LSAT FAQ | Common Questions When Starting LSAT Prep

Most people starting their LSAT prep tend to have the same basic questions. This post is my attempt to answer some of the most common ones.

What is the LSAT, and what's on it?
The LSAT is the Law School Admission Test. It contains 4 scored sections: 1 Analytical Reasoning section (Logic Games), 2 Logical Reasoning sections, and 1 Reading Comprehension section. There's a 5th unscored experimental section of any type mixed in, and you won't know which section is the experimental until later. There's also an unscored Writing Sample.


What are Logic Games?
"Logic Games" refers to the Analytical Reasoning portion of the exam. Logic Games are logic puzzles containing several variables. These variables can usually be represented by letters. Most games contain rules that impose conditional relationships between the variables. After giving you all the rules, the game will contain 5-7 questions based upon that scenario and rules. Each Analytical Reasoning (Logic Games) section contains 4 Logic Games, giving you an average of 8 minutes, 45 seconds to complete each "game." In order to solve the game within the time limit, it makes sense to learn a solid diagramming strategy.


How much time do I have for each section of the exam?
All sections of the exam are 35 minutes long. This includes scored sections, the unscored experimental section, and the unscored Writing Sample. This means that you have an average of 8 minutes, 45 seconds, to complete each Logic Game and Reading Comprehension passage because there are four of each per section.


I saw you mentioned PrepTests a few times on the blog. What are those?
They're LSAC's (Law School Admission Council's) cutesy name for previously-administered (actual) LSAT exams. They're the best source of LSAT questions for studying.


I already got an LSAT book. I went to the bookstore and got LSAT for Dummies and---
Please don't scare me like that. LSAT for Dummies doesn't use real LSAT questions. You should only use books that contain real LSAT questions. With dozens of real LSAT exams, there's no need to use fake questions.


If there are dozens of real exams, why would an LSAT book use fake questions?
Because LSAC charges a large sum of money to companies for the right to reprint past exams. Most companies choose to avoid the fee and simply write their own questions for their retail books.


What's wrong with fake questions?
1. Real LSAT questions are written by people with backgrounds in philosophy. As a result, the questions are written with a degree of tightness that is extremely difficult to match. Real questions are heavily-vetted before test-takers even see them. They're also administered as part of the exam's experimental section before they are administered as scored questions. They're simply held to a higher standard than those written for the typical retail prep book.

2. Fake questions can be constructed to demonstrate the "effectiveness" of techniques that would be ineffective on real questions.

3. Fake questions can actually be real questions in disguise (tainting recent PrepTests).



How do I know if a book uses real LSAT questions?
Believe me, if a company has paid the fee for the right to use actual LSAC-written questions, they'll brag about it on the cover. (Contrapositive: If they haven't bragged about it on the cover, they haven't paid the fee. Assuming they're not breaking the law, this means they're not using actual LSAT questions).

Here are a few books I've reviewed that don't use real LSAT questions:

Barron's LSAT Prep Book Review

Kaplan LSAT Prep Book

Princeton Review LSAT Logic Games Workout



Where should I get PrepTests?
They're available on Amazon. Amazon's the best place to buy them, and it offers the fastest shipping. Here's a big list containing every LSAT PrepTest. Out of the books I recommend, bookstores tend to stock only 10 Actual Official LSAT PrepTests (the oldest book of 10 exams). I suspect this is because it has the most official-sounding name. Some bookstores carry all the books of 10 exams, but I've never seen a bookstore stock individual PrepTest booklets.



Which LSAT prep books DO you recommend?
They're all listed in my Best LSAT Prep Books post.


How long should I study for?
There's no one-size-fits-all answer, but a minimum of 3 months is ideal.


I only have two months until my exam date, and I haven't studied at all yet.
Then you'll have to seriously buckle down in order to get into the LSAT mindset. No distractions. If you work full-time or are in school full-time, you should strongly consider postponing the exam until a later test date."


Which section of the exam is hardest?
Most students find Logic Games to be the most difficult at first. However, it's the easiest section to improve upon because it contains the fewest question types. If you create a solid diagram for each game and make the inferences, you've just netted yourself 5-7 questions.

Reading Comprehension is the most difficult section to significantly improve upon.

Logical Reasoning contains the greatest number of question-types.

The bottom line: the hardest section is different for each person.


Whenever you talk about Logical Reasoning on the blog, you talk about the stimulus and question stem. What are those?
"Stimulus" refers to the short paragraph that starts each Logical Reasoning question. It's typically anywhere from 4-13 lines long and usually contains an argument.

"Question stem" refers to the 1-2 line part that comes right before the 5 answer choices.


How much should I study for the Writing Sample?
How to Prepare for the LSAT Writing Sample contains everything you need to know. It'll take about 5 minutes to read.


Which month's test is hardest?
Please see "Hardest LSAT: Feb, June, Oct, or Dec?"


I was thinking of taking a course because it'll force me to study. If $1,500 doesn't force me to study, nothing will!
How do you expect to get through law school if you can't buckle down and study for the admission test? With regard to discipline, the only thing a course can do is make you feel guilty for not doing the homework. It may force you to go to class, but it won't force you to study outside of class. Despite your fantasies about the LSAC being a picnic, it's not. You will have to put in the bulk of your prep time outside of class.

If you want help sticking to your commitment to take the LSAT, use a site like StickK, which will donate your money to charity if you don't follow through. You can also form an LSAT study group on Craigslist.


I want to do well and am committed to studying. Should I take a course?
One big concern with courses is the lack of credentials provided about instructors prior to signing up. You should have the option to switch instructors if you don't like yours, no questions asked. I'm not necessarily saying you should skip courses altogether. Some students prefer courses over private tutoring. However, private tutoring can be more efficient (more personalization/flexibility) and serve as a supplement to self-study.


What are your thoughts on LSAT prep courses?
Please see LSAT Prep Courses vs. Private Tutoring.


Can I have more LSAT FAQ?
Sure! Here are some more LSAT FAQ.

***
Also see Is Ten Hours in a Single Day Too Much to Study for the LSATs?, and the About the LSAT Video by LSAC.



12 comments:

  1. Hey Steve, I have just started to prep myself for the December 2009 LSAT test just three days ago. I am so nervous, I don't know nothing about this test just what I have been reading on your website and in the SuperPrep book from LSAC, which now im on page 21. I am reading page by page in this book to get an understanding of how the test makers think and what they say of the techniques, what are your thoughts? I have also ordered about 10 LSAT recent tests including SEP and JUNE test. what do you think? I have also received the bible books everyone talks about, the logic one and the reasoning one 2009 editions, do you think they will really help me more than LSAC superPrep book, just a thought I am still going to read all of them.I also got the Next 10 offical LSAT book the purple one the latest, should I get the one in the middle, sorry I am not sure what that one is called im sure you do, I also got the green older one with the old throwback tests. Man, I write alot sorry. You're really smart doing this whole blog Steve. Thank you. I would love to hire you for tutoring but im sure you are expensive.

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  2. Lindsay:

    Hi Steve, amazing Blog. Just have a quick question:

    Do proctors give you ANY time notifications whatsoever during any given section? Or do you just have to keep all time yourself?

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  3. Hi Lindsay, glad you're enjoying the blog!

    During the section, they are supposed to give you a 5-minute warning. That's it. Other than that, keep time yourself.

    You may even want to keep all time yourself and not depend on them to call the 5-minute warning. It's possible that they might screw up and fail to announce it properly.

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  4. Steve, does LSAC ever administer more than one analytical/games section at a time? I'll wait for your answer.

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  5. You might get a second Logic Games as your experimental, but only one section of Logic Games will count towards your score.

    The 4 scored sections of the LSAT are:

    -Logic Games
    -Logical Reasoning
    -Logical Reasoning
    -Reading Comprehension

    These can be administered in any order.

    As I indicated above, there is also a 5th unscored experimental section that can be any of the 3 types above.

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  6. I am an English major. Does this put me at a disadvantage in regard to scoring high on the lsat?

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  7. Hi Steve. Love the blog. Still have another year of undergrad but trying to get real comfortable with the LSAT. I was wondering if you could recommend a good introduction to logic book. I really struggled with an online logic course I took a few years ago and would appreciate your help! Thank you!

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  8. Hi Steve, awesome blog. Thanks for putting it together, it's really helping as I prepare for the Dec test! -Jessy

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  9. Hi Steve, thank you so much for all of this information, it has been such a help! I am taking the LSAT this Saturday. I remember reading somewhere in your blog that at some point the LSAT changed and to start studying with a certain # test. I can't find that info now. I only have about 3 of the most recently released tests left that I havent taken, but want to save those for Wednesday and beyond. I do have some from the 1990's, but don't want to introduce anything at this point that wont be beneficial. But, I want to continue practicing for the next couple of days. Any suggestions?

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  10. Hi
    I recently purchased and started the 6 mo. plan. I was wondering if anyone one here had suggestions on catching up. I am a little under two weeks behind do to a swarm of tests ( should not have happened).

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  11. Steve, I've seen individual PrepTests at the Barnes & Noble textbook store on Fifth Ave & 18th St in Manhattan. They don't keep a certain number in stock all the time, but they have some occasionally.

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  12. Hi Steve, I have been reading your blog and posts religiously. I started studying for the LSAT in mid August and find it as though im not ready yet. I've been scoring a 141-145 on my practice diagnostics which is better than my original diagnostic of 135. My LSAT date is for October 2012, I'm going to withdraw and take the test in December 2012. Would you say it's wiser to withdraw rather than to take the test and cancel my score? I'm aiming for a 163. Do you think I'm aiming for the moon, or its doable given the amount of time left for the December LSAT. Additionally, I've been prepping on my own without any prep course. Your feedback would be great!Any other suggestions you could make!

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