Increasing Your Speed on the LSAT
- Aug 16, 2018
- General LSAT Advice, LSAT
If you took the LSAT home with you overnight and worked on it as long as you needed, chances are you’d find yourself with a very impressive score. Unfortunately for many of us, it’s the speeded aspect of the exam that makes everything else about the LSAT more challenging: you need more time to read through a Reading Comp passage, you can’t get to the rule substitution question on a logic game, or you have to skip over the Parallel Flaw question in the Logical Reasoning section. The fact is, most people don’t finish any particular section of the LSAT, but there are many strategies you can use to increase your speed. Here are a few tips you can use to speed up on each of the sections of the LSAT.
Approach It Methodically
If you had to get from your house to another town you’d never heard of, you wouldn’t just leave your front door and start running. You’d plan out the steps before you began the trip in order to save time. Logic games work the same way. Many students want to charge blindly ahead through the questions, but you’ll arrive at the right answer much more quickly by identifying the game type, documenting rules, creating a set up, and making deductions.
With games, much of speed comes down to confidence. Once you identify a type of game familiar to you, you can probably work with much less hesitation than a type of game that’s completely new. You should be learning the game types and the correct method for solving each, but once you do that, allow yourself to speed up on those steps that you’ve practiced and save time for the most difficult and novel games.
Eliminate Clearly Incorrect Answers
Right from the start, not all answer choices deserve equal consideration. On a Must Be True or Must Be False question, two answers which make opposite or contradictory statements cannot both be the correct answer, so it would be helpful to immediately scrutinize those answer choices. You also may notice that Parallel and Parallel Flaw questions often present one answer choice with similar subject matter to the stimulus (e.g., the stimulus is about labradoodles and pugs, and only one answer choice also discusses labradoodles and pugs). When this happens on these questions, you should be skeptical of the option that’s very similar in subject matter to the stimulus.
Prioritize by Question Type
You may have noticed that the LR questions are generally easier at the beginning than the end of the section, and prioritized getting those easier questions correct. Even better is identifying the question type and method of solving each question to determine how labor-intensive that question type may be for you. Many people find Parallel and Parallel Flaw questions take the longest to complete, but any question that involves diagramming is also time consuming for many people. Prioritize the questions that will take less time, and then come back to the time-consuming questions at the end.
Read for Structure
Remember as you’re reading an RC passage that there are some things you need to take away from the passage (e.g., the subject, main point, primary purpose, and author’s attitude), and many other things you don’t need to waste time on. When you annotate the passage by noting those important elements, remember that your notes will allow you to return to the important points in the passage, and that the rest of the “fluff” can be read through much more quickly. In other words, you have about three-and-a-half minutes or less to finish an RC passage if you plan to complete the section, so heavy memorization or a close reading of each word will not help you identify the structure you’re really looking for in the time allotted.
Predict the Answer
On every section, and particularly RC, you can increase speed by predicting the answer to a specific question, or even questions that are very likely to be asked later. You are reading each passage for elements like the main point and author’s attitude, but you should also take a few moments after completing the passage to paraphrase the main point, primary purpose, and author’s attitude. You will almost certainly be presented with at least one of these questions about the passage, and your paraphrasing of the answer will help you to speed up in selecting the answer choice, and also prevent you from falling prey to “trick” answer choices.
Pretty much every student of the LSAT cares about increasing their speed on one section or another, but what the tips above show is that those strategies for improving speed also help students to build their confidence and accuracy on the same questions. Since speed, confidence and accuracy are all essential elements of the exam, there’s no doubt that these skill are worth implementing in your own practice.
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