LSAT Test Taking Tips and Strategies
The LSAT can be a very challenging and daunting test. As a result, it's not uncommon to become stressed out during LSAT preparation. This is often compounded by the fact that law schools heavily rely upon LSAT scores to make admission decisions. Since there is no way around the stress and worry associated with the LSAT, there are strategies that test takers can utilize to master the LSAT and obtain a high score. With adequate preparation, the stress and anxiety associated with the LSAT can be largely alleviated.
Although utilizing effective LSAT test taking strategies can improve your chances of obtaining a high score, you will still need to spend a lot of time studying for the test. These strategies will make your LSAT preparation more productive and help you avoid some of the pitfalls test takers encounter on test day.
LSAT Strategies before the test
The following strategies should be utilized during your LSAT preparation:
- Use practice tests effectively
Make practice tests a large part of your LSAT preparation strategy. Complete practice tests under the same conditions and time restrictions as the actual LSAT. Try completing the entire practice test, not just one section at a time. Take your practice tests in a crowded room, just as you will be doing on test day.
- Start studying soon
The largest correlation between high performance on the LSAT and preparation is how soon a person starts studying for the LSAT. Begin your preparation for the LSAT months prior to test day.
- More isn't always better
If you decide to take a LSAT preparation course or purchase study guides, rely on a few good study guides or one effective class. Don't over do it. Studying everything you can get your hands on isn't necessarily the best strategy. Find a few good, comprehensive study resources and spend your time reviewing them in depth.
- Focus on reading
During your preparation, practice concentrating intensely on what you're reading. Having good reading fluency and comprehension is a key skill for taking the LSAT.
- Get help where you struggle
Identify where you need to improve and focus on these weaknesses. Again, the best way to prepare for the LSAT is preparation itself – in the form of practice. Practice study guides, old tests and other materials. Having an experienced LSAT tutor is also advisable.
- Memorize the instructions
Memorize the instructions correlating with specific types of LSAT questions. Knowing the instruction for each type of LSAT question and section prior to test day will go a long way to saving time on the test. It will also build your confidence and help you feel more comfortable and prepared come test day.
- Develop your own strategies
During your LSAT preparation, develop your own strategies that suit your learning styles and preferences. This is one of the advantages of starting your LSAT preparation months before test day. The more time you have to prepare, the more familiar you become with the question, and the greater your ability to develop your own test taking strategies.
- Seek help from experts
The LSAT is one test where getting help from the experts really helps. Taking an LSAT preparation class from an experienced test taker (usually an attorney or law student) is usually worth the investment. We also recommend seeking advice from people who've obtained a high LSAT score and find out what worked for them.
LSAT Strategies during the test
Preparation is essential if you want to perform well on the LSAT, but test takers must also rely on effective test taking strategies for the test itself. The following tips can greatly benefit you while taking the actual LSAT:
- P.O.E (Process of Elimination)
The key strategy to performing well on the LSAT is P.O.E. (process of elimination). On the LSAT, especially in the Reading Comprehension and Logical Reasoning sections, the best strategy is to identify why answers are wrong rather than why they are correct. More than one answer to a given question may seem right, so look at the choices and focus on which answers have flaws or are clearly incorrect. If you're able to eliminate even two answer options, you'll increase your chance of selecting the right answer from 20% (1 in 5) to 33% (1 in 3). Each answer you eliminate increases the probability of choosing the right answer.
- Hurry... but not too fast
You don't have to answer all the questions on the LSAT to get a good score. In fact, you can achieve a score in the 75th percentile by answering 65% of the questions correctly. The best approach for most test takers is to slow down. It's better to answer fewer questions and give each a full effort than to hurry through the test not giving each question a full effort. The LSAT often has "trap" answers designed to catch students who are in a hurry and don't pay close attention.
- Answer the easiest questions first
On the LSAT, all questions have the same value. Easy questions are worth just as much as harder questions. Skip the questions you find most challenging and come back to them after answering the questions you're most comfortable with.
If time is about to expire and there are still questions to answer, do not panic, and answer the less challenging questions. Just before your test time is up, hurry back and fill in any unanswered questions. There is no penalty for incorrect answers, so never leave a question unanswered.
- Budget your time
Hurrying through the LSAT isn't a good strategy – but it is a timed test. Be aware of how long it's taking you to answer each question. Since you will only have 35 minutes to complete each section, you cannot spend too much time on any one section. Answer the easy questions first, give each question a full effort, come back later to tackle more challenging questions, and when just a few minutes are remaining fill in any unanswered questions.
- It's okay to guess
Since your score will not be negatively affected by getting questions wrong, be sure to answer, or guess, on each question. Again, the best strategy is the process of elimination. Eliminate as many incorrect answers as possible and then guess. The more answers you're able to eliminate, the higher your likelihood of selecting the correct answer.
- Fill in bubbles correctly
Use a no. 2 pencil and completely fill in the answers on the scantron sheet. If you change your mind on a question, completely erase the filled in bubble on the scantron sheet.
Taking the LSAT can be exhausting. Since it's easy to get burned out, take advantage of any breaks and try to relax for a very short time, a minute or less, when you begin new sections. If you're permitted to bring a water bottle into the test center, you should consider bringing one to keep yourself hydrated during the test.