The LSAT is an extremely difficult exam, its long and its completely unique from any exams you likely have taken in the past. It’s also the most important factor in a law school’s decision to admit you and offer scholarships.
For these reasons you will want to be as well prepared as possible to perform well on the exam. So how much time do you really need to prepare yourself and how much time should you be spending to prepare?
Unfortunately, You Just Can’t Cram For the LSAT
For those of you reading this article that are in undergrad you might be used to cramming.
As a Criminology major I was used to being able to sit idly by in my studies until a few days before the exam. Once that approached I would go into caffeine and nicotine-infused overdrive, and cram an entire semester of lectures and readings into my brain and then spew it out on exam day. It magically worked, I certainly didn’t have an amazing GPA but I managed an A- GPA throughout undergrad.
Cramming has no place in LSAT preparation, however, and you will perform poorly if you hit the books until a few weeks before the exam. This is because the LSAT doesn’t test your ability to memorize information. The LSAT measures your ability to critically think, analyze arguments, and read carefully. It takes a lot of dedication to excel at the logical reasoning and logic games sections of the exam.
Sure, you might already possess excellent reading comprehension skills, but reading comprehension is only one portion of the exam and your skills can be improved.
You Should Prepare For Several Months
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but LSAT preparation should be done over a period of several MONTHS, not weeks. I strongly recommend that you begin studying for the LSAT four or five months before the date of the actual exam.
I know that five months of preparation is asking a lot, and everybody’s situation is different. For those that are in undergrad, the idea of preparing for the LSAT in addition to your normal studies can seem daunting. Plenty of others have jobs, and other commitments that can make a lengthy period of study difficult.
But it IS WORTH IT. I like to tell people that the LSAT is the single best “bang for your buck” exam that you will ever take during your law school experience. The better your LSAT score the better the law school you can get into and you will have significantly more merit scholarship opportunities.
Studying for Several Months is Not Sufficient
A several month study plan is required to do well on the LSAT, but it isn’t enough. You have to actually put the time in every day to learn the concepts. Studying three or four days a week just isn’t going to cut it.
I studied for two to three hours a day for four months before I took the exam. If you don’t have this much time to offer, try your best to squeeze out time where you can. I worked at an auto parts store for a few months while I was preparing for my exam, and I used to study on the counter during downtime.
- David M. Killoran (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 2006 Pages - 09/27/2021 (Publication Date) - PowerScore Publishing (Publisher)
Quick Study Plan
Preparing for the LSAT is a daunting task and at the outset it isn’t clear how you should prepare. What I did and what I suggest, is that you begin your preparation by taking a timed practice exam. Yeah I know it sounds odd to take a practice exam without ever having studied for the LSAT, but there is a good reason for doing so. Starting with a timed practice exam gives you a baseline score and gives you an idea of where you are from the start. It also gives you a realistic view of what the LSAT tests.
Once your practice exam is done its time to focus on the fundamentals. I used several different prep books and my favorites by far were the LSAT Bibles. I read all three LSAT Bibles, they were extremely helpful and were riddled with practice sections. You can check out a LSAT prep book comparison here.
Khan Academy was not available when I took my LSAT, but I have been told that it’s an extremely helpful and FREE supplement. I also paid for an LSAT prep course but they certainly are not a requirement. You can read about the various LSAT prep courses here.
I strongly recommend that you begin taking weekly LSAT practice exams three months out from the LSAT. You can take them more frequently, but you don’t want to burn yourself out and those three hour exams can be hard to stomach two or three times a week. If you stick to a weekly LSAT practice exam three months ahead you will end up completing at least 12 exams.
The last three weeks or so you need to make an effort to clear your schedule for LSAT prep. I know that’s a lot for working people or students, but the tradeoff is well worth it if you can pull a solid score on test day.
Here is a more extensive list of tips for performing well on the LSAT.
When Should You Take the LSAT?
Back when I took the LSAT in 2016 the exam was only offered four times a year. You really had to plan your LSAT study and examination schedule to coincide with when you were planning on starting law school.
Fast forward to 2020, although it’s uncertain how COVID-19 will play in delaying or canceling some scheduled exams, LSAC now offers the LSAT nine times a year and may expand that number in the near future. This is great news because students now have a lot more flexibility in deciding when to start studying and what exam date to take.
Just remember that you want to give yourself enough time to take the exam, receive your test scores and apply to law schools.
Finally, it can be tough to remain dedicated to test preparation for such a long period. Burn out is a real thing and it happens to everybody. If you’re feeling burnt out from LSAT preparation take a day or two off to recalibrate. Trying to study while your burnt out wont do much good.