November 7, 2008

Top Ten Ways to Boost Your LSAT Score

Here are some tips that will put you on the fast track to a top score:

1. Take it early.

If possible, take the LSAT in October or February of your junior year. This allows you to do the bulk of your studying over the summer or winter break at a more leisurely pace. You want to ensure that studying for the LSAT will not detract from your junior-year grades. Too many students wait to take the LSAT until the October or December of their senior year. However, since law school applications are reviewed and decided upon soon after they're submitted, early applicants face less competition. By taking the LSAT earlier, you avoid the scrutiny that those taking it in the 11th hour will face.

2. Learn some basic logic.

Students often balk at the idea of memorizing lists of logic laws. However, there are only a few logical relationships that you really need to know for the LSAT - the contrapositive, the inverse, and the converse. Commit them to memory, and you'll start noticing them throughout the Logic Games and Logical Reasoning sections.

3. Be clever.

Skip around on the Logical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension sections and do what's easiest for you. However, the Logic Games questions are in a specific order within each game, so I recommend that my students do them in order (see tip #6 for the reason). Remember that every question is worth the same amount, and there is no penalty for guessing. You can download the June 2007 LSAT exam for free from the Law School Admission Council (PDF). Many companies sell books with "LSAT" in the title, but they don't include a single real question. Make sure to only use real LSAT materials containing past LSAT exams, because there's nothing like the real thing.

4. Take timed practice exams.

Get used to taking a long exam. The LSAT consists of five 35-minute sections (including one unscored experimental section) in addition to an unscored writing sample. There is only one ten-minute break, which takes place between the third and fourth sections. As if all that weren't bad enough, it's usually administered in the morning. Build your stamina by taking several practice tests. Make sure that when you take a practice exam, splice in a section from another exam to represent the experimental section. With a half hour spent bubbling in your name and address, you'll be there for about over four hours (if you're lucky). Speak with an administrator and try to reserve the classroom where you will actually be taking the exam so that you can take a practice exam there.

5. Study like it's game day.

Practice at the time of day when your exam will be, and try to study under real testing conditions. Make sure that your study area is quiet and without distractions. Silence your cell phone, and log out of Facebook and Gmail. Try to study for at least 1-2 hours at a time to get in the zone. Also take some practice exams in coffee shops and libraries. This will help you get used to distractions and annoyances in case your test center is less than ideal.

6. Make simple diagrams for the logic games.

Creating a solid diagram will save you a great deal of time, so make one on the bottom of the page (there is no scrap paper on the LSAT). For each "if" question in the games, draw a small diagram next to that question. I always tell my students to save their work from previous questions, rather than erasing it. This allows them to look back at it later in the game. A few minutes here or there are crucial in allowing you to finish in the allotted 8 minutes and 45 seconds per game.

7. Don't worry about the writing sample.

Although it's unscored, and your brain is bound to be fried at the end of five 35-minute sections, LSAC still requires it. Otherwise, your LSAT score won't be valid. Make it easy for law school admissions counselors to read. Write in script if you are able to do so legibly. The longer it is, and the more paragraph breaks you use, the better. This is true for college seminar papers as well.

8. Exercise and eat healthy.

If you do not already exercise and eat healthy, now is the best time to start. You might feel like your brain is a machine, but it's actually organic gooky gray stuff. If you take care of it with exercise, which gets the blood flowing, and protein, which gives it energy, it'll take care of you on test day.

9. Only take it once.

Try to make the first time the only time. Don't take it first just to practice. Although most law schools no longer average LSAT scores when formally calculating your chances, they will see everything. You probably wouldn't want a first date to see a picture of you when you first wake up in the morning. Instead, you show yourself at your best. The same goes for test scores.

10. Choose your test site carefully.

Unfortunately, not all test sites are created equal. Students have told me that test centers can be uncomfortably hot or cold, so make sure to wear several removable layers just in case. At some test centers, the desks are too small and the test proctors are incompetent, so ask friends, advisors, and other knowledgeable individuals for advice on which test centers to avoid.

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  1. Great advice, thanks! It's good to hear from somebody who knows what they're talking about.



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