How Much Time Do You Need to Study for the LSAT?

How Much Time Do You Need to Study for the LSAT?
People always ask how late is too late to start studying for the LSAT. My opinion is that six weeks should be more or less the absolute bare minimum, so if you’re shooting for February and haven’t yet opened any books, you might want to retool your plans. As a rule, more study time is a good thing. You can definitely start too late. But can you start too early?

First of all, let me first say that devoting time to LSAT study shouldn’t be measured in just weeks or months. You can definitely study for the LSAT in two months and reach your full potential within that time, as long as you have lots of time within those two months. So you need to be thinking about study hours, not just calendar days. Ideally, you want to be doing the vast majority of every single available LSAT question, so if you condense that into two months or spread it out to four, it’ll still be same amount of time (let’s say 300 hours, for the sake of argument).

One more thing to understand: once you do those 300 hours (or however long it takes you to exhaust all the material), there’s nothing else. There are only so many released LSATs. You can redo problems, but then you have to go back and erase everything you’ve done, or buy new books, and you’re also running into the problem of remembering questions (more a concern for Reading Comp). If possible, it’s a situation that you generally want to avoid. If you started studying extremely intensely for June right now, you’d run out of material by April. Then you’d have to redo everything. Also, you’d be super-burned-out from 5 months of straight study. You’d be much better off starting in March or April. Study intensely, do all the work, build lots of momentum, and you’re ready to go on June 7th.

I really think the only time you want to consider starting way in advance (5+ months) is if you have extremely little time. People are always surprised at just how much work studying for the test can be (20 hours per week [or much, much more] is totally normal), so if you work 60 hours a week and have 8 kids, you might want to start a bit early.

All things being equal, though, this isn’t 100% totally ideal, so if you have the time you should condense it to 2-3 months. You won’t be studying less; it’ll just be more concentrated. This causes you to build lots of momentum, and prevents burnout. As long as you hit the ground running from your first day of study, and don’t let up until test day, the vast majority of people find that that’s all the time they need.

7 Responses

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  2. Liz says:

    Hey Colin…

    Loved the article…You said 300 hours of study time…how long did you study for your top-notch LSAT score? I think I will be able to only put in around 150 hours…is that enough? Do you agree LSAT also has a lot to do with having a positive attitude? Thanks again!

    • Colin says:

      I myself studied about 300 hours. I took a Blueprint course (100 hours) and did all the homework (200 or so hours with practice tests), which is what I attribute to my score. Having 150 hours will definitely allow you to make significant improvements, but you really should free up more time if at all possible. The LSAT is an incredibly hard test, and it’s so important in your applications that you should devote as much time as you can to getting the highest score possible.

      Having a positive attitude is a huge component, but that won’t be the only thing you need. The positive attitude is what will take you through the 300 hours or so that you’ll ideally have and allow you to stay motivated and sane.

  3. liz says:

    I am considering beginning studying 6 months out, to devote 4-5 hours a week to studying. Do you think that strategy is too spread out and I would be better off waiting until the 16 week mark or so to start and studying 8-10 hours a week?

    • Greg Nix says:

      We typically recommend 3 months of study and at least 20 hours per week. If you start 6 months out, less hours per week is probably fine, but even then it should be at least 8-10 hours a week and build to more the closer you get to the test. 4-5 hours per week at any point in the process isn’t going to build your skills very well, because you won’t have time to review and retain information — you’ll have to learn new concepts every time you study, so you’ll forget a lot of what you’ve already learned.

  4. Revathi Moturi says:

    I’m thinking of writing the September LSAT this year and I have about 7 weeks to study….is this enough time? And if so, how many hours a week do you recommend I dedicate to practice?

    • Hi Revathi,

      Seven weeks is cutting it pretty close. If you’re starting from scratch, in that time I think you’d need to contribute a bare minimum of twenty hours per week, and, depending upon how much you need to increase your score, that’s quite possible not enough.

      I don’t know if you’ve taken a practice exam yet, but knowing where you start will give you an idea of how big a hill you must climb. If you need to improve ten points or less, seven weeks is a realistic amount of time to study, but if it’s more, you may have to weigh your options.

      There are two bits of good news, though. First, most schools take your highest score now instead of averaging, so even if you take the September exam without being as prepared as you’d like, you can still take the December exam. Second, and on a related note, every school out there accepts scores from the December exam, and there are still plenty of seats left for those exam takers. Just make sure you have all the other pieces of your application in before you take the December LSAT so your application is complete as soon as possible.

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