LSAT Practice Exams: Best Use Of These Vital LSAT Prep Tools

LSAT Practice Exams

The single most useful LSAT Prep tool are previously released LSAT exams. Using these exams as practice material is unquestionably important for any serious LSAT Prep student. The LSAC provides one-year access to the digital version of over 70 of these practice LSAT exams, and there are over 80 of them available for purchase in print form (most economically by buying “Books of 10” LSATs for around $30 per book).

Best Use of LSAT Practice Exams

The question becomes how to use these LSAT exams for practice most effectively. You can engage in LSAT Prep “drilling,” take timed practice exams, etc. To begin with, it is much more important that you use these exams as practice material than the way in which you use them. In other words, practicing on lots of real LSAT questions is more important than HOW you practice with them. That being said, there certainly are better and worse ways of going about it. Here is one simple and straightforward way of going about it:

  1. Begin by learning the fundamentals by using older LSATs (in the 20s, 30s and 40s) for practice. Familiarize yourself with the exam and the nature of the questions.
  2. Practice UNTIMED on these same older exams for a period of time. You can do that in one of multiple ways. You can simply take the exams as is, working through questions in order. Or, you can take a course or find a program that “groups” question into question types. For example, providing you with a “group” of flaw questions, a group of strengthens and weakens questions, a group of assumption questions, etc.
  3. If you do “group” questions for purposes of initial LSAT Prep drilling, be sure that you aren’t using up questions from the more recent LSATs (e.g., the 70s and 80s) – you will want to save these for later full-length practice.
  4. Once you have a basic understanding of the question types, you will want to practice in the format in which the LSAT is given – i.e., not “grouped” by question type. The LSAT won’t be spoon-feeding you LSAT questions by identifying in advance what type of question they are, and you want to practice in a more simulated testing environment.
  5. Practice on sections of the exam UNTIMED, taking questions in the order given. Sprinkle in an occasional exam from the 60s, 70s and 80s, but do the bulk of your work on these LSAT Practice exams  from the 20s-50s.
  6. When you feel you are ready, begin taking full-length sections (or taking full-length practice LSAT exams) TIMED. If you are given the standard time, take a full-length practice LSAT by giving yourself 35 minutes per section, doing all four sections, and taking only a 10-minute break between sections 2 and 3.
  7. Study your answers afterward, particularly questions you missed or struggled with. One option that many students like to utilize to do this, if they have the time, is “blind review.” That simply means that you take the whole exam again, UNTIMED, giving yourself the necessary time to fully analyze each question without concerning yourself with time.
  8. Do the bulk of your TIMED LSAT practice with the more recent LSATs (from the 60s to 80s), but mix it up with an occasional older exam as well. Once again, be sure to analyze your work afterward, either with or without doing a “blind review.”

Planning Your LSAT Prep Schedule Months In Advance

You may have noticed that there is a lot to do when preparing for the LSAT! Ideally, students should give themselves 3-6 months to prepare for the LSAT, sometimes longer. You know yourself, and the amount of time you likely will have to prepare, so be sure to modify these general “rule of thumb” estimates to suit your individual situation.

Ideally, you also will want to work through a very large number of practice LSAT exams before taking the official LSAT. If you are planning well in advance, I would estimate that you would want to work through about 40 practice exams, including at least 20 exams that you take as full-length, timed exams before taking the official LSAT.  If you can do more, do more.  If you can’t do that many, do what you can – doing some is a lot better than doing none.

Common Mistakes

The biggest mistake I see students typically make is not doing enough practice LSAT exams before taking the official LSAT. The second biggest mistake I see is not doing enough TIMED, full-length practice exams before the real thing.  What if you aren’t ready to take timed exams yet? That’s ok – you shouldn’t be taking practice LSATs timed before you are at least somewhat ready to do so.

What if you aren’t ready to take practice LSAT exams and your official LSAT is about a month away? Well, I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but someone needs to tell you the obvious: you aren’t ready to take the LSAT, and you may want to seriously consider postponing your LSAT date.

Countless students find themselves in the following quandary: they want to get the LSAT done and out of the way, and they don’t want to postpone their planned LSAT date. But, at the same time, they know they aren’t ready and/or won’t have taken enough practice exams.  Postponing your official LSAT date and giving yourself more time to practice is likely to help. The decision on what to do is up to you, but common sense should tell you that if you haven’t practiced enough for this challenging exam, the solution is to give yourself more time to practice.

If you have questions about how to get started, or how to make the best use of your practice LSAT exams? Please feel free to reach out to me at mark@scoreitup.com!