When Should You Start Studying for the LSAT?

You always want to be prepared. When you walk into a test, you want to be so familiar with the material that nothing could surprise you. Even if the test-makers try to throw you a curveball, you want to be so prepared you can just nod knowingly and say “That’s a curveball” and hit a Reggie Jackson moon shot. It’s important that you be prepared when you take the LSAT and, just as important, that you feel prepared.

So proactive students should start thinking in advance about how much time they’ll need to feel ready on test day. For some people, two months of studying suffices. Others – depending on study habits, learning styles, and schedules – will need more time. If you think two months might not be enough, it’s wise to start studying sooner.

But how much sooner?

One approach is to assume that more = better and to study as much as humanly possible. You could give the LSAT three, six, nine months of dedicated study time. Do all 74 published LSAT exams, and then write some original ones and do those too.

But studying that much really isn’t necessary, and in fact it can be risky. If you spend too much time studying, you may start to burn out. Burn out can happen when you sink an ungodly amount of time into studying and you don’t see corresponding results. You keep taking practice test after practice test and your score stays within the same five-point spread. It’s demoralizing, and soon your score may even start to go down because you’re so tired of reading Logical Reasoning stimuli that you can barely identify verbs let alone main points.

So what you want to shoot for is the appropriate balance. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all. It depends, again, on you. Suppose you’re working full time and will have limited study time over the next 3½ months. You may want to start soon, so you can spread out the workload and not end up feeling overwhelmed. Suppose, on the other hand, that you’re taking a gap year and have lots of free time. You may be able to afford to wait and concentrate your studying in the two months leading up to the test.

If it were me, I would plan on starting at ten to twelve weeks out. For the October 3rd test, that would mean clearing my schedule starting in mid-July. Ten to twelve weeks would give me enough time to go through LSAT material at a steady, even pace and would leave room for six to ten practice tests.

But everyone is different. The key is to figure out what you need to do between now and October to be and feel ready.

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