Anna Schultz-Girl On Computer Stress

What I Learned Studying for the LSAT

If you’ve seen Legally Blonde, you know Elle Woods managed to get a near-perfect score on her Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) after deciding on a whim to attend law school, hoping to win her boyfriend back. Through a five-minute montage, we see Elle struggling to balance her time between studying for the test and caving to fulfill the demands of her social life. Well, the end result is a whopping 179 (the highest score is a 180) and she is admitted to Harvard Law. Reality, unfortunately, is much different. After preparing for the LSAT over the summer and taking it for the first time recently, I assure you it is one of the most challenging hurdles you will ever encounter. On numerous occasions, I felt like giving up and settling on a different career path, certain that I would never be able to conquer the test. However, I persevered and actually learned a great deal along the way about myself in general and as a student. If you’re pondering whether to attend law school or even taking the LSAT at all, here are a couple of things I learned about the process that may help jumpstart your journey!

1. The time pressure is insane, and that’s sort of the point.

The test is comprised of five 35-minute sections (now only three due to COVID), which means that if you want to get through each question as efficiently and accurately as possible, you have about a minute per question. When I took my diagnostic, I didn’t time myself and still had trouble answering most of the questions. Yet, as you go through your prep and master the types of reasoning skills the LSAT loves, you’ll recognize that you can correctly answer a lot of these questions -- if you had unlimited time. What the test makers and law schools want to see is that even under immense time pressure, you can figure out the inference, the flaw in the argument, the conclusion, and so on. The difficulty in this is being able to read quickly enough without skipping over important details and then picking the best answer out of five choices. Of course, most people would do well if they had five hours to take the test; but alas, life isn’t that easy.

2. Online discussion boards can be helpful, but be careful!

This may be an unpopular opinion, but I’ve found that sites such as Reddit can be useful in terms of offering nuanced perspectives and different strategies on approaching certain sections, as well as individual experiences that may serve as inspiration for anyone disappointed with their current score. At the same time, Reddit is addicting and can suck you in. If you spend too much time scrolling, you run the risk of comparing yourself to test-takers who are doing significantly better than you, leaving you feeling more discouraged than ever and never wanting to even look at another LSAT question again. Therefore, it’s best to take what you read with a grain of salt, as each person is a different test-taker and has their own set of strengths and weaknesses that will uniquely shape their studying process and test-day experience.

3. The test is hard, but it is learnable...

When I took my first practice test, I was instantly discouraged. I started comparing myself to those genius test-takers who seem to instinctively know how to solve each question in a matter of seconds without getting overwhelmed by anxiety and time pressure. However, once I began preparing for each section and learning various tips and tricks, I realized that this test was never impossible or insurmountable- it was merely that the concepts were still foreign to me and take time and effort to nail down. The LSAT isn’t perfectly comparable to the ACT or SAT -- one of the sections known as “Logic Games,” provides you with a set of conditions for which you are asked to construct a complex and open-ended diagram. Unless you’re insanely good at logic and do lots of Sudoku puzzles in your free time, you’re probably initially not going to know how to solve these problems in a quick and efficient manner. After tackling each of the books and taking practice test after practice test, the patterns began to emerge, and my score naturally improved -- and surely yours can too!

Good luck studying!