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How To Learn From Your Mistakes on the LSAT

I want you to think about the last time you missed a practice LSAT question. If you’re anything like I was when studying for the LSAT, you won’t have to go back too far! I’m sure your first reaction was excitement, right?

“Awesome, another chance to improve and learn from my mistakes! I sure love the clever curveballs the LSAT throws at me!”

Ok, probably not. But–stay with me here–that reaction would be way closer to the mark than what a lot of us do. Most LSAT students react in frustration or dread and do a cursory review of the right answer before moving on to another question hoping to get this one right. 

Wrong Answers on the LSAT May Not Be So Terrible

First, I’d like to explain why missing questions in practice is a good thing.

When you get an answer wrong, you know you’re practicing on LSAT questions that are at least a little above your current skill level. That’s where you want to be for the bulk of your practice time! If, instead, you’re breezing through your entire practice set without breaking a sweat, you know you’re practicing on questions below your skill level.

There’s nothing wrong with incorporating lower-level questions into your LSAT study plan—you don’t want to get burnt out, and there will be easy questions on test day—but you want to spend most of your precious LSAT prep time with questions you don’t already have the skills to answer correctly 100% of the time. 

Second, missing questions (or giving your best guess without knowing if you picked the right answer) will help prepare your mental resilience for test day.

How many of us have spent too much time during our practice tests on one question, vacillated between two answer choices, picked one, and then spent the next three or four questions with only half our brains concentrating on the current question, all the while second-guessing the one we already did?

All LSAT questions are worth the same number of points, but many of us let one hard question derail us from giving our best on the next four. That’s a pretty bad trade-off. Practice questions are the perfect time to practice picking an answer, flagging the question to come back to if time allows, and then doing a mental reset so we can be fully present for all the rest of the questions the LSAT throws at us.

Solution: An LSAT Wrong Answer Journal

So let’s say you’ve taken my advice: you’ve made a problem set with some difficult questions, powered through them, and masterfully shrugged off your uncertainty to focus on each question in front of you and you got some questions wrong. What now?

Enter the Lessons Learned Journal (also known as a wrong answer journal, depending on who you ask). This can be a simple Excel spreadsheet, handwritten chart in a notebook, or Word document—but be prepared because keeping track of these can get messy. Here at Blueprint LSAT, all students get access to a Lessons Learned Journal that’s already integrated into their LSAT prep materials so they don’t need to wrangle and organize notebooks or spreadsheets because it’s baked right into the web interface! In fact, you can try it for free when you create a free Blueprint account!

How To Use a Lessons Learned Journal/LSAT Wrong Answer Journal

At a minimum, you want to record:

  • The practice test, section, and question number (to refer to later)
  • See if you can diagnose the issue. Did you read too fast and miss a key word that changed the entire meaning of the sentence? Did you take too long triple-checking your answers on a lower-level logic game and run out of time when you tried to move on? Did you mistake a word’s logical force? Forgot to anticipate the answer and got confused between two tempting choices?
  • The takeaway
    • What can you do to avoid the same mistake in the future?
    • Make it actionable and process-oriented, rather than goal-oriented. “Get the answer right next time” probably isn’t helpful advice to your future self. Instead, focus on the technique: “Memorize conclusion indicators”; “Flag questions I’m not sure about and move on to help with timing”; and “Identify the conclusion first.”

Optionally, you can: 

  • Record the question type (e.g. “Logical Reasoning: Must be True”) and difficulty
  • Create a “To do”: Make a goal to complete more of the type of questions that gave you trouble, or review your study materials and/or video modules on the subject. 

And while simply paying attention to and writing down your lessons learned is likely to be helpful, make sure to periodically review your journal to remind yourself of your lessons learned–and maybe even celebrate some conquered issues along the way!

To sum up our lessons learned (get it?) from this post:
1. Difficult LSAT questions in practice are your friends.
2. Practice flagging questions you’re uncertain of and focusing completely on the question in front of you.
3. Keep a Lessons Learned Journal of your past mistakes and aha moments, both for the exercise of thinking about where you went wrong and to refer back to later in your studies.

Armed with your new, challenging questions and Lessons Learned Journal, you’re one step closer to crushing the LSAT and getting the score of your dreams.