Whether you’re preparing for the LSAT with us, taking a live class with a national test prep company or studying on your own with retail books, you’re almost certain to encounter some approaches that are alien to you. That’s challenging for most law school applicants for obvious reasons: you’ve made it through three or four years of college with solid (or maybe even stellar) grades, and you know what works for you.
Over the years, I’ve heard that protest from many students: “I know what works for me.” And, of course, it’s true in many regards. By the time you crack your first LSAT prep book or log in to your online LSAT course, you know what works for you in a wide variety of substantive classes.
This is not that.
There are several reasons that many of your traditional study methods don’t work during LSAT preparation. The primary reason is that the LSAT is a content-free test. No dates, no formulas, no relationships between governments, not even any laws to learn–just pure critical thinking and the ability to cull important information out of the weeds in dense reading passages.
Chances are that you’ve never taken a test quite like the LSAT before; even the ACT and SAT test substantive content like math and grammar. Since you’ve likely never encountered a test like the LSAT before, you probably also don’t know the best way to prepare.
Fortunately, that legwork has been done for you. I, for example, have been dissecting the LSAT for decades, honing the methods that improve timing and increase accuracy over a relatively short period of time. We’re not reliant on what worked for me: I’ve worked with hundreds of students and observed what worked best for them. I’ve also taken note of the pitfalls.
One of the biggest obstacles I’ve witnessed in LSAT preparation is an unwillingness to fully work the methods presented and give them a chance to work. I don’t think it’s arrogance or stubbornness that creates this obstacle. I think it’s fear. Time is limited and doing something that feels unproductive (or even counterproductive) is scary. What if it hurts your score? What if it doesn’t work and you lose valuable time?
The bottom line is that effective LSAT prep works by making certain types of analysis, certain approaches, second nature. Dabbling doesn’t work. If you want to see results, you have to buy in and commit to working your way through the rough patch of unfamiliarity until you hit your stride and begin to see the payoff.
Of course, that requires faith in the system you’re following, so you should choose your preparation method carefully. Do your homework and sign up for a class or buy a set of books or find a source of explanations you trust. But then, when the choice is made, set the second-guessing aside and act on that trust. It may be a bit uncomfortable, but it will be well worth that moment of unease when the system clicks into place and you see your score climbing.