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Reader Question: What To Do About Inconsistent Practice LSATs?

Here’s a common LSAT question from one of the preppers over at Top-Law-Schools:

I’m having difficulties scoring consistently in each section. What I mean by that is that my score for the overall test will remain in a steady range (166-169), but the score I get per section will fluctuate. For example, I usually get -5 or -7 per RC section but the PT I wrote today, I ended up with a -2. However, I ended up with a -7 on both LR sections today whereas I usually end up with -3. It seems that this PT may have been anomaly, but this trend has been occurring on a few of my PTs. Anyone have tips on how to stay more consistent?

This is one of the more frustrating issues that can arise when preparing for the LSAT. Someone who is struggling with a particular question type knows to spend some time focusing specifically on that issue, but if there seems to be no rhyme or reason to how well you do on certain sections, you might not know how to spend your study hours.

Although discouraging, these variations probably don’t actually indicate a problem. The LSAT is designed so that each test is equally difficult overall, but there is some variation between sections. For instance, one test might have harder Logical Reasoning but an easier Reading Comprehension section, whereas another test might have more difficult Reading Comp and easier Logic Games. So in general, as long as you don’t feel like something went horribly wrong while you were doing the section, most of these situations can probably be chalked up to a relatively hard or easy individual section.

That said, you can still do some detective work while reviewing those sections. Here are some things to keep in mind:

1. Do you tend to do better either toward the beginning or toward the end of an LSAT? If your later sections tend to be worse than the earlier ones, it’s probably an issue of stamina. Try to make your individual study sessions longer so that you get used to focusing for a few hours at once. If your early sections tend to get off to a rough start, consider doing a warm-up before you start the actual test. The warm-up should consist of some easy questions and maybe a simple Logic Game — just enough to snap your brain into “LSAT mode.”

2. Are there certain things that consistently give you trouble? For instance, do you always struggle with difficult grouping games or with science-y Reading Comp passages? If so, make sure to spend some extra time working on that area of weakness. Sure, it doesn’t crop up on every administration, but you want to be prepared for anything that might happen on test day.

As always, make sure to review each practice test thoroughly. Spend some extra time reviewing any sections that were particularly tough for you. You might even want to make note of those sections so that you can re-do them at a later date to make sure you really learned from your mistakes. But beyond that, just keep on truckin’, because score variations between sections of the same type isn’t really a cause for concern.