I just got an email from a reader asking what I did for LSAT prep, and I figured that since this blog is occasionally about law, others might be interested as well. As always, take this with a grain of salt and feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments to make this post more useful to those who stumble upon it.
I think the most important part of any test prep is to know your strengths and weaknesses. I know that I am a good test taker, it is just one of my God-given talents. I would have liked to be a dancer, but instead I got a large frame, two left feet, and a gift for test scores I don't deserve. Knowing this, I was probably on the lower end of the LSAT prep work scale.
First of all it's a test-taking test and not a knowledge-based test. The MCAT is a knowledge test- you have to really know physics, chemistry, biology, and organic chemistry. Because of this I had just spent thousands on a Princeton Review course promising to teach me everything I needed to know for that awful test I ended up dropping halfway through (not that I got a refund on the review class). The SAT and LSAT are test-taking tests; other than learning the types of questions asked and practicing them a bit, I'm not sure there's much you can do. I didn't study for the SAT beyond reading the information packet of practice questions you got when you signed up and did very well, so I didn't get too worked up over the LSAT. I think the lack of fear helped as much as anything (I feel this way to some extent about the Bar too, even though that's very knowledge based, you can get a lot of points just by not being one of the people paralyzed with fear on the day of). I'm not trying to minimize the LSAT, it's just that after spending nearly a year preparing for the MCAT, the LSAT just didn't seem all that scary. Sort of like how the history majors thought law school was a whole lot harder than the engineering majors did- it's all perspective.
The first thing I did was take a full practice test about two months before the test date. I went to my local used bookstore and found an unmarked compilation of old tests from someone who apparently didn't end up taking the test (or just ended up not studying for it). On the first try I did pretty well on the reading comprehension, okay on the logical reasoning (arguments) section, and absolutely abysmal on the analytical reasoning (logic games) section- I'm not even sure I got one question right. That was upsetting. I googled something along the lines of "how to study for logic games section of LSAT" and came across this little book: The Logic Games Bible. It saved my life. (And just so you don't think I'm biased, I have not ever and will not ever accept advertising money for this site, anything I say is purely my opinion.) I worked through it cover to cover, forced my brain to reject any of its own thoughts in this area, and relied on their method 100%. It worked- I didn't miss a single question on the logic games section of the LSAT when I took it in June.
Other than the Logic Games Bible my prep consisted of working through the whole book of practice tests, one a day or so, flying to Hawaii for a family vacation the week before the big day (I actually think this helped, no time to get freaked), flying back in to Houston and driving straight to Austin very late the night before (once again, no time to take a last minute practice test and panic if my score had dropped), taking it the next morning, and then flying out to Vegas hours later with JP, where I promptly forgot all about the LSAT until I returned three days later. I brought a Shape magazine and granola bars to the test and felt a little embarrassed when everyone else had flash cards and special test day goodie bags from their review courses. But they also looked very stressed and I probably got more enjoyment out of reading 10 articles promising I could lose weight without diet or exercise than I would have been helped by last minute cramming. After all, I'm not really sure what you can do to cram for that test- it's a lot of reading and reasoning. After the test I did spend a lot of time on my personal statement, sending it out to everyone I knew and asking them for comments and whether or not they thought it was a good reflection of me. I'd highly recommend doing that, hard as it was to subject it to public scrutiny.
So that's what I did. As I said, you just have to know yourself and your test-taking needs. If you are someone who gets very nervous about standardized tests or has been burned by them before (like JP) then a class might be very helpful to make you feel as prepared as possible and comfortable with the test. Or you may just like the structure and camaraderie of a class (I tend to find that stressful because I realize everyone is doing more than me, one of the million reasons I loved the barbri self-study iPod option). If taking that many practice tests and putting that much emphasis on it would only freak you out, then try to avoid over preparing- I think it's easy to get to a point where your practice test scores start going down and that is scary right before the real thing. I think my biggest challenge on the LSAT was time. I'm a fast reader and never had an issue with time on tests but on two sections of the LSAT I was finishing just as the proctor said pencils down- that rattled me a bit. I'd recommend actually timing those practice tests if you do them at home. Hope that helps- good luck!
1 hour ago