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How to Find an LSAT-Life Balance

If you’ve been studying for the LSAT for a while now, you may be starting to feel the strain. Let me lay out a scenario for you…Your brain is in manic LSAT-mode all the time and you can’t ever relax. You go see “The Matrix,” but it’s not green 0s and 1s—it’s embedded conditional statements and unstated assumptions.

I hope this doesn’t sound too familiar, but I suspect most people go through at least a few weeks of this while preparing for the LSAT. This is especially true for the LSAT versus standardized tests you may have taken in high school. And that’s because you probably have more going on in your life now. Often, people are preparing for the LSAT exam while going to school full-time, working a job, dealing with personal obligations, and more. 

Those of you who are feeling drained, don’t give up and register for the GRE just yet. There are a few things you can do to recharge. (And take comfort in the fact that you have plenty of company! In fact, our Live Courses have an entire section dedicated to incorporating the LSAT into your life and other obligations.) Almost everyone struggles with LSAT-related burnout or stress at times, and we’re here to help with some LSAT study tips. 

1. Take Breaks

First, it’s okay to take breaks. Be cognizant of diminishing returns. That’s why we usually don’t recommend more than four hours of LSAT prep in a day, and even that is a lot! Two to three hours tends to be a sweet spot. You can use the Pomodoro timer or take a quick stretch after sections and LSAT question sets. 

Also, give yourself a set day off each week, and schedule vacations, holidays, and special occasions into your personalized study plan. The LSAT is a marathon, not a sprint, and that means you need to include time for rest and recovery. 

Sometimes your brain is so maxed out that nothing will be gained from forcing yourself to do 10 more practice questions. Quality trumps quantity. It’s more important to learn from the practice LSAT study questions you do than to get through as many of them as possible. If you find yourself declining in accuracy, taking longer to make deductions or answer questions, or struggling to make sense of why something is the right answer, you may be hitting your limit. So take a day or two off. This is not only healthy but also strategic. Weightlifting analogy: you don’t build new muscle during your workouts. Your body builds muscle on recovery days.

When you’re taking time off from LSAT prep, set a day that you’re going to return to the test. Have a plan to restart; otherwise, you might find yourself pushing it off until test day. 

2. Make Time for Physical Health Checks

It’s also a good idea to carve out time for the things that support your physical health and well-being, whatever that means to you. Skipping the gym to do extra LSAT questions may feel like the responsible thing to do, but getting exercise is actually incredibly important for brain function, and investing in your health will keep you from burning out. Try to take time to nourish your body, as this will only benefit your energy levels and sharpness. You probably can’t study well on pizza eight days in a row.

And forget pulling all-nighters; make sure you’re getting enough sleep! Sleep helps you memorize and recall information.

3. Check Your Mental Health

You are not your practice score. Remind yourself why you are doing this and that you will get through it. The LSAT is a means to an end, so it’s important to revisit what your goals are anyway. What law schools are you drawn to? What type of career do you want? Recentering the LSAT in the context of your overall journey as a law student and lawyer can help you de-emphasize its importance in your mind. 

And make sure that you recharge your emotional batteries—dance, see a friend, have dinner with your family, or read something fluffy for once. Don’t lose sight of your hobbies and what keeps you grounded. While we love a good social media scroll, getting your body moving and reconnecting with a loved one will probably help more.

4. Don’t Panic if Your Practice Score Plateaus

As for your practice score, focus on what your results along the way tell you about your strengths and weaknesses rather than what law schools they would get you into. It’s completely natural for scores to plateau or even dip, and does not mean that you’ve reached the pinnacle of your progress. When you learn dozens of new tools at once, it takes a while to make them work for you. If you’re experiencing a plateau, here are a few things you can keep in mind: 

Review, review, review! For each question you are not confident about, make sure you come away with an understanding of the following questions: 1) Why is the right answer right? 2) Why is the wrong answer that I picked wrong? and 3) Where was I off in my process, and what can I do differently to improve it?

Take a step back to analyze trends in your performance over time. What types of questions are you missing, and have those changed over time? This will help pinpoint what question types you need to solidify your approach on and where a review of the basics might be warranted. 

5. Stay Accountable

Schedule LSAT prep into your life, and be as specific as possible. Don’t just say that you’re going to study Reading Comprehension at some point that day. Give yourself an exact timeframe and agenda for what you want to work on. 

Also, use your social networks to your advantage. Tell your friends, family, and whoever you trust in your life that you are studying for the LSAT. They can help check in on your well-being and progress.

6. Set Goals Along the Way 

Remember that progress won’t come overnight. Big goals are important, but so is how we get there. Break your goal score down with steps along the way. That means monthly goals, weekly goals, and even goals for LSAT study sessions! Pick a few things/topics you’re going to focus on and really put that at the forefront of your study time. It will help you stay motivated and on task.

7. Make It Fun

Lastly, get and stay competitive. Think back to all the sports clichés about pain and gain, heart and endurance. See if you can trick yourself into enjoying the fight. There’s pleasure in running 26 miles—for some people anyway. There can be pleasure in Logic Games, too. Or noticing conditional language in everyday life. Whatever it may be, finding a way to celebrate your LSAT wins along the way is crucial to maintaining motivation throughout your studies. 

Easier said than done, of course. But try not to get discouraged, build in some balance, and keep working hard. 

8. Get Help Studying

A lot of the time test prep becomes a confusing and daunting task, especially with test day approaching. Work and other responsibilities build up and put an even greater strain on you to get some study time in. However, there are a variety of ways that you can improve your test preparation.

Most importantly, don’t get discouraged, and once again, set breaks in your study schedule. We have a free LSAT study planner you can personalize with your time frame and resources. Good luck!