The June LSAT is getting closer. Students should be wrapping up the new material—it’s time to make the big shift to taking lots of practice tests and reviewing. Let’s talk about how to make the most of the review process.
1. Every Wrong Answer is an Opportunity
So you missed a question, or a bunch of them. First of all, don’t beat yourself up. It’s an opportunity to learn. It’s always tempting to just try another test or another set of practice questions and hope it goes better. If you do, odds are you’ll repeat many of the same mistakes. You’ll learn and improve much more if you review the practice you do carefully.
Start off by trying to explain the question to yourself. Now that you know which answer is wrong and which answer is right, can you figure out why? Can you identify what makes the wrong answer definitively wrong? Explanations of questions are a great resource, but it’s time stop looking at the explanation right away. Give yourself a solid chance to figure the question out, and then you can look at the explanation.
2. Keep a Journal
I’ve had a lot of students find it helpful to keep a journal. For each question you go over, note the question type and answer the following questions: Why is the wrong answer wrong? Why is the right answer right? Why did I like the wrong answer? How should I approach a similar question next time?
You don’t have to limit your journal to questions you answered wrong. It’s also helpful to look carefully at questions you got right, but weren’t sure about. Reviewing those questions will boost your confidence and reinforce good habits. Ideally, the review you do will help take the uncertainty away when you see a similar question next time. If you gain absolute confidence in why the answers are right or wrong, that helps you speed up, too.
3. Review Your Approach
Your journal will help you identify any weak areas. It might be a question type, or it might be a skill like quantifiers, for example. Take those weak areas and do a little extra practice. But don’t just dive into doing more and more questions and hoping that your accuracy improves. Take a few minutes to review your approach first. From beginning to end, what should you be doing? What are you looking for out of an answer—what makes it right, and what makes it wrong?
As you do that targeted practice, take the time pressure off at first. I know, the LSAT is coming up and you might feel like you need to go faster all the time. But if you’re getting something wrong, it’s time to slow down and work on mastering the concepts. Once you feel better about what you’re doing and you have the process down, you can bring the pace back up.
You may find that you spend more time reviewing your practice tests than you spend taking them. That’s fine and normal. That time you’ll spend reviewing practice you’ve done is some of the best time you can spend to improve your score. Again, remember: the goal isn’t to beat yourself up. It’s to take constructive lessons for next time.