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Getting Your Study Game Right for the LSAT

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If there’s one thing pre-law students have down pat, it’s studying. You don’t decide to go to law school unless you have certain tendencies, and those specific tendencies often correlate with the types of traits that lead a student to, say, take on an extra research project or start an essay — gasp — the week before it’s due instead of the night before it’s due. Basically, pre-law students tend to be pretty damn good at studying.

BUT. But. You’ve studied before, but preparing for the LSAT is an experience unlike any other, and not just because it requires so much more studying than you’ve probably done for any single test in the past. Your tried and true methodologies from the past might lead you astray when it comes to your LSAT prep. So, with no further ado, here are our tips for when, where, and how to study — we figure you’ve already got a handle on the Who (you), the What (LSAT studying), and the Why (because you love the LSAT – jk, it’s so you can get into law school).

When to study

Preparing for the LSAT is essentially like having a part-time job. We typically recommend that students plan on spending at least 20 hours per week studying; if your schedule doesn’t allow for that kind of time commitment, that’s absolutely fine, but you may need to give yourself some extra cushion when deciding which LSAT date to take.

The LSAT is difficult in part because it requires extremely intense thought for up to five hours, which leaves the test-taker dazed and confused by the end of the experience. Accordingly, part of your studying should include building up your mental endurance — and the best way to do that is to study in longer chunks of time. So, if at all possible, make sure that at least some of your studying is done in extended sessions, rather than just stealing a few minutes here and there to look at some questions.

That said, it’s better to study for a short burst rather than not study at all, so if you only have a free half-hour it’s still worth cracking open the ol’ LSAT tome.

Where to study

Gone are the days of being able to study in front of the TV — when you’re studying for the LSAT, you’ll want to make sure to do so in a quiet place with minimal distractions. However, you’ll want to make sure you don’t get used to doing LSAT questions exclusively in places that are so quiet you can hear a pin drop; when you take the real LSAT, you’ll be in a room with dozens of other anxious test-takers doing annoying things like breathing, shifting in their seats, or even (gasp) coughing, so make sure you get some practice in concentrating while there’s some background noise.
Studying in libraries is a great way to simulate that kind of ambient noise, as they have some ambient noise without being as loud as, say, coffee shops. Or, if you’re particularly Type A, you can use artificial background noise – the proctoring function on our website allows you to play prerecorded background noise while you do your practice tests.

How to study

When it comes to studying for the LSAT, getting the correct answer is important, but not nearly as important as understanding how to get there. As such, your goal when you sit down to study shouldn’t necessarily be something like “I’m going to get through these next 10 questions,” but rather, “I’m going to look at some questions until I understand every single answer choice inside and out, and could explain the whole thing to someone else.” The LSAT uses the same tricks and structures over and over, so if you push yourself to truly understand every aspect of the questions you encounter, you’ll be in good shape for when you encounter those same aspects in the future.

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