Two (Important) Weeks Until the December LSAT

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The December LSAT is two weeks away and whether you end up crushing it or getting crushed will depend largely on how you use these next 14 days. With just two weeks left, it’s essential that you get the most out of your studying. So it’s time to hunker down for some serious LSAT study time. Better stock up on Red Bulls and Easy Mac; your weekend plans just got canceled.

That said, getting the most out of your studying is not the same as trying to do the most studying. Locking yourself in a room to take three practice exams back-to-back-to-back may maximize your study time for the day, but it’s pure crazy and will likely do more to hurt your score than help it.

From now on all of your studying should be divided into one of two distinct groups – performance practice and skill practice. Performance practice is where you test your skills under realistic constraints; it’s where you practice timing, build stamina and develop your testing strategy. It includes more than just taking practice exams; it also includes taking individual timed sections and even smaller timed groups of questions, games or passages. A four-hour mental duel with the logic of the LSAT should be a draining experience, so taking more than 2 PEs (max 3) a week is a recipe for LSAT burnout. Make sure you space your PEs out and fully recover from each. Focus more on taking individual timed sections; you’ll stay fresher, be able to review immediately after while the questions are still fresh in your mind, and still get lots of practice with timing.

Skill practice is where you ignore timing and develop your logical skill set. It includes reviewing methods and concepts from the lessons, practicing methods on questions, and anticipating answers. Focus on your weaknesses – do you still have trouble with parallel questions? Go back to lesson 7. The most important concepts to review generally are: Conditional Diagrams (L1 and L2), Common Flaws (L6), Grouping Rules (L7), Cause and Effect (L10), and Sufficient/Necessary Assumptions (L12). Let your timed practice inform your skill practice. Review your PEs and timed sections and identify your weaknesses, then address them with appropriate skill practice.

Which type of practice you should focus on more depends on where you’re at now. If you’re at or are near to your goal score, focus more on timed practice, and strive for consistency. The quality of your practice is more important than the quantity. Strive to never get a problem wrong for careless reasons, so if you just got off work and you’re bleary-eyed and loopy, do yourself a favor and take a break before jumping into that timed RC section. And for those of you further from your goal scores than you’d like, consider starting with a 50/50 split between performance and skill practice and then tailor your split to focus more on whichever you feel is more problematic for you.

In either case, make sure you put in the time to properly review everything you do. Find out what questions you get wrong, and more importantly, why you get them wrong, then go practice whatever skill is lacking.

9 Responses

  1. sb says:

    So I am all ready for the December LSAT. But I have about 8 tests left for the next two weeks (I got really busy during two weeks of the semester). I know you said the max is 3, but in my case, is it okay if I do 4 a week? Do you have any suggestions on how I can approach this situation? Thanks – this blog is amazing!

    • Nick Rey says:

      I would take the 4 or 5 most recent tests you have as full practice exams, 1 every other or every third day, then you can break up the other, older exams into individual sections spread over your off days.

      Remember, review is where you learn and improve. Don’t try to do so much that you neglect this essential element.

  2. Jane says:

    So, I’ve been studying everyday in large quantities for the past month or so. I am only scoring in the lower 160’s but all of these exams in which I scored a 160 were taken after lots of studying in the same day so I am not sure how accurate they are. I am starting to feel a kittle burned out but I have two weeks until the exam. What would you recommend? Should I step away from the test for a couple of days or should I continue to study and just limit my study time? At this point I’ve solely been focusing on performance practice.

    • Nick Rey says:

      This is a common problem – performance practice is draining and too much can easily lead to burnout. I wouldn’t recommend a complete break from studying, but I would spend the next two days or so just reviewing methods, and performing some slow skill based practice (shorter practice sessions with frequent breaks). It’s a complete different mindset, so you should be okay. Then you can start mixing Practice exams and timed sections back in, but make sure you don’t go overboard – if you’re not giving enough time to review and recover from each PE, then you won’t get better.

  3. CJ says:

    Thank you for the advice Nick. I too was wondering what I should do as I still have about 9 practice exams plus PE 64 (October 2011) that I just received last Thursday…I would imagine that I should take that one last, huh?

    • Nick Rey says:

      Definitely take that one last.

      And don’t feel the need to finish every practice exam you can get your hands on – review is more important. Do a few as real PEs spaced out a couple of days apart, then use the oldest exams as individual sections. If you don’t finish them all but you thoroughly review those that you do, you should be good. Good luck.

  4. SJ says:

    I’ve been scoring 169-172 consistently for a month, but I want to improve to get as high of a score as possible on the Dec test, so I’m shooting for a 180. What can I do to improve from this point? I’m decent in all the sections, but I’m always scared of a hard game or RC passage creeping up on me.

    • Nick Rey says:

      The difference between scoring a 170 and a 180 largely comes down to mental factors rather than skill. Being able to focus and pay attention completely for the whole test, not making any careless errors or misreads, fully engaging with every questions, is super difficult. The only way to do it is get used to practicing perfect – taking PEs and devoting your whole mental energy toward understanding and engaging with the test – not letting your attention wander, not thinking about other things – even worrying about timing takes your attention away from the problem you’re on. I would try and squeeze in two more PEs (tues/thurs) aiming for no lapses, and then challenge yourself with some hard games/RC passages in between the tests.
      Just don’t overdo it. You don’t have to score a 180 on a PE to score it on the actual test – study just enough to allow you to rise to the occasion on test day. All you have to do is be perfect for 4 hours this saturday – to do so, make sure you’re rested and psyched for the test.
      Good luck.

  5. Shalayne Pillar says:

    Hi Nick!

    I’ve been studying for 2 months now; this is actually my third time taking the test. The other two times I was in undergraduate school and just didn’t devote myself to it. Now being out of school for a while, I realize how important this one test is.

    I started off at a 165 and have been studying hard ever since. I’ve taken 16 practice tests – 8 of them full length, the others usually split up into two sections at a time. As you might suspect, now my scores are decreasing, peaking at 170 a month ago and now down to 161. When I take a test, I find myself pre phrasing answers and feel very confidant. But I make stupid mistakes or perhaps get too confidant? I’m really not sure. With two weeks to go, should I take a step back and not study for a while, 2-3 days, or should I just review concepts? When I review concepts, it feels like old news at this point. Or should I just do timed sections, 1-2 a day? I feel very lost and don’t want to screw up these next two weeks. I’m paranoid if I study I will overdo it, but I don’t study… the consequences could be worse.

    Thanks for any and all help!

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