So, you didn’t get the score you were aiming for on your first attempt at taking the LSAT? Don’t worry, there are still more chances to sit for the exam and most schools won’t think twice about taking your higher score (you should call each school to check their re-take policy, however). To ensure you do better this next time around, here are a few tips to make sure you improve your LSAT performance:
1. Go through your completed LSAT, in depth
Re-hashing a disappointing first LSAT might be low on your list of priorities, but it’s the first step to improvement. Print out the released exam from LSAC and compare your answers to the credited responses. Do you always miss the same question types? Are logic games your worst nightmare? Now’s the time to really hone in on any weaknesses you might have in order to gain some quick points on “easy” level questions that you don’t quite grasp.
2. Figure out if time management is an issue for you
The logical reasoning questions generally progress in difficulty, with the later questions being the trickiest. Are these the questions you are getting wrong? Analyze whether you choose the incorrect responses because you don’t understand the question or because you simply run out of time and rush through the end of the section. If you don’t know the answer, even given all the time in the world, it’s time to review that question type. If time management is your issue, acclimatize yourself to the time pressure by taking full-length practice tests under timed conditions. Many students don’t realize the toll that the time-pressure and exam environment will have on their score. It’s not unusual for actual test scores to fall three or more points beneath an established “practice test” average. Some students swear by taking their full-length tests in noisy cafes or otherwise imperfect conditions to put some additional stress on themselves. You don’t need to take it that far, but if time’s your problem, it’s time to start timing yourself.
3. Track your progress
You’ve probably already gone through piles of old LSAT questions. However, rather than simply running through each available practice question again, focus on fully understanding your mistakes. Develop a method of tracking your answers and flagging repeated errors. Instead of simply checking your answers after a practice exam, work toward understanding why you were lured in by a wrong answer so you can recognize and avoid that “trap” in the future. Don’t forget that these “trap” answers are specifically designed by LSAC psychometric researchers. Learn from your mistakes!
4. Develop a timing strategy around your “trap” questions
Once you’ve honed in on your trouble areas, use that knowledge to your advantage. If you know you always fall for the “trap” answers on a “weaken” question, skip weaken questions and come back to them at the end of your timed practice tests. That way, you’ll spend more valuable time on questions that you’re more likely to correctly solve. Know your trouble zones and know when to cut your losses.
5. Pick up an Introductory Logic textbook
No, the LSAT won’t use most of the fancy jargon in the book, but having a solid foundation in logic will give you a good springboard to success on some of the more frequent question types. Additionally, formal logic helps students internalize the “sufficient” and “necessary” concepts peppered throughout the exam that frequently confuse the average test-taker. Try to select a book that isn’t terribly boring, or you’ll never get through it. However, there is one more added benefit from the dense material in a logic textbook – it’s likely to help you on the critical reading portion of the LSAT, too.
Ultimately, the two keys to improving your LSAT score are practice and analysis. You need to know both the test and yourself to ratchet up your score. But don’t stress too much – it is possible to improve your score by 10 points or more, and most law schools are very forgiving of a failed first-shot on the LSAT. With diligent study, you can earn the score you need to improve your chance at law school admission!