Five Effective LSAT Prep “Tricky-Tricks”

There are a wide variety of things one can do to dramatically improve LSAT performance. Here is a brief summary of five highly effective but often overlooked LSAT Prep suggestions (they may not all be “tricky-tricks,” but they frequently ARE under-appreciated by students!)

1. Rejecting Wrong Answers Is Often Easier Than Recognizing Correct Answers
Identifying a correct answer can be tough in many LSAT questions. However, recognizing wrong answers is often easier because they often follow patterns and/or fit into identifiable categories. A few examples of common wrong answer “types”: (1) highly relevant but “opposite” answers; (2) answers that are sensible statements but “irrelevant” to your conclusion; and (3) “jambalaya” answers that reference key concepts but combine them into nonsense.

Once you understand these (and other) patterns of wrong answer choices, they often can become easy to identify and reject in LSAT questions. The end result each time you reject all wrong answers is the same as recognizing the right answer: getting credit for another hard-earned “raw score” LSAT point!

2. LSAT Timing: Five For One Is A Good Tradeoff
LSAT Prep students quickly learn just how challenging the LSAT’s time limits are (35 minutes per section, unless you receive an accommodation).  However, students frequently don’t know how to take advantage of that challenge and make the time limitation work for them.
To begin with, remember that the LSAT’s time limitation is just as much an obstacle for other students taking the exam (and to whom you are being compared) as it is for you.  Once you learn key timing strategies, the LSAT’s time limits become an advantage for you. Why? For the simple reason that countless other LSAT-takers don’t know how to do this effectively. Here is one straightforward but commonly overlooked suggestion:
  • Every LSAT question is weighted equally, no matter how hard or easy it is. Spending too much time on any one question even if you get it right is a bad move if it means you won’t have time to answer the last several questions of the section. Therefore, learning how and when to move on from a tough question is critically important.
  • Students sometimes spend months trying to understand the content of the LSAT, but spend almost no time learning how to employ test-taking strategies like the one above.
  • As one example, I recently tutored a student stuck at a certain LSAT score until I convinced her how to know when to “move on.” That may sound like simple advice, but the result was an instant practice score increase and overcoming a long-time score plateau.
  • Remember: missing one time-consuming LSAT question in exchange for getting five easier LSAT questions correct is a very good tradeoff!

3. LSAT Prep Isn’t Easy, But It Is Simple
If there is one common description I hear from students frustrated by their prior LSAT Prep course, it is the following: “bloated,” “unnecessarily confusing,” and “they over-complicated things.” The LSAT isn’t easy. In fact, I can guarantee you one thing about anyone saying that the LSAT is easy: they are trying to sell you an LSAT Prep product. The exam is legitimately challenging, which is why it has been used for decades to aid law schools selecting among law school applicants.

However, just because the LSAT isn’t easy doesn’t mean that the process of LSAT Prep should over-complicate things. Effective LSAT Prep involves a simple, three-step process: (1) get excellent instruction (whether it comes from a live course, videos or books) to understand the basic, underlying logic and “legal reasoning” skills underlying the LSAT; (2) practice with LOTS of real LSAT questions, making sure you understand precisely why the right answers are right and the wrong answers are wrong; and (3) learn how to take full advantage of the LSAT’s time limitations, so that you make the 35-minute time limit work for you. Those three concepts should be the focus of any LSAT Prep instruction you receive, and none of that requires gimmicks, excessive “labels” or “categories,” or any other unnecessary distractions.

4. Two Bites At The LSAT Is Better Than One
Law schools focus on your highest LSAT score, and they have a practical reason for doing so: it helps their law school rankings! Even if you don’t improve your LSAT skills one bit from your first to second LSAT, it still makes sense to consider taking the exam twice. Why? Because you are more likely to get a higher score if you give yourself two bites at the apple.

As an analogy, consider when a person is more likely to make a free-throw: if he/she shoots one free throw or gets to shoot twice? It doesn’t matter how skilled or unskilled the basketball player is, the answer will be the player shooting two free throws. The LSAT works the exact same way.  Plan to take the LSAT twice, and hope that you only need to take it once.

5. Teachers Matter (duh!)
Here is another analogy, if you are planning to take an LSAT Prep course. Consider any challenging course you took in college. What primarily impacted the quality (and enjoyment) of the course? I’m guessing you will say it was the professor.  LSAT Prep works the same way.
An LSAT Prep instructor who can clearly communicate the LSAT’s logic and “legal reasoning” skills, and who can effectively answer your LSAT questions, is what likely will make the biggest difference in the quality of your LSAT Prep course. If the instructor isn’t effective, you might as well buy a couple of good LSAT Prep books.
Questions, comments or suggestions? Please feel free to email me at mark@scoreitup.com. I hope you found these suggestions helpful, and I hope you are doing well!