To those you taking the June 3 LSAT, let’s face a difficult truth: there are fifty-one days until the June exam. Sure, we should also tack on to those fifty-one days however many hours, minutes, and seconds you technically have left before you’ll take the exam. We can even round up to fifty-two, if you’d like. But even so, fifty-two is probably as not as many days as you’d like there to be.
But, fear not. That is still enough time to get in test day shape. We have a fifty-two-day study plan for you to follow and get into gear for June 3.
Before we get started few important notes:
Item number 1: the very first thing you should do in your study process is take a practice exam. Some questions will confuse you, the logic games will probably confound you, the score you receive may even distress you, but that’s all part of the process. Whatever happens on that first diagnostic exam shouldn’t concern you. You’re just taking that exam to help you measure your progress later. So take an exam, as soon as possible — like right now, seriously, you can take an exam by signing up for a free account, right here — and then follow the following study plan all the way to June 3.
Item number 2: although this study schedule is aggressively paced (you should be spending somewhere between ten and twenty hours a week studying for the LSAT), make sure to factor in at least one day off per week. You’ll need time to rest and recharge your brain if you want to improve on this heady material. Don’t forget to engage in a little self-care. See your friends, eat well, exercise, take the occasional weekend getaway — whatever you have to do to stay happy and sane during this stressful period.
Item number 3: There are going to be points in which it feels like you’re not progressing — when your practice exam scores aren’t increasing — and they’re going to be frustrating. But this is totally normal. Progress isn’t linear on the LSAT. Many people don’t experience a big score increase until the last week before the exam. So don’t let minor set-backs derail your whole study schedule — power through these moments of doubt.
All right, onto the study plan …
APRIL 13-APRIL 19
Those Logical Reasoning from your first practice exam were kind of all over the place, huh? You probably could only barely understand half of what those questions were talking about. But secret to this section is, however, that the topics of the questions matter very little. The logical concepts that are being tested by these questions matter way more. So, in order to start making some sense of these questions, you need figure out how extract these logical concepts from subject matter of these questions.
Start your LR training by diving in to one of the most important concepts that underlying these questions: conditional statements. This is one of the most commonly tested concepts in LR, showing up in roughly 20% of the LR questions on a given exam. But it takes times to master these. Start by learning what conditional statements are (they are, in short, just “if-then” statements), how to diagram them, how to make inferences using them. Focus especially on the words and phrases that express “sufficiency” and “necessity.” Make flashcards, use quizzing apps, construct a “memory palace” — do whatever you have to do to master conditional language.
Then take it actual questions. So-called Must Be True and Soft Must Be True questions frequently involve conditional statements, and make great practice to bone up your diagramming skills.
While you are at, practice the Must Be True and Soft Must Be True questions that don’t involve diagramming as well. To do that, you’ll need to brush up on another common LR concept: logical force.
By the way, whenever you’re learning a new technique (like diagramming or logical force this week) or practicing a new question type (like these Soft Must Be True questions), focus on accuracy. Don’t worry about how long these questions are taking you at first. Just make sure you’re practicing sound approaches that help you get those questions consistently right.
Extra credit: Master the cousin of diagramming, quantified logic.
Those Reading Comp passages in your practice exam were also pretty weird, right? They were just a dense morass of facts and ideas and views that you could barely machete hack your way through. So when you start off practicing Reading Comp passages, focus on just one part of the passage. Start by focusing on the author — what does the author think about the topic? Don’t worry about all the nitty, gritty details in that passage. Just focus on whether the authors of these passages are espousing a viewpoint, whether the authors express any opinions about the topics at hand, whether the authors are disagreeing with any alternative viewpoints, and how strongly the authors are expressing their views. Make sure you can answer all the questions that relate to the author’s view — like the questions about the author’s “main point” or “main idea,” and the questions about the author’s “primary purpose,” and the questions about the author’s “attitude” and “beliefs.”
If you’re anything like the vast majority of first time LSAT-takers, this section was an utter mess for you on PE1. But that is, in a way, good news. No one has any experience doing logic games before their first LSAT, so being bad is expected. Plus, since you’re a complete neophyte in this section, you have no bad habits to break (which is, unfortunately, not always the case for LR and RC). More good news: many people, including some smart folks at Blueprint, have cracked the code on logic games and have devised a system to help others do the same. Learn their system. Learn how to set these games up, how to represent the various rules, and how to make deductions in your set-up.
Start by learning this system on very basic ordering games, since these games come fairly naturally to most, and are typically the easiest games on the LSAT. Practice constructing set-ups, representing rules, and making deductions on these games.
APRIL 20-APRIL 26
Conditional statements should feel like old hat now. You should, no joke, be hearing conditional statements in songs at this point. Bonus points if you can convince a friend to commit the fallacy of the converse in every day conversation (This is easier than you might think. Step 1: Ask you friend whether “U.S. citizens can vote when they turn eighteen.” Step 2: Your friend says, “Yes,” and you respond, “Nay, my friend, being eighteen years of age is a necessary, but not sufficient condition to voting in the U.S. You must also register, and, in most states, be a non-felon!” Step 3: Accept the accompanying social opprobrium as part of the learning process).
Anyway, it’s time to move on to the next important concept: arguments. Start by learning how to break down arguments, so you can identify their premises (evidence) and conclusions (main points). To do this, learn the language of premises and conclusions. This is a fundamental skill for the vast majority of LR questions, so make sure you’re taking this step seriously. Additionally, learn some of the common argumentative strategies that appear on the LSAT (such as analogies, applying principles, using counterexamples, and cetera).
And then take it to real questions. Main Point, Role, and Describe questions are great practice in this regard. If you can consistently find the conclusion on a Main Point question, the role played by a given statement on a Role question, or the argumentative strategy employed on a Describe question, you can do this on any other question too.
After that, you’re ready to move on to the most important LR question of them all: the common fallacies. They help you out enormously on all manner of LR questions, but they get tested most frequently on one of the most common question types: Flaw questions. Practice trying to get these question right (obviously you should be doing this on all questions), but also use each Flaw question as an opportunity to identify which common fallacy is being committed in that argument. Make sure you have the most common fallacies — causation, exclusivity, equivocation, and comparison fallacies — down pat. Being able to reliably identify common fallacies will not only boost your accuracy on Flaw questions, but it’ll help on a whole host of other questions as well.
You should be very comfortable discerning the author’s opinions in these passages, so now it’s time to start focusing on the structure of the passages. When you do passages now, try making strong annotations in the margins of the passages. Try to annonate the structure of the passage. As in — is this paragraph introducing a viewpoint? Providing evidence that supports an earlier viewpoint? Discussing an alternative viewpoint? Making a concession? Discussing implications of new scientific discoveries?
Making these “tags” in your passage will help you answer all the organization questions, and they should also help you reference parts of the passage to collect the information you’ll need to answer the questions about specific details from the passage.
You got the basics of ordering down — now it’s time to get into the advanced ordering. Start figuring out when and how to make scenarios. Start compiling a list of common rules and deductions that are very useful for making these scenarios. You can even go back to games you’ve already done and experiment with scenarios on those. That can give you a feel for when and how to make scenarios.
Then start trying out the more complex ordering games. Like the ordering games in which there are either more players than slots or fewer players than slots, and the “tiered” ordering games. For the former, you’ll need to learn a little trick called “playing the numbers.” For the latter, focus on the common deductions those games test.
APRIL 27-MAY 3
At this point, you should be seeing the common fallacies everywhere you look. If you’re a sports person, the NBA finals will be in full swing. Those commentators are notorious for making boneheaded arguments — see if you can spot of the common fallacies. If sports aren’t your thing, political punditry, Twitter, and Boomer Facebook memes are a 24/7 faucets for fallacies — see if you can spot some there.
And of course, you should continue looking for the fallacies in LR questions, too. After you feel more comfortable tackling the Flaw questions, try out their steroidal cousins, the Parallel Flaw questions. Also try out Parallel questions, which are Describe questions beefier brother. Those Parallel questions are also among the more commonly diagrammable question types, so they’ll be an opportunity to review conditional statements.
After those, you’re ready for two of the most important question types in LR: Strengthen and Weaken questions. To do those, you’ll need to study up on cause and effect, to learn how to strengthen and weaken causal relationships. That’s what you’ll be doing on like half of the Strengthen and Weaken questions on the LSAT. For the other half, it’s all about figuring out why the argument is flawed, and then anticipating how to fix that problem (on Strengthen questions) or exploit that problem (on Weaken questions).
Extra credit: Practice doing an uncommon relative to the Strengthen and Weaken questions: the “Crux” question (which asks you to find the answer choice that would be most “useful” or “helpful” in evaluating an argument).
Now that you can discern the author’s role in a passage and make solid tags, move your attention to identifying some of the important details in a passage. You’re already studying cause and effect for LR, but start trying to spot the cause and effect in Reading Comp passages, too. These types of relationships are super common in RC — especially in science passages — and almost always help you answer at least one question. Then turn your attention to examples — look for the many instances that examples are used in RC to illustrate a more general point. These two rhetorical should help you answer the detail-oriented questions way more consistently.
Extra credit: Do a series of passages that pose and answer questions — this common rhetorical device can help you glean the big picture ideas from the passage.
You’ve mastered ordering games, so now you should turn your attention to the other genre of games: grouping. There are only a few different types of grouping rules, so study up on how to represent them and interpret them in a grouping game. Then start applying them in real games. Start simple, with “In & Out” games, which only involve one group. Then try out games that involve more than one group.
Extra credit: Start compiling a list of rules and deductions that are helpful for constructing scenarios on grouping games .
MAY 4-MAY 10
You’re almost atop Mt. Logical Reasoning, but you have one more peak to climb: the assumption questions. Many people find these questions to be the most treacherous parts of Mt. LR. But, fortunately, there will be a friendly Sherpa to help guide you up these demanding summits. And that is looking out for new information in the conclusion. That technique will really be your best friend on the Sufficient and Necessary assumption questions.
Once you’re feeling good on these questions, it’s time to start thinking about timing. You’ve been focused on accuracy so far, but now you have to figure out how to speed up. A gradual approach is best. Start by doing a mixed collection of ten LR questions, and give yourself twenty minutes to complete those questions. If you can maintain your hard-won accuracy at that pace, reduce the time a little bit. Try doing a set of ten questions in eighteen minutes. Eventually, try to get to a point in which you can do ten questions in fifteen minutes. But if your accuracy ever slips in these time trials, you’re going too fast. You’ll need to give yourself a few more minutes to complete those ten questions, and get some more practice at that pace.
You’ve mastered, hopefully by now, the traditional passages. Now it’s time to try the comparative passage. These comparative passages (in which there are two passages — passage A and passage B — that have some sort of relationship to each other) will require you to do a few additional things. You’ll need to practice finding the specific details that appear in both passages, and determining how the passages generally relate to one another. Remember: these are called “comparative” passages for a reason — most questions will ask you to compare and contrast the two passages, so focus on how these passages relate as you read them.
Once you have the fundamentals of grouping down, try doing some advanced grouping games. Specifically, what we call unstable grouping games and profiling games. These games involve a bit more uncertainty than last week’s grouping games — in unstable grouping games, you won’t know how many players go in each group, and in profiling games, you also won’t know how many groups each player joins. So practice finding ways to minimize this uncertainty, such as — you guessed it — making scenarios.
MAY 11-MAY 17
If you’re able to get through ten or so LR questions in fifteen minutes, you’re ready to start doing full, timed sections. Take one of the LR sections from an old exam, and give yourself thirty-five minutes to complete it. Try to develop a timing strategy for the section — one that will allow to get through the earlier, easier questions more quickly, leaving more time to tackle the later, more demanding questions. Also practice strategically skipping questions, to avoid those times in which you wasting several minutes getting a question wrong.
It’s time to start thinking about timing in Reading Comp. As on LR, use a gradual approach. Try to do two passages, back to back, in twenty-four minutes. If you can maintain your accuracy at that pace, reduce the time. You want to get to a point at which you can do two passages accurately at about seventeen or eighteen minutes.
You mastered ordering, you mastered grouping. Now it’s time to put them together, with combo games. These games just combine ordering and grouping into one game, so they shouldn’t really feel “new.” Really, they’re just a referendum on your skills with respect to both ordering and grouping games. But nonetheless, it’s important to get some practice with them.
After you nail down combo games, try to work on timing. Same exact idea as Reading Comp: start by doing two games, back-to-back, in about twenty-four minutes. Reduce the time until you can comfortably and accurately complete two games in seventeen or eighteen minutes.
MAY 18-JUNE 1
Enjoy a healthy diet of practice exams during the last two-week stretch. Use the practice tests as not just an opportunity to track your progress, but also to experiment with testing strategies. There are a variety of ways to approach each section, and you should use these exams as a chance to see which approach works best for you.
After each exam, follow the same procedure. Score the exam, and then put it away for the rest of the day. The next day, try the LR questions you missed again, and re-do the games and passage you did worse than usual. Try them again, untimed, without seeing which answer choice is correct or which answer choice you selected the first time. If you’re able to get most of those questions right on try number two, that’s a sign that it was just the time pressure that led you to miss those question. Which means you should get some more timed practice. If you miss a question on attempt number two, that’s a sign that you should review the approach to that question, passage, or game, and get some untimed practice.
Don’t do anything. Really, don’t bother. It’s better to take this day off, to rest, recharge, and get all your test day materials together. Get a good night sleep, and dream of vanquishing the LSAT the next day.
Take the LSAT (no doy). Treat it like any other practice exam you took over the last two months (other than the first one, when you didn’t know anything, obviously). There will be hard stuff on the exam, but don’t let one hard question derail you. Remember to breath, to stay calm. And remember all the lessons you learned along the way — they will help you on the real test.
Afterwards, celebrate. And if you can remember, spare a toast for the study schedule that helped you get to that point.