Every student wishing to get into law school knows very well how hard it is to study for the LSAT. If you are an LSAT aspirant, this article is for you. In this article, I will discuss how you can do self-study for the LSAT. I will also be discussing some tips that you may follow to excel at this test/exam.
Self Studying for LSAT
Preparing for the test depends on your availability and learning style – you can go for a tutor or do self-study. In either case, you need to be serious about the amount the hard work you are going to put in.
To be honest, it’s undeniable that the best way to prepare for the test is with an experienced tutor at your side. A tutor will help you overcome many of the problems commonly encountered by LSAT aspirants and make your journey a far less frustrating one.
Unfortunately, some students are unable to afford the services of a tutor. For them, online LSAT preparation courses can help a lot. I recommend opting for Magoosh’s online LSAT courses.
There are several reasons why you must find a guiding light, even if that is this online LSAT course. The most crucial reason is that the lack of structure and the absence of expert guidance can make the test feel like an unconquerable obstacle.
It is very much possible to crack the LSAT on your own without the exorbitant price tag of a commercial course (or even a cheap online course).
Of course, self-studying for the LSAT isn’t for everyone. It may not beat professional courses but it can be just as effective as long as you have the right tools and mindset. It is also a good option for people who prefer to control their own schedule and study according to their availability.
You do need to realize, though, that self-studiers are the underdogs. Therefore, you need to be brutally efficient in your preparation.
In the next section, I have offered some tips to help you get the most out of your journey of self-studying for the LSAT.
How to self-study for the LSAT?
In this section, I’ve listed guidelines for maximizing your LSAT score gains on a limited budget of money and time.
1. Give yourself adequate time to prepare
In order to set yourself up for success in the LSAT, you must give yourself enough time to prepare for the test. Even students working with a tutor or professional course require months of dedicated effort to succeed. Therefore, it’s easy to see why self-studying will require you to dedicate even more time on your part.
For the best results, I recommend you to plan for three to six months of focused studying depending on your schedule. If you happen to have a full-time job or other commitments that take up most of your time, then you should definitely consider devoting a longer period of time to your preparation.
2. Prepare a schedule that suits your requirements
After making sure that you have sufficient time to prepare, you need to put together a study schedule that suits your needs. Since there are no organized classes to keep self-studiers on track, it is imperative for them to create an effective schedule and follow it strictly. You must assess your time commitments realistically and try limiting those that aren’t absolutely essential during the months you need to study.
At the very least, you need to dedicate at least ten hours every week to your preparation if you’re planning to study for upwards of six months. If you’re studying for around three months, then you need to double the duration of your study hours as well. However, you must also ensure that you don’t schedule all of your free time to prepare for the test. After all, all work and no play make Jack a dull boy.
3. Don’t procrastinate – start now, and keep going steadily
The reasoning here is simple enough – the earlier you start, the more time you have to practice questions and strengthen your concepts. Trying to cram all your studies in at the last minute is only going to lead to chaos and disappointment in the long run. Instead, after you have prepared your schedule, you must start early and study a little every day.
For example, you can try doing a 35-minute section of an LSAT paper each and every day, before proceeding to review your mistakes. Usually, it won’t take you more than an hour or so. Occasionally, you may find time to do more than one section – but even if you don’t, you can still make significant progress by doing one section a day for three months or more.
4. Begin with a practice test
Before you officially embark on your journey, or very early on during your preparation, you must take an actual LSAT practice test to honestly assess where you stand. Admittedly, this idea sounds quite scary to every new aspirant. However, realize that it is crucial for you to understand your starting points, specific strengths and weaknesses in order to utilize your study time effectively.
I advise timing this practice test in a manner that allows you to identify any problems and regularly work on improving your speed. You’ll be able to find free LSAT mock tests online and can also purchase books of actual practice tests.
5. Choose the right study materials
Selecting the right study materials is an extremely important part of self-studying. As a self-studier, you will almost certainly require some kind of guidebook that adequately explains various kinds of questions and approaches to the reader.
However, the majority of your practice should be from real, published LSAT questions so that you aren’t taken by surprise during the actual test.
The LSAC (The Law School Admission Council) publishes older exam questions for purchase either individually or in a question bank that covers ten tests.
You can easily buy them online for pretty affordable prices. They are your best resources when you’re preparing for the LSAT, so make sure that you buy them early on. They are the primary texts that every successful LSAT aspirant visits and revisits regularly.
Don’t fall for the plethora of cheap LSAT books out there – they’re cheap precisely because they don’t feature actual LSAT questions. Authors who feature real LSAT questions in their books need to pay exorbitant licensing fees for doing so, resulting in higher price tags. Even worse, some books have been known to invent their own LSAT questions or include older questions. Therefore, you must go for reputable books from renowned authors and publishers.
6. Keep taking timed practice tests regularly
It is not uncommon to come across LSAT aspirants who’ve been “studying” for several weeks but haven’t taken even one real practice test yet. This is a terrible mistake – remember that if you’re not attempting real, timed LSAT tests, then you aren’t actually preparing for the LSAT at all. It’s very much like reading countless books about the theory of driving without actually getting into a car’s driving seat.
During the course of your preparation, you need to keep taking timed practice tests at regular intervals. It is extremely important to do so because the LSAT is an exhaustingly long exam and the timing isn’t very generous. If you go into the actual examination hall without having taken enough (or worse, any) practice tests, then the results could be potentially disastrous.
You need to take as many practice tests as possible in order to build stamina and get used to the time constraints. Not only will you develop more confidence by doing so, but you will also experience lesser stress on the D-day because you know exactly what to expect. I actually recommend giving yourself a few minutes less in every section that you’ll have in the real exam. By doing so, you’ll gear yourself up for the exam-day nerves that almost inevitably tend to distort time during the actual exam.
Also, don’t be intimidated if you end up making a lot of mistakes in your initial tests. That is exactly what they are meant for – to help you remember the mistakes you’ve made and ensure that you don’t do so during the actual exam. Instead of spending too much time on theory, you should get to the real work of solving practice papers as soon as possible.
7. Constantly review your answers
Unfortunately, many students tend to relentlessly mow through practice tests without properly reviewing their mistakes. It’s not unlike practicing free throws without noticing whether they’re actually going in or not. Remember that each of your mistakes is a golden opportunity for you to learn and score better in your subsequent tests. By reviewing your answers regularly, you will ensure a steady rate of progress in your LSAT prep.
Experts agree that students who don’t have a sound understanding of the reasoning behind the answers have a poor track record at the exam. If you don’t understand why an answer is right or wrong, you will likely continue to repeat the same mistakes in the future.
Thus, you must review your answers without fail in order to deliver the best possible performance on the big day. Whenever you get a question wrong, do not stop until you’ve positively ascertained where exactly you went wrong.
Preparing for the LSAT on your own can be a daunting and often overwhelming task. After all, it is one of the toughest exams that even students preparing under experienced tutors struggle to crack. However, like everything else, self-studying has its own share of benefits as well. As long as you are self-motivated, avoid distractions, start early and stick to your schedule, you will definitely succeed with flying colors.