Oct 18, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

The LSAT—the exam required by nearly every American Bar Association-approved law school—is a critical hurdle for aspiring law students.

It is designed to make you run out of time.

The test, comprised of five 35-minute sections of multiple choice questions and one 35-minute writing section, measures skills considered essential for law school: the reading and understanding of complicated texts, the ability to draw inferences from information, critical thinking, and analysis and evaluation of the arguments of other people.

Critical to your success? Finishing it. How can you save time during the LSAT? Prepare, for one thing, and study, study, study.

Let’s take a closer look at five strategies critical to saving time during the LSAT.

1. Read the questions and try to answer before reading the choices

This is the least intuitive tip you’ll ever read—and may be the most helpful. Why? It helps to have an idea of what you’re looking for in the answer before you look at the options.

This skill is super important in the logical reasoning portion of the exam—know exactly what to anticipate and find the right answer.

Another helpful tidbit? If the answer in your head doesn’t show up on the options, go back and start over.

Split between two answers? Find a logical flaw in one of them and pick the other. Move on.

2. Work as much as you can on logical reasoning

Why? They comprise over half the exam, divided into different sections. Knowing how to answer logical reasoning questions is critical to your success on the LSAT—and therefore critical to your acceptance to law school.

Our advice? Practice logic problems as often as possible, and learn your pitfalls. Correct them before the exam, and you should be good to go.

3. Develop rituals

Ever watch professional sports? Pro players often have small routines that they do before taking that free throw, or hitting a home run. Why? Rituals help you gain your confidence and feel in-control.

Develop something special that works for you—maybe wear your favorite study cap, or arrange your stopwatch in the right place. Figure out how you like your pencil, scratch pad, and watch arranged on your desk.

Figure out how to take mini-breaks—maybe a certain stretch or two, or deep breathing.

Whatever you do, make it quick, make it yours, and believe in it—otherwise, it won’t work.

4. Set a time management strategy

Easier said than done, we know, but if you start early enough, this will be a snap for you on test day.

We’ll say it again: this test is designed to make you run out of time.

Each question is worth the same, regardless of difficulty. What does this mean? Answering easy questions will take less time, and you’ll get them right more often—this translates to scaled score points.

Your wrong answers don’t count. What does this mean? Answer all the questions, even the hard ones. You have at least a chance of getting a tough question correct than you do if you leave it blank.

For logical reasoning, save the time-consuming questions for last. If you can narrow down your answer choices to two possibilities, look for a logical flaw in one and mark the other.

A tip for reading? Make sure you understand the big picture and the passage’s structure.

Need help? Practice.

5. Understand that the speed issue is a knowledge issue

We’ll say it again: this test is designed to make you run out of time. Why? Because you really need to know your stuff.

Speed is related to competence.

If you’re getting timed sections of the test wrong, then you need more knowledge in that area. How do you figure it out? Ask yourself what you don’t know.

Bottom line? If you know something well, you should be able to do it quickly, no tricks.

Practice, practice, and practice some more. Most important? Figure out what you don’t know—and ask for help getting better at those sections, if you need it.

You’ll thank yourself when you see that acceptance letter.

Learn more about the LSAT.

 

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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