Why Your Practice LSAT Isn’t Enough
The Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) can place you on the pathway to a lucrative career in law. But to land the most prestigious schools on your wish list and thus be more marketable against your peers in the job hunt, you need to do your very best to show you’re ready for the challenges ahead. Unfortunately, many test-takers think if they do four or five practice exams before test day, they’re good to go. But chances are, your practice LSAT exam isn’t getting the job done. Here’s why.
1. The LSAT Is More Logic and Reasoning Than Knowledge
The test is comprised of five sections (four scored). If you’re geared toward the LSAT test then you’ve probably got the reading chops to handle the Reading Comprehension already. That section should be one you’re well prepared for thanks to nearly two decades of reading in school, for enjoyment, or for basic understanding of any topic. But your LSAT scores will ultimately hinge on Logical Reasoning, Analytical Reasoning, and the Writing portions.
(There is a fifth unscored variable section, but this is used as a testing ground for future questions. You won’t know which section is which, so do your best!)
Ultimately, the Analytical and Logical will present the most challenge, and getting good at these sections will not come by simply memorizing information in a book. You have to be technique driven, seeing through the barrage of verbiage to the heart of the question. You must know all the angles from which you can approach an argument to determine the best response for each question. You can’t learn that from a set of questions that won’t even be the same as the ones you see on actual exam day.
2. You Aren’t Using Sample LSAT Questions That Highlight Areas Needed for Improvement.
An LSAT test taker must always know why he missed what he missed. Years of training for other tests that aren’t as challenging may have trained you to look at an overall score (on a practice exam) and think, “I’ll be fine on exam day, that’s not too terrible.” But with the LSAT, so much relies on logic and analysis, and you have to be able to do one to effectively do another. You’re dealing with an exam where each option could conceivably sound like “the best response.” Each question is an onion with many layers, and you’ve got to peel back each one to see what waits inside.
Don’t just assume that your wrong answer made just as much sense as their correct answer. It didn’t. And to understand why it didn’t, you’ve got to dissect what went wrong with your approach. If you’re unable to understand why the correct answer is the best answer, then you’ll always run the risk of missing similar questions.
3. You Assume That Because You Got A Question Right, You Have the Concept Down.
During your time taking a practice LSAT, you’re going to come across three types of questions: those you know outright, those you get correct but remain iffy about, and those that sail completely over your head. The ones you know outright aren’t worth the worry. Your brain has internalized the techniques and patterns you used to arrive at your conclusions. Trust it.
As for the questions that leave you feeling clueless, no one has to tell you to focus on those. You know that. But what will ultimately make or break you is that middle ground. Putting it in simple grade school terms, think of it like this:
You know 60% outright. You feel iffy on 30%. You have no clue on 10%. You could focus on just the 10% and maybe bump your score to a 70%. But without touching the 30%, your chances of guessing right each time may never rise above 50-50. That means the BEST you can hope for is to get 15% right, which adds up to 85%. Not bad, but not as good as if you focused your study efforts on filling that 30% gap for which you already have a working knowledge.
By focusing your study efforts in the right places — that middle ground — you could bump the probability from 85% to 90%. Throw in a few lucky guesses, and you might even see a rise to 92% or 93%. LSAT scores aren’t scored on as simplistic of a level as this, but the logic is the same. Don’t assume you’ve “got it in the bag” if you happened to get a few things right you were uncertain about. Understand the REASON you got the question right; not just that you did.
4. You Figure Practice Makes Perfect.
When it comes to LSAT prep, practice does not make perfect, at least if “practice” means that you take one test after another with no rhyme or reason. It’s difficult to find what your hang ups are if you’ve never diagnosed them. This is an extension of numbers two and three, but it deserves its own mention because too many LSAT test takers think their problem areas will work themselves out if they continue taking practice exam after practice exam.
Some may notice an almost imperceptible improvement and mistake it for progress. Others may grow frustrated wondering why they continue to get the same score over and over again. None of these actions do anything to diagnose the issue, and they are ultimately damaging because they cause one to mistakenly think progress is being made.
The LSAT test will be as challenging of an exam as you’ve ever faced. Reading comprehension is important and will be factored in to each section, but the brunt of the test calls for much more. You will need to analyze the strengths and the weaknesses of an argument and know that even in cases where it seems like there is more than one right answer, there is a best answer that completes the problem. You will also need to formulate ideas and communicate them effectively. Before you think you’re doing enough LSAT prep with sample questions and practice tests, make sure you know what is being asked and why the correct answers are the best answers. Only then can your practice LSAT adequately prepare you for exam day.