Every student has his own LSAT strengths and weaknesses. But, Analytical Reasoning is a very popular weakness. In fact, when I begin working one-on-one with a student, it’s pretty common that the first thing I hear is, “my biggest problem is that section where you have to draw the diagrams…”
I hate to start a relationship on a contrary note, but those students are almost always wrong. They may, in fact, struggle the most with Analytical Reasoning, but the LSAT is a pure numbers game. The most correct answers across the entire test means the highest score. It’s not like the ACT or SAT: schools aren’t going to be looking at your Reading Comprehension score or your Logical Reasoning score. They’re going to see a single three-digit number that is based on the raw number of questions you got right.
Do the Math
I know, I know. You’ve been assured that there isn’t any math on the LSAT, and most prospective law students were happy to hear that. But, there is some math involved in figuring out how best to improve your score.
Imagine, for example, that you took Prep Test 71 (the most recently released LSAT) and got 60% of the questions in Logical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension correct, but only 20% of the questions in Analytical Reasoning. That translates to 31 correct answers in Logical Reasoning, 16 in Reading Comprehension and 5 in Analytical Reasoning, for a total of 52 correct answers and a score of 148–a pretty common starting point for LSAT students.
It’s easy to look at those numbers and think “Reading Comp and Logical Reasoning are okay, but I really need to work on Analytical Reasoning!” Unfortunately, this often motivates students to spend a disproportionate amount of time on practice that will net them a limited number of points.
In Analytical Reasoning, where your skills are clearly quite weak, you have the potential to gain up to 16 correct answers.
In Logical Reasoning, where your core skills are much stronger, you have the potential to gain up to 20 correct answers.
In Reading Comprehension, where your core skills are also stronger, you have the potential to gain up to 10 correct answers.
Of course, in an ideal world with adequate prep and practice time, you’ll improve in every section. But, which practice will have the most direct value in terms of score improvement?
A 50% improvement in your Logical Reasoning performance (from 60% to 90%) will net you 15 points.
A 50% improvement in your Reading Comp performance (from 60% to 90%) will net you 7 points.
a 50% improvement in your Analytical Reasoning performance (from 20% to 30%) will net you 2 points.
The right strategy for focusing your practice depends on your strengths and weaknesses, your goals, the amount of time you have in which to prepare and a variety of other factors. But, as you determine where best to spend your time, it’s important to keep your eye on where the greatest gains are possible in terms of raw points, not percentages.
You can score in the 160s by achieving approximately 75% performance across all sections, or by acing Logical Reasoning and one other section and completely blowing the remaining section. And, no one will ever know the difference: your only goal should be the highest possible number of correct answers.