The Guide to Studying for the LSAT a Second Time
- May 03, 2016
- General LSAT Advice, LSAT, LSAT Study Guides
This is the guide for LSAT retakes. If you’re still wondering if you should retake, have a look at this post and this post from an actual retaker. I’ll assume you’ve got your mind made up to retake the LSAT. After all, there number of times to take the LSAT are limitless.
0. Brush up on fundamentals
Before you do anything else, you have to brush up on your fundamental skills. You need to know how to diagram everything under the sun. You need to know how to spot conclusions and premises. You need to have all the common LSAT flaws memorized. You need to know the common wrong answer choices for each question type. You need to know all the Logic Game types and which strategies they invite. You need to know the general approach to each question type. And finally, you need to know how to break down a Reading Comp passage. If you at all had to rush to study for your last LSAT, I’m sure you skipped out on a lot of fundamental skills. This was a big mistake. This time around, you need to have your fundamental LSAT skills down.
1. Find your old study materials
If you weren’t so happy about your last LSAT score, you may have thrown out or otherwise destroyed to your satisfaction your old study materials. I hope not. That stuff is gold. You want to hunt down all your old practice test and questions and then find all the ones you got wrong. For each question you missed ask yourself: (1) why are the wrong answer choices wrong, (2) why is the right answer choice right, and most importantly (3) how could you have anticipated the right answer choice? Try to figure out which logical reasoning flaw you fell for, or exactly what about the answer choice is out of scope.
The materials you use in pursuit of this goal will depend on several factors, including how you studied the first time around, what resources are available to you, and how much moolah you’re able to invest in this step. For instance, Blueprint LSAT students can extend access to their online accounts, which gives you the ability to review all of the lessons. Alternatively, you could use books (including, but not limited to, Blueprint’s excellent Logic Games and Reading Comprehension). You can even review the materials you used the first time around without any supplementary material.
2. Make Logic Games are your new obsession
The Logic Games section is predictable — there are only a few game types and rules you have to master — and there’s always a one best method for solving them. For this reason, this is where I see students make the most improvement. Because Logic Games are so predictable, and the methods so mechanical, you can make up for a lot of innate shortcomings (Bad working memory? No problem!) by zealously sticking to the mechanics.
For example, a lot of my students waste a ton of time on a game simply because they forgot about a rule. There’s simple mechanical fix for this. Write your rules out and number them on the left hand side of the page EVERY TIME. Now, train yourself to go down the list of rules whenever you get stuck. Your Logic Games problems have mechanical solutions you could train this dog to do.
Get yourself a giant stack of all sorts of games. Now redo these games until you have the best approach to each game perfectly memorized. You’re not memorizing, A, D, C, D, A . . . , you’re memorizing rules and rule patterns that lead to deductions. Why? Because the Logic Games section is extremely repetitive. So take advantage of it.
This redoing-logic-games approach also help retakers deal with what they often perceive to be a problem: not enough “fresh” LSAT questions. This isn’t a real problem. The rest of the LSAT may not be as repetitive as the Logic Games section, but it’s close enough. Don’t be afraid to redo old questions.
3. Don’t repeat your old LSAT prep mistakes
Sit down and write down all the ways you thought you could have prepped better the last time. Too much time with the bros? Not enough practice exams? Didn’t memorize the logical reasoning flaws? Didn’t go over your mistakes systematically? Now quit it. Do better. This time, you’re going to do it right—you’re going to review everything until you know it cold. You can intersperse some practice tests throughout this stage, but for now, your main focus should just be making sure that you really, really understand the subject matter.
4. Incorporate more timed prep with tons of review
After you have a firm handle on what you’re doing, you’re ready to shift into doing more timed practice. Ideally, you’d be doing a lot of practice tests, but that depends in part on your schedule. If you only have time for practice tests on the weekend, it’s totally fine to focus on doing full timed sections during the week.
Timed practice is great for giving you a progress report of sorts—it lets you know how you’re doing—but you won’t actually improve very much just from doing timed questions. That’s where reviewing your work comes in. Lots of ink has been spilled on this blog about the best way to review individual questions and practice tests, but the short version is that you need to know specifically why each wrong answer is wrong and why the right answer is right. Don’t let yourself get away with vague “this answer choice isn’t supported by the stimulus”-type explanations; push yourself to be more detailed, e.g. “The stimulus discusses the effects of alcohol on decision-making processes of people at bars, and this answer choice is about people drinking tea at cafes, so we can’t extrapolate from talking about alcohol to talking about tea.”
For general timing help, have a search through our other guides. And make sure you do the last month of your prep right.
Retaking the LSAT is a lot of hard work, but it can pay huge dividends if you’re able to improve your LSAT score. The exact details of your study plan may vary, but you’ll find the best success by following this general structure. Good luck!
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