Keepin’ it 99.
I’m basically a dinosaur in LSAT years, since I took the test way back in October 2011, when I had to walk uphill both ways barefoot in the snow to get to my testing center. Through a combination of smart preparation and good luck, I scored a 178 that day (woo hoo!), and today I’d like to share my story with you young whippersnappers, along with some tips to help you replicate my success.
I decided to take the LSAT the spring semester of my junior year, which as it turns out, was pretty much the perfect time to start thinking about the LSAT. I’ve always been a procrastinator – writing 10-page papers the night before they’re due and so on – so I knew I needed firm deadlines and guided assignments in order to succeed. That meant finding myself a live LSAT prep course.
Tip #1: When deciding how to study for the LSAT, know yourself and your study habits. Self-study, online courses, and live courses all have their perks and drawbacks, and you need to pick the one that’s right for you.
With that narrowed down, I started doing research – a lot of research. I started by looking at online reviews and message boards, and by asking people who I knew had taken the LSAT recently for their advice. One name that kept popping up was some company I’d never heard of before, called Blueprint LSAT Prep. After reading enough positive reviews, I sent Blueprint an email and asked to sit in on a lesson. I can’t recommend this step strongly enough – a live course is only as good as its instructor, so if at all possible, it’s crucial to sit through a class before plunking your money down.
Tip #2: Do your research. Don’t listen to any single person who recommends a course of action, and don’t just go with names that are familiar to you. Find online reviews, read discussions, and try to sample the material if at all possible.
I was impressed by the class I watched, so I signed up for a summer course with Blueprint. I did absolutely zero advance work before the start of class, so I arrived at the first day – a diagnostic practice test – with no idea what was in store for me. I still remember trying to figure out the Logic Games section on that day – I was trying to figure out this game about two relay teams, and I had no freaking clue what was going on.
After that point, my class started in earnest. I was working a full-time summer internship, and on the nights that I didn’t go straight to class from work, I’d head home and get in a couple hours of homework. I still had time for some fun on weekends, but for the most part, I was treating studying for the LSAT like a second job – and that’s how it should be. Studying for the LSAT is a huge time commitment, but you just need to suck it up for a few months, and then it will all be over.
Tip #3: Do your homework. Do it thoroughly, and do it all the time. Just showing up for the class or reading through the chapter is NOT enough – you need to understand every single question backwards and forwards, including why each right answer is right, what makes each wrong answer wrong, and – if you got the question wrong or guessed – why you were tricked into choosing a wrong answer.
As we entered the final month of the class, I was consistently scoring in the high 170s on my practice tests. I probably took a total of 10 or 15 practice tests, supplemented with some work on my weakest areas – which, for me, was the Logic Games section. I was terrified that I’d get a difficult game on test day and have no idea what to do, and unlike most LSAT students, I was praying for my experimental section to be anything other than games. So of course, I ended up with a Logic Games experimental. I’m actually pretty sure that I flubbed one of the games in that section, but I didn’t let it faze me, and luckily it ended up being the unscored section.
Tip #4: Don’t let yourself get flustered during the test. Have confidence in the work you’ve done, and don’t let a single bad question or section affect your performance in later sections.
And that’s the condensed version of how I got a 178 on the LSAT. There’s no magic bullet – just a lot of hard work, mixed with a solid helping of luck. It’s not sexy, and it’s certainly not always fun, but it works!