I just wanted to get your advice on a couple questions regarding the LSAT. I am writing the September test and have recently begun studying after graduating a few weeks ago. I have a 3.88 GPA and want a great LSAT to match.
1) how many hours a day do you think are optimal? I've tried 2-3, 5-6, etc. Sometimes it feels like after a certain point I'm just aimlessly reading and drilling. Just wanted to know your thoughts on that. For instance, how long and how many hours a day did you study?
2) Do you think from now until September is enough time for me to get my score from a 155 diagnostic?
3) Just thoughts on any tips and tricks you think might help from your personal experience. I see you scored really well and obviously know a great deal more than almost anyone on this site.
1. That really varies on a person-to-person basis. I'd say a minimum of 2 hours, and maximum of right at the point where it feels aimless and unproductive. When you know you're exhausted and not absorbing the information anymore, stop for the day.
I studied for the test over a 3-month period, and put in 4-5 hours per day. One day out of the week, I'd take the day off, or do just an hour or so of prep, depending on whether I felt burnt out or not.
When I was in the stage of learning the material, I'd set a goal of a certain number of chapters/q.types to learn for that day and work through those, then spend the remaining time, if there was any, doing practice questions. Once I was done learning the strategies, I drilled lots of individual sections and reviewed my mistakes. I kept a tally of which q.types I tended to get wrong, and if I noticed any outliers, I'd go back and review the strategies for them, to make sure I wasn't missing any steps. Or I'd poke around the internet (TLS mainly) for advice on them (try not to spend too
much time doing this, though), to try and get a fresh perspective.
After I had done a fair amount of sections and felt like I'd internalized most of the strategies, I started to do timed sections. On Logic games, I kept track of how long each game took, so that I'd know if a particular took me a long time, I'd be able to redo it for practice. After doing that for a while, I started to do multiple sections in a row, without taking a break. My plan was to work up to doing fully timed preptests without jumping right into them, as that seemed really intimidating.
I started with two or three sections in a row, worked it up to four (taking a break after the third), and after a week or two of that, started with the 5-section tests. I pulled random sections from older tests to use as experimentals. At this point, a full preptest will take up your prep for the day, and you should wait until later that day, or the next day, to carefully review your mistakes. When you review, make sure to go over all of the answers. You should be able to articulate why each and every wrong answer is wrong. Otherwise, you might fall for one of those tricks in the future. So take your time with reviewing - it's extremely important and should not be rushed. Some days, you'll have breakthroughs, some days you won't, but patience and consistency are key.
2. Yes. I'd recommend you follow a schedule like my own (3 months of 4-5 hours per day). I started with a 153 diagnostic and got a 175. I was preptesting between 173 and 176 at the time, as well. It will be intense, but it's doable if you're committed.
3. Hey, I don't know about all that
My main pieces of advice are:
- treat studying for the LSAT like a part-time job; if you slack off, there's always going to work to make up, there will always be consequences
- for RC passages, try to make yourself interested in the material. It might sound corny, but it's incredibly useful advice. Staying engaged with the passage will help you absorb the information much easier. Another way to think about it is: explain the passage to yourself as you're reading it, as if you were explaining it to a friend.
- redo logic games that you struggled with
- if you hit a plateau with your score, figure out where you're still consistently losing points; re-assess your approach to those types of questions and drill them; don't lose hope, continue to be consistent
- if you suck at Parallel questions or they take you much longer than others, like 96% of LSAT takers, skip them and come back to them. All questions are worth the same amount, so you're better off doing questions that will take you less time
- if you hit a wall with a certain question, skip it; this may feel counterintuitive, but it will save you time and stress; managing stress levels is an important skill on this test, as it is a marathon
- if you feel your stress really building during a preptest (or practice) and can't concentrate because of it, stop and take some deep breaths; mindfulness/simple breathing exercises can be useful here
- once you start doing full preptests, simulate real test conditions. This includes eating a snack during the break. Try different snack combinations. FIND THE ULTIMATE SNACK. Feel free to caffeinate but don't over-caffeinate