Students who found our 6-month study plan but are working full time may be wondering how they can fit LSAT studying in alongside their work. Not everyone has buckets of free time!
While there are some obvious disadvantages to working while studying, there are some big upsides that should give you hope. I was ultimately glad that I was working full-time for a civil rights organization while studying. My work schedule was very regular (as are many office jobs), making it easy for me to establish a routine. My schedule in college was unpredictable with stuff happening all through the day and night and there were way more opportunities to get distracted by friends and parties. And if I hadn’t been in school or working, I think it’s likely that I wouldn’t have established such a consistent routine or that I would have over-filled my time with LSAT and burnt out.
You should start off by reading the month-by-month guide, and then use the following tips to adapt your strategy to your work schedule.
Plan to Take Vacation Time in the Last Month
At the tail end of your LSAT prep you will have a clear idea of what you need to work on, so your studying is highly productive. Plus, you will be working on your sustained focus and test-taking endurance by taking more practice exams. But you need time to do that, and you need to make sure you aren’t getting exhausted. Moreover, if you are taking a morning LSAT you want to be doing practice tests in the morning, and it’s not ideal (because exhausting) to do two tests in a row on Saturday and Sunday morning.
So choose 3-5 days during the work week to request time off in your final month. Does it suck to take vacation days to work on the LSAT? Yes. But it sucks more to get a bad score and not reach your dreams!
Establish a Smart Break Schedule
Taking breaks is an important part of maintaining focus and reducing frustration. You may think it’s natural to take a weekend day off, but that may not actually be the best idea: weekends are precious because you aren’t tired from work and you have much longer to play with (and you can practice doing stuff in the morning). Consider a break scheme like this: I would take Friday night and half the day on Sunday off. That way I could still have somewhat of a social life, and I could still use the morning/afternoon on Sunday for doing full tests.
Vary Your Study Focus
You need some way to keep from melting down but you can’t take too many breaks. One way to refresh yourself is to vary your focus between days or within a single session. For example, you might have “heavy” and “light” days planned out: maybe you do practice tests on Monday and Wednesday, and on the alternate days you review the tests and do practice sets or questions from the section that you struggle the most with.
If you find your dedication waning, plan to do some practice on material that you feel confident about—if you are strong in Reading Comp, throw a couple practice passages or sections into your prep. That studying is still valuable, and the increased confidence from doing well gives you the motivation to return to the harder stuff.
Know Why You’re Studying
Studying while you have a job is all about keeping the motivation to sit down and study every day after already working for 8 hours. To that end, say out loud your reasons for studying each time you sit down.
You’re going to feel like a big doofus the first couple times, but this is a motivation tactic used by experts in productivity like the founders of Asana (who also co-founded Facebook) and experts in Buddhist meditation (see the section “Resolve” on pg 78).
These reasons should hit on your deepest motivations and refocus you on what matters. For example, you might say: “I am studying for the LSAT so I can get into a good law school and get a job that I find intellectually stimulating and will let me work toward eliminating injustice in the world.” If when you say your reasons aloud they sound false to you, you may need to revise your reasons and if you can’t come up with any at all you may need to rethink whether this is right for you!