I thought I would share this post I made on LSAT Board. It is about time management on the LSAT, and lists some techniques you can use to immediately start improving your time management and pacing skills, and start finishing sections with 35 minutes!
Guide to LSAT Time Management
Set pacing benchmarks, varying according to each section
- For example, on logical reasoning, a good benchmark is after 15 minutes to be on question #15. If you can pace yourself like this through the first 15, you know you will have 20 minutes for the last 10 questions, which tend to be the hardest. If you have been stuck on #14 for a while and it is 17 minutes into the section, then you know you need to skip that question and come back to it.
- On logic games, you have 35 minutes to complete 4 games. That comes out to 8 minutes and 45 seconds per game. If a question on a game is bogging you down, move along and come back.
- Reading comprehension is similar to logic games, differing only in the sense that you should take a good 4 minutes per passage to read the passage, paying attention to the main point of the passage, the main point of each paragraph, the author’s point of view, and anything else that you can anticipate will show up in the questions. Writing brief notes in the margins is also a good technique to save time so that you know where specific things are. Circle, underline, bracket important things… do anything that can help you refer back to the passage easily when you encounter the questions.
Once you’ve set your benchmarks… practice them!
- If you adhere to the 15 questions in 15 minute pacing strategy on logical reasoning, you should have absolutely no problem finishing the section in time. You must practice this though, striking a fine balance between speed and accuracy.
- When practicing logic games, initially practice each game individually, setting a timer for 8 minutes and 45 seconds. In time you will become more comfortable with diagrams and completing the game in this short amount of time. Until then, stop working when your 8 minutes and 45 seconds is up, and go back and review the questions that really slowed you down. Redo them. Understand WHY they slowed you down, and how you could have approached them better.
- Treat reading comprehension the same as logic games above, practicing each passage individually.
Breaking up logic games and reading comp into 4 sections each is good because it not only helps you with your strict pacing skills, but also gives you FOUR times the amount of pacing practice. If you didn’t split them up and did the whole section, you would be wasting valuable pacing practice if you weren’t able to do it.
If your benchmarks just aren’t working…
- Adjust them accordingly. If you find logic games are tough for you, you might want extra time for the games. So instead of 8:45 per each of the four games, you might break it down like this: 10, 10, 10, 5. This means you are risking having only 5 minutes for one of the games to be more accurate on the other games. It is a risk you must evaluate on a personal basis.
- Another strategy I have seen is this: 12min, 12min, 11min, 0min. This is a desperate approach that I do not recommend, but others I know have done well with it. This means that you are skipping the hardest game and guessing on it completely so that you have more time for the other games. With this approach, 100% is necessary on each of the three games that you are giving extra time or you risk seriously compromising your LSAT score. I also wouldn’t recommend just guessing on all the questions in the last game. Usually there are a few questions per logic game that you can get the answer with just using the game’s rules and the process of elimination to get the correct answer, and this rarely takes more than 30 seconds.
- The point is to adjust my general strategy to what best works for you.
Learn to calm down
- When you panic, you stray from our strategy and all progress goes out the window. You will enter “crisis lockdown mode” and this will affect your LSAT performance.
- Instead of panicking, have confidence in your pacing ability. Once you master it, you will find comfort in the fact that after 15 minutes of LR you will have 15 questions completed, leaving you with 2 minutes per each remaining question, which is plenty of time to finish.
- If you are running behind, instead of panicking and throwing yourself off, just simply skip the question and come back to it.
- In your test booklet, always cross out answer choices that you have eliminated. If you have to come back to the question this saves you valuable time. If you have to guess, this increases your chances of getting it right.
- When you panic, you fail.
Practice under Actual LSAT Conditions
- This point will help you plenty on test day.
- Remember, when you panic, you fail. What causes panic among LSAT takers that they often don’t factor into the equation? That’s right, the scary classroom environment of your actual LSAT administration. Coughing, erasing, pencils rubbing, pages turning, proctors walking around. It can all be very intimidating, cause you to panic, and throw your LSAT strategy off, leading to you not completing your section.
- To prepare for this, I used the LSAT Proctor DVD to give me a feel what test day was like, but practicing in a public environment is just as good if you want to save $15.
- Let me go back to the “pages turning distraction.” Many students FREAK OUT when this happens, thinking “Oh no, I am still on question #3 but this person is on the next PAGE already???” This is where your pacing reinforces your confidence. You become so “in the zone” with your pacing that it doesn’t matter what question the people around you are on. You have your progress down to a science, and this will give you comfort on test day.
Determine what order to do Reading Comp and Logic Games
- Take advantage of the fact that you do not have to do anything in order on the LSAT.
- I prefer to do the easiest passages and games first, since I know they will not take too long and they will be guaranteed points added to my LSAT score. Some people like to do the hardest passages first. See what works for you.
- If you are doing your practice tests without transferring your answers to a bubble sheet, you are only hurting yourself. On test day, only answers on the bubble sheet scantron count, and yes, transferring your answers does take time and affects your self pacing.
- Determine what the best way for you to bubble is: whether it is after each answer, after each page, or after you are down with both pages of your open book.
- I recommend this: for LR, I bubble after I am done with both pages of the open book. For LG/RC, I transfer my answers after each game/passage. After the 5 minute warning I start transferring answers on a one-by-one basis, so that if I don’t finish by when time is called, I will still have those answers recorded. This is the way I have found to be most effective.
Know when to skip
- This was mentioned already, but if a question is bogging you down, you need to not waste too much time on it. If it is going to affect your ability to finish your section, you need to skip it.
- But don’t just skip the question, always fill in an answer on your answer sheet even if you skip the question. That way, if time is called, you will have a 1 in 5 chance of getting it right. If you didn’t guess and time was called, you would have no chance of getting it right. Crossing out answers you have eliminated will help your probabilities of guessing the correct answer.
- In addition, you should circle the question or star it in some way so you know to come back to it if you have time remaining.
Follow this tips for LSAT time management and practice, practice, practice, and you will see significant improvements, I guarantee it.
As always, let me know if you have any questions or comments! Hope this is helpful to you all.