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How to Study for the LSAT

August 22, 2023


Reviewed by:

David Merson

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 01/16/23

Wondering how to study for the LSAT? This article will go over LSAT prep tips, how to formulate a stellar LSAT study schedule and some frequently asked questions.

As an aspiring law school student, taking the LSAT is probably one of the first things that’ll pop into your head. Some reputable schools, such as Harvard and Columbia, don’t require the LSAT, allowing students to submit GRE or GMAT scores instead. However, taking the exam will undoubtedly open up more options for your postgraduate law career. 

The Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) is a standardized test for prospective law school students. Many universities use the LSAT to gauge how well students may perform in their first year of law school. With that said, it is most important to do your research to ensure that taking the LSAT is even necessary for your dream law school. 

If you’ve decided that taking the LSAT is the best choice for you, you might be wondering how you can best study for the test. This article aims to provide you with some valuable information on how to study for the LSAT and pass with flying colors!

LSAT Prep Tips

LSAT Preparation tips

As with any standardized test, there are sure-fire ways to put you on the right track. This section will be going over five LSAT prep tips to set you up for success. 

Tip 1: Start Early 

As you start gearing up for law school, it’s integral that you allot enough time to study for the LSAT. To achieve the highest score you can, it’s ideal to prepare months before you take the test. Starting early will give you enough time to consider busy periods of school and work and allow you to better manage your time as the big day approaches. 

Tip 2: Know Your Material

If you’ve looked into the LSAT material, you’ll know that it is entirely a skill-based test. This means that you won’t be tested on anything trivial. You’ll be required to use the skills you’ve gained in logic, deduction, and critical analysis to ace the LSAT. 

With this in mind, it’s crucial that you know what types of questions you might be asked on the LSAT and how they are categorized. The LSAT contains around 100 questions, though you might find some slight deviations from this number (sometimes you’ll encounter 99 or 101 questions). These questions are then divided into four sections, including a writing test. 

The core LSAT sections are as follows: 

  • Reading Comprehension is passage-based and will test your ability to comprehend written text. For this section, you will have to identify main ideas, explicit and implicit information, contextual usage of text, structure, principles, arguments, tone, and impact.
  • Analytical Reasoning will test your problem-solving and logical reasoning skills. This section will “assess your ability to consider a group of facts and rules, and, given those facts and rules, determine what could or must be true.” 
  • Logical Reasoning will assess how well you are able to analyze, critically examine and evaluate arguments. For this section, you will be asked to recognize arguments and their relationships to one another, patterns of reasoning, how evidence can validate or invalidate arguments, and identify an argument’s weak points.
  • The Writing Test is a separate part of the LSAT that gives you the opportunity to flex your persuasive writing skills. You will be tasked to deliver a persuasive argument based on a prompt. Know that this section is designed to assess whether you have a strong foundation for argumentative writing that is required in law school. 

It is also important to note that although the writing test is not scored, it is greatly considered in the admissions process. 

By getting to know the questions and breakdown of the LSAT, you'd be able to strategically navigate your LSAT prep. Doing this will help you plan how to study for the LSAT, allowing you to understand your strengths and weaknesses. The goal here is to be able to know which sections and skills need more work and focus, so you can study smarter, not harder.

Tip 4: Define Your Goals

With any test prep initiative, defining your goals is a key step in making sure you’re using your time wisely and efficiently. Knowing what score you’re aiming for can really help you stay focused. 

Depending on which law school you’re hoping to attend, you can figure out exactly what LSAT score you need to be a competitive candidate. According to US News, the median LSAT score for incoming students is a 157. However, at some top law schools such as Columbia, Harvard, and Yale, the average LSAT score of incoming students is much higher - at 174. With that said, many law schools also accept scores on the lower end.

If you’re hoping to get a good LSAT score for your school of choice, it’s definitely worthwhile to set some goals to work toward as you prepare for your LSAT.

Tip 4: Deliberate Practice

As we’ve discussed, the LSAT is purely based on critical thinking skills rather than knowledge. Given that there are no right or wrong answers on the LSAT, you’ll have to know how to answer questions to get full marks. 

If you’re not coming from an educational background that already prioritizes the use of these skills, it might be trickier to develop and understand how to apply your critical thinking skills in a way that caters to the LSAT. To prepare, you’ll have to adopt an analytical mindset in understanding what you’re currently learning or what you already know. 

One way you can start is through deliberate practice. As a term coined by psychologist Anders Ericsson and his team, deliberate practice is intentional and regimented training, typically accomplished through starting a specialized program with a mentor, coach, or tutor. To successfully incorporate deliberate practice into your LSAT prep, apply the following principles:

  • Start building the most foundational skills and work your way up: It’s important to reinforce skills. Start with the basics and incrementally build towards more advanced skills.
  • Get some help from an experienced mentor or tutor: There are some tried and true methods to significantly increase your performance on the LSAT. The latest LSAC reports on study methods show that test takers who employ a variety of LSAT prep materials, tutors, and coaches scored higher on the LSAT.
  • Define your goals: As mentioned earlier, setting clear goals will help you figure out how much you actually need to be studying. 
  • Work on the edge of your comfort zone: With any training regimen, the best way to get better is to push yourself past where you’re comfortable. As you study for your LSAT, make sure you’re making progress by leveling up the difficulty of your practice!
  • Apply constructive feedback: The ability to receive and apply feedback is an essential skill regardless of context. For the LSAT, being able to do this ensures that you’re taking the right steps to remedy any kind of problem as you prepare to take the test. 

The principles of deliberate practice are applicable to any skill you want to learn. This has been a foolproof way for athletes and professionals to get to the 99th percentile of their fields and will surely level up your LSAT prep.

Tip 5: Practice! 

Finally, practice! There are countless sources for LSAT practice tests that you can utilize as you embark on your studies. It’s important to take both timed and untimed tests in preparation for your LSAT. 

With untimed practice tests, you’ll have enough time to assess passages and questions as thoroughly as possible. This is ultimately the best place to start, as it allows you to have a better grasp of your starting point. With this, it’s important to practice with intention and to take it slow. 

Doing this will help you get a feel of what to expect on the LSAT without the extra pressure. 

Once you feel comfortable with untimed practice tests, you should then move on to timed ones. They will give you a practical understanding of what taking the LSAT might actually feel like. Use timed practice tests to build up your endurance and get the hang of how you manage your time on the big day.

You can start practicing with our LSAT Pop Quiz, which will provide you with free practice questions:

LSAT Timeline and Study Schedule: Things to Consider

You may be wondering: how long does it take to study for the LSAT? Though the answer to this question is not the same for everyone, you generally want to start around four months in advance. 

In creating your study schedule, it’s important to consider your law school application timeline. Ideally, you should aim to take your LSAT between June and August to account for any potential retakes; law schools won’t be able to evaluate your application until your LSAT scores are available. 

Similarly, it is important to know test dates and registration deadlines. Though the exact dates change every year, there are opportunities to take your test between January to November of every calendar year. Just make sure that you give yourself enough time to study prior to registration.

FAQs: How to Study for the LSAT

Now that we’ve gone over some tips on how to study for your LSAT and things you might want to consider before scheduling your test, we’ll go over any questions you might still have in preparation for the LSAT. 

1. How Long Does it Take to Prepare for the LSAT?

As a general rule, you want to start your LSAT prep approximately four months before your test date. Depending on your level of comfort with each section, you might require more or less study time.

2. What is the Best Way to Study for the LSAT?

The best way to study for the LSAT is by starting at a slow and steady pace. You’ll want to allot time to hone your logical reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical skills as you study. Doing this slowly through untimed practice tests will allow you to develop a thorough understanding of what you can expect on the LSAT. 

Incorporating deliberate practice in your LSAT prep is a sure-fire way to get you on the right track!

3. Is One Year Enough to Study for the LSAT? 

If you find yourself on a busy schedule or feel that you need to take more time to prepare, taking one year to study for your LSAT may be the best option. At the end of the day, it is integral that you give yourself as much time as you need to feel comfortable with the material and timed practice tests.

It’s always better to give yourself more time than it is to underestimate the time you need to prepare for the LSAT.

Final Thoughts

These tips on how to study for your LSAT aim to boost your confidence as you begin your journey to your dream law school. Understanding the different ways you can optimize your LSAT prep will surely get you on the right track as you tackle this challenging yet worthwhile endeavor. 

Always remember that how you study for the LSAT will depend on which law school you want to get into and the goals that you set for yourself. Best of luck!

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