While the LSAT is offered four times a year, many experts suggest that June is the best time to take this test. Not only is this the only time the LSAT is administered outside of the regular academic year, but getting it out of the way early allows applicants to focus their complete attention on the rest of the application. Having your scores early can also help you narrow down the list of schools to which you’re applying. Plus, if you’re not satisfied with your results, you’ll still have time to retake the test and get your second set of scores back early enough to submit your applications early in the admissions cycle.
Now that you know why June is a good time for taking the LSAT, you may be wondering if it’s even possible given that it’s already nearly April? Here’s a countdown of five things you need to to do get ready.
Hopefully you’ve already started preparing for the upcoming LSAT. But if you haven’t, it’s not too late. According to Kaplan, 120 hours is the “bare minimum” for LSAT preparation, but a better hours goal is in the range of 150-300 hours, which amounts to 20 to 25 hours per week for a two to three month period. Factors like your skills and whether you’re self-preparing will also inform your “hours goal.”
Know people who’ve been studying for the past six months or more? That may lead to diminishing returns. Says Kaplan, “There are, of course, people that start six months or a year in advance; for most people, this is unnecessary, and can even lead to some burn out if you are pushing yourself too hard for too long.”
All of your preparation is moot, however, if you neglect to do one critical thing: Register for the test. The registration for this year’s LSAT on Monday, June 12 is April 26. Although some test centers do offer late registration (along with an accompanying fee), the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) urges candidates to register early to avoid the risk of denial of accommodations.
2. Know the test.
The LSAT is a complicated test, but your attention should be focused on content, not form. The best way to make sense of the LSAT in advance to avoid wasting your time on test day? By familiarizing yourself with the test instructions, format, and types of questions. The LSAC offers a number of free resources, including sample questions with explanations and complete sample tests. Additionally, sample tests and questions are available on the web, in books, and through LSAT prep courses.
Knowing yourself is important, too. According to Kaplan, a good LSAT score largely relies on the ability to identify and implement optimal test day behaviors, understand your own strengths and weaknesses regarding these behaviors, and practicing the best behaviors while simultaneously avoiding the unproductive ones. To that end, experts also suggest taking a complete test, including both the writing sample and the experimental section, on a Monday at the same time of day and under actual time constraints in order to precisely simulate the test-taking environment.
3. Stick to your routine.
We’ve all seen the meme, “Keep calm and carry on” on coffee mugs, mouse pads and tee-shirts. Unfortunately, many LSAT takers end up in the “Now panic and freak out” category as the test grows closer. Instead of devolving into a counterproductive frenzy as the pre-LSAT months dwindle to days, commit to sticking with your usual routine and study schedule.
Nerves are natural, but allowing them to take over will ultimately detract from all of your hard work. You may be tired of reviewing the same material and/or of taking practice tests, but continuing these activities will help ensure that you go into the test not only prepared, but also confident.
4. Run a marathon, not a sprint.
Just because starting early has its downsides doesn’t mean waiting until the last minute is preferable. Unlike many other tests, the LSAT is content-neutral. Because it contains no specific informational content, amassing a vast amount of knowledge in a particular field of study is not a prerequisite. This doesn’t mean you can’t study, but it does necessitate a smarter approach. Specifically, this means conditioning in the form of daily practice.
Explains Kaplan, “Why daily practice? You’re not binging on information, but rather conditioning your body, mind, and heart to respond on Test Day with behaviors that empower you to answer the most questions correctly within each section’s 35-minute time period. Like a baseball player stepping into the batting cage day after day to perfect a swing, you need to daily expose yourself to what the June LSAT throws at you on Test Day.”
5. Always be learning.
Attending LSAT classes and taking test simulations are an important part of preparing for the LSAT, but they’re not the only thing you can be doing. The LSAT tests skills like critical thinking and logic. Daily activities like reading the newspaper and academic articles and summarizing what you’ve read after are excellent practice for learning to read and digest complex material. Even doing a Sudoku puzzle has benefits in helping to hone the deductive process.
Taking the LSAT may not be your idea of the perfect late-spring day, but doing so in June has many benefits. Rather than thinking of it as a chore, reframe the test as the kickoff to a great summer...and a bright law career.
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