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Your First Practice LSAT: Take It, Grade It, Embrace It

The September LSAT is approximately two and a half months away. Whether you’re enrolled in an LSAT prep course or studying on your own, it’s time to get down to business. First up? Taking your first practice exam.

If you’ve never studied for the LSAT before, your first practice exam will be what we call a “cold” exam. You’ll have no idea what to expect and no matter how smart you are, you’re probably not going to do very well. Why? Unlike the SAT, you’re not going to roll out of your bed and ace the LSAT on your first try. The SAT is more of a general aptitude test, whereas the LSAT requires you to possess a very particular set of skills (just like Liam Neeson).

So why go through this torture? Why not study for a few weeks first, then take your first practice exam? Because you need to set a baseline. It doesn’t matter how well you do, but it does matter that you have a reference point. Think of your first practice test as the “fat pants” for a person who loses a lot of weight. Like Jared holding out his gigantic waistband in that Subway commercial, someday you’ll be able to compare your real LSAT score with that first practice test and (hopefully) witness just how far you’ve come.

As a Blueprint LSAT Prep instructor, I’ve had the recurring problem of students who don’t grade their first practice tests. They’ll show up and sit for the exam with a determined smile, but never actually record their answers in their MyBlueprint accounts to get a score. I can understand why. It’s difficult to face the music when your starting LSAT score range may be far lower than what you need to get into [Insert Dream School Here]. But it’s important to swallow your pride and grade that first practice exam. Not grading your practice test is like having a scary chest pain and not going to the doctor. Just as with an ailment you need to diagnose what’s wrong, with your practice LSAT you need to diagnose your strengths and weaknesses. Sure, you didn’t score very well (just about nobody does on their first try), but why? What’s the breakdown? Are you struggling more with Reading Comp or Logical Reasoning? Are you worse at flaw questions or assumption questions, must be true or weaken questions? What sections of the test are you naturally good at? Did you have any lucky guesses where you got the question right but really had no idea how to solve it? (If you take Blueprint, your MyBlueprint account does all of this work for you. Lucky you.). Grading your practice exam is important for your instructor or tutor, as well. As an instructor, I want to make sure all of my students are improving. And I can’t know if they’re improving if I don’t have that first practice exam score as a baseline.

So when it comes to that first practice exam, it’s pretty simple: take it, grade it, embrace it. You may not love the first LSAT score you get back, but hey, that’ll just light a fire under you to get busy studying.