What is the LSAT and How to Prepare

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Devoting three years of your life to law school makes sense when you think about the potential payoff: increased earning power, greater job security, and an intellectually-fulfilling job. But if you don’t excel on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), your law school dreams may be over before they even begin. The good news is, with diligent preparation, you can slay the LSAT and move forward to conquer law school.

What is the LSAT?

The Law School Admission Test or LSAT is required by nearly all American Bar Association (ABA)-approved law schools as one component of an admission file. The test features five 35-minute sections with multiple choice questions. Four of the five of these sections contribute to your score; one will not count, and serves as an “experimental” section. The experimental section is not designated as such, and there is no way to know which of the five sections on the test you take won’t be scored, so students must treat all five sections with the same care.

The four scored sections always include one reading comprehension section, one analytical reasoning section (“logic games”), and two logical reasoning sections. At the end of the multiple choice exam, there is also a very short required essay.

The LSAT is scored on a scale of 120-180. The average score is about 150, but if you're looking to get into one of the top 25 law schools, your score should be well over 160. If your goal is to attend Harvard Law or another top 5 school, a score of 170 or higher may be necessary.

Until recently, the LSAT was offered only four times per year. Beginning in 2018, however, the test will be offered six times each calendar year. For 2017–18, LSAT registration fees start at $180 per administration. Although it is possible to retake the LSAT if your first attempt does not yield optimal results, each test involves additional costs and a great deal of stress. For these reasons, you’ll want to do as well as possible on the LSAT the first time.

It's All About Preparation

Assuming you’re enrolled in college, you’ve likely already learned basic best practices for standardized test taking: eating a good breakfast the day of, getting plenty of sleep the night before, and consistently applying good study habits throughout your preparation period. The most critical piece of test preparation is finding and using the best study aids, consisting of only real questions from prior exams and broken down systematically to equip you with a bulletproof methodology. The right study material can make all the difference in your confidence level as you take the LSAT. Remember that one professor who always made sure you had everything you needed to succeed? Compare that to the one class where you always felt lost at test time. With the right LSAT prep resources, you'll be able to breeze through the LSAT.

Make Studying Interesting

Not many people enjoy reading textbooks for hours on end. It's much more fun to enjoy time with friends, whether it be going out to eat or having a few drinks.

But LSAT studying doesn’t have to be boring. The key is to realize that training your mind to excel on the LSAT is building a foundation to excel as a legal thinker. The logic games, the reading comprehension passages, and the logical reasoning questions are all designed to reward those students who can critically assess arguments, see reasoning patterns, and identify logical fallacies. In turn, these skills will serve you well when you become a practicing lawyer.

LSATMax provides students with an interactive and personalized platform guaranteed to raise your LSAT score—consisting of drills, video lectures, detailed answer explanations, and only real, officially-licensed LSAT questions. The variety of tools offered through LSATMax help students decrease boredom while studying and optimize their ultimate test performance.

Make Time to Study

Classes, work, your social life: it can be hard to find hours each day to study, especially if all your test prep materials are in your room on the other side of campus (or across town). Thanks to our mobile apps (available in both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store), you can study using your smartphone or tablet anywhere, anytime. You can listen to a lecture on your lunch break, answer some practice questions on the bus, do drills on your next flight, or read before bed. By making test prep as convenient as possible, LSATMax allows you to focus your limited time and energy on mastering the LSAT. In turn, your diligent preparation will mean that, come test day, the LSAT’s format, instructions, and question types will feel like second nature to you.

Anything Worth Doing is Worth Doing Right

If the LSAT were easy, everyone would take it. It’s supposed to be hard, so that law schools know you are not scared of a little hard work or dedication. To maximize your LSAT score, you should study 2 to 4 hours a day for at least 3 to 4 months prior to your test date. Moreover, your test prep time needs to be divided between timed practice (starting with timed sections and building up to timed full practice exams) and untimed studying (in which you examine question types, study specific skills, complete drills, and otherwise hone particular techniques). In the weeks leading up to your scheduled LSAT, it is advisable that you take at least one full, timed exam each week. This will allow you to build the stamina that is required to stay focused on detailed, sometimes technical questions for three or more hours in a single sitting. (Pro tip: don’t overdo it on full-length timed practice exams. One, maybe two a week is plenty – one a day is overkill, and will contribute to burnout).Practice makes perfect. LSATMax includes 84 previously-administered, full-Length LSATs, so our students can practice, practice, practice. After taking each exam (or a portion thereof), you can carefully review your performance and learn from your mistakes, making any necessary adjustments in your overall study methodology.

It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Just as you would not wait until the week before a marathon to start training, you should not wait to study for the LSAT. Study each and every day, take a practice test each week, and space your prep time out over a period of weeks to ensure you are not cramming before the exam.

The LSAT is not a content-based exam. This means you cannot cram and memorize your way to success. Rather, achieving a high score on the LSAT requires lots of preparation, and cannot be done at the last minute. When preparing for the LSAT, starting early (4-6 months before your test date) will keep the pressure off. Make sure the test prep program you use isn't one that restricts or eliminates your access to prep materials at the end of a set period of time. With LSATMax, students have the option of lifetime access to all test prep materials, ensuring that their prep proceeds on their schedule, not ours.

Keep Calm and Crush the LSAT

With the preparation detailed above, good study habits and a high quality LSAT prep program, you can crush the LSAT and get into that law school of your dreams. You can get that high score. Just remember to study consistently, rest adequately, and develop healthy habits long before test day.

Updated on May 4, 2018