The Evolution of LSAT Study
- Jul 29, 2009
- General LSAT Advice, LSAT
The Evolution of LSAT Study
Studying for the LSAT is hard. Like super hard. Like a-10-on-the-Mohs-Hardness-Scale hard. In the classes I teach there is just a godawful amount of homework. Tears are shed and people generally feel overworked, to say the very least possible. It isn’t surprising that so much time is required to master a test that is so competitive, but that doesn’t make it any easier. So when I tell my students that there comes a point when they should not only be doing their homework, but doing it in a particular type of place at a particular type of time, they can get a bit frustrated. I have a hard enough time getting the little rascals to actually do the work in the first place, and they say I should be happy that they’re doing it at all. But I’ve never been happy. Not really.
When you first start learning the fundamentals of the test, it’s all crazy foreign and scary, and you might find that you constantly need a box of twinkies and a decanter of grain alcohol at your side just to keep your weakening grasp on the few remaining shreds of your sanity. That’s ok, even though the booze may truncate your study sessions. It’s ok to study on the bus, in your bed, during a military coup, or on the back of a tandem bicycle; wherever you can squeeze in time is ok.
After a (long) while, there comes a point where you’re acquainted with and have gained a pretty decent grasp of all the concepts. This is far from the end. Some people study for the LSAT simply by taking rapid-fire tests, which is incredibly stupid for many reasons, but it is true that you do want to start doing condensed bulk practice once you have actually learned the concepts (but not until then). Knowing how to do problems is a huge part of the battle, but you’ve then got to improve speed and consistency. You’ve got to practice.
You can’t just practice using the techniques you were using for the acquisition phase. You’ve now entered the honing stage. You won’t be taking the LSAT on public transportation or in your bed, so you shouldn’t be doing practice tests in those places either. If you were to take all your practice tests in your comfort zone, the day of the test would come as a terrible shock, and your score would drop. This happens all the time. To prepare for the hellishness that will be The Day of Ultimate Reckoning, you want to make your practice exams and study sessions as realistic as possible. If you’re taking a class where they proctor in-class exams, don’t skip those to take the test at your own convenience. You might get seated in between a mouth breather and an obese odor-pile, so you have to be prepared to deal with that oh-so-real possibility. If you’re studying on your own, don’t do it in a perfectly isolated place. A café would be too loud, but a public library will be generally quiet, but not too quiet. There might be some random distractions, but you want those distractions. They toughen you up for the real deal. But watch out for the homeless people.
When doing practice problems, try to do as much as you can, three hours plus is ideal, with minimal breaks. It’ll take time to build up to this, but will hugely improve your endurance. Push yourself a little farther every time. Also, if you really want to keep it real, add a 5th “experimental” section to your practice tests. And don’t eat or drink anything during this time, except for a short break in the middle. You can’t do it on test day, so you shouldn’t do it for the dress rehearsals.
This isn’t quite as crucial, but you should try to get practice and/or exams in around the time you’re going to be taking the test. For non-June exams, that’ll be roughly around 10ish (when you start, not when you report). If you’re not naturally a morning person, this is especially important. Change your sleep cycle at least a few weeks beforehand, and do your practice earlier in the day.
Get used to dealing with uncomfortable and stressful testing environments, and you’ll be ready to tackle even the worst testing centers, as well as your own nerves. The more realistic the dry runs, the better chance you don’t get dry humped.
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