How to Begin Studying for the LSAT
Starting from scratch? Great.
The world of LSAT study can be a bit overwhelming, and you may feel like you have no clue where to begin. Don’t worry – this guide will give you very clear and concise steps for exactly how to start your LSAT journey the MasterLSAT way, so that you don’t feel like you’re floundering around like a fish.
OK, here goes:
- Familiarize yourself with the test
There’s nothing scarier than the unknown (perhaps that’s the reason you’ve been putting off beginning to study for so long). But, you’ll be relieved to know that the LSAT is structurally a pretty simple test. Before you begin, at the very least, you should know what the different sections are and roughly what to expect on each one.
Don’t worry about learning what all the different question types are just yet – you’ll have plenty of time for detailed analysis later. Remember, this is the stretch before the run, so don’t overwhelm yourself – it’s best to dive into practical study as soon as you can.
- Try a few sample questions
These can be found on the LSAC website. These only take a few minutes and are great to wet your feet a bit so that the test doesn’t feel totally foreign to you. It will accustom you to thinking in the way the LSAT wants you to think, and make your first practice test seem much less mountainous.
So far, this should all have taken you no more than 30 or so minutes. You want to save your energy and clarity of thinking for the next step. You can wait until the next day or dive right in if you feel ready – just make sure you have a 2.5 hour chunk of time.
- Take a diagnostic test
You can find it for free here. Your first practice test will probably feel extremely hard, but buckle down and do the best you can – and remember, it’s extremely hard for everyone else too. Also, remember that this is just a benchmark upon which to improve, so your score being high doesn’t matter it all. You’re just trying to gage your starting ability and get used to the feeling of taking an LSAT (you’ll be doing a lot of them).
Even though generally untimed tests are the way to go, you should treat your first test like the actual LSAT – 35 minutes per section, with only a 10 minute break between sections 3 and 4. The reason for this is twofold: first of all, the purpose of a diagnostic is to capture exactly how you would do if you took the test today, so that you can use it as a yardstick for measuring progress in the future – think of it like the “Before” picture before you begin a new diet regimen (no I’m not calling you fat).
Second, it’s useful to get an idea of what the rhythm of the 35 minute sections feels like (you’ll notice it really doesn’t feel like much time at all relative to the questions!) so that you have an idea for what you’re eventually aiming to be able to do.
Bottom line: don’t freak out and do the best you can within the time limit. Guess the last few questions if you have to (you wouldn’t be the first).
Grade your test and then move right along to the next step…
- Order your first book of practice tests
Assuming your diagnostic test didn’t scare you out of wanting to become a lawyer, and assuming you didn’t get a 180 right out of the gate, you’re going to need a lot of practice tests to keep you busy. Here are books of 10 for about $20 each:
You can start with whichever one you like, but I recommend 62-71, since as of the time of this post, the tests that MasterLSAT has recorded video explanations for are all out of that book.
Tests more recent than those can also be purchased individually. Many people prefer leaving a handful of the most recent ones for the end, before they take their actual LSAT. To the extent that changes in the LSAT happen over time (not much), the most recent tests will be the most similar to the one you take.
I know, after that nightmarish diagnostic experience the last thing you want to do is place an order for 10 more servings of it. But I also know that you are serious about making that cheddar 4 years from now – or at least maxing out on career options – and in order to do those things, you have to crush the LSAT. MasterLSAT is your quickest path to a 99th percentile score, but even so, I can’t take your practice tests for you (I wish I could!); there are no shortcuts.
So, now that you’re waiting for your first prep test book to arrive…
- Read our Study Guide
Now that you’ve gotten your feet wet, this free PDF guide will explain to you exactly what the road going forward is in terms of how to get your score up into the elite 170-180 range. (It will also serve as a pick-me-up after that harrowing experience you had with your diagnostic test.)
The MasterLSAT guide will describe precisely what your strategy will be over the coming months. It has and will changed lives.
At the bottom of the guide you’ll find customized study schedules…
- Decide on a study schedule (and stick to it)
You may be working a full-time job, or in school, or both, or neither. Whatever your schedule is, as long as you can afford at least a bit of daily study time 6 days a week, and at least 1 of those days on which you can take a full practice test, then we have a regimen for you that will put you en route to a 170+.
It goes without saying that someone who has all day to study will likely improve quicker than someone with full-time commitments (not just because of the time, but because the LSAT is very mentally demanding and requires a lot of brain space commitment) but, the important thing is that you will be on a straight pathway to success, however long it may be. I’ve seen some extremely busy people improve much faster than people with all the time in the world – speed of progress varies greatly from person to person, and don’t be too demanding of yourself in this regard.
The important thing is that you pick a realistic schedule and stick to it. You’ll have days on which you’ll want to take a break, and you may have to prioritize over other tasks. Just remember to imagine that dream job 4 years from now – that’s what you’re working towards. Every minute of LSAT study will pay back a millionfold over the coming decades.
But anyway, I digress. Once you decide on a study schedule, your next order of business is…
- Review your diagnostic test
Go over all the questions you got wrong, and the ones you had a great deal of trouble with even if you got them right. Try to make sense of all of them, and understand clearly why your answer was wrong, and why the right answer was what it was. You’ll be doing this after each practice test, but it’s especially imperative this first time that you don’t skimp or do a superficial job of it. This diagnostic test is a great snapshot of exactly what your weaknesses are, and in order to get the most out of it, you’ll want to improve on all those weaknesses as much as you can before moving onto the next practice test. It might take a while, but keep in mind that this is likely to be the greatest number of mistakes you’ll ever make on an LSAT, so in the future it’ll take less time.
Also, I can Skype with you and make every single question clear as day for you.
Remember: every LSAT is very similar to every other LSAT. The same tricks appear, just with different words. If you can honestly get to the point at which if you took this diagnostic test again, you’d clearly understand every question and score a 180, then you’ll be super equipped when all of those same tricks appear on your next practice test. The review stage is the part that most people cut corners with, but because LSAT questions on different tests are so similar to each other, thoroughly mastering one LSAT is much more useful than superficially reviewing 10.
Once you have mastered your diagnostic test inside and out, backwards and forwards…
- Rinse and repeat
Time to move onto your next prep test. Your book should hopefully have arrived by now. Remember to track your progress in the Progress Chart near the bottom of our Study Guide. It’s fun to see personal improvement over time and it can do a lot for your morale. Granted, it may seem slow at first, and you will likely see dips here and there, but believe in The Method and keep trekking forward.
Maybe I should have made a step #9 that said “Remember to have fun”, but your increased confidence each time from your growing score will ensure that. Exercise is anything but fun – it’s the results that are addictive…
…and you will see plenty of results using The Method.
Note: If you’re here and you’re starting from scratch, you actually have a huge leg up in that you don’t have to unlearn any bad techniques! I won’t single out any companies by name, but the 3rd party LSAT prep world is filled with inefficient and overly complicated strategies (one of the reasons there was so much demand for a site like this). Some of those methods even make my head spin, and I’ve scored multiple 180s (humblebrag or just brag?).
Having the good fortune of finding us first means that you can be a purebred MasterLSAT Jedi.