Around 40% of applicants aren’t admitted to any law schools they apply to. These competitive schools don’t settle on students with low LSAT scores. Thanks to hours of research and talking to prior test-takers, we found the best way to decide how much time you need to spend on prep.
When Should You Start Studying for the LSAT Depending on Your Baseline Score?
Your baseline score is the score you’d get if you were taking the LSAT today. Knowing your current LSAT score helps you establish how much test prep you need to do.
While teachers usually advise students to start their prep at least 5 months before taking the test, it’s better if you decide for yourself based on your current knowledge. You might need less or more time.
If your baseline is leaning towards the lower LSAT scores, you should start your prep earlier than your colleagues with higher baselines.
Don’t let this intimidate you.
Instead, simply let it motivate you to start preparing for the LSAT as soon as possible.
Establish Your Baseline by Taking a Practice Exam
Instead of guessing what your baseline is, find out for sure by taking a practice test. We always advise students to take official practice tests, as they’ll give you the most reliable feedback on your current level of knowledge. You can find one on the official website of the LSAC.
Write down your score and take the test repeatedly after studying. This will help you track your progress and understand what score you can expect on the actual LSAT.
What Is a Good LSAT Score?
The LSAT is scored on a 120—180 scale. A score of around 160 points is typically considered good. However, it might not be enough to get you into your dream school. Law schools are competitive as it is, while higher-tier schools may only accept applicants with scores of 170 or higher.
Here’s how the LSAC counts your points :
“Your LSAT (or LSAT-Flex) score is based on the number of questions you answered correctly — your “raw score.” All test questions are weighted exactly the same. The total number of questions you get right is what matters for your score, not which particular questions you get right or wrong.”
- Law School Admission Council
So, each question brings you the same number of points. This means you should put an equal amount of work into answering each question.
It’s worth noting that the LSAT isn’t the only factor influencing applications. Things like your GPA and personal statement also play a role. If other factors in your application are below average, you might need to aim for a higher LSAT score to compensate.
What Is the LSAT Test Like?
The in-person LSAT test consist of five sections:
- Reading comprehension — one section
- Analytical reasoning — one section
- Logical reasoning — two sections
Only four sections are graded. However, most test-takers don’t realize that they won’t be able to tell which section isn’t scored. It isn’t marked in any way, so you should do your best on each section.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the LSAC currently also offers an online version of the LSAT. It consists of four sections — one section per subject area. One of these won’t be scored.
Lastly, keep in mind that the LSAT tests your skills. For example, your future bar exam is information-based, i.e. tests your knowledge. The LSAT, on the other hand, won’t require you to churn out as much law-related information but primarily to demonstrate your skills.
What Should You Study During Your LSAT Prep?
The real question isn’t when to start studying, but what. Once you answer that, you’ll know how much time you’ll need. If we were to answer that question for you, we’d say you should study:
- The type of questions you’ll get.
First things first: get familiar with the type of questions you can expect. All sections are multiple-choice. This means one question has multiple correct answers, and you need to tick them all to get maximum points.
In all honesty, your high school didn’t prepare you for the crucial part of the LSAT — analyzing and forming arguments. The test will question your ability to recognize things like assumptions, premises, and conclusions, as well as your ability to use them to make an argument.
Read varied texts. Then test your comprehension by extracting main points, determining the purpose of the words used in a text, and analyzing the author’s attitude. This is precisely what you’ll have to do on the LSAT.
Create a Weekly Study Schedule
First, calculate how many hours you’ll spend studying each week based on how much time you have left until the test day. Next, calculate how much time you’ll spend on your daily activities.
Squeeze in some exercise and fun here as well.
Your mind will benefit from it and be able to focus better once you hit the books. Lastly, make a detailed plan for each day.
Our proposition is that you don’t study for more than 2 hours in one go. Brief pauses will make your studying easier!
4 Tips for an Effective LSAT Preparation
Here’s how to effectively prepare for the LSAT:
- Consider the requirements of your chosen law school.
Before you start preparing for the LSAT, establish your goals so that you know when you’ve hit them. Some schools have minimum cut-off scores you must surpass to get accepted. Others don’t, but they might share the average scores accepted students usually have. Use them to plan your LSAT prep.
- Solve practice questions.
Know what types of questions to expect in advance by including practice questions in your LSAT preparation. As a high school student, you might not have the necessary experience of solving standardized tests, which could influence your ability to pass the LSAT.
- Prepare your writing sample before the test.
Your writing sample won’t be scored but is a crucial part of the application process. Law schools will use it to assess you. Don’t leave a bad impression just because you were writing it after taking the exhaustive, 3-hour test that muddled your mind. Instead, write it before the LSAT.
- Take an LSAT prep course.
Are you struggling with sticking to your study process? Then consider investing in prep courses that will keep you accountable. These courses also usually include practice exams which will help you get familiar with the LSAT. You can also consider getting similar products, like prep books or practice exams.
Recommended Article: What’s the Best LSAT Prep Book? (Highly Recommended Textbooks)
Don’t Take the Test Before You’re Ready
As of 2020, the LSAC offers the LSAT every month. Also, you can take it up to three times in a single testing year and up to five times within five years .
This means you shouldn’t rush your preparation or take the exam before you’re ready.
Additionally, retaking the entire test will cost you $200. Why not save the money and spend it on things that matter more? It seems like a better option than wasting it on taking the same exam multiple times.
Wrapping Up: When to Start Studying for LSAT?
Other people probably gave you advice that worked for them. Some found 3 months to be enough to prepare, while others needed significantly more.
But it doesn’t mean their prep method will work for you. Your current skills, past studies, and classes all influence how much prep you’ll need. Perhaps, your high school didn’t offer you the same level of knowledge your friends got.
Take all of this into account and work out for yourself how much LSAT prep you need. Do you already have an idea about when’s the best time to start? Let us know in the comments.