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Test Prep: 7 Tips for LSAT Success

It's the most important part of applying to law school. Find out some simple tips to boost your score.

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3. Don't just practice. Analyze. Because of the unfamiliar nature of many of the questions you'll encounter on the LSAT, you must practice them regularly to get accustomed to their format. Mere practice isn't enough, however, testing experts say. After you work through a timed practice section or timed practice test, don't just tabulate your results and record your score. Instead, look closely at each question you missed and try to discern what led you to the wrong answer. Students who have received high scores on the test note that practice without analysis leads to little improvement. "A lot of students take a prep course and assume it's the course's job or the teacher's job to make the learning easy for them, like they don't have to do the work," says Cody Goehring, who received a 173 on the LSAT and will be attending Harvard Law School this fall. "They never actually look at the ones they miss. If you really want to improve that's really the most effective way to improve—to review every question that you miss and understand why you miss it before you move on."

4. Sharpen your critical thinking in class. While the LSAT doesn't test content learned in either high school or college, some college classes can help you get in the right mindset to tackle the test. Taking classes in logic, philosophy, or critical writing can prepare you for the test because they require you to analyze complicated theories or texts and present ideas gleaned from those texts in a concise and logical manner, which is similar to what the LSAT demands. Experts note that these classes are far from mandatory for LSAT preparation or even getting into law school, but say that they can make a difference, even if it's only a few points. It's ultimately not what you learn in these classes that matters, but how you learn to understand and express complex concepts. "Any course that requires lots of dense reading on unfamiliar topics is helpful, as the LSAT's reading comprehension topics are specifically chosen to be areas with which few test takers have any prior familiarity," says Steve Schwartz, an independent LSAT tutor and author of an LSAT Blog. "Being comfortable with dense passages on new topics is very helpful when the LSAT suddenly throws you a curveball topic on test day."

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5. Be sure to play games before the test. Testing experts agree that the test's analytical reasoning, or "logic games" section, is one of the most difficult sections for students to wrap their minds around initially because it's vastly different from anything else they've seen on standardized tests. The four games in the section each pose five to seven questions that require students to understand complex hypothetical relationships between multiple parties or objects. The easiest way to solve these is to diagram the relationships so they can be more easily visualized and understood than what can be garnered from simply reading the text and answering the questions. "Don't try to keep everything in your head," Brody says. "The logic games section instructions say, 'You may want to draw a rough diagram,' but that's crazy. You do want to draw a diagram. You do want to keep your work." Though these games may be challenging at first, there is an upside. "Logic games is the section of the test that is the most foreign and most feared by students," says Thomas of Kaplan. "But it's also the most coachable. We tend to see the most dramatic improvements in that section."

6. Answer everything. Unlike the SAT, there is no penalty for getting an incorrect answer on the LSAT, so it's important to at the very least make an educated guess on each question. Leaving it blank does you no good. Also, every question is weighted the same. Tougher questions count just the same toward the final score as their simpler counterparts, so don't get bogged down trying to answer the difficult ones. Answer as many easy questions as you can and revisit the tough questions with your remaining time. It's much wiser to tackle questions that are in your wheelhouse first and guess on the harder ones than to dwell on the difficult ones and rush through simpler ones as your time expires, potentially botching them because of the time crunch. "The questions that you spend the most time on are the ones you're most likely to get wrong," says Goehring. "Even if you were guaranteed to get the question right, but you had to spend five minutes on it, how many easy questions would you have gotten right in that same amount of time?"

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