I recently had a former student call me very excited about his LSAT score. He scored in the high 150s and was looking forward to applying to law school in the fall. What made him particularly happy about his score was the increase from his diagnostic – that starting score was in the low 130s.
As my student, let’s call him Jimmy, reviewed his initial diagnostic score he first thought that continuing to prep for the LSAT would not be a good idea. His diagnostic score really threw him and he was balancing a full course load as a college junior. In addition to the necessity of learning critical LSAT skills, Jimmy was also facing two other issues: the first, overcoming his sense of frustration and the second balancing school, life, and prep. As an LSAT instructor I see these two obstacles standing in the way of student success, if the student lets them. More often than not however, with planning and determination success can be achieved.
Make no mistake about it – prepping for the LSAT is difficult! It requires time and energy and often this means putting things on the back burner. Mastering the four critical skills for LSAT success – mastering formal logic, learning to make deductions, analyzing arguments and reading strategically – require review and practice. These skills are not acquired by simply reading a book or attending a class but by putting in time to perfect them. This in turn means a minimum of 4-5 hours a week of looking at sample problems and timing sections; as test day gets closer and closer more time each week is necessary for full length test practice in addition to basic practice. Getting ready for the LSAT also means a frank and honest talk with roommates, family members and/or significant others and explaining the amount of support that is needed as certain responsibilities are put on hold. This may be something as simple as asking someone else to cover grocery shopping or as complex as making child care arrangements to allow for more study time. Mastering the art of balancing competing interests is a subtle skill needed for LSAT success and success in law school.
It is critical as well to overcome self-doubts and initial results that are not as favorable as one would like. Jimmy was stunned by his low diagnostic but quickly realized that this was a starting score, not his final score. Practice tests are just that – practice. They should be used as a means of evaluation of what to do to improve as well as what not to.do. Don’t let numbers bog you down initially – remember to be analytical and take each question, each section as an opportunity for improvement. With time and practice those numbers will skyrocket!