How to Balance Your LSAT Prep with Work and School
In this article, Steve Schwartz from LSAT Blog discusses how to balance LSAT prep with other obligations.
- Start your prep earlier than you think is necessary.
- Set aside specific times to study each day.
- Try to spread your studying throughout the week.
- Give yourself at least one or two days off from studying per week.
- Try to reduce other obligations during the period that you'll be prepping.
If you have a busy schedule with work or school and a halfway-decent social life, it is difficult enough to manage everything. Add in LSAT prep, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed. For this reason, start studying for the LSAT earlier than you think you'll need to.
Your elementary school book reports probably took longer than you initially thought they would, due to both procrastination and underestimating the scale of the project itself. Same goes for LSAT prep.
It's a more difficult exam than those you took to get into undergrad, and it has higher stakes.
Because you likely have more to do now than when you were in high school, you really can't afford to procrastinate.
Give yourself extra time to prepare. I recommend a minimum of 3 months, but 4 months wouldn't be a bad idea if you want to give yourself a bit of a cushion.
The busier you are with work or school, the greater the number of months you'll need. This won't necessarily mean you'll be studying for a greater number of hours, of course. It simply means that you'll have to spread out your studying.
This is a good thing. You shouldn't cram your studying all at once anyway. The LSAT is not about memorizing material. Rather, it's about refining your thought processes to think more logically.
The more spread out your studying is, and the greater the number of months that you're thinking about this, the more you'll learn the LSAT mindset of skepticism, analysis, and improve your ability to interpret convoluted text.
The following are just some general suggestions for how and when to study. Of course, you'll have to adjust them for your specific needs, and your actual studying will vary week by week.
If you work full-time or go to school full-time, 15 hours per week of LSAT studying over the course of 4 months might be a good guideline. Here's how you might fit it in over the course of the week:
- 5 hours on Saturday
- 2.5 hours per day, Mon-Thurs
- 0 hours on Friday
- 0 hours on Sunday
If you work part-time or go to school part-time, 20 hours per week of LSAT studying over the course of 3 months might be a good guideline.
Here's how you might fit it in over the course of the week:
- 5 hours on Saturday
- 3.75 hours per day, Mon-Thurs
- 0 hours on Friday
- 0 hours on Sunday
If you work full-time, you'll probably have a harder time fitting in your studying because you'll have less unscheduled (free) time.
Here's how you might fit in 2.5 hours on a weekday:
- .5 hours before starting the workday (may require getting to the office early)
- .5 hours during lunch
- 1.5 hours
Now, I know 5 hours of LSAT studying is not your ideal way to spend a Saturday. Aside from killing a good part of a weekend day, it'll probably tame your Friday nights a bit.
However, the studying has to happen sometime. Unless you want to fit even more study time into your weekdays, or you want to study on both weekend days, 5 hours of studying will have to happen on one weekend day. (I'm not necessarily saying it's better to load your weekend studying onto one day, just that you may prefer it. Modify as desired.)
So, how do you study 5 hours on a weekend day?
First of all, waking up early is probably the way to go. This gives you the late afternoon/early evening to spend with family or friends.
However, don't study as soon as you get out of bed. It takes your brain up to 2 hours to fully wake up in the morning, so do other stuff before starting your studying for the day.
Here's how you might study for 5 hours on a weekend day:
- 8AM-10AM: wake up, brush teeth, eat breakfast, shower, exercise, check email/Facebook/news, etc.
- 10AM-12:30PM: study LSAT
- 12:30-1:15PM: lunch
- 1:15-3:45PM: study LSAT
- 3:45PM-???: fun stuff
Feel free to shift it all 2 hours later if you're on a different sleep schedule. Remember, though, that you're not supposed to party the night before.
If you're in school, you probably have a great deal of unscheduled (free) time, during which you have several things to do at undefined points during the week (e.g., internship, job, extracurriculars, TLS, Facebook).
Then, of course, there's class, which IS at a defined point during the week. That (supposedly) makes you more likely to go each week because you know exactly when it is. It's scheduled in your planner/calendar.
I don't care whether you miss class sometimes. Professors ramble, and you can probably get a good GPA without going too often.
However, I DO care whether you study for the LSAT.
If there are specific times each week that you're supposed to study, you're more likely to actually study. At the very least, it may make you feel guilty for doing other stuff during that time. Guilt is a great motivator.
Since your classes aren't necessarily at the same time each day, the LSAT studying doesn't have to be at the same time every day either.
However, you should still treat it like a class (or two). It might be a good idea to take this into account when planning your classes and other responsibilities during the semester. If the norm at your school is taking 4 or 5 classes a semester, consider taking 3 or 4 classes during your LSAT prep semester instead. Consider not doing an internship that semester. There's a good chance you'll need the time.
For more LSAT prep advice, visit: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewforum.php?f=6
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