Last Updated: May 29, 2021
Preparing for the LSAT
What is LSAT?
Candidates that aspire to take up law as their subject in the countries of either the US, Canada, Australia, or a few others must be prepared to take the LSAT examinations conducted by the LSAC in order to gain admission to most of the reputed colleges in the field. The LSAT exam is a standardized test that provides law schools with a scale of measuring students coming from different backgrounds and figuring out if they are cut out for the law field.
This examination, which is conducted for a registration fee of $200, is administered 7 times in a year out of which students can attempt as many as 5 times. LSAT comprises a graded multiple-choice section and an ungraded writing section which will be sent to colleges and universities along with the LSAT score report. The graded multiple-choice section of the exam contains 3 sections each for Reading Comprehension, Analytical Reasoning, and Logical Reasoning with each section provided for 35 minutes in all. The score range for the test is between 120 and 180 which is the LSAT scaled score obtained from the raw scores the candidate has received in the test.
Why Take the LSAT?
The LSAT is the only standardized test available that is used for admission purposes in all ABA-accredited schools and other Canadian common-law law schools. Though the exam has been changed from the status of being mandatory to optional by the American Bars Association, it is still a requisite for most of the well-reputed colleges and even law firms in the country.
The Pre-Law Advising Office of the University of Massachusetts Amherst has explained that the skills that are tested for in the LSAT are often considered to be indicators of the candidate’s ability to “read and understand complex material, to reason logically, to analyze information, and to perform well in a timed, stressful situation.”
Structure of LSAT
The LSAT has two parts: a 3-sectioned multiple-choice portion and a written essay called LSAT Writing. The first portion can be administered at test centers around the world and since September 2019, North America has been given the opportunity of administering the multiple-choice portion digitally. This section will also be provided with an additional ungraded section from August 2022 which will contain questions relating to all the 3 other fields and is experimental in nature for future test modifications. The three sections under the multiple-choice portion are-
- Reading Comprehension
- Analytical Reasoning
- Logical Reasoning
The Writing section of the LSAT will contain statements that have to be critically analyzed and provided a stance on. The stance the candidate takes can be either for or against the issue and is supposed to portray their skills in persuasion along with other writing skills like clarity and articulation of thoughts in words which can provide more information regarding the kind of law graduate they will be.
How to Prepare for the LSAT?
Preparing for any competitive examination is more strategy-specific than content-specific. Especially considering how the LSAT test focuses on the proficiency the candidate has over the English Language, it is necessary to understand the format of the question paper and prepare according. It is never too early to start preparing for a life-changing test like the LSAT since retaking the test often leaves a mark considering how the candidate has already been exposed to the questions in the exam.
Online platforms that aid in preparing for LSAT like the Princeton Review claims that preparing for 250-300 hours in all would be sufficient to develop the necessary skills for the test. But this is dependent on different factors like the study schedules the student can follow and the investment they out in every hour of preparation in general.
To prepare for LSAT one has to acquire skills in Analytical Reasoning, Logical Reasoning, and Reading Comprehension. LSAT preparation primarily starts with familiarizing oneself with the test instructions, question types, and how much time you could spend on each question, and knowing for which question types you might need additional time for practice. These will require many drilling sessions with quality test preparation materials and/many experienced tutors (s)/instructor(s) who can help explain the test questions and improve on personal mistake patterns. Properly formatted preparation for LSAT ends in good results.
It is advisable to enroll in courses that provide free LSAT prep practice tests and taking the tests repeatedly until the candidate has sharpened their skills. The practice tests provide the candidate with the essential experience they require through intense and demanding prep they can find easily available for low costs.
Methods of Preparation for the LSAT
The four common methods used for preparing for LSAT exams are as follows
- Using Official LSAT Prep
- Using Unofficial LSAT Prep
- Taking Commercial Test Prep Services
Though it is popular among most standardized tests to let the candidate self-study using a combination of official and unofficial prep, it has been stated by the Law School Admission Council Report from 2011-2012 and 2013-2014 that self-study is often not the best course of action while preparing for the LSAT examination.
The best possible method is to enroll in commercial test prep services for a particular duration in time and supplementing the course by using both official and unofficial prep that can provide the candidate with an accurate idea of the test which often goes missing while preparing for the test by themselves. General advice from this report when preparing for the LSAT test is to “prepare a lot, take numerous real practice tests and engage a tutor or preparation course to make sure you have learned all the techniques necessary to achieve your best score”.
Students will be able to avail of the preparation classes in an in-person or online mode, though the online mode is gaining prominence during the pandemic. The candidate is advised to choose the method that is most comfortable to them according to the flexibility and interaction level they require from the classes they choose. Once the choice has been made, it is advisable to obtain the best test prep materials that are available for lower costs and supplementing the course by rigorous preparation from the same.
Obtaining the Right Study Material
The key to preparing for the LSAT is selecting the right materials to study with. Trying to study with the wrong set of books will probably end up making the candidate spend most of the time figuring out the content than studying for the test. Taking plenty of real and timed prep tests by working through one section at a time is one of the best approaches that can provide candidates with a higher score.
The best test prep books that are currently available for LSAT include texts like-
- Powerscore Logic Games Bible
- Powerscore Logic Reasoning Bible
- Powerscore Reading Comprehension Bible
- LSAT Trainer by Mike Kim-2nd Edition
- The Official LSAT SuperPrep II-2015th Edition
There are many prep books and book series that typically cover all the basic three LSAT sections: Logical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and Analytical Reasoning. One can easily get the advantage of numerous free resources available online. Discussion forums and online boards facilitate exchanging and analyzing the topics concerned with the LSAT.
Best Online Prep Platforms for LSAT
Choosing the best prep courses for an examination as important as the LSAT might seem to be time-consuming when the student is new to the field. This section has picked out the best LSAT courses available based on which candidates can choose their prep course based on their need and cost-efficiency. The courses are-
- Khan Academy- The Khan Academy has partnered with the Official LSAT team in order to provide an official prep free of cost that can benefit the students who enroll for the examination. They claim to provide a completely personalized experience by providing instant feedback and help wherever it is required. They focus on the four steps of diagnosing strengths and weaknesses, creating a personalized plan for practice, providing authentic lessons, and full-length paper practices.
- The Princeton Review- The courses offered by The Princeton Review guarantees a score of 165 and above and claims to provide official LSAT content to the candidates who have enrolled. They have over 8000+ real LSAT questions that can be made use of by candidates to receive the score they aim for. They have a "Self-Paced" course for $799, a "Fundamentals" course for $1,049, an LSAT 165+ course for $1,599, and even offers Private Tutoring for $167 per hour.
- Magoosh- The stronghold of Magoosh when compared to the other competitors in the market is that they offer their courses at a price that is 1/4th of their competitors. It is completely online and hence is easily accessible and at the same time effective through the in-depth video classes they cover. They offer one of the cheapest rates available on the commercial market for LSAT courses. Their LSAT Premium course for 1-month costs $279 whereas their 12-month course costs $299 a month. The packages include over 7000 official questions and over 90 video lessons explaining test strategies.