« on: July 04, 2005, 11:36:24 AM »
I believe that the best way to study for the LSAT is a combo of studying smart and hard. A lot of people do the studying hard part but don't have any method to it and thus end up wasting a lot of their time. Just taking a test and then doing nothing with that helps, but not as much as it should. You really need to breakdown what is going on and systematically address your weakpoints and turn your strong points into guranteed points test day. I didn't always have this method and arrived at it after being frustrated with my initial progress during self-study. If I was to do it all over again I'm pretty confident I would be in much better shape, but I'm very happy with my 171 and I've already taken every commercially available preptest, so I'm not retaking.
Take a strictly timed diagnostic.
breakdown your misses.
If you have a high number of RC + LR misses I would try to find one of those explained answers books. STudy why you missed them very thoroughly. Take another Diagnostic. If you again have a high number of LR + RC misses, then take a course. I think its fairly difficult to learn LR and RC on your own, because many times the problem is that you aren't approaching the problems in the correct way and you need another trained professional's point of view. Also, I think it really helps to have another person to talk to about the problems, discussing them can make explanations that once seemed Greek sound perfectly obvious. However, if you missed these mostly due to time considerations (ie had to guess at the last 5-10) this doesn't apply QUITE as much. Speed can be learned with self study. Accuracy on LR + RC normally has to be taught. I will send a shoutout for Powerscore and TEstmasters here. I advise against Kaplan and Princeton Review. Do all the homework they assign you. This is VERY important. The big advantage to taking a class is that they will explain all the homework if you ask (often even if you don't). It will be a great help if you ahve already attempted the HW before class. If you go the course route, disregard the rest of this.
If you mainly missed LG and were okay on RC and LR and/or missed most of your problems due to time constraints, then get every commercially available test, the Logic Games Bible, the Logic Reasoning Bible (if you had time or **slight** accuracy problems with LR) and LSAT 180.
First, go through the basic chapters of the LGB. Get all the basic diagramming techniques down firm. Go through the LRB basics chapters (not quite as sure here because I never used the LRB, I was always very good at LR). Take a practice test. If you showed significant improvement accuracy wise on LG, then move on in the LGB.
Now we are at your baseline for LSAT competency. This is the point where you have hopefully begun to address all of your weaknesses and now only need to hone your skills to perfection through intensive practice.
At this point the only material you have exhausted are the exercise in the first few chapters of the LRB and LGB and three tests. Also, I think you should work your way up, from the oldest tests, to the newest ones. The last test you take should be the last released LSAT prior to the one you are going ot take.
Now it's time to set up a regular schedule. If you haven't already done so buy a noiseless timer at this point. You will need one for the real LSAT, so you might as well buy one now and get the most use out of it as possible.
First thing I would recommend is figuring out when you are scheduled to take the test and see if its possible that you would have that time slot free every week unitl you take the test. ie if you take it on a sturday at 2, then try to be free every saturday from 2-5:30. If this is possible, take a full length practice test, plus get a few test and divide them up, so you can pull one section out and have a full 4 sections + experimental.
Then, schedule yourself to take between 1-3 regular 4 section tests throughout the week, depending on your schedule and how long you have before the LSAT. If you have a busy schedule you HAVE to start this process 4-6 months in advance AT LEAST.
After you take a test, go do something for an hour at least, don't even score yourself if you can help it. Run, play a video game, cook dinner, watch a few episodes of seinfeld. Anything to "unfry" your brain. During this time, try to get a feel about how you feel about your unknown score on teh test. You are trying to gain the ability to guage your score based on feel. This can be very important when it comes to deciding whether to cancel or not. Then score your test. After you're done scoring your test, keep a record of each question type you missed. For instance if it was a RC weaken question, make a note of that. If it was a LG "possible order" in a linear game, make anote of that. With LGs its mostly important to make a note of which game types you are getting most of your misses in.
Also, an important thing to do here is during your midweek tests (not the ones that are at the same time as your real LSAT will be) write down the time after every game, as you finish it.
Evaluate yourself at the end of every week. See what question types you are missing, what game types you are struggling on, what game types are eating up your time and chart your general overall progress. Take this info and create a study guide for the LGB and LRB. Whichever types you are having trouble with, schedule some time to go over the corresponding sections on the LRB and LGB.
A point of note here about LG. Some people will see that they aren't struggling with easy linear games and won't work on them. THis isn't a good idea. You should work on regular linear games until you are almost always finishing them in less than 5 minutes. Linear games are the ONLY type of game that has been on every single released LSAT. You are GURANTEED to have AT LEAST one. PWN them. If you can knock out a linear game in 5 minutes you are at a huge advantage for the rest of the games section. Personally, I ALWAYS had trouble with grouping games. The fact that I was able to do the first two games of my real LSAT (both were linear) in under 10 minutes was HUGE.
Once you start to average in the 170s, then you pick up LSAT 180. By this time you will have pretty much exhausted the LGB and LRB. But you should continue to come back to them from time to time.
You are now in the stage of making yourself consistent and striving for perfection. If you had to take the LSAT today you could be pretty confident about it. This is the final stage and this stage is about Pwning the LSAT, in such a manner that a 168 is an ABSOLUTE WORST CASE scenario and 180 is a possibility. I had a worst case scenario on the June LR, the most i had ever missed on a LR section was 3 and that had only happened twice over 40 tests. In June I missed 3 on both sections. I still made a 171. At this point its all about pushing the bar up so high that even if you have an off day you will still have a GREAT score.
Continue your weekly full length practice LSATs. In addition to that start doing the LSAT 180 stuff. These question represent the hardest questions you will find on any LSAT. If you can master them, you can master anything.
Do this until the week before the test.
Week of the test.
Two days before the test take the last commercially available LSAT and add one section from another test, if you have any left. Take the extra section second. Get somebody to be your proctor. Be confident and go through it. If you make a great score, focus on this and go into the LSAT with confidence. If you scored on the lower end of your prcatice range, realize that this is still probably a great score and represents a worst case scenario.
Day before the test, play golf, run, swim, go look at hot chicks somewhere. Anything to get your mind off of the LSAT. Eat a full, blanced meal. Nothing too acidy, nothing that has any possibility of giving you gas or diarrhea. Go to bed very early, take a tylenol PM if you have to.
Morning of the test. Wake up early, eat a good, full breakfast. Watch the news. Take a run. Take a shower. Drink something with caffeine in it. Realize you are about to PWN the LSAT.
When you walk into the room, look around and realize you are going to outscore every person in the room with you.