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December 26, 2008

Best LSAT Prep Books | Book Recommendations

*Please see this linked list of the Best LSAT Prep Books available through LSAT Blog. That's is the one I am updating, rather than the post below.*

*See my LSAT study schedules for tips on how to use these materials.*


The Newest LSAT PrepTests
by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC)

For the first time ever, LSAT PrepTests (recent LSAT exams) are available for instant PDF download along with free explanations!

The test has significantly changed in the last decade, so make sure you get several of the newer exams.

Use: throughout your exam prep.

LSAT Blog Next 10 Actual Official LSAT PrepTests
The Next 10 Actual, Official LSAT PrepTests
by LSAC (identical older edition)

This book includes PrepTests 29-38. You'll need to get a copy of this to adequately prepare.

Use: during your exam preparation.

(Check out my unofficial LSAT Logic Games questions, which accompany the Logic Games included in this book.)

10 More Actual Official LSAT PrepTests
10 More Actual, Official LSAT PrepTests
by LSAC (identical older edition)

This book includes PrepTests 19-28.

Use: during your exam preparation.

10 Actual Official LSAT PrepTests
10 Actual Official LSAT PrepTests
by LSAC (identical older edition)

This book includes most of the PrepTests from 7-18. It's only worth your time to do these if you've begun your prep early enough that you will have plenty of time to complete the newer PrepTests also.

Remember: These PrepTests are from 12/1992 - 9/1995. There's no need to worry if you find some of the Logic Games tricky. These game types hardly ever surface on newer exams.

Use (if at all): at the beginning of your preparation to help you get used to the LSAT.

LSAT Blog PrepTest PDF Download
The Oldest LSAT PrepTests
by LSAC

For the first time ever, LSAT PrepTests 1-6 (June 1991 - October 1992), 8 (June 1993), and 17 (December 1995) are available for instant PDF download along with accompanying complete Logical Reasoning explanations!

These exams were previously out-of-print, but I've licensed them from LSAC.

Use: if you'll have time to complete the more recent exams as well.


Official LSAT SuperPrep
The Official LSAT SuperPrep
by LSAC (identical older edition, except for tiny difference noted below)

This book includes a couple of exams you won't see anywhere else: 2/1996, 2/1999, and 2/2000. However, the book's biggest selling point is the fact that it includes complete explanations of each exam. It's important to know how the test-makers think.

Use: Read the introductory section covering each section of the exam prior to attempting questions of each type in the first few months of your prep. The introductory section is pages 1-62 (in newer edition) or pages 1-54 (in older edition).

(That 8-page difference consists of a comparative reading passage you won't find anywhere else, as well as a detailed explanation of it. This is the only difference between the editions that I spotted.)

Save the 3 exams in the book (and the explanations of each) for later in your preparation. The explanations are rather technical, so you may benefit more from them after working through my Logic Games and Logical Reasoning plans.

However, if SuperPrep's introductory section is smooth sailing for you and you feel like LSAC's writing style doesn't confuse you, then feel free to work through the three exams (and read their explanations) in the same manner that I recommend working through Next 10 in my 3-month sample study schedule.


LSAT Blog Official LSAT Handbook
The Official LSAT Handbook






LSAT Grouped by Logic Game Type


LSAT Grouped by Question Type


Kaplan LSAT Mastery Practice


June 2007 LSAT exam (PDF)
by LSAC

This is a free sample PrepTest. When you're making a study schedule, treat this exam as if it were PrepTest 51 1/2.


Sample LSAT Questions and Explanations (PDF)
by LSAC

From the folks who write the exam. Released in 2008.


About the LSAT
by LSAC

More sample questions and explanations, as well as a great overview of the exam.


A Rulebook for Arguments Weston
A Rulebook for Arguments
by Anthony Weston

If you're only going to order one book for your LSAT prep aside from LSAT-specific books, make this it.

Weston will show you how to spot gaps in arguments and flawed reasoning. His book is clear, simple, and concise (104 pages). It serves as an excellent outline and how-to guide for the LSAT's Logical Reasoning section.

It's a great (and amusing) framework for LSAT-style thinking. It's really cheap (compared to the other books, anyway). Don't buy an older edition of this one to save money, though. The author has improved/added significant content for each new edition.

Use: Before you start studying for the LSAT, or before you start the Logical Reasoning section.

Logic Made Easy
Logic Made Easy: How to Know When Language Deceives You
by Deborah Bennett (older edition)

Even though this book is not specifically written for LSAT prep, it includes many Logical Reasoning-style questions. It also discusses several common fallacies. Bennett is clearly familiar with the LSAT, which makes the book useful for LSAT prep. The book is clearly-written, contains basic examples, and it's concise.

Feel free to skip the chapters on the history of logic (and chapter 10 on truth tables) and focus on the everyday-life examples throughout the book instead. Be sure to check out the section on fallacies in Chapter 11, as well as the final chapter.

Also see my interview with Dr. Bennett on Logic Made Easy.

Use: Before you start studying for the LSAT, or before you start the Logical Reasoning section.

Informal Logic Pragmatic Approach
Informal Logic: A Pragmatic Approachby Douglas Walton (older edition)

Clearly demonstrates and explains several types of valid and invalid arguments. Walton loves reviewing logical fallacies, and he discusses several common ones that appear on the LSAT.

Use (if at all): Before you start studying or before you start the Logical Reasoning section.

Elementary Logic
Elementary Logic: Revised Edition
by William Quine (older edition)

It's only 144 pages, but it manages to cover several fundamental issues in logic, such as necessary and sufficient conditions. If you're interested, and you have enough time, look it up, but you don't need to.

Use (if at all): Before you start preparing or before you start the Logical Reasoning section.

How to Solve It
How to Solve It: A New Aspect of Mathematical Method
by George Polya (older editions)

Basic suggestions for logical thinking and problem solving. Why use it? Because it provides a framework you can use to identify and analyze relationships between evidence and conclusion in a given argument. Wikipedia, this summary, and these questions should be enough.

Ask the following questions when you encounter each Logical Reasoning stimulus or Logic Game.

1. What info is provided/unknown? Does the evidence support the conclusion?
2. How does this stimulus/game differ from other ones you've seen?
3. Does restating the argument help? (Consider the contrapositive.)
4. Can you make any inferences from the given information?
5. What can you do with the inferences?

Another good summary.

Use (if at all): Before you start preparing or before you start the Logical Reasoning section.


LSAT Blog Sudoku Puzzles LSAT Prep
LSAT Blog's Sudoku Puzzles for LSAT Prep

I've put together 208 easy-to-moderate sudoku puzzles, along with a brief introduction to sudoku. They're presented in increasing order of difficulty.

You can download and print out multiple copies of each puzzle.

Sudoku puzzles will sharpen your brain and prepare it for the Logic Games.

Use (if at all): Before you start studying or when you need a break.


Little Black Book of Sudoku
The Little Luxe Book of Sudoku: 335 Easy to Hard Puzzles
by Will Shortz

Book of sudoku puzzles by the guy who also writes the NYTimes crossword puzzle.



Little Luxe Book of Sudoku
The Little Black Book of Sudoku: 400 Puzzles
by Will Shortz

More sudoku puzzles.

***

See my LSAT Study Schedules for tips on how to use these LSAT prep books effectively.



Also see Law School Admissions | Book Recommendations and LSAT Analog Watch / Timer for Test Day.



18 comments:

  1. Thank you for the reviews!

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  2. Just started studying for the lsat, so I began reading Logic Made Easy by Bennett. Worth the read, but, my goodness... Faulkner would be proud of the tortured...ahem, sorry, complex sentence structures. Certainly exercises the brain. Being Logical by McInerny is a quick and easy read. By the way, I really like this blog and the direction it provides.

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  3. So I decided to read Logic Made Easy by Deborah Bennett, since formal logic, even with the assistance of the LR Bible, was definitely a weak point for me on the June test (and the book is offering me a "break" of sorts from studying, though it's definitely not as much as a break as an episode of 30 Rock or a stiff vodka tonic might be...but you take what you can get). Nevertheless, I enjoyed it immensely -- and I think my understanding of some really key logical concepts has improved as a result of reading it.

    I also have to admit that reading this book has given me a new reason why I should like this test, and why I should appreciate--rather than begrudge--the chance to study for it. I remember hearing someone say that they believed that studying for the LSAT made them smarter, and I 100% did NOT believe them (in fact, I saw the opportunity cost of this test as taking away from things that I "knew" made me smarter, like reading...and activism...and taking classes). But after reading Bennett, I feel like mastering LSAT material (and, consequently, getting much better at logical reasoning) will, indeed, contribute to my intelligence, or at least intelligence of a certain sort (and God knows I've studied my ass off for some tests that haven't come close to doing that!) She quotes Lewis Carroll, who said:

    * Once you master the machinery of Symbolic Logic...[i]t will give you clearness of thought--the ability to see your way through a puzzle--the habit of arranging your ideas in an orderly and get-at-able form--and, more valuable of all, the power to detect fallacies, and to tear to pieces the flimsy illogical arguments, which you will so continually encounter in books, in newspapers, in speeches, and even in sermons, and which so easily delude those who have never taken the trouble to master this fascinating Art. Try it. That is all I ask of you!*

    *Quoted in Bennett at 23.

    In other words: To be as smart and funny as Jon Stewart, you have to know logic really well. [Or, to be more accurate: the mastery of logic is a necessary condition for being as smart and funny as Jon Stewart. It can't guarantee that you will be (it's no sufficient condition). But hell, if you don't have it, you've got no shot... And that's good enough for me.]

    * Smart and funny as JS --> Good at formal logic
    * Not good at formal logic --> Not as smart and funny as JS


    One miscellaneous thing I really liked about this book was that Bennett makes you feel (sort of) better if logic doesn't come "easily", or "automatically", to you.* Almost every concept she discusses includes examples of studies that psychologists and others have done on real people to see if they can reason correctly using, say, the conditional, and -- shocking! -- how real people screw up, and screw up often. The studies are also used to explain common mistakes, which I think helps the reader A) understand the entire concept better, and B) avoid making similar mistakes in the future.

    Bottom line: I highly recommend this bad boy. It will bring your LSAT studying back to the "real world", and it will help improve your score. What more can you ask of something that costs $12?

    *(I say "sort of" because law itself doesn't come easily to much of the population, and the median LSAT score sucks, and thinking that I have a (lack of) reasoning skills in common with the "majority" of American society scares me quite a bit, so you can't exactly fall back on this fact--but for some reason it was a psychological boost for me, particularly when she mentioned times when study subjects could improve their reasoning).

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  4. Steve,

    Do you think the logic games in the second two "10 Actual, Offical LSAT Preptests" (i.e. tests 19-38) are any harder than the games on the current tests?

    Zack

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  5. I found your blog on a Google search, and it is, by far, the most helpful one out there. I have been following your suggested schedule and reading the books you recommended, and I can really see progress. Thank you for your guidance!

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  6. Steve, thanks for the list.I am currently going through Logic Made Easy by Mrs. Bennett.There is a lot of theoritcal stuff( the 64 moods of syllogisms, for example) that are not really relevant for thE LSAT.I am skipping some of that material, and trying to skim over for the distilled principles, while going through the examples in detail.

    Any advice?

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  7. @Saim- I am reading the same book and experiencing the same situation. While interesting, I need to make good use of the time that I do have. The historical and theory are interesting, in my unprofessional and inexperienced opinion, will not help me on the LSAT. I am also curious to see what Steve has to say.

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  8. I agree that many parts of Logic Made Easy are not relevant. However, many parts of it are. As I suggested in my review of it (in the blog post above), feel free to skip over the areas of it that aren't relevant.

    If you're pressed for time but want a general logic text, read A Rulebook for Arguments instead. I've recently added to the blog post above.

    For LSAT prep purposes, I prefer it to Logic Made Easy.

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  9. I am a year and a half away from taking the LSAT but I am wanting to start studying early. I have found your site to be very helpful, especially your list of recommended books. I am looking forward to becoming very familiar with your blog. Although I don't have many questions or suggestions now, I am sure I will in the future. Thank you.

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  10. Any idea where I could purchase preptest 61 and preptest 62? I ordered a bunch of preptests off of Amazon but couldn't find these!

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  11. Not released yet because they are the October and December 2010 exams.

    Whoever sells those this early will go to prison :)

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  12. Ah can't say I'm upset about two less tests to do :)

    BTW can't thank you enough for your 3 month study schedule. Everyone asks me if I'm freaking out about all the studying and I just say no, I've got a schedule to work from!

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  13. Question: have you ever done a review of Nova's Master The LSAT? If not, what did you think?

    By the way, I really like your blog. I wish I had found it sooner...

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  14. Glad you're enjoying it!

    Haven't written a comprehensive review of it, but I don't believe the book is worth getting.

    It's a bit outdated and of relatively limited value simply because it was written before the vast majority of recent PrepTests - it only gives you strategies for older questions (and it also contains many simulated - non-LSAC - questions). It might be a good alternative way of looking at things, though.

    Keep in mind that it's very old, though. The PrepTests it uses are 2, 7, 8, and 9. The December 2010 LSAT was PrepTest 62.

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  15. what about for the 2012 LSAT? what books do you reccomend for this year?

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  16. what would you say is the first book to get to prepare for the lsat?

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  17. HI STEVE! What would be a good book for 2013? And to prep BEFORE taking lsat prep course?

    Is it a myth that the October test is harder than June or other exams?

    -Krys

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  18. My list of LSAT prep books for 2013 and beyond are all listed in the following post:

    Best LSAT Prep Books

    This is the post I will be updating.

    ReplyDelete