Mastering the First Stage of Your LSAT Studies

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Now that Blueprint classes for the February LSAT are underway, you’re going to be learning a lot and it’s going to come at you quickly. So this is a good time to go over what’s most important from the first few lessons. What should you really make sure you get down, and what don’t you need to worry about too much.

Here are the things that are really important right now:

Building Good Habits

It’s much easier to do things the right way from the beginning than to start off sloppy and then clean up your work later after you’ve already done a bunch of practice. So, for each thing you learn, do the homework carefully. Don’t just dive in — consciously do your best to follow the right steps. This goes for how to diagram conditional statements (Lesson 1), how to set up your work on a logic game (Lesson 1), how to approach a Must Be True or Soft Must Be True question (Lesson 2), or how to tag a Reading Comprehension passage (Lesson 3).

Diagramming

Conditional logic can be overwhelming at first. We throw a lot of diagramming at you right away. There’s a reason for that: it’s an important skill. Don’t worry, it’s not going to be as common on the LSAT as it might seem from the first few lessons, but it’s still just about guaranteed to show up on the LSAT and is hence really important.

Ordering Games

The games we’ll cover in the first few lessons are some of the most common on the LSAT. In line with the thing about building good habits above, it’s important that you learn how to symbolize ordering rules in consistent and repeatable ways. You need to know what your setup should look like on the page and how to approach each type of question. Later game types will be much easier with a solid foundation.

Reading Comp Approach

LSAT Reading Comp may seem familiar — you’ve done Reading Comp before. But it’s different. When we tell you to read for structure, viewpoint and attitude, there’s a good reason for that. It’s the best way you can prepare yourself to answer the kinds of questions the LSAT asks. It’ll probably take a shift in how you read, and it’s easier to make that shift if you start reading that way as soon as you start practicing Reading Comp.

Must be True and Soft Must be True Questions

These are the first types of Logical Reasoning questions you’ll learn how to approach. Soft MBTs are quite common, and the skills you’ll learn in both types of questions are relevant to lots of other things on the LSAT, and sometimes in unexpected ways. For example, if you’re good at explaining why wrong answers to these kinds of questions are wrong, that’ll help you pick apart flawed arguments later.

Must be False Questions and Quantifiers

These topics, which you’ll cover in Lesson 3, don’t account for as many questions on the LSAT as all of the above. They’re still useful to know — they may only account for a handful of questions, but if you really know what you’re doing you’ll make some hard questions much easier.

While all the above is important, there are also some things that aren’t a big deal right now. You won’t help yourself out by devoting attention to the following for now:

Timing

I know. The LSAT requires you to work quickly. You may not have finished the sections on your first practice test within the time limit. You may be wondering how you ever will finish in time. Still, do your homework slowly for now. It’s much easier to go fast and still be accurate later if you really have the methods down. It’s almost impossible to get the methods down if you’re trying to meet speed goals. Slow down now. It’ll help you speed up later.

Practice Tests

After your first practice exam, you may be tempted to try again. Now that you have some idea what you’re doing, wouldn’t you do much better? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way it’s not helpful and not a good use of your time. Practice tests will waste your time with a bunch of things you haven’t practiced yet. They’ll also put time pressure on you, and as we just discussed that’s not good right now. Your job is to really get familiar with the stuff you’re learning right now. Once you’ve covered most of what’s on the test, it’ll make sense to start taking practice tests.

The LSAT can be intimidating, but take it one day and one skill at a time. There’s a lot to learn but if you approach things the right way you can see your score increase tremendously. Good luck!

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