May 10, 2016

Seven Keys to Mastering the LSAT

Today’s guest post is by Matthew Boutte, a practicing attorney with over fifteen years of tutoring experience and over a decade of experience coaching and mentoring young adults. Matt scored in the 99.7th percentile on the LSAT and earned his JD from a T14 school. In addition to his J.D., Matt has a Bachelors of Science in Mathematics with an emphasis in education and a Masters in Public Policy. Matt primarily works with students one-on-one online via Skype and an online whiteboard. You can read more about Matt and his tutoring services here.

Now to Matt’s 7 keys to LSAT mastery:

Do your homework beforehand.

That means figuring out what you’re getting into. I took the LSAT on a whim without doing any of my homework or any studying the first time around and got a very mediocre score. That was a mistake and I have paid for it dearly.

Put in the time that’s necessary.

The second time around, I put in more time studying for the LSAT than I ever had for any other test. This provided significant benefits beyond just gaining experience. Many people don’t realize that the LSAT is a closed universe – there are only so many types of Logic Games and Logical Reasoning questions that can be asked. So the same questions are merely repackaged and asked again. Seeing the same types of questions repeatedly in different packages dramatically increases speed and confidence.

Go for the low hanging fruit.

You don’t need to master everything. You definitely don’t need to master everything all at once. Figure out what sections or types of questions you can improve on the most with the least amount of effort and start with these. For most people this means the Logic Games followed by Logical Reasoning. Organizing your studying this way will boost your confidence as you see significant improvement from the outset and will ensure that you’re as prepared as possible on test day.

Study under test-like conditions.

Too many people study and take practice tests under conditions quite different from test day. This is not optimal training and can be a lot more damaging than many people realize. You aren’t going to be taking the LSAT in a coffee shop, so don’t study in one. You don’t get scratch paper on the LSAT, so get used to only using the space provided. You’ll only get an analog watch and you won’t have your cell phone, so turn your phone off and only use an analog watch for timekeeping. You won’t be able to listen to music, so turn the music off. You’ll only be able to use a wooden pencil, so put the pens and mechanical pencils away. Your seat will probably be uncomfortable, so practice in an uncomfortable seat. When you’re taking practice tests, strictly follow the time limits and the length of breaks. Do all of this and you won’t have any surprises on test day.

Have fun.

It’s possible to have fun while taking the LSAT! After all, the Logic Games section is filled with games! Calm down, breath deeply, and dive into it. See it as a challenge to prevail over after all of your studying. Give yourself a moment to celebrate every time you get to an answer that you know is right. Having fun will help your endurance and give you a positive attitude that will likely boost your score a few points.

Get the help you need.

The LSAT is a difficult test, but you’re capable of doing well with help. The test will seem impregnable if you approach it alone, so find the help you need. For some people this just means a study book and lots of practice tests. For some people this means an online course or a drill book. For some people it means a one-on-one tutor. Whatever your situation, figure out what help you need and then go get it.

The LSAT absolutely can be mastered.

After taking the LSAT on a whim and getting a mediocre score, I got to work and started studying. The clouds of confusion began to melt away and I could start seeing the correct answers more quickly and with more confidence. The hard work paid off and I went from a very mediocre score to an elite score in the 99.7th percentile. I went from being mastered by the LSAT to mastering it. And I’m nothing special; anyone can do it.