Preparing for the LSAT can seem like an overwhelming process for any student, but especially so for those who may choose to forego a formal LSAT prep course. The lack of structure and absence of a trained professional explaining the test to you can make the exam seem like an insurmountable challenge. Self-studying for the LSAT isn’t for everyone, but it can be just as effective with the right mindset and tools. Below are a few things to consider doing if you are preparing for the LSAT on your own.
Give yourself more time than you think you need
The first thing you should do to set yourself up for LSAT success is give yourself adequate time to prepare. For most students, the LSAT will be an exam unlike any other, and they will need months of intense preparation to succeed. In addition, self-studying may require more time, as you won’t have an experienced teacher available to orient you. For best results, you should plan for three to six months of focused studying, depending on your schedule. If you can study full-time for the LSAT, you may be able to plan closer to three months. However, if you have a full-time job or other commitments that take up the bulk of your time, you should seriously consider planning a longer period of time to study.
Make a schedule that fits your needs
After ensuring that you have enough time to prepare, the next step for most self-studiers should be to create a study schedule that fits your needs. Creating a schedule and sticking to it will be crucial for those studying on their own, as there will be no structured classes to keep you on track! Realistically assess your time commitments, and consider limiting those that are not essential during the months you need to study. At minimum, you should try to find at least ten hours each week to prepare if you are studying for upwards of six months, and double that if you’re studying for closer to three months. Be sure not to schedule all of your free time to study for the LSAT, you need time to take breaks too!
Start with a practice test
Before you begin to study, or very early on in your studying, you should take a real practice LSAT exam to see where you are. While this seems intimidating, understanding your starting points and any particular strengths and weaknesses is crucial to using your study time effectively. Ideally, you should also time this test so that you can identify any issues and continually work on your speed. You should be able to find one free LSAT exam online, and you can also buy books of real practice exams.
Use the right study materials
Another key to self-studying is using the right preparation materials. As you study, be sure that you focus mostly on real, released practice questions so that you aren’t surprised on test day. The caveat to this as a self-studier is that you will very likely need some sort of guide book to explain different types of questions and approaches to you. But, the bulk of your practice should be from real, published LSAT exams. LSAC publishes prior exams for purchase either individually, or in a book of ten exams. These can be found online for fairly reasonable prices. These are your best friend while preparing, so be sure to have plenty available.
Continue to take timed practice tests
As you continue to study, you should take timed practice tests regularly. This is important because the LSAT is a very long exam, and the timing is very tight. It is not a good idea to go in without having taken many (or any) practice exams! In order to build stamina and get used to time constraints by test day, you should take as many timed practice exams as you possibly can. Not only will this help build your confidence, but it will likely reduce your stress on test day because you will know exactly what to expect. It’s not a bad idea to give yourself a few minutes less per section than you’ll have in the actual test. This will help you budget for inevitable test-day nerves that may seem to distort time during the real exam.
Review your answers
Finally, constantly reviewing your answers is crucial to making progress in your LSAT preparation. The LSAT is not forgiving if you don’t clearly understand the reasoning behind the answers. If you fail to understand why answers are right and wrong, it is highly likely that you will continue to make the same mistakes over and over. Take extra care to review your answers carefully so you can continue to make progress!
Preparing for the LSAT on your own can seem like an overwhelming process. However, there are many things you can do to ensure you are well-prepared to excel.
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