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 7 Tips for the LSAT

(page 4 of 4, from Chapter 1 of the Free LSAT Center Course)
1. Intro to the LSAT    2. LSAT Scores    3. LSAT Sections    4. Test Taking tips

LSAT tips

1. Your college background will help

The LSAT is not a test of academic knowledge, such as legal history. Nevertheless, taking the right classes can help polish the mental skills that the LSAT tries to measure. For example, courses in philosophy, ethics, history, literature and political science will improve your reading and reasoning (for the Logical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension sections). Taking classes in formal logic will offer some help in the Logic Games section, but that section will be most affected by the intensity of your LSAT preparation.

2. Don't expect to get everything right!

On a typical college test, you are barely passing if you get 65% of the questions correct. On the LSAT, however, that score would put you in the 75th percentile (higher than 75% of the students taking the test). This helps to put things into perspective:

  • You don't need to respond correctly to every question to attain a "perfect" score of 180. In fact, you can get 2 or 3 wrong.
  • If you get 75% of the LSAT questions correct, you will score higher than 90% of all test takers.
  • If you get 50% of the LSAT questions correct, you will score higher than 40% of all test takers.

All of the LSAT questions have the same value. The hardest question you see on the LSAT will count as much as the easiest question. This means that if you encounter a very hard question, cut your losses and skip it (you can always go back to it later if you are finished with the test).

3. Never leave bubbles empty

In the last minute before the test is over, make sure to hurry back and fill in
all of the answer bubbles! There is no penalty for incorrect answers, so you have nothing to lose by filling in all the bubbles randomly. If you have to fill in 10 bubbles, the odds are that you will get two right. That could make the difference between a score of 157 and a 159.

4. Some students shouldn't try to do all the questions

If a good score (75th percentile) only requires getting 65% of the questions right, why aim to get all the questions correct? If you reasonably expect to get a score of about 151 (50th percentile), then you should alter your strategy and slow down.       

The optimal approach for most test takers is not even to try many of the questions. You are better off trying fewer questions and giving each question a full effort rather than hurrying through the section to "see" all questions.
Many questions have trap answers that are specifically designed to catch students who hurry through them, so you are better off going slowly. If you want to spend more time on questions and attempt fewer, try doing only three of the four games in the Logic Games section and skip the one you feel least comfortable with. (Note: when you "skip" a question, always make sure to fill in all of the bubble, as per rule #2).

5. Practice under similar conditions

How does Tiger Woods, one of the most successful golf players of his generation, prepare for the high-stakes/high-nerves game of golf? He always tries to practice exactly as if it were a real tournament.

When you practice for the LSAT, use the same approach.

  • Try taking the entire test, just as you would on test day, not just one section at a time.
  • Use the same silent watch that you would use on test day
  • Practice at a desk (preferably in the morning) in a crowded room, just like test day

6. P.O.E

The key strategy to answering questions is P.O.E. (process of elimination). In the Reading Comprehension and Logical Reasoning sections, many of the answer choices can be justified with some "creativity." It is a much better strategy to focus on why answers are wrong rather than why they are right. Skim the answer choices and cross out answer choices that are incorrect or have flaws. If you can eliminate two of the choices, you can increase you chances of getting the right answer by 65% (from 20% [1 in 5] to 33% [1 in 3]).

7. Keep your pencil moving

The LSAT test day is over four hours long. Keep your pencil moving to help yourself stay focused. If there is anything the LSAT measures, it is raw determination and endurance. Final note:

Practice, Practice, Practice... expect to spend at least 50 hours preparing to get your highest possible score.

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Chapter 1 (free) of the LSAT Center Course

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1. Intro to the LSAT
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