3 Mistakes Students Make Planning Their LSAT Prep: Advice from Next Step Test Prep

John-RoodToday’s guest post is by John Rood, President and Founder of Next Step Test Preparation.

As a tutoring company, we frequently get inquiries from students that have already taken the exam without getting to their target score.

Over the past eight years, I’ve seen the students repeat the following three mistakes over and over.

1. Not planning sufficient study time

This one is obvious, but it’s worth repeating. You should plan to study for the LSAT for 2-5 months, and 3-5 is really ideal. But just as importantly, you should plan to spend roughly 8-12 hours per week on the LSAT. It’s fine to take off one week during this time for a holiday or finals, but other than that, you need to be working consistently in order to make gains.

Just like they tell tennis players – you have to practice once a week to maintain your skills, and 2-3 times a week to improve.

I’ve seen dozens of students who “studied” for four months – but months 1-3 were mostly choosing which LSAT books to buy and reading Above the Law.

Students that do the best tend to set aside blocks of time each week to study, scheduled well in advance just like a job or a class.

2. Not completing sufficient full-length, timed 4- or 5-section practice exams

Bar none, taking full-length practice exams is the best way to improve on the exam.

Students often think that the breakthrough will come from watching more videos or reading more strategy books; that’s rarely the case. Instead, high-scoring students typically get one good book on LSAT strategy, then spend the remainder of their study period (at least two months) doing several full-length tests each week.

Yes, this is the least convenient possible way to study since it requires blocking out a long period of uninterrupted work. That’s what top LSAT students do to improve. (You’ll soon find that this is what top law students often do as well).

You can’t effectively study for the LSAT by trying to shoehorn study into the cracks in your schedule like your commute or lunch hour at work.

Make sure that you’ve taken at least ten full-length exams before your test date.

3. Not doing comprehensive review of every missed practice question

Taking the practice exams isn’t enough – in fact, it’s what you do after that ultimately leads to the greatest improvement. After you score your exam, make a list of every single question you missed. Add to that list the questions that you essentially guessed on – questions where you had it down to two options and guessed between (most students circle or star those questions).

Then, for every single question, understand:

  • Why the correct answer was correct
  • Why the answer you chose was wrong. Don’t be lazy here and just say “because the book says so.” You should be able to explain to someone who has never seen the test before what the defect is in the answer choice.
  • What pattern does this mistake fall into? This is more amorphous, but give some thought to whether you are making the same mistake multiple times. For example, are you mistaking “must be true” for “could be true?” Are you falling for “extreme language” in LR?

Ultimately, it’s this process of understanding your mistakes that allows you to make progress.

Good luck in your studies and feel free to reach out if we can help!

Next Step Test Preparation provides one-on-one tutoring for the LSAT nationwide.

Thanks, John, for explaining these common LSAT prep mistakes and how to avoid them. Great tips!