The good news about the LSAT is that it’s a predictable exam that you can prepare for and improve your score. However, a crucial factor in improving your score is not just doing as many practice tests as you can, but also making sure that you’re learning from each one. It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you’re making progress the more practice tests you take, but not reviewing your practice test results can be a costly mistake; the most successful students review their mistakes very closely. Effective preparation for the LSAT is about quality, not quantity, and that often means spending as much time reviewing questions as doing them.
So how do you actually go about effectively reviewing your test results? How do you know if you’re understanding what you got wrong and why? Blind review is a technique I wish I had known about earlier in my LSAT prep. The idea behind blind review is that rather than checking your answers right after a timed prep test, you’re reviewing them before looking at the correct answers. This allows you to hone in on the reasoning of how you selected your answer.
To start, take a timed practice test. As you go through the questions, circle the ones you aren’t 100% certain about. Then, go back to the ones you circled and articulate your reasoning — why the answer you picked is the right one, and why the other four are incorrect. Note when you change your answer as you go through this process.
It is important to articulate your explanations out loud or at least by writing out your reasoning, because you may have a vague idea in your head and think you understand the question but realize otherwise when you try to say it out loud. I have definitely gone through an answer and said to myself, yup I made a stupid mistake and won’t miss this next time, but it wasn’t so much a “stupid mistake” as a subtle trick in the answers designed to tempt you into selecting the wrong answer. When I was explaining a problem to a friend, I realized that I didn’t really understand the question like I had thought. Talking through a question with a friend or tutor can also really help you hone in on what you don’t understand.
Once you have finished blind review, check the correct answers and evaluate the results against your original and changed answers. It is just as important to review the ones you got correct as the ones you missed, because you may have gotten a question right but were just lucky or didn’t really know why.
Screenshot or take a picture of the questions you miss and compile them in a word document so that you can go back and review them. Write down explanations for each answer and say it out loud. You could even use a whiteboard, like you’re teaching the LSAT to yourself. Try to analyze exactly why you missed the question: Why did the wrong answer seem more attractive than the right one? What in the stimulus or question stem tricked you into not picking the right answer? Were there any red flags that you overlooked? Any words you should have paid more attention to? Keep in mind that your weaknesses may not be what they seem — for example, missing a required assumption could indicate that you’re having trouble understanding the flaw of the stimulus. But the more you can recognize the patterns and traps in the questions, the better off you’ll be on test day because they will come up again!
Taking as many practice tests as you can is necessary to good preparation — once you have solidified a foundation of the concepts. This requires taking a couple hours after each exam to review and analyze the questions you weren’t sure about and the ones you missed.
If you’re just getting started, you could do blind review without time constraints to focus on your understanding of the concepts rather than the time constraint. The more you practice, the faster you will become, and you can then incorporate the timed element into your preparation.
You might be wondering – how many times do I have to do blind review? The answer is, until it clicks, and you can consistently pick out the right answer using reason over gut feeling. It will take a different amount of time and a different number of practice tests for each person. This will be a time-consuming and sometimes frustrating process, but it will be well worth it. You will start to feel more confident as you begin to ingrain the correct reasoning process and reach the stage where you can trust your instincts on test day. Best of luck — you got this!
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