Preparing for the LSAT can be an intimidating task, and deciding how you are going to study for it can be a difficult first step. There are now endless options available to students, ranging from traditional courses to online courses, and self-guided prep books. There can be a lot of pressure to sign up for an intensive (and expensive) course, but that isn’t the only way to LSAT success! For any number of reasons, self-studying may be a better option, and there are a number of things you can do to ensure that you effectively prepare for the LSAT while studying on your own.
Consider Whether Self-Study Will Work for You
Self-studying for an exam as unique and intense as the LSAT is not for everyone. Before deciding to forego a professionally run course you should consider whether studying on your own will allow you to reach your goals. Self-studying will require a significant amount of discipline, focus and stamina to work through difficulties and keep yourself on track. You should realistically assess whether or not you think you can remain disciplined for months at a time, and, if not, consider signing up for a structured course instead. Consider what has worked for you in the past – do you find it easy to block out study time and stick to it, or are you likely to procrastinate if the planning is left to you?
Give Yourself Enough Time to Prepare
Just because you aren’t signing up for a multi-month course doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give yourself at least that much time to prepare! In fact, you may need to plan to give yourself even more time, as you won’t have a professional available to help you move through issues quickly. You should plan at least two or three months (perhaps even more) where you study for a few hours nearly every day. Be sure that you draft a game plan, roughly scheduling your study time so that you can be sure that you have time to cover all of the material, work through difficult areas without rushing and take practice tests. Because the material will likely be so new, the last thing that you want is to procrastinate and fail to cover some of the material!
Invest in Quality Study Materials
Quality LSAT prep materials may not be cheap, but they’re still significantly cheaper than a professional course. If you are going to forego taking a course, it is imperative that you get quality, reliable test prep materials that will work for you. The most important of these materials will be old LSAT exams – you absolutely should study from actual past LSATs, or you will likely not be adequately prepared on test day. Typically, you can find one free one online, and the rest are published in volumes by LSAC. You should be sure that you have at least the two most recent volumes as they will best reflect the questions and format that you’ll see on your exam. As for study guides, the Powerscore series and the LSAT Trainer are both reliable options.
Take Timed Practice Exams
The importance of this cannot be overstated! The LSAT is probably different from any exam you’ve ever prepared for so far, and failing to take many complete, timed practice exams will hurt you significantly on exam day. When making your study plan, be sure to plan in frequent time for full-length, timed practice exams – and don’t take shortcuts! This means no electronic distractions, no getting up for snacks and no cutting the exam short. It may be difficult to sit and take an exam for half the day, but the more you practice doing it, the less of a shock it will be on exam day.
Review Those Practice Exams!
Reviewing the practice exams that you take is also crucial to improving your performance. In order to improve, it is imperative that you understand why you missed questions, and even why you got them right. After you take the exam, be sure to go over all of your answers, and spend some time reviewing the ones that you missed so that you can understand why you got them wrong. If you skip this step, it will be more difficult to improve because you’ll be likely to keep making the same mistakes. If you are unsure about a question when you’re taking the exam, try to mark it so that even if you wind up getting it right, you can go back and try to understand why (remember that a lucky guess isn’t the same as actually knowing how to answer the question properly).
Preparing for the LSAT on your own can be overwhelming, but with some discipline it can be just as successful as taking a course!
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