Summertime and the prepppin’ is easy. Well, sort of. On the one hand you have tons of time now that you’re not in school (unless you’re a working man or woman), but on the other hand it’s very easy to overdo it. Here are my tips for getting the most out of your LSAT prep this summer.
1. Be the student you’ve always wanted to be
Very few people do all the work assigned during undergrad by finals time. And most of the work gets done around one week before finals. If you do this for your LSAT prep you will fail and your enemies will laugh at you.
So for your LSAT prep, you need to do all your homework when it is due so you can come to class prepared to learn some new stuff. If you’re taking a Blueprint course, or you’re using some other reasonably constructed study plan, you’ll see that each new lesson relies on what you should have learned in prior lessons.
Here’s a concrete example. To learn how to strengthen arguments, first, you’ll learn how to break down arguments into their premises and conclusions. Then you’ll learn how to spot what’s wrong with the argument—that is what the flaw in the argument is. Now, armed with the main point and the argument’s flaw, you’ll finally be able to think about how to improve the argument. So, to solve Strengthen questions on the LSAT, you need to master Main Point and Flaw questions first.
2. Memorize the few precious things that can be memorized
The LSAT is a test of skill not of regurgitation. What you did in undergrad was almost all regurgitation. You do a bunch of reading, take class notes, and then prove it on exam day by semi-coherently spewing what you’ve memorized all over your bluebooks. That pays off in undergrad. On the LSAT, however, you’ll constantly have to apply your, say, skill of operating on arguments in seemingly novel situations. What this means is that most of your LSAT prep will consist of this same sort of application, instead of mere memorization.
But, what I see all the time is that students fail to memorize the few precious things that there are to memorize for the LSAT. So don’t be like that. You need to memorize, and do so early. For example, very early on you need to memorize the keyword indicators for sufficient and necessary conditions. You also need to memorize how to identify and categorize each prompt or question stem.
If you’ve never been good at memorizing things, check out my blog post on memorizing the Logical Reasoning flaws.
3. Don’t overdo it
The LSAT is so important for your law school admissions chances that it’s very easy to freak yourself out and end up over-studying. Here’s what to avoid.
First, don’t move faster than your reasonably constructed study plan. For Blueprint students, that means stick with the homework and lesson schedule. Don’t try to leapfrog to lesson seven before you’ve gone through lessons one through six and their respective homework. Remember, every new skill you’ll learn will build on skills you should have learned before. Jumping around to get ahead will only leave you with bad habits.
Second, don’t do so much that you cannot engage in careful practice. Say you’ve spent the last six hours powering through your LSAT lessons and homework and now you find yourself just going through LSAT questions but you’re so tired and fried you can’t be bothered to follow the proper steps. That’s when you need to stop, re-charge, and hit your homework again when you can do it in precise and careful way. Otherwise, you’ll be ingraining bad habits.
Third, don’t do practice tests very early on. Until you manage to cover most of the skills you’ll need to deploy on the LSAT, there’s very little point to doing practice LSATs. You’ll just end up wasting your materials and then at the end of your prep, when you really need to do practice LSATs, they won’t be there for you.
Are you scared? You should be! But just do what we tell you and in two months you’ll feel much better. A month from then, you’ll get your LSAT score and what’s best in life will follow.