Retaking the LSAT- How to Study?

    • June 28, 2016 at 5:10 am #2167

      Hi Mike!

      Thanks for the helpful LSAT Trainer website. I would like to buy your prep book, but I am first trying to figure out the best way to to approach my studying.

      I took a prep course last summer and the exam October 2015 and scored a 169. I found that in the 1.5 months leading up to the test, I couldn’t break 167-169 and I didn’t do much prep in September (stupid, I know). There was also no real pattern to the types of questions or sections I had issues with. Some tests I would get 2 wrong on a specific section and the next test it would be 5-6. Timing remains to be somewhat of an issue on a lot of the sections- I can usually finish, but not without making a few stupid errors, such as misreading an answer choice or part of the stimulus. To help with timing for logical reasoning and reading comp, I am trying to focus more on the stimulus/passage and anticipate the answer choice/explain exactly why the other 4 are wrong and going over the questions I did incorrectly (several times) to try to analyze what my thought process should have been and where I messed up. I still seem to be making a lot of stupid errors though…

      My goal is to score in the mid-170 range on the exam in September. I’m working on doing sections and full tests of the 15 most recent LSAT exams, but I am concerned I will run out of material (without improving sufficiently) and the older prep tests I find to be easier (reading comp in particular). Or perhaps I shouldn’t even be doing that many timed tests without other prep…

      Any advice?

      Thank you!

    • June 28, 2016 at 7:07 am #2168
      LSAT Dan

      Jenny –

      Are you certain that there’s no pattern to the questions you’re missing? The reason I ask is that in my experience, particularly in he Logical Reasoning section, students tend to rely exclusively on question type to discover (or not) patterns in their errors, and sometime legitimate patterns exist across question types. For instance (simplified example), a student whose grasp of causation is shaky may as a result miss a flaw question, an assumption questions and a weaken question on a section all for that same reason.

      To more directly respond to your question, if you’re doing only timed practice, one thing you can start doing is a “blind review” in which you do the same sections both times and untimed. Here’s the way that works – after doing a section (or an exam) times, before checking your score, go back and do the same section (or test) untimed (this could be the next day, but doesn’t have to be all at once). As you’re scoring very well, you’ll probably keep the vast majority of your answers, but you’ll probably want to change some, too. Only after you’ve finished the untimed work should you check your answers, and thoroughly go over any that you missed (on either pass).

      This has a couple of benefits – the untimed practice itself is useful, as is thinking about some of the questions in different ways. Additionally (and finally to your original point), the “recycling” will help the tests last longer.


    • June 28, 2016 at 8:19 am #2169
      LSAT Dan

      BTW, if you haven’t seen them, there are free downloadable study schedules of various lengths available at Given where you are currently and the date, I’d suggest the 8-week schedule, which uses The LSAT Trainer book + Preptests 62-71 (packed together and sold conveniently and inexpensively as “Ten New Actual, Official LSAT Preptests.”). That would leave you a few weeks to do the preptests that have been released since “Ten New…” at a pace of about 1.5 tests per week, which (using the blind review method outlined above) should round you into peak form just in time for the test.

    • June 28, 2016 at 1:57 pm #2175
      Mike Kim

      Hi Jenny —

      Nice to meet you online and welcome to Lsatters —

      I understand that even though most LSAT students would gladly swap positions with you, if your goal is to go from high 160’s to the mid 170’s, it can be really tough to figure out exactly how to do that —

      In order to get a mid 170’s score, you really need to have almost complete mastery over everything that can happen on the exam, and you can afford to have very, very few misses.

      At the same time, if you are already at the high 160’s — as you alluded to — you have very few misses to work with, and, if you are missing just a few q’s per section, it is markedly more difficult to notice patterns, identify weaknesses and so on —

      However, it is definitely doable, especially with the amount of time you have to prepare, and I applaud you for going for it —

      Here are some thoughts to add on to Dan’s, along with some related links — as I always say, you know yourself best, so please feel free to utilize whatever advice you think applies to you and to ignore whatever advice you don’t think applies to you —

      So, per what I’ve seen from students and how I think of the exam, I believe that a top score doesn’t necessarily require exceptional characteristics in any one particular area (though those who are exceptional in certain ways, such as having highly advanced reading ability, can gain a significant advantage) — what’s much more important to success at the highest levels is having a full complement of the understanding, skills, and habits that are required of you — and the hardest parts of the exam are not hard because of any individual characteristic, such as a difficult vocabulary term or reasoning concept — but rather because they require the most from you in terms of bringing together a variety of skills for a certain purpose.

      In terms of having the full complement of understanding, strategies, skills, and habits, one way to think of it is terms of the

      (1) reasoning challenges,
      (2) reading challenges, and
      (3) challenges of mental discipline

      presented by the exam.

      If you end up using the Trainer for your studies, you’ll see that I will discuss every challenge from every problem in terms of these three basic categories.

      Of the students I’ve worked with who have reached a high 160’s score, I would say that a majority of them have put in the work necessary to develop strong reasoning skills — they understand how conditional logic works, how to think of causal arguments, and so on — and so very often, the key to pushing into the 170’s is to strengthen the skills and habits required to combat the reading challenges and the challenges of mental discipline —

      For example, speaking broadly, this might include —

      1) Getting better and better at zeroing in on the argument in an LR stimulus (and better and better at not being overly distracted by everything else).

      2) Getting better and better at identifying relevant details in incorrect answers that you can then utilize to verify that the answers are indeed incorrect.

      3) Developing a clearer and more specific sense of the exact task presented in various question stems, especially those on LR and RC q’s (and a clearer and more specific sense of the characteristics you are most likely to see in tempting wrong answers).

      4) Getting better and better at utilizing the task presented in the q stem to eliminate answers that might be relevant to the stimulus or RC passage, etc. otherwise.

      So, having said all that, my first tip is for you to work to ensure that you are allowing yourself to develop a full complement of skills and habits, and try to pay particular extra attention to areas where you may have skimped the first time around.

      Effective prep also typically involves a combination of study practices — these include —

      1) Utilizing learning products (books, courses, etc.)
      2) Practicing (drilling, pt’s)
      3) Review (of understanding and of performance)

      So my second tip is that you want to make sure that you have given yourself ample time to cover each of those areas, and, if you think you may have skimped on any of those areas the first time around, you may want to try to give extra attention to that area this time around.

      Finally, here are some links to some other posts I’ve written over the years, specifically for students seeking a top score and for retakers —

      A TLS post with more specific details about the skills/habits necessary for 170 + level success —

      A retakers checklist of considerations —

      Study advice for someone already in the 170’s —

      Tips for Assessing your LG skills/habits (should give you ideas for thinking about LR and RC as well) —

      Extreme Drills for Top Scorers —

      That’s it for now — hope at least some of that is helpful, and if you have any follow-up q’s please don’t hesitate to ask —

      Wish you the best — Mike

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