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On the LSAT, Confidence Is Key

Something that rarely gets discussed in LSAT preparation, despite being extremely important, is the role that an individual’s confidence plays in their success. We talk at length about how to solve questions correctly, and how to manage time on particular sections. But another, ever-present factor that can significantly impact an LSAT outcome is confidence.

When you’re taking the LSAT, you need to develop an appropriate level of confidence in your work. If there’s no reason to doubt your thought process or your tentatively selected answer choice, then don’t. When you engage in self-questioning without an articulable reason, you waste precious time that could be spent scoring more points elsewhere.

Here’s an example:

The other day I was working through a logic game with a tutoring client, and we got to a question that required constructing a multi-step set-up. So, we drew out a scenario, made deductions, and anticipated what the correct answer would be. All was well. At that point, we should have chosen the correct answer and moved on.

Instead, the client paused to ask me, “Wait, how did we know this again?” My response was that, “We know this because the set-up we carefully constructed tells us so. If you want, we could remake the set-up. But do we actually have any reason to doubt it? We were very diligent in our approach, so I think we have every reason to trust our answer.”

So, we selected the answer we (correctly) anticipated, and moved on. Had we stopped to recreate our set-up, we would have wasted roughly a minute. If you’ve ever taken the LSAT, you know that’s a significant chunk of time. And all those wasted minutes add up if you doubt yourself like this on multiple questions.

That’s not to say you should never question your answer (overconfidence could be a real problem, too!). There are inevitably going to be things on the test you have to debate, and rightfully so. It’s a hard test. So, sometimes we have to dig deep to figure out the correct response.

But when you engage in self-questioning, make sure it’s because there is some genuine ambiguity you’re wrestling with. Not because you want to doubt yourself for the sake of doubting yourself.

Today’s contributing writer is Maria LaBella, a Blueprint instructor in Washington, D.C.