The Review Phase: Practice Tests Galore
Right now, we’re just under three weeks from the LSAT. 19 days away, to be exact. Which might seem terrifying, but a whole lot can be done in these 19 days.
At this point, you should be in the review phase. And that’s when things start getting real good. Before this, you’re learning all the stupid and terrible things the LSAT makes you do, but you do them in a one-at-a-time manner, taking all the concepts in bite size chunks. You’ve got fantastic new skills, but you’re only used to using all the different tools in your arsenal one at a time. Now, you’re putting it all together.
Up until now, you may have felt like your improvement wasn’t being accurately reflected in your practice test scores. That’s pretty normal. It’s one thing to know how to answer the questions, but it’s another to answer them in a random order, with the added bonus of time constraints. And that’s what you now need to be getting used to doing. A lot of people find that the huge point increases come during this period, as everything comes together.
So what should you be doing? Practice tests. Take many of them. At this point, there’s not better way to prepare for the LSAT than taking LSATs. That sort of goes without saying, but there are a number of things to keep in mind while taking them.
First of all, make them as realistic as possible. The timing should be very strict. Sure, it might feel nice to take an extra 90 seconds to finish a section, but if you tried that on the LSAT you’d quickly find a very angry proctor coming your way to void your test. If you want to be ready for what the LSAT will be like, you have to treat your practice tests like the real thing, so no extra time, and no extra breaks.
If you can, try to take your at the time you’ll take the actual LSAT (somewhere around 9:30 is when you’ll start). You don’t have to do this every time, but the more tests you can take in the morning, the better. For those of us who aren’t used to waking up anytime in the AM, this is especially important.
Then, setting. This is one thing a lot of people fail to consider. When you take the LSAT you may find yourself sitting next to someone who’s coughing, tapping their foot, or even reading everything out loud under their breath (this is a special kind of hell). There will certainly be the scratching of pencils and the flipping of pages at the very least. So you should be practicing with similar distractions. If you only ever take your practice exams at home in front of the fireplace (you have a fireplace?) in a fortress of pillows and blankets, you’re going to see a score drop when you jump into the icy pool of the actual LSAT. So find places that have some slight distractions (libraries are generally good), and cycle through them. The actual LSAT will involve an entirely new setting, so so should your practice tests.
Also, don’t take practice tests back-to-back. You should never really take two in a day. You’ll just be worn out for the second one, and your score will probably drop. Even taking tests two days in a row isn’t always advisable if it means that you’re going to burn out. Staying fresh and rested is a pretty important part of preparing for the test.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, you have to review the tests. People often have a tendency to take a test, see the score, and then move on. This is an awful idea. There’s a wealth of information in that test you just took, and you need to mine it for all it’s worth. Go back through and figure out why you missed all the ones that you did. This will help prevent you from making the same mistakes next time. It might take multiple hours to review the tests after you take them, but that’s time well spent.
Questions about scheduling out your practice tests, or anything else? Head on over to our discussion board.