How to best prepare for and excel at the LSAT, according to testing and law-school experts

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Summary List Placement

To get into most law programs in the US, you must first take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). 

The LSAT consists of two parts, a multiple-choice exam and an essay, that together assess several key skills that have been identified as important for success in law school, including critical reading, analytical reasoning, logical reasoning, and persuasive writing. 

Test takers have traditionally taken the exam in testing centers. However, during the pandemic, LSAC began offering an alternative called the LSAT-Flex, where the test is completed online at home or in a quiet place but requires a camera on the computer, as it’s proctored from afar.

According to the LSAC website, this format has been extended until June 2022 due to “the expressed preferences of the substantial majority of test takers.”

Mark C. Miller, professor of political science and director of the Law & Society Program and university pre-law advisor at Clark University, said law schools treat scores from the LSAT and LSAT-Flex as identical.

Here’s how to best prep for and excel on this crucial exam, according to experts.

Weigh studying each section equally, even for the LSAT-Flex

John Ross, founder and CEO of test-prep review company Zivadream, said that while the LSAT-Flex is the same as the traditional LSAT in terms of substance and difficulty, one notable difference is that the length of the test has been reduced.

“The proportion of logical-reasoning questions will be different on the LSAT-Flex compared to the traditional LSAT — however, LSAC has given assurances that they will not double-count or weight that section any differently,” Ross said. He added that all three sections of the LSAT-Flex will consist of questions of the same type and difficulty as previous tests.

Though some students may be tempted to reallocate study time away from the logical-reasoning section, he believes the shift makes that section of the exam that much more important.

“As such, I would advise to keep study times and allocations the same,” Ross said.

Practice under comparable test conditions

Ross said applicants should adjust their practice-test routine to mimic what the real exam will be like.

He recommended taking the practice test on your laptop in the same place you’ll take the LSAT on test day, with a webcam on — perhaps even simulating the real experience by having a friend or family member watch you on a webcam or sit behind your computer. 

Phillip Millar of law firm Millar’s Law expressed amazement at students telling him they don’t want to take a sample test close to the test date because if they get a low score, it will ruin their confidence for the actual test.

“Think about that and the logical flaws contained within that position,” Millar said. “Logic would tell that practicing sample tests improves your chances at a better score.”

He added that with an early result, students can then see where their strengths and weaknesses are and allocate study time and resources accordingly.

In addition to running through the general test logistics, Ross suggested mastering your pacing.

Break your studying up into small chunks

Chris Lele, LSAT expert at online test-prep firm Magoosh, advised making your goals smaller and more achievable if you feel unfocused. This will help you keep progressing in your studies while building confidence.

“If you’re like many of us right now, you may be having trouble staying focused on your tasks when you sit down to study,” Lele said. “Your ability to concentrate and retain knowledge falters under stress.” 

Instead of setting a goal of studying for a three- to four-hour stretch and covering a ton of material, for example, try doing just one logic game or quizzing yourself on a list of logical fallacies.

Give yourself incentives

Steve Schwartz, founder and CEO of LSAT Unplugged, agreed that aside from the content of the LSAT, one of the biggest barriers that students face relates to maintaining motivation and focus.

Inspired by Nir Eyal’s book “Indistractable,” he suggested decreasing the effort required to study by making the process as easy as possible.

“Leave your books at work, school, in your car,” Schwartz said. “Use LSAT prep podcasts and YouTube videos to listen and watch on the go. Create or use a detailed LSAT study plan to remove all the guesswork about what to do and when.” 

He also suggested creating an external financial motivator.

“Make an agreement with yourself that each day you don’t study X hours [or] don’t complete X problems, you have to donate $X to your favorite charity or give it to someone else holding you accountable,” Schwartz said. “When there’s money on the line, you’ll have more skin in the game.”

Avoid looking like you’re cheating

When taking the exam, not only will a live person be watching and listening, but everything from start to finish will be recorded and analyzed by artificial intelligence. If there are any questions as to the integrity of your performance, the recording of your session will receive further review.

“Given this level of extreme oversight, it is critical that students not do anything that makes it even appear like they may be cheating,” Ross said. “Do not stare off-screen or straight down for too long, don’t talk to yourself, and definitely don’t have a phone or other device close by.”

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