Succeeding on the LSAT is a matter of smart preparation, requiring not just time but also strategic thinking. Check out these tips on when and how to take the LSAT to raise your score, and take heart: as you hone your active reading and analytical skills, you will be preparing to succeed both on your LSAT and in law school.
Be strategic about when you take the LSAT.
The LSAT is offered in September or October, December, February, and June each year, and law school applications can generally be submitted from October through January or February. Ideally, you should plan to take – and, if necessary, retake – the LSAT in time to submit an early application. February or June make for great first test dates. The June test is also offered with a start time two hours later in the day than the other tests, so if you are not a morning person, that is probably the date for you. I took the LSAT in June and enjoyed both sleeping in and receiving my score early enough to submit my applications on the first day that they would be accepted, which definitely gave me an advantage in the applicant pool.
For questions in the Logical Reasoning (arguments) sections, underline the conclusion before you read the answer choices.
The arguments sections make up half of the graded portion of the test. Most of the questions are composed of an argument that has a conclusion and evidence supporting that conclusion. The conclusion can be a full sentence or part of a sentence. For nearly all of the questions in which a conclusion is provided, correctly identifying that conclusion will be at least helpful, and often essential, to selecting the correct answer.
For example, if the stimulus of a question (i.e., the paragraph of text setting up the actual question) were to read as follows, you would want to underline the marked section:
“Everyone who works at Galtronek has been training in safety management. Type 7 accidents never happen on grounds supervised by one or more individuals who have been trained in safety management. Therefore, no Type 7 accidents can occur at Galtronek.”
The underlined portion is the conclusion of the argument because it relies on the remainder of the argument as evidence, but no other part of the argument relies on the underlined part as evidence. Note that this conclusion is not necessarily properly drawn from the argument, and the question would most likely ask you to select the answer that best explained why. Knowing exactly what the conclusion of the argument is makes it much simpler to evaluate the strength of the argument and determine if it may be flawed.
Keep your pencil busy when you read passages in the Reading Comprehension section.
You know how when you read something that you don’t find especially interesting, sometimes you notice that you’ve been looking at the words but you weren’t actually reading them? This happens to everyone, but there are techniques you can use to minimize its effect on you during the LSAT Reading Comprehension section. When reading a passage, always be on the lookout for things to mark. Underline details that seem important, circle the names of people, and occasionally write short little notes next to the paragraphs – one to three words is often all you need – that capture the main idea of that part of the passage. Maintaining an “active pencil” helps keep you engaged and focused so that you actually read, rather than just looking at the words, even when you start to get tired. This also helps create a road map that you can use to review the passage when you’re looking for the answer to specific questions.
You may also be interested in our articles on what to do when you’re running short on time, debunking common LSAT myths, and preparing for graduate school admissions. If you’d like to schedule a free consult with us about your LSAT prep, we’d be happy to answer your questions, and if you’d like to share other feedback with us, please comment below.