How Not to Study for the LSAT
- Apr 30, 2015
- General LSAT Advice, LSAT
If you’re studying for the LSAT, your best bet is to approach your LSAT prep with an understanding of how the concepts you’re being tested on fit together. Your goal is to learn the fundamental skills first, and build up from there with layers of increasing complexity. You can check out our previous blog post on how to structure your Logical Reasoning prep if you don’t know what I’m talking about.
However, we are living in the age of unbridled individual expression, and people really like to do LSAT prep their own way. Here are some of the more awful ways that students approach the LSAT.
Do nothing but practice tests
Nothing but practice tests isn’t helpful for the vast majority of students. Sure, if you’re already scoring in the 170s then you should take a lot of practice tests, but even this top 3% or so of LSAT takers benefits more from a systematic, ground-up approach.
For mere mortals, you definitely want your LSAT prep to include about a dozen practice LSATs, but you really need a good guide – a book, or a course, or a tutor – to structure your practice.
Unless you have a good set of fundamental LSAT skills, such as knowing the common Logical Reasoning fallacies, you almost certainly aren’t going to get much out of doing a ton of prep tests. Without those skills, you probably can’t even explain to yourself why a wrong answer choice is wrong, let alone generalize the wrong answer choices you come up against in the future.
Rely on bad LSAT prep materials
Arguably the most popular Logical Reasoning prep book is just plain awful. I won’t name any names (you can probably figure it out with some strategic Googling), but this LR book demands that students read the stimulus (that’s the longish paragraph at the top of each question) before they read the question prompt. If you’re going through your Logical Reasoning prep by reading the stimulus first, you’re making your life a hell of a lot more difficult.
Let me explain. Here’s a scenario: You’re reading through a stimulus and you have no idea what the question type is. So you’re looking for inferences – valid ones, supported ones – but oh crap, it could be a Flaw question too, so let’s look for those as well, oh man wait, it also could be a Resolve question so let’s try to see if there are any counter-intuitive facts… uh oh, what if it’s a Necessary Assumption question…
Meanwhile the guy next to you read the prompt first, figured out that this is just a Main Point question, and he’s cruising through the stimulus looking for only the main point.
Stop reading the stimulus first. It’s an embarrassingly bad idea.
Don’t Perfect Logic Games
My first practice test was a disaster. I only got four Logic Games questions right: the elimination questions. The rest of the section felt impossible. But on my actual LSAT, I managed to get all but one correct. This is a pattern I’ve seen repeated by my students.
How? Well, the Logic Games section is predictable and very learnable. You don’t have to change the way you think, which is pretty much a necessity for Logical Reasoning. If you learn the methods and you put in a lot of careful practice, you can easily get almost all of your Logic Games questions right.
You should commit yourself to missing not more than 3 questions on your practice Logic Games sections. If you’re missing any more than that then there are serious gaps in your skill set – gaps you should fill in.
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