a test of your mental strength, and it is designed to break you down. One of the most frustrating parts of studying for the LSAT was that I could easily complete a round of practice questions with no trouble, but when it came down to taking a timed test, I would panic and blank out. You have about a minute (or sometimes even less) to read each question, read over the possible answers, and confidently pick one. The pressure of meeting the time limit and picking the right answer is enough to psyche out even the most well-trained logician. When you review the questions that you got wrong, most of the time the right answer will be so damn obvious when you read it slowly and consider what the question is asking you. The test itself isn’t that hard (okay, it’s hard, but not impossible); the problem is the anxiety of trying to finish every single question before you run out of time. 


2. Never read the online discussion boards 

Seriously. Unless you want to read about some kid having an existential crisis because they “only” got a 178 on their first attempt and now they have to write it again, the discussion boards are useless. Stay off of them. Discussion boards are filled with people who are passive-aggressively competitive and somehow manage to insult you every time they give a half-assed, unhelpful answer to your question. The sole function of law school discussion boards is to make other prospective students feel bad about themselves. As a student who has grown used to the positive, welcoming environment of Guelph, I was shocked by how vile the online community of pre-law students could be. If you want to know something, ask someone who has taken the test in real life. Reading discussion boards will only fuel your test anxiety. 

3. You’ll need more time than you think…but don’t dedicate your life to it 

The general consensus is that you need 3 months to study for the LSAT. I somehow thought that I could do it in 6 weeks. It’s possible, but it’s not going to be fun, and it might not even be worth it in the long run. Studying for the LSAT is like a full-time job; you can’t just study for a couple hours the night before, it takes weeks (or even months) for what you learned to set in. I had to set aside at least 30 hours a week to even come close to the score I wanted. With that being said, I don’t think the LSAT is something that should take over your entire life. Unless your dream is to attend Yale, you don’t need a perfect LSAT score to get into an amazing law school. I would never recommend for someone to quit their job or take a semester off of school to study full time. The LSAT is a lesson in time management, and there’s no rush to complete the test as soon as possible. Give yourself enough time to study that you feel confident in your ability to perform well, but don’t spend 12 hours a day reviewing practice questions! Studying for the LSAT will be a huge strain on your mental capabilities, and it’s far too easy to become burned out if it’s the only thing you’re focusing on. 

4. Don’t expect results right away 

I found myself getting discouraged when I took practice test after practice test and my score only improved by a few points. The truth is that it takes a long time to truly understand the new skills you are developing. Combined with the stress of completing the test under time constraints, there’s no wondering why my scores on my practice tests weren’t the best. Just keep pushing through until you get the results that you want. 

5. You’ll probably take it more than once, and that’s okay 

Everybody - and I mean everybody - that I know who has taken the LSAT has taken it at least twice. Maybe they weren’t sure what to expect the first time around, maybe they just had a bad day…whatever their reason, taking the test multiple times is more common than you think. Taking the test twice (or even three times) is nothing to be ashamed of. It just means that you’re determined and you won’t accept anything less than the best score you are capable of! 

Good luck studying!