With a narrow range of scores between 120 and 180, a few points higher on the LSAT can have a major impact on your law school future. The Princeton Review reports that the median LSAT score is 152: if you score 150, you will be in approximately the 46th percentile, but if you score 160, you will be in the 82nd!
Here’s what this means for you as a law student: If you’re currently testing at about a 155, a 10-point score increase can launch you from the 66th percentile to the 93rd percentile!
This boost in your score can make the difference in which law schools you are accepted to and the financial aid that is made available to you.
So, how can you improve your LSAT score by 10 points? Use these tried and true tips:
Complete an Assessment
To see where you stand, the first step is to take an assessment. If you’ve already taken the LSAT, your last test score can serve as your assessment.
This assessment can show your current score, as well as your score for each area. This will help you identify any knowledge gaps; focusing your study plan around these topics is the most effective way to increase your LSAT score.
Wait to Test
If you have not taken the test, get your study plan underway before you start testing. Avoid taking a real LSAT just to see where you stand; use an old, official LSAT exam for this purpose instead. Not only will this save you a ton of money, but you also won’t risk sending a lower score to your prospective law school options.
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Make a Plan
The LSAT is not equivalent to a college final, or even a law school course final. It tests key areas that are supposed to be indicative of skills you will need to hone in law school. As such, it will take time to learn these areas and the techniques to conquer them.
Create a realistic study plan and stick to it religiously. Be very protective over your study time. It’s very easy to slip one day because you’re getting tired of studying and then lose a whole week before you know it.
Prepare for the LSAT like you would prepare for a marathon. It is a test of endurance; try to give yourself as much study time as possible so that you can study for a little bit each day, instead of trying to cram in 16-hour study days for a week.
Build in breaks during your study time where you get up, stretch, rehydrate, and get a snack. Try to build rest days into your study schedule so that you do not get burned out.
Try to work with a schedule that works best for your study style. For example, if you get easily distracted, you may want to work on one subject area at a time. If you need more stimulation, you might want to take smaller chunks of information and bounce around a few different areas each study period.
The best LSAT review courses will typically include a study schedule, and you can purchase separate ones online. These can be easily adapted to your specific needs if you choose a course with analytic feedback like LSATMax.
Call in the Big Guns
While you may be fiercely independent, now is not the time for too much pride. After all, you are probably preparing for the most important test so far in your life. So, take advantage of all the help you can get.
If you have the funds, splurge for a commercial prep course like Alpha Score or Princeton Review. These courses usually come with everything you need to study hard for the test, including books, curriculum, study guides, calendars, and support that have helped countless students before you. These resources can often make the difference between a so-so score and a really good one.
Alternatively, consider private tutoring for specific sections of the LSAT exam where you have the most difficulty. A little help from an expert can greatly improve your LSAT score if you know exactly what subjects he or she needs to cover.
Purchase a Logic Games Bible
Logic games are widely considered the most difficult part of the LSAT. Getting a better handle on this part of the test is probably the easiest way to improve your LSAT score by the most points in the least amount of time.
There are only a few types of logic games, so being able to identify patterns and apply the appropriate structure to them can help you add some critical points to your score. Be sure that you go through each game after you complete it to see where you might have gotten a question wrong or how you could have saved time. In little time, you will probably start to see your score on this section getting higher and higher.
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It’s very important to pace your study schedule for a long time in order to avoid burning out before test day.
- Are you a morning or evening person? Make the most of your study time by devoting your most productive time of the day to studying.
- Practice testing under timed conditions and in a space similar to what your testing environment will look like. As you get closer to test day, move your practice test study to the time when you will be taking your real test.
- Take care of yourself and be sure to get plenty of rest each day. You want to be operating with your full faculties on test day
…But Be Ready to Work
I can’t overstate how much work it takes to improve your LSAT score. All the steps above are supposed to help you get into the right environment to study; you still need to invest your time and energy into improving your score.
Here’s another tip— look for a program designed for high scorers. For example, Princeton Review has a program that guarantees a score of 165+. While the course is rigorous, it provides test takers with extensive resources and tools to help them achieve a high score.
While the LSAT is not a test that you can score well on through rote memorization, flashcards can help you recall information faster, such as:
- Logical indicator words
- Logic games shorthand
You only have 35 minutes on each section of the LSAT, so anything you can do to shave off time on how quickly you can accurately answer questions can make a big difference in your overall score.
Flashcards are available through commercial LSAT prep courses, as well as through free sites like Quizlet. You can also make your own paper or digital flashcards if you prefer.
Review Your Wrong Answers
After you complete a section of practice questions, go back and review your wrong answers, as well as questions that had you stumped but that you guessed the right answer. It’s important for you to understand why you missed a question. Look for the logic behind why your answer was wrong and another was right.
The more you review your answers, the more likely you will begin to see and recognize patterns, including how test makers try to tempt you into a wrong answer and discourage you from a correct one!
Improve Your Weakest Section
Since you’ve already taken an assessment (or several) at this point, you should know where you get the strongest and weakest scores. If you’re already scoring high in your strong area, focus more of your time on building the skills necessary to score well on the other areas. This can have a significant impact on your final score, and it will also help improve your confidence.
Embrace Testing Strategies
Test takers who receive high scores on the LSAT embrace testing strategies. They not only use the strategies, but they also understand why they are so effective. Look for testing strategies that can help you identify incorrect responses, help you solve LSAT logic games faster, or improve your accuracy on test questions.
Develop Strategies for Each Section of the Test
While general testing strategies can be effective, also be sure to learn about effective strategies when approaching each section of the test, including:
Some strategies to help you improve your score on the reading comprehension section include:
- Read the questions before confronting the passage so you know what to look for
- Read the passage; don’t just skim
- Find the exact lines that a question references and mark them
- Mark the passage for the main idea, author’s opinion or tone, key concepts, and specific details so that you can easily go back to this information to answer the questions
And here are some tips to help you improve your logic games score:
- Read every word because each word can have special meaning
- Draw diagrams to organize the information
- Study the game types and how to approach each one
- Redo some of the same games to learn how to approach them the next time around
- Learn how to make accurate inferences
Some ways to improve your approach to the logical reasoning section include:
- Understand the different question types and how to approach them
- Actively read the question
- Anticipate the answer before reading the possible answers
Increase Test Speed
As you continue studying, take a practice test every week. Time yourself. Try to finish the test in less time each time you take it. Avoid hesitating on questions and be decisive. If you don’t know an answer, move on; you can come back to it if you have extra time at the end.
Test Day Tips
Now that you are approaching the finish line, it is important that you continue your forward momentum. Here are some additional tips to help you on test day:
After all of your pre-test preparation, you should be much better at analyzing questions and quickly recognizing easier ones. The LSAT is not a scaled test; all the questions are worth the same amount of points. Therefore, by answering all of the easy questions first, you can rack up a lot of points. Then, you will have more time to devote to harder questions in the section.
Don’t Get Stuck on a Question
As you’re taking the test, you may suddenly come across a question that you think you can find the answer to. Before you know it, you’ve spent five minutes on a single question and are no closer to getting the right answer.
Avoid this situation by quickly marking an answer and noting that you need to come back to the question later – if you have time. You cannot afford to waste several minutes on a single question when you still have many more that you have not answered.
Answer Every Question
You are not penalized for answering questions wrong on the LSAT, but if you guess the right answer, you can add points to your score. So there’s no downside to simply marking any answer if you don’t have the time to go through the question!
Eliminate Wrong Answers
Improve the odds of getting an answer right by eliminating wrong ones. Mark out the answers that are obviously wrong before evaluating the potentially correct answers.
Review the Question and Your Answer
Review your answer and make sure it makes sense. Do not miss important details because you are rushing through the test. If you have time at the end of the test, come back to questions that tripped you up.
While you may be getting tired at this point in the test, don’t give up! You are almost there— just a few hours away from possibly scoring much higher on the test. If you start to give in to your test fatigue, you may begin to labor over questions for too long and may negatively affect your test performance. Maintain the pace you have developed during your practice.
If you adopt the strategies discussed above, you can improve your LSAT score. Consider using a comprehensive LSAT prep course for your best chance at success.