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The following tips and strategies are designed to give you a head start in preparing for the LSAT. The information is compiled from the most reliable insiders - students who have taken the LSAT and made it into law school.
Before you begin any LSAT preparation, keep in mind:
- The LSAT has completely different standards than any other test. This might well be the toughest test you've ever seen, but the good news is that you're not expected to get 85% (or higher) in order to do well. If you get only two thirds of the questions right (67%, or a "C" in standard grading), you'll be in the top 80% of all LSAT takers. Do your best, and don't measure your level of sureness against any other test you've seen.
- All LSAT questions are weighted the same. Try to identify questions and question types that you can answer quickly and correctly.
- The LSAT doesn't carry a penalty for wrong answers. You may have taken other entrance exams that penalized you for wrong answers, but on the LSAT you can guess all you want. In fact, one of the keys to doing well might be to use some best guess tricks to fill in every question.
- Err on the side of caution. There's no such thing as being over-prepared for the LSAT.
Whether in a law school or a law practice, you will find a heavy emphasis on reading. The LSAT's reading comprehension section is designed to be demanding, because the reading you do in your law career will be exigent, erudite, verbose and obscure - and more often than not it will include words like those!
On this portion of the test, you'll be given four passages of approximately 500 words each, with each passage having five to eight questions. Skim over the content of the passage first, and then read it in detail. Figure out the main points of the passage and make a note of subtleties you think are important.
Now move on to the questions. Go through each of the answer choices and eliminate the ones you're certain are wrong. Of those that remain, pick the choice you feel is right.
The logical reasoning section dominates the LSAT, just as logical reasoning dominates the practice of law - after all, the ability to critically evaluate arguments is perhaps the most important skill a lawyer can possess. There are two sections (or potentially three, if one the test includes an experimental section) that focus on logical reasoning.
For logical reasoning questions, you'll be given an argument in a few sentences. You must be able to understand the argument, including its weaknesses and its assumptions, and know how to describe its logical fallacies. Each section will have 20 to 30 questions, and you'll be given about 35 minutes per section. Most of the passages will be five sentences or less, but some will be longer. Five sentences or less may not sound like a lot, but these are dense paragraphs. The questions require inductive and deductive logic, and may have their own logical fallacies, tricks and games hidden within them.
Generally, students find the analytical reasoning section of the LSAT to be most difficult. This section focuses on deductive reasoning and will test your ability to understand and map out complex systems of relationships. LSAT insiders believe a comprehensive preparation strategy is extremely helpful for this area of the test.
The analytical reasoning section has four "games" containing a total of 24 questions. Each of the games has between five and nine questions, but you will begin by quickly identifying the game types. There are several test prep programs available that will help you prepare to do this, and with practice you'll be able to quickly diagram the relationships in the test. You will use your diagram to deduce the accurate results to complete the game's scenario.
The Best Preparation
If you want to go into your LSAT armed for any and all surprises, you may need to purchase a full preparation program. These can be expensive, but remember that it's a good investment - a successful law career can be very lucrative!
If you're going to purchase an LSAT preparation program, be sure that:
- It's up to date
- It has numerous prep test questions and prep tests
- It emphasizes understanding concepts, not sheer volume of questions
- You can use the test prep materials to go back and review your own studies
- The book or program has real tests, not made up ones that sound like the LSAT