We’re getting into the last month before another LSAT, and that means practice tests are absolutely essential to folks preparing for the exam. Any student who’s taken a practice test is familiar with the unnerving process of calculating your own practice exam score. However, the LSAT practice exams are not like online quizzes where you inevitably find out that you would be a Hufflepuff in Harry Potter, and then move on with your day. Scoring is really just the first step in reviewing a practice exam if you want to reap the greatest benefit from your practice.
Here are some helpful pointers on what you should be doing when you review a practice exam:
1. Review your practice exam within 24 hours of taking the test. I know that practice tests are tiring, and more studying is probably the last thing you want to do after a practice exam. But the fact is, our memories fade with time, so you won’t remember how you were reasoning through the practice exam after too much time passes. It’s great to take a break after a practice LSAT (you deserve it!) but be sure to start your review of that test while it’s still fresh in your mind.
2. Track all the questions from the LSAT in which: you got the answer wrong, you weren’t sure of the answer, you didn’t answer at all, or you took a disproportionate amount of your test time to answer the question. Think about it: the LSAT questions where you “got lucky” by guessing the right answer or where you just couldn’t quite justify your answer are all questions you still need to work on. It’s just as likely that your guesses will work against you on the real exam if you receive similar questions. You also want to refine your method of solving those questions that took a long time to complete, because that’s time you’re gonna need on the rest of your exam.
3. Don’t immediately seek out an explanation for questions you got wrong. Try to work out the right answer yourself, taking as much time as you need. Sometimes a particular passage or game will make more sense when you don’t have the time constraints of the LSAT bearing down on you. Conversely, if somebody else explains the correct answer to you before you’ve worked on it yourself, it’s easy to feel in the moment that their explanation makes sense without really absorbing it. Since a major point of practice is to learn from mistakes, the time you spend working through each question yourself is valuable.
4. How do you know that you really have the hang of a question or concept that you struggled with on a practice exam? I liked to “teach” questions I initially had difficulty with to someone with no familiarity with the LSAT at all. If you have a friend who is willing to suffer through an explanation of an LSAT question, give them your best explanation of why a certain answer to the question is correct and all the other answers are not. Your friend will probably receive little or no benefit from your efforts, but articulating the correct reasoning out loud to somebody else is a great way to become comfortable with solving the same types of questions on future tests.
It should be clear from the pointers above that the process of reviewing your practice exam requires a great deal of effort and critical thinking all on its own. But when you think about the work that goes into studying, it makes sense that one practice exam requires so much. Once you’ve put hours and hours into completing a practice exam, you want to get as much out of that experience as you can. It’s going to help your score on the next practice exam, and most importantly, on the official LSAT.