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Nate's Free LSAT Guide

Hey guys! If you're here, that means you really want to master the LSAT, so as a gift to you, I thought I'd compile some of my best tips and strategies that have proven useful for my students. Hopefully they'll help you as well. Good luck!

--Nate

P.S. If you want my free eBook study guide, which goes in depth on how to set up your study regimen, along with customized study schedules and a chart you can use to track your progress, I'd love to email it to you. It's helped countless people. Just let me know where to send it to:

Overview of the LSAT (Updated For 2022)

If you're starting from scratch, here's a basic overview of the test.

LSAT stands for Law School Admission Test, and is currently administered around 9 times per calendar year.

The LSAT measures your logical thinking, reading, and reasoning skills, and therefore requires no background knowledge. (In fact, background knowledge can be a liability, as you'll be asked questions on various topics, and you'll be asked to arrive at your answers only using the information provided within the test, and no more.)

Your LSAT score is generally the greatest determinant of which law schools will accept you. Your undergraduate GPA plays a significant role as well, but not as significant as that of your LSAT score. LSAT scores are curved, and range from 120 (the lowest score possible) to 180 (a perfect score), with 150 being a roughly median score. 170+ is the "holy grail" of LSAT scores and is what I recommend everyone to shoot for to get into the best schools possible! (Yes, anyone can get a 170+.)

The LSAT is now taken digitally from home. This means that you need a computer, browser, and internet connection. This is good news, as you can take your actual test in the same area you're used to taking your practice tests!

The test consists of three 35-minute scored sections, in random orderLogical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and Analytical Reasoning (often called "Logic Games"). Each section has 23-28 multiple-choice questions, for a total of about 75 scored questions.

In addition to the three scored section, there will also be one 35-minute unscored variable section, which will be one of the three aforementioned section types. (The LSAC does this to test out questions for future testing.) Unfortunately, you won't know which section is the unscored one, since the order of the four sections will be random, so you'll have to attempt to maximize your score on all four of them. (However, by the end of your test, you will know which type the unscored section was, as it will be the type you got two of.)

We'll go into more detail on each section below, but for now: Logical Reasoning consists of short paragraphs on a variety of topics, and a logical thinking question on each paragraph; Reading Comprehension consists of four longer reading passages that go more in depth into several topics, and several questions on each passage; and Analytical Reasoning consists of four "Logic Games", which are situations with a set of rules governing a variable set, and several questions to answer on each game.

You'll be given a 10 minute break in between your second and third section, which means the test time for all four sections will total two and a half hours.

There will be a digital proctor supervising your test. The digital platform allows you to highlight question text, and to flag tough questions if you want to come back to them.

In addition to the four 35-minute multiple choice sections, you'll also have to complete a 35-minute writing sample, but this section is unscored, and doesn't have to be done on the same day as your test. (You can do it from 8 days before your test, all the way up to 1 year after your test.) The writing sample will simply be a short argumentative essay you'll be asked to write on a prompt that is given to you. The prompt will present a situation with a decision to be made, and you'll have to choose an argument to make with supporting points. Your writing sample will be sent to all the law schools you apply to, along with your LSAT score, and will weigh into your application along with everything else. (Because this section is unscored, there is no criteria for grading it, and as long as you are fairly confident in your ability to write a decent argumentative essay, it's not a section you should worry about. Your main concern should be mastering the multiple-choice sections of the test, as those will be the ones that factor into your score.)

All of the above reflects what the LSAT looks like today, in 2022. However, prior to 2020, there used to be an extra Logical Reasoning section, for a total of four scored sections (and one unscored section). The reason this is relevant is because all of the official LSAT prep tests from before 2020 (which makes up the vast majority of them) consist of four scored sections - two Logical Reasoning, one Reading Comprehension, and one Analytical Reasoning/Logic Games.

This works out to your benefit. Because the unscored experimental sections are typically never released, students prepping for the LSAT taking official practice tests used to have to borrow a fifth section from a different test in order to simulate the full experience and get used to taking five sections in a row, with all the mental stamina that requires. Now, you can simply take four-section practice tests. Even though your actual test score will only come from three sections, the extra Logical Reasoning practice won't hurt, and you'll be able to get used to taking four section in a row for your actual test day. (Mental stamina plays in big time!)

I know the fact that format of the test has changed so many times over the past few years often leaves people feeling lost, so hopefully this has cleared up all of your confusion!

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:

1. Familiarize yourself with the test (perhaps by reading this guide)

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.

Reading this strategy guide should be more than enough familiarization for you to feel comfortable diving in.

2. Take a diagnostic test

You can find several for free on the LSAC website. 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).

You should treat your first test like the actual LSAT – 35 minutes per section, with only a 10 minute break between sections 2 and 3. 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.

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).

3. 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.

The full MasterLSAT course includes video explanations for all of the free official LSAT prep tests available on the LSAC site (and many more), so no pressure, but if you need any help mastering your diagnostic, I've got you covered. :)

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 many 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…

4. Plan out your study regimen

The way to master the LSAT is by taking as many practice tests as you can, and mastering each one before moving onto the next one. You just finished with your diagnostic and are ready to move onto taking more practice tests.

How many practice tests you take on a weekly basis will depend on your schedule. Some people only have time to take one test per week, and others can fit in practice tests almost daily. Obviously, the more you take, the quicker you'll progress. However, that's provided that you sufficiently review your mistakes from each test before moving onto the next one. So, you'll want to make sure you leave sufficient time to review in between tests.

For example, let's say you are able to take 3 practice tests per week. You'll probably want to space them out so that you have review days in between them.

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 you're in good shape.

As I said, 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.

Set up your schedule based on what you think you'll have time for and can reasonably commit to. Don't overshoot, but at the same time, remember that the more tests you take (and review), the quicker you'll progress.


5. Move onto the next practice test, and rinse and repeat

Now that you've reviewed and mastered your diagnostic test, and planned out your study regimen, it's time to begin your journey of taking more tests and reviewing them. The best place to access practice tests is on the LSAC website. Aside from the several they offer for free, you can get buy a subscription that gives you access to many more. This is the only way to get access to all of those practice tests in the digital format, so it's highly recommended for everyone prepping for the LSAT.

If you sufficiently reviewed your first test, chances are you did better on the second test - kudos! Now, it's time to review this one, master all your mistakes, and continue onto more practice tests.

Remember, the more you do something, the better you'll get at it (duh), so if you want to feel super confident in your LSAT score, you'll want to take as many practice tests as you possibly can. Keep going until you're comfortably getting scores you'd be happy with, and then you know you're good to go. :)

How Long Should I Study For The LSAT?

This is a common question and answers range greatly.

Some sources will tell you it’s 3 months. Others will scoff at the ones who say 3 months and insist that a year is more appropriate. Still others will say that 6 months is a safe and happy medium.

Allow me to offer an answer of my own: this is the wrong question to be asking to begin with.

(Yikes – you came here to get a quick answer to a simple question and instead you got hit with some good old fashioned condescension! My apologies – keep reading though.)

Instead, what you should be asking is, “What score do I want to get on the LSAT?”

And then, you have the answer to your first question – as long as it takes you to get that score.

Simple, right? Hear me out.

Your LSAT score will determine, to a very large extent, where you can go to law school, and with how much scholarship money, if any. Where you go to law school will determine what your odds are of getting the job that you want out of law school, what your legal career path will be, how much money you will make over the coming decades, and so on.

Ergo, your LSAT score could have a gigantic impact on what your life will look like for the foreseeable future. Financially, if you add it up, 1 extra point could mean many millions of dollars (yikes again).

The whole reason you want to slave away studying for the LSAT is to get into the legal career of your dreams, isn’t it? Well whatever that legal career is, there’s an optimal law school to go to in order to maximize your chances of getting it. Whatever that school is, there is an LSAT score you need to get in order to get in (putting GPA minimums aside). And whatever that score is, there is an amount of time you can study in order to get there (assuming you’re using the right methods).

You probably don’t know exactly how long it would take. Which is why I always tell my students: study until you’re consistently getting the score that will get you the career of your dreams, and then register for the next LSAT. It could be a month, 6 months, a year, or longer, but boy, will it be worth it.

People make very rash decisions with their livelihoods when it comes to taking the LSAT. I’ve seen it firsthand. People are convinced they must take the LSAT as soon as possible – it’s a bug in their head that’s very hard to chip away at. Reasons differ for each person – usually people just want to get it over with. I get it – the LSAT can be a painful journey. Oftentimes, taking a “gap year” between college and law school is thought to be a horrific waste of time (parents usually don’t help with this).

But think about it rationally. Even if committing to an LSAT score means going to law school a year later than you otherwise would have, if that score buys you the career of your dreams, then how is it not worth it in the long run? If you go to a law school that doesn’t end up placing you in the job you want, then that’s an actual waste of three years.

And believe me, if you’re graduating college now and want to get to law school as soon as possible, you won’t be kicking yourself 30 years from now about the year in your early twenties you “wasted”, as much as it may seem like it. (Hopefully, you’ll be making millions and thanking yourself for it.)

You’ve done your research – you know the legal field is insanely competitive. Many, many law students graduate each year without a legal job at all, let alone the job they wanted. The single biggest factor in your legal success in literally in your hands right now, and you want to rush it?

Even if taking a few extra months or a year longer than you would have wanted got you a measly extra 5 points…those points could be the difference between getting into Fordham and getting into NYU. If you want a good shot at BigLaw, that’s the difference between a 6-figure gamble and a sure bet.

Or, maybe you’ll go to the same school you would have gone to anyway, except now you’re going on a $100,000 scholarship. (All of a sudden, your “gap year” has essentially become salaried.)

Let’s even say you’re 100% sure you don’t want to work in BigLaw, or the type of job a top law school will get you. Or maybe you’re unsure exactly what you want to do as a lawyer. That’s fine, but that’s all the more reason to give yourself as many options as possible. There is a lot at stake here!

Not that I’m a qualified life coach, but I’ve noticed that the recipe for success in life is what I call “backwards thinking”. In other words, decide on the things you want to achieve – what your dream life is – and then work backwards to figure out exactly what you have to do in order to get there. There is always a path, and if you commit to the end goal, you’ll find it.

Don’t be afraid to be bold with your legal aspirations! You’re committing 3 years of hard work, so why not have the job of your wildest dreams when you’re done?

The LSAT is learnable. Whatever you’re scoring now, if you can eventually understand all of your wrong answers on a test after looking at them for a month, then that means you can someday have the ability to understand them in 140 minutes. Don’t settle for a low LSAT score and play the dice with your future. Commit to a safe score. For the vast majority of people, that’s 170+.

So, now you know how long you have to study for the LSAT. The good news is that not having an impending deadline to hit your target will allow you to feel less pressured, think more calmly, and possibly even improve quicker and enjoy your study time more. It’s win-win.

The most important thing is to have a solid method so you can improve steadily. Don’t listen to people who say “you can only improve 10-15 points from your diagnostic score” – my LSAT students have improved 30+ points (thankfully).

Keep reading for more strategies on how to crush the LSAT!

General Guide to Logical Reasoning

This guide will teach you how to approach logical reasoning questions, and the section as a whole. It contains general strategy that is universal to all logical reasoning questions. So while we won't go into different question types, this should still be a solid strategy base for you to know how to approach this section.

Logical Reasoning is sort of a middle point in terms of skill set between the “raw logic” of Logic Games and the strong verbal emphasis of Reading Comprehension. If you can be super confident on this section, chances are you’ll be in pretty decent shape for the entire test.

The section is made up of 24-26 short questions which you ultimately must finish in 35 minutes, which means you’ll have a little under a minute and a half (on average) for each question. Each question will present a paragraph followed by a short multiple-choice question pertaining to the paragraph. (On earlier LSATs, sometimes 2 or 3 questions will refer back to the same paragraph, but they typically don't do that anymore.)

The questions start off relatively easy and get trickier as you progress in the section, usually with a few Olympic-ally difficult questions towards the end.

There’s a very simple set of steps you should follow on every Logical Reasoning question. In order to illustrate them, I’ll be using an example from the free June 2007 LSAT.

Here goes:

1. Read the question first

Again, every question will have a paragraph of text, followed by a one-sentence question. Even though the paragraph is written first, train yourself to jump ahead and read the question first. This is unequivocally more efficient.

The reason is because if you read the question first, you’ll know what you’re looking for as you’re reading the paragraph. Is the question asking you to find a flaw in the argument? The main conclusion? A missing assumption? Instead of first reading the paragraph, not knowing what you’re looking for, and only then reading the question, and then having to check back to the paragraph, why not save time and read the question first?

So, in the following question from June 2007…

…your eyes would jump straight down to “Which one of the following, if true, would count as evidence against the scientist’s explanation of Earth’s warming?” first.

So now, you know you’re about to read an argument (a scientist’s argument for why the Earth warmed) that you will be trying to WEAKEN. Which brings us to step #2:

2. Read the paragraph, and simultaneously think ahead to try to predict the answer

You can train your mind to be in two places at once. As you’re reading and digesting the information in the paragraph, you want to be thinking ahead to some things that could potentially answer the question. It’s not something you want to spend extra time on, but it helps a lot to be thinking ahead as you’re reading the paragraph.

For example, in the question above, as you’re reading the scientist’s argument, you should already be thinking about some things that would weaken it. The scientist is arguing that the global temperature growth over the past century was “primarily the result of the buildup of minor gases in the atmosphere, blocking the outward flow of heat from the planet”. (Note: the scientist isn’t arguing that warming occurred – that is taken for granted by the argument. What he/she is arguing is the reason why the warming occurred. It’s important to always hone in on exactly what is being argued.)

The scientist is arguing that the gas buildup caused the warming. So, you know that the answer will be anything that makes it less likely that the gas buildup caused the warming. And so, your goal is to try to think of a couple of possible things that would make it less likely that the gas buildup caused the warming, as you’re reading the paragraph.

It could be that, even though gas buildup does block the outward flow of heat, perhaps not in a way that would change the global temperature. Maybe those gases keep the heat high up in the atmosphere, and the global temperature is measured at the Earth’s surface. Or maybe the gases only block very minimal amounts of heat that couldn’t have affected the global temperature as much as 0.5 degrees Celsius. Or, maybe something else happened over the last century that was more likely to be the culprit responsible for the temperature increase, like a meteor, or an orbit variation, or an excessive number of volcano eruptions, which means it was probably that, and not the gas buildup, that caused the warming.

The point is just to get your creative mind thinking critically about potential right answers. Try to predict roughly what the answer will be. And then, you’ll be much more likely to spot it when you see it.

Try to think as generally as possible about things that would weaken the argument. That way, you’re more likely to encompass what the answer will eventually be. Whatever you can come up with as you’re reading the paragraph for potential answers, keep them in mind and then look for something similar in the answers.

(It’s worth noting here, as an aside, that whatever the right answer is, it can’t contradict with any facts given in the paragraph. For example, notice how I didn’t suggest that a right answer might be “No, you’re wrong Scientist, minor gases don’t block the outward flow of heat!” We have to take for granted that the scientist isn’t lying, and just prove that despite that, the conclusion that the scientist is arguing based off of his facts is not necessarily true. The good news is that none of the wrong answers will ever contradict with the paragraph either, so you don’t have to worry too much about this.)

You’d be surprised, once you get good at this, how often you’ll know the right answer without even having read it. It takes training, but even if you are way off at first, it’s like shooting arrows – even though you’ll be missing the target at first, by attempting it, you’ll be honing your skills and more likely to get closer the next time. Often, in going over LR questions with my students that they found very tough, I’ll read the paragraph and tell them what the answer is likely to be, and to their amazement I’ll hit it dead on – and I’m always happy to break down my logic for exactly how I made that prediction. It’s something that comes with practice, but imagine if you could predict every answer on the LSAT – it would make the test a piece of cake.

So, to recap so far:

- try to predict the answer as you read the paragraph
- try to be as general as possible so you can encompass all potential answers
- you will improve at this over time

OK, so now that you’ve read the question and the paragraph, and you have some ideas for what you’re looking for in the answers…

3. Read through all 5 answers and look for an easy answer

Look for a “bingo” answer – something that matches exactly what you’re looking for. The earlier on you are in the section, you more likely you are to spot the answer easily when you see it. Many answers on this section will be obvious, especially if you’ve already thought ahead to potential answers, so don’t be afraid of an easy answer.

The bottom line here is that you should be holding out for an easy answer. Don’t spend more than a few seconds reading and analyzing each answer choice. After spending those few seconds reading an answer, three things are possible:

You’re sure it’s wrong. If so, cross it out.

You’re sure it’s right. If so, circle it (but continue to read and consider all 5 in case you made a mistake).

You’re unsure, and it will take 10-20+ more seconds of analysis to think through whether this answer is right or wrong. Don’t spend those 10-20 seconds now. Keep going – the next answer might be obviously right in which case you can save all that time!

It’s important to at least read and consider all 5 answers, on every single question. The authors of the LSAT are very, very skilled at writing trick answers (God bless them) and there will certainly be wrong answers that seem to clearly be right answers. Let’s say (B) and (E) both look good – between the two of them, the trick answer is just as likely to be (B) as it is to be (E), which is why it’s super important to keep an open mind and honestly consider each answer choice as you go down the list.

OK, so back to our example question:

If you’re thinking ahead and potentially looking for something that proves that the gas buildup could not have caused the warming, you might spot that in (B) right away! (B) makes it impossible that the gas buildup was the primary cause of the warming. If the warming happened before 1940, and the gas buildup happened mostly after that, then how could the gas buildup be what caused the warming? X can’t be the cause of Y if Y happened before X. Bingo.

(Note that the year didn’t have to be 1940. It could have been 1941, 1942, 1999, 1907 – and still would have had to be the right answer. As long as Y happened before X, it’s impossible that X caused Y, no matter the particulars of when they happened. You’re just looking for something that if true, would have to weaken the argument.)

OK, great! You found the answer. Or did you?

What if, by doing step 3, you didn’t find any easy answers? Or, what if you found two easy answers?

If you found anything other than one easy answer, then move onto step #4.

4. (If you don’t already have the answer) Do a more detailed analysis of the answers remaining

This is your second, more detailed pass through the answers, if need be. You may have crossed some answers off as definitely wrong – great. Whichever ones are left standing as potentially right, read through again more carefully. This is your chance to do that more detailed analysis you were hoping to skip in step #3! This will happen a lot, but the point is that you saved yourself that time on the many other questions on which there is a simple right answer.

In our example question, (C) is a trick answer commonly picked. Let’s say you have it narrowed down to (B) and (C) by the time you get to this step.

Think carefully about each one. (C) is saying that the solar radiation wasn’t constant throughout the century – it was greater in some years, and lesser in other years. Would this make it less likely that the gas buildup was the cause of the global warming?

No! Regardless of whether there was a steady stream of radiation, or whether it was greater in some years than others, the temperature increase could still just as easily been due to gas buildup. If (C) said “Over the last century, Earth received slightly more solar radiation than it had in the past century”, then this could arguably show an alternative cause for the warming (greater solar radiation!). But it doesn’t say that; it says that there was more radiation in some years of the century than in other years of the same century. This wouldn’t explain why this century got warmer than the previous century. I’m convinced that most people pick (C) on this question because they read it too quickly and misinterpret it as saying the above.

This is the kind of mistake that you can catch upon close reading in step #4!

Repeat step #4 as necessary until you have one definitely right answer. If you’ve crossed all 5 answers out – that means you definitely misinterpreted something, but don’t sweat – time to go back and revisit each one more carefully.

Voila! Congrats on finishing a logical reasoning question. Time to do 25 more…

General section tips:

- If you get to an impossibly tough question (they exist) and you’re having trouble, skip it and come back later. There’s nothing to gain from continuing to hit your head against the wall once you realize that you’re hitting your head against the wall. The confidence and rhythm of answering a few other questions could be all it takes to clear your mind for when you return to it.

- There is a clear answer for each question. I know that sometimes it feels like “you can make an argument for (A) and also for (C)”, but the truth is: no, one is right and one is wrong, and it’s your job to figure out exactly why. If you read them carefully enough, you’ll see what your error was. Go for the point of clarity on every question, when you can confidently circle one answer and be sure that none of the others are correct. It could take you extra time, but don’t worry about the time limit just yet.

- I can’t stress enough the importance of not getting married to an early answer choice that seems correct before reading the others, especially later on in the section when they are really throwing everything they’ve got at you in the way of trick answers. You have an emotional bias: if your original instinct was right and (A) is correct, then you won’t have to spend all that time reevaluating it. You must fight against this emotional bias and honestly give each answer choice its “day in court”, so to speak, even if you already think it’s (A).

General Guide to Analytical Reasoning/Logic Games

For many people, the Analytical Reasoning section is by far the toughest section – but it doesn’t have to be.

Many 3rd party LSAT methods (Kaplan etc) have overcomplicated this section to no end. While it is beyond the scope of this guide to learn the comprehensive method for Logic Games, we will go over the 5 easy things you can start doing right away that will make logic games into a piece of cake.

Granted, some of this may not make perfect sense to someone who hasn't seen a logic games section before, so if that's you, do the best you can, and revisit it later once you've had a chance to do your diagnostic test.

Diagram the rules out simply and clearly.

Each of the four "logic games" on the section will give you a set of "rules" governing a bunch of variables. You'll find that they are generally easy to map out in some sort of visual scheme (more on this below).

Take a minute at the beginning of each game to draw out the rules in a simple, clear, and visually understandable way. You’re going to be referencing the rules a lot throughout the game, and the goal is to never have to look back at the text of the rules, but rather to use your easier, more readily comprehensible visual representation instead (otherwise, what’s the point of drawing them out?). Make it minimal, and most importantly, neat and easy to read. Use the same conventions that you always use for writing out rules – don’t try to reinvent the wheel every time. If there’s a rule type you’ve never seen before that you don’t know how to diagram out clearly, just write it out short-form in words. The goal is to be as cookie-cutter as possible so that you’re within your visual comfort zone – make each sequencing game look like every other sequencing game you’ve ever done, and each grouping game look like every other grouping game you’ve ever done. Which brings us to our next point.

Every game is either a sequencing game or a grouping game.

That’s it – no other delineations. Either you’re putting a bunch of things in order, or you’re sorting a bunch of things into groups. I’ve heard enough micro-classifications of logic games to make my head spin. This accomplishes nothing except to make people waste time trying to figure out what kind of game they’re doing instead of answering the questions! Yes, there will be twists – for example, sometimes sequencing games will have multiple rows, or the elements will be divided into subgroups, etc. But you can always make those twists work within your general framework for sequencing games or grouping games.

Don’t write out obvious inferences of each rule.

Sometimes, there will be things you can deduce are true from the rules given. However, anything that you can see or deduce right away is not worth writing out on the page. For example, if in a sequencing game, X always has to come somewhere before Y, then of course that means that X can never go last and that Y can never go first. If you write those two things on the page, though, then you’ve turned one simple rule into three rules. This is bad, not just because you’re spending extra time writing things out, but because every time you scan through the rules (which you’ll be doing a lot as you work through the game), now you’ve tripled the amount of things you need to look through that pertain to this one rule, without actually writing any new information on the page. If you do this for 5 rules, then now you have 15 rules to look through each time instead of 5, and all of the redundant information is mixed in with the rules that you actually need to see. Try to make sure that every time you put your pencil to the page when writing the rules out, it’s novel information that isn’t inherently obvious from something else that’s already written – if you can infer something in a split second, then what’s the point of writing it out anyway? This will make your setup much cleaner and thus quicker to scan through.

(Note: If you don’t yet know what a contrapositive is, that's okay, but skip the next paragraph for now.)

This includes writing out contrapositives of conditional rules. Again, even though everyone does this, it’s a waste of time and space on the page. You’re much better off getting good at seeing the contrapositive intuitively from any conditional rule, rather than turning every conditional rule into two rules that are saying the exact same thing (which means turning a 4-rule conditional game into an 8-rule conditional game – yikes).

When you’re done writing the setup, go straight to the questions.

Don't spend time drawing out hypothetical scenarios. I know, if you've taken other LSAT courses this may sound earth-shattering, but I promise that once my students start doing this they say that all of a sudden they can get through logic games much quicker. The main point is this: what’s the point of looking for and drawing out all of the possible scenarios of a logic game if by simply doing the questions you’ll draw out exactly as many scenarios as you need? If any major inferences about possible scenarios jump out at you as you’re writing out the rules, you can take note. But there’s no use specifically looking for them – if they’re there, they’ll come out when you start doing the questions, and if not, then you’re wasting your precious time.

Whenever there’s an “If” in the question, start by making the “If” true and looking for all inferences.

Testing out individual answer choices takes a lot of time. While it is something you’ll have to do from time to time, usually when there’s an “If” stipulation in the question, the inferences from it will be enough to find the answer to the question without drawing out multiple scenarios. In other words, let’s say the question says “If [bla bla bla] is true, then which one of the following must be true?” Before even looking at the answer choices, start off by drawing out the scenario of [bla bla bla] being true, check back to the rules, and look for any inferences that must be true now that [bla bla bla] is true. More often than not, the inferences you find will be exactly what the answer says, so you can just glance through and find it, rather than testing out each scenario individually. Like I said, you will sometimes have to do individual scenario testing for each answer choice (for example, if there is no “If” stipulation in the question), but by avoiding it when you don’t have to you can save a lot of time for when you do have to.

Again, while this is very far from being a comprehensive method for this section, these five tips can certainly take you a long way.

General Guide to Reading Comprehension

For some, the Reading Comp section can be a walk in the park, and for others, it can be a nightmare. The good news is that the skills needed to ace this section are totally learnable, and with the right practice you’ll get better over time. This brief guide will walk you through what your general strategy should be for each reading passage (remember, there are four in each section). If you practice and get good at working through reading passages in this way, you should eventually be able to perfect your score on this section.

How you should read the passage

Your first order of business is to read through the passage. Your two goals should be 1) to understand and digest all of the information as you read it, and 2) to commit the overall structure of the passage to memory.

This means you’re not simply skimming the passage, but it also means you’re not memorizing small details, names, and examples. Just read through everything and make sure you generally understand what you’re reading.

The reason it’s pointless to try to memorize details is that that’s the stuff you’ll have to check back for anyway as your answering the questions. The main thing is to remember where everything was in the passage so that you’ll know where to check back when you’re asked about something specific. In other words, know what each paragraph was about. That way, when you’re asked about, say, the benefits of nuclear power over solar power, you’ll know to check back to paragraph 3, and so on.

In general, it’s best not to worry too much about the clock at the early stages of your practice. However, just so you have a ballpark for what your ultimate goal should be, it should eventually take about 3-3.5 minutes to read a passage this way. That’s enough time to understand everything and memorize the overall structure (what the main points of each paragraph are). Your memory works better when you shelve things off – having a different shelf in your memory for each paragraph will enable you remember the unique points of each one more easily.

Be sparing with marking up the passage

Don’t take too many notes, if any at all. Writing things down is somewhat pointless since the passage is all right there so you’re just wasting time rewriting stuff that’s already on the page. The most it could ever make sense to do would be to sum up each paragraph in one or two words or an abbreviation (ex. “Tom’s research”, “berries vs. melons”), but truthfully, even this is unnecessary if you get good at memorizing what each paragraph’s main point was, as stated above (you’re essentially doing this in your head instead of on the page).

The main thing I recommend is highlighting key words to help enforce your visual memory of the passage. Also, highlighting doesn’t take any extra time since you can do it as you’re reading. It can help, for example, to highlight main points, or transitional words/phrases like “moreover” and “on the other hand”, in order to break up the passage and see where all the main points were made.

Sometimes, I find it also useful to mark off parts of the passage that were brought as examples, or were otherwise supplementary. Often, the only novel point in a paragraph is made in the first sentence, and the rest of the paragraph is just examples illustrating that main point. It could be helpful to highlight that main point, and then the first word of each of the supplementary examples, in order to be able clearly see the structure of the paragraph when you’re checking back in order to answer questions.

Why you should read the passage first

Some people think that it makes sense to look at the questions first, figure out what they’re asking and only then read through the passage, looking specifically for the answers to them. I’m opposed to this for a couple of reasons.

First of all, whenever possible, I prefer doing the LSAT as organically as possible – do things in the order they appear on the page without getting too creative. Keeping things simple allows you to divert all of your mental energy towards answering the questions correctly without thinking about skipping ahead, coming back, etc. Each passage has a handful of questions – that’s a lot of things to keep in your mind as you’re reading the passage. You’ll likely forget what one or two of them were, look back at the questions, take a second to find your place again in the passage… why not just keep it simple and do things in order?

The other thing is that it won’t always be obvious what info you’ll need to answer a question until you’ve read and understood the whole passage. Sometimes the evidence for the answer to a question will come from more than one place in the passage. It’s much more effective to first have a big-picture, “macro” understanding of the passage, and then check back for the details necessary to answer the questions.

Don’t be afraid of science-related stuff

Many people get freaked out by scientific passages. For me, scientific passages are somewhat relieving because I’ve noticed that when the concepts are very technical, the authors of the test seem to compensate by making the logical structure of the passage simpler, and the logical structure of the passage is really all that matters.

The thing to remember here is that you only need to understand things to the extent they are presented to you. So, if a passage mentions photosynthesis as the way that plants convert CO2 into food, then all you need to know about photosynthesis is that it’s the way plants convert CO2 into food. You don’t need to understand exactly how it works (unless the passage describes how it happens). You just need to understand, very generally and superficially, what photosynthesis is, and how it was relevant to the passage.

Some of my students get hung up trying to make sense of complicated concepts that were mentioned in the passage but not fully explained. Remember – if something is not fully explained, you only need to understand it to the extent that it is explained. You can ace an entire passage even if there was a point made within it that you don’t fully understand, as long as you understand why it was made and how it played into the overall logical progression of the passage.

Remember: the answer to each question is in there somewhere, in black and white

After you read the passage in the way described above, answering the questions should be easy, since you should know roughly where each of the various topics were in the passage, so whatever a question asks you, you should think “OK, this topic was discussed in the first half of paragraph 2, so that’s where I have to check back for the answer”.

The key here is that the proof for the answer is in there somewhere. More so than on the other sections, Reading Comprehension questions can often seem murky and subjective. Often, a question can seem as if more than one of the answers are possible, especially when the questions ask you to infer something from the passage. For example, “It can be inferred that the author of the passage would agree with which one of the following statements?” can have you thinking “I don’t know the author personally – how on earth should I know?”

However, there is always evidence in the passage proving whatever the right answer is, and it can usually be traced to a specific sentence or phrase. You just have to hunt for where that sentence or phrase is (and because of your structural memorization of the passage that should be easy). Maybe the author chose a particular word at one point that proves that he/she agrees or disagrees with a point of view. The point is – the proof is in there somewhere. And more importantly, that proof is not there for the 4 wrong answer choices. So don’t go with your gut – look for the actual proof and go with the definitively correct answer.

Comparative reading passages are strategically no different

Comparative reading passages, which present you with two short passages instead of one longer one, started appearing on the LSAT in 2007, and should be treated in exactly the same way. Read through the passages one at a time, understand all of the main points, commit their structures to memory, and then work through the questions. (You’ll probably automatically notice the places where the two authors agree or disagree with each other, and it can help to take note of that.)

Personally, I find the comparative reading passages easier than the longer individual passages, since even though there are two of them, they are shorter and tend to be more bite-size and one-dimensional, with simpler logical structures. Remember, as stated above, logical structure is what matters most on this section.

So there you have it – this is how you should approach every reading comp passage you ever see. If you keep working through more and more passages like this, and practice your speed-reading, you’ll perfect this section and eventually be able to confidently find the answer to every question.

How Do I Know When I'm Ready To Take The LSAT?

If you've been following the method of taking as many official LSAT prep tests as you can, then this will be an easy question to answer. Are you consistently and comfortably hitting your target score on your practice tests?

If so, then you are ready!

If you're not hitting scores that you'd be happy with on your practice tests though, chances are your test day won't be the first time you'll pull that 170 out of the hat, so keep practicing.

Remember, LSAT prep is a marathon, not a sprint! :)

Final Words

Well, that's it for now. I hope you've found this free LSAT guide helpful!

I’m always looking for ways to help, so reach out if you have any ideas or questions. Thanks so much! Good luck with your studying!!

If you found all this information helpful and want to download my free study guide eBook, which goes more in depth on how to set up your study regimen and track your LSAT progress, just let me know where to send it to and it's all yours: