Tried and True Timing Tips

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As the September LSAT gets closer, you might be concerned with getting faster. While there’s no easy way to magically do everything on the LSAT faster, there are some things that help. Here are a few tips:

When you can, answer the question for yourself before you go to the answer choices

This one may be counterintuitive, since it requires that you slow down and pause for a few seconds. But in the end, it’ll save you lots of time. It’s much easier to decide which answer choice is right if you have a good idea what you’re looking for. Or to put it bluntly, there’s one question. There are five answer choices. I’d rather do the work once than five times. This shakes out a little differently for each section, so let’s look at some examples.

In Logic Games, this is most important for conditional questions (those that give you some new information that only applies to that question). Take the new information you’re given and apply the rules to it. For “must be” questions, every time you figure something out it might be worth a glance at the answers to see if you’ve answered the question already. For “could be” questions don’t let the answers distract you until you’ve addresses all the rules.

In Logical Reasoning, well, you always want to anticipate what kind of thing you might expect out of the answer. But in some cases you really can answer the question yourself. For example, Sufficient questions have very predictable answers. Strive to know exactly what you’re looking for when that’s possible.

In Reading Comp, again, it’s important to anticipate always. But some questions have concrete answers. When a question has words something like “according to the passage” or “the passage states,” there’s usually an answer directly stated in the passage. It’s probably worth going back to the passage and finding that answer before you get lost in the answer choices.

If you’re stuck on a logic game, let the questions influence your strategy

Suppose you’ve set up a logic game. You don’t have too many deductions and you’re really not seeing anything else. There doesn’t seem to be any good way to do scenarios. You’re starting to panic. Take a glance at the questions. If they mostly start with “if,” they’re mostly conditional questions. Each question will give you something new to work with and apply the rules to, so it doesn’t matter too much that you don’t have many deductions. Move on to save time for the questions.

On the other hand, if the questions mostly start with “which,” they’re probably mostly absolute questions. Those questions depend on what you know about the game in general. If you haven’t figured out much, they’re going to be rough. In this situation, you might want to see if there’s any way to force the game into scenarios. I’m willing to do more scenarios than usual in a situation like this. If splitting the game into scenarios would require five or six scenarios, well, it beats being stuck. Keep moving at all costs.

When you’re down to two answers, use your time on what matters.

In Logical Reasoning and Reading Comp, students often complain about being stuck between two answers. That’s normal. But when you’re debating two answers, use your time wisely. There’s probably something you liked about both answers. It’s tempting to look at the parts you liked to decide which one you like better. But there’s no such thing as a better answer on the LSAT. One of the answers is wrong. When you’re down to two, there’s something in one of the answers that makes it wrong. So don’t waste time debating which answer you liked better. Try to find the thing that makes one of them wrong. If you’re not finding it, pick the weaker or stronger answer (depending on the question type) and move on.

Above all, timing takes careful practice. Bring up the pace gradually. Look for the most efficient way to solve a question when you review. If your accuracy takes a dive, slow down. Take the pressure off for a little and then bring the pace up again.

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