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The LSAT: Best Study Habits Part I

LSAT Blog

You may be wondering why there’s a picture of a man rocking a 70’s mullet drinking from the Stanley Cup in an LSAT blog.

Our stylish friend in the picture?  He’s partaking of the time-honoured tradition of Stanley Cup winners, drinking champagne directly from hockey’s most coveted prize.  As a Torontonian I’d have loved to have provided a picture of a Maple Leaf drinking from Lord Stanley’s cup, but I don’t think photography was even invented the last time the Leafs won.  So, that picture is from 1974, when the Philadelphia Flyers won.  Those Flyers (affectionately known as the Broad Street Bullies) have a special place in my heart; they may not have been the most talented team in the history of the NHL, but they were certainly among the hardest workers.

The importance of hard work brings us to the LSAT and your LSAT study schedule.

In addition to talking about great study habits, I want to warn you off of some disastrous ones. In this two part series, I’ll focus on the “Fearsome Four” and, more importantly, their antidotes.

Bad Habit #1: Timing yourself in the beginning.

There are three levels of LSAT practice: mastering skills, improving timing and improving endurance.  Too many LSAT test-takers start with timing – trying to get faster before they have mastered the skills necessary for increasing their LSAT score.  However, it’s vital to start by acquiring a deep understanding of how the LSAT works, something almost impossible to do when you’re under the gun.  The savviest LSAT test taker starts by focusing on the minutiae of the exam – the differences among question types, the different methods required for the different sections, the common traps inherent in each question, etc. – before worrying about picking up speed.

Big tip #1start with untimed practice, focusing on understanding how the test works.

Bad Habit #2:  Not analyzing Mistakes.

I don’t throw out a lot of quotes in the classroom, but here’s one from Einstein (who didn’t write the LSAT, but who was still a pretty smart guy): “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

A very common mistake made by LSAT test takers is to do a bunch of questions, check how many they got right, then immediately move on to the next batch of questions.  Some studiers just take practice LSAT after practice LSAT.  Bad students – no donut!  Thoroughly reviewing all of your work is key to your success on the LSAT.  Not sure how to effectively review your work?

Here are some tips:

If you got a question wrong, identify your error by asking yourself:

  • Did I fall for a common wrong answer trap?
  • Did I misidentify the question type?
  • Did I misunderstand the passage?
  • Did I misinterpret a rule or formal logic statement?

If you got a question right, ensure future success by asking yourself:

  • Did I get it right for the right reasons? (or did I just get lucky when it came down to two)
  • Did I get it right as quickly as possible?
  • Do I understand exactly what I did and can I repeat it?

The best LSAT studiers spend as much time reviewing as they do answering questions and always end a study session by asking:  What did I learn from these questions that I can apply to future, similar, questions?

Big tip #2:  review, review, review!

Your study habits are critical to your LSAT success.  Hopefully you’ve found these tips helpful.  Stay tuned for tips Three and Four in Part Two!

Stuart Kovinsky

About Stuart Kovinsky

I'm Stuart Kovinsky, an out-of-the-closet LSAT geek from Toronto. I've been teaching for Kaplan for over 20 years (not counting a 5 year break to practice as a commercial litigator at a big Toronto firm) and, working both as a teacher and an admissions consultant, have coached a lot of students to their top choice schools. I'm also an ultimate frisbee enthusiast - when not in the classroom or behind the keyboard you'll often find me on the field.

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  • mmrichards88

    Thank you! In the middle of preparing for October, and appreciate reinforcement of effective study techniques and recognizing bad ones.

  • Jesse Choi

    Very true. Been working on the October LSAT slowly since April (12 hr long night shifts make for hard study days) and it’s always good to be reminded of what needs to be done when studying. Something that can be tough to remember when you can only study for roughly 30 mintues at a time.

  • Anonymous

    @mmrichards88 – I’m glad that tips were helpful. If you have some tips of your own, please share them with the community!

  • Anonymous

    @Jesse – I feel your pain; it’s really tough to study for the LSAT when you’re working/going to school full time as well.

    To maximize the time that you do have, set up a weekly schedule and decide in advance what you’re going to cover in your study sessions. Doing so will have 2 big advantages:

    1) you’ll focus more effectively on the topics that will get you the most points; and
    2) you won’t waste any of your limited time figuring out what you’re going to do for those 30 minutes.

    Let us know how it goes!

  • Lilyasultani

    Its very hard to work 2 jobs, support self and study for the lsat. However, having a study schedule set is the best thing one could do to achieve their full potential on the exam. Reading this blog was very interesting, and I will most likely now create my own study schedule. Studying for even 30 mins a day makes a big difference.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Lily!

      You’re definitely correct there on both counts: a busy non-LSAT schedule makes studying much tougher and even a bit of studying every day can really give your score a boost. You may just need to give yourself a longer studying window (maybe prep for December instead of October, although October is still a lot of 30-minute study sessions away!).

      I look forward to hearing more from you about how you manage your time!

    • Craig Pooler

      Lilyasultan, I find your response so true. I have started with small steps as suggested. e.g. reviewing flash cards over and over again, reviewing one question on the bus/train. After reviewing on-demand or revisiting a previous class, only after the second and sometimes third review does it kick in or I can a step that I missed in the first review. I am beginning to feel more comfortable with my ability to perform well on the test.

  • Josean Carrasquillo

    this is a great article, even doe im still a nlittle nerveous about the test.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Josean!

      I’m glad that you liked the article. It’s perfectly understandable to be nervous about the LSAT – after all, if you want to go to law school, the LSAT is pretty much the most important 5 hours of your life! (Oops, that probably just made you more nervous.)

      The key is to take your studying one step at a time – there’s a lot of study time between now and October 6th, so map out your LSAT-ilicious summer/fall to make sure that you stay on track and maximize your chances to ace the exam!

      Stuart

  • Aida S.

    I am preparing for the December LSAT and like others work full time, attend paralegal night classes and have a teenage son. What is the minimum amount of weekly study hours you would recommend, considering the test is 3 months away? thanks

    • Anonymous

      Hi Aida,

      it sounds like you have a lot on your plate – I hope that teenage son of yours is helping out!

      By signing up for the December LSAT, you’ve given yourself an extended prep window, which was a very smart decision given the demands on your time. Try to get in at least a little bit of studying every day – the key to long-term growth is consistent practice. For example, you’ll see a lot more improvement if you study 30 minutes a day during the week and 1-3 hours per day on the weekend then if you try to cram 5-6 hours per day on the weekend with no coverage during the week. Even if you only have 15-20 minutes on your lunch break, that’s enough time to peruse your study materials and/or notes and do 1 game, 1 passage or 5-6 LR questions.

      Back to your son – try to get him involved in the study process in one of two ways, depending on his temperament. If he’s competitive and likes a challenge, make him your study buddy! Even if he never applies to law school, working on the LSAT will greatly enhance his reading and reasoning skills for high school and university. Because he’s working with you, you’ll likely have less issues with him resenting the LSAT taking up so much of your time (although, if he’s like many teenage boys, he may not even notice!).

      If you don’t think he’d be interested in studying alongside you, then cajole him into helping out more around the house, freeing up more of your time. Don’t be above bribery! Tie his reward into your LSAT success – a great score gets him a weekend at a water park, or a new video game, or something else you know he’d enjoy.

      My mother went back to law school when I was 12, so I can definitely understand how he feels about the whole situation. The more you include him, the more accepting he’ll be of the situation.

      • Sencionaida

        Thank you for your great advice on including my son. I will definitely include him, as it will be mutually beneficial. I’ve also just finished a Kaplan LSAT on site prep course, and it has helped tremendously in acquiring time efficiency and speed on those feared logic games!

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