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July 3, 2009

Retaking the LSAT Study Schedule

Also see the Retake LSAT Study Schedule: Premium Day-By-Day Version.

So, you're planning to retake the LSAT.

It's incredibly important to figure out what you did wrong the first time around and plan what you'll do differently this time.

Maybe you didn't have enough time to study for the LSAT. Maybe you just didn't use it wisely. I recommend a minimum of 3 months.

It could be you didn't use the right LSAT prep books.

Maybe you didn't spend enough time on a certain section. Maybe your approach just wasn't flexible enough.

The biggest concern students have is "there aren't enough PrepTests" and/or they've "already used up too many PrepTests." There are more than 60 PrepTests.

Of course, having to resort to the older exams and having to redo newer ones isn't ideal, but it shouldn't be a major concern.

This blog post will help you figure out to move forward as you prepare for an LSAT retake.

Blog reader Whitney writes:
"[M]y concern is whether I need to do question type practice or just simply do more full length and section practice."
Ideally, you'll do a mix of practicing specific question-types and doing full-length sections. You'll end with full-length exam practice.

The real issue is figuring out what went wrong the first time around and using that info as you plan your retake schedule.

If you aren't having difficulty with a specific type of question, then full-length section/exam practice is all you need.

However, this situation is rare - most people have more difficulty with some question-types than others.

This means you'll probably need to "Drill, baby, drill."

If you didn't cancel your most recent LSAT score, review that exam and make a list of the question-types you answered incorrectly and/or that gave you difficulty.

If you did cancel it, do a few full exams (untimed) to determine question-types that give you difficulty.

If there were relatively few types that gave you difficulty, you might just want to spend a week or two drilling those types and then move onto doing a practice test or two each week.

The following 3-month retake schedule assumes you already did most/all of what I recommend in my LSAT study schedules for first-timers. If you did little or none of the things contained in those schedules, use those instead.

This schedule also assumes there are 4 Logical Reasoning question-types that give you difficulty and at least two types of Logic Games that gives you difficulty. Finally, it assumes you've already seen/used dozens of the most recent PrepTests in your prep the first time around.

Feel free to alter this schedule according to your needs.

PrepTests 29-38 are in The Next 10 Actual, Official LSAT PrepTests. All exams after PrepTest 38 are sold individually. They're all listed in the Best LSAT Prep Books post.

Here's an example of one way you might analyze a Logical Reasoning question in more detail.


Week 1: Study my blog posts on Logical Reasoning. Do several dozen questions of that type (untimed) using the LSAT Logical Reasoning spreadsheet (from exams you've never touched, if any) from PrepTests 29-43 and/or from Grouped by Question Type (or other exams prior to LSAT PrepTest 50 or so). Review all questions that give you difficulty and write explanations for why each wrong answer choice is wrong and why the right answer choice is right.

Week 2: Do the same with another type.

Week 3: Do the same with another type.

Week 4: Do the same with another type.

Week 5: Study my relevant blog posts on Logic Games and complete portions of this list of Logic Games from PrepTests 29-38 on a particular game type giving you difficulty. Do several games of that type (untimed) from this book (or other exams prior to LSAT PrepTest 50 or so using my Logic Games categorizations and/or Grouped by Game Type. Create diagrams to disprove each incorrect answer choice and prove why the correct answer choice is right.

Week 6: Do the same with another type.

Week 7: Do the same with another type, or read my blog posts on Reading Comprehension and do several timed sections of Reading Comp from PrepTests 29-44 and/or Grouped by Passage Type.

Week 8: Complete 3 recent LSAT PrepTests (timed). Splice in sections from another to simulate the experimental section. Review all wrong answers and write out explanations for them.

Week 9: Complete 3 recent LSAT PrepTests (timed). Splice in sections from another to simulate the experimental section. Review all wrong answers and write out explanations for them.

Week 10: Complete 3 recent LSAT PrepTests (timed). Splice in sections from another to simulate the experimental section. Review all wrong answers and write out explanations for them.

Week 11: Complete 3 recent LSAT PrepTests (timed). Splice in sections from another to simulate the experimental section. Review all wrong answers and write out explanations for them.

Week 12: Complete 3 recent LSAT PrepTests (timed). Splice in sections from another to simulate the experimental section. Review all wrong answers and write out explanations for them.


Weeks 9-12 should include 5 and 6 section exams (alternating) to simulate as experimental sections. See Preparing for the Experimental Section for why, where, and how to include "experimental" sections.


I know this schedule will include exams you've already done. Remember, I said I'm assuming you already used the newer PrepTests the first time around. That's okay.

Your goal shouldn't always be to get an accurate gauge of your progress. No one (except maybe your parents) is going to give you a prize for how you do on a practice exam. The real thing is all that matters in the end.

Even if you've already done these exams (and remember them well) will you really remember all the answers? If you really think you will, do a previously-taken exam or two under timed conditions. Just see if you get perfect scores on them. If you don't, it means you still have something to learn from them.

Besides, doing them in chronological/numerical order puts at least a few months between you and any particular exam. This means if/when you answer questions correctly, it's more likely this will be due to your understanding of the questions' logic rather than your memory.

If you're really concerned about remembering them, substitute those for exams you've never seen before (see the list of all LSAT PrepTests).

However, it's important to redo the newer PrepTests to ensure that you fully understand them because the LSAT changes over time.

Good luck!



26 comments:

  1. I'm not re-taking, but find this post very useful!
    Thank you for the week-by-week schedule, I had a 6-month outline that needed adjusting.

    Happy 4th!

    ReplyDelete
  2. You, good sir, are a mind-reader. Almost everytime I've had a big issue regarding this test, you've made a post that answered that question.

    I had April and May of "tough scheduling" to bring my score up and I did so by eight points. Now I've got July and August to bring it up eight more points to be accepted into UT. Your schedules and recommended books helped me the first time; I'm pretty goshdarned sure that this schedule ought to bring me up eight more points to my goal.

    Thanks a bunch.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi I recently took the June LSAT and got a horrible score and I'm currently using your 3 month schedule and my confidence is rising because I plan on retaking the LSAT in Sept.... Do you think retaking the exam in decemeber would be too long, and should I stick to taking it in Sept... FYI I work full time during the week.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Eric,

    Thanks for writing. It's difficult to say without more information. If you're able to adequately prepare in time for September, take it in September. Otherwise, go for December.

    Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hello,
    I was wondering how I can go about looking over the LSAT i took on June 8th. Is it located on lsac.org?
    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yes, you can access it by logging into your LSAC account. Click on "LSAT Overview," then click on "View All LSAT Information." All LSAT-relevant PDFs should be under "LSAT Documents."

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks so much, I actually look it in February, and am re-taking it in December because I'll have intensive training in September for something else, but the reading comprehension tips are great, and pretty simple.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Steve

    I am having trouble equating some of the LR question types from the spreadsheet to the bible questions types. Some seem different and some seem to be left out. Would you be able make a list of all the bible questions types and which question type in the speadsheet they fall under? I have already listed the bible question types and the obvious ones for you. Thanks so much for your time and help :)

    Ann

    MTB = inference
    Main Point = conclusion
    Weaken
    Strengthen
    Justify = strengthen?
    Assumption
    Resolve the Paradox
    Method of Reasoning = structure?
    Flaw
    Parallel
    Evaluate = ?
    Cannot be true = ?
    Point at Issue = ?
    Principle = ?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hey Steve:

    I have been trying to prepare for the test since March was going in jUne but changed my mind and signed up for September because of so many other obligations-mother of four, one a 9 month old and working full time. I have become more familiar with the type of work however my time is so limited. Can you tell me how long should I be putting a day to prepare? Should I focus on questions types only? I have done all of the exams up until 57 and yes I get that odd feeling of using old material.I have big difficulties with the games also. Help

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  10. Hi Steve:

    I took the Kaplan course and took the June exam but I plan on retaking the September LSAT. Can I reuse my Kaplan material since they use actual LSAT exams? Will it make a difference?

    Thank you

    ReplyDelete
  11. Steve,
    What do you say to someone who had a score if 133 when taking it twice- Feb 2007 and Feb 2009.

    No, I'm not joking. I would like to know what advice you have to offer.

    ReplyDelete
  12. 7/9 Anonymous - the course materials are fine because they use real LSAT questions. (The retail books are the ones that often don't use real LSAT questions, so those aren't good to use.)

    7/12 Anonymous - Sorry to hear about your scores. Of course, I'd recommend allowing plenty of time to study for the next go at it. You make sure that you figure out what to do differently this time around.

    I'll do a blog post for people in your situation sometime soon. Don't worry - there's hope for you!

    -Steve

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Steve,

    Logic games tends to be my weakest section. I know you adivise us to do the games we are worst at untimed and then prove and disprove each answer. Well my problem is not that I don't get the games. Its more about timing. I know how I arrived at the answer but I tend to be ridiculously slow. Is this something that just improves with time (studied 2 months for the June 09 LSAT) or is there any other techniques you can suggest? Thanks.

    Ann

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  14. Hi Steve,

    I work full-time, Monday through Friday, 9-7ish, and I was wondering if you had any suggestions for what I should be doing on a daily basis. So far I have just been reading my notes and re-doing a lot of problems (mostly games and LR), but how would you suggest I budget my time? Should I be doing a couple timed sections each day or really working through all the material, how often should I take diagnostics, etc.? Please let me know what you think when you have a chance. I am super stressed! Thanks for all of your help!!

    ReplyDelete
  15. So, you advise us to use newer tests that we've done w/in the past 2-3 mths than pt 1-28 that we have not done?

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hope you read this before December Steve.

    I cancelled the Sept. test and I'm retaking in Dec. but I have a problem prepping.

    I remember almost all the answers to the old preptests (I've previously finished all 57 out there) and the ones I don't remember I have ample time to contemplate b/c I save up time not reading the wrong answer choices as I already know the CR.

    Before I cancelled, I was scoring 165-175 on the preptests. My score was just all over the place only losing points on RC(-3~-7) and LR(-6~-10).

    Now I'm scoring 178-180 finishing sections in 25 minutes but I'm sure this isn't representative.

    What should I do?

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi Steve,
    I just took the Dec.05 LSAT today and doubt I did over 140. Of course, that may just be skepticism talking. However, I don't know if I should just go ahead and register for the February LSAT and start studying again, or if I should wait until the scores come out on 1/04/2010 to make a decision. I already applied to the law school of my choice and all they are waiting on is my LSAT score, so now I'm a little worried. What should I do?

    Michelle from FL

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  18. I took decemeber 5 test, my biggest problem was time management, I can't do more than 2 games or 2 RC, any advice? Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi, Steve!!! We had spoken ages before and I took my first exam in Feb. 2008. I did not do too well. I am planning to have another go at it and am planning to start from scratch. Right now, it is the end of January. I am planning to take the September/October 2010 one. Is there anyway you can give me a study schedule? As of right now, I have to start off the book containing prep test 19 - 28 and the logical reasoning bible. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hello Steve,

    Ok i may sound dumb, but i have just started considering the LSAT preparation for the December 2010 test. I am now enrolled to take the Test on December 11 and am wanting to make this my only try. Is there any way you can be of any assistance to me in making me a study schedule. As i speak, i have no material as to what so ever. I really need your help PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE.

    Thank You!!!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hi Steve, I took the LSAT a few years ago and scored crappily. My plan was to take it at the end of the week, I feel like I need another month. Should I just take it and retake it again in DEC or should I cancel and take it in DEC. Added complications: I have already sent in three applications on which I have a future LSAT test date of this weekend.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi Steve-
    Can I consolidate this into 2 months? I am re-taking this December so I only have that long. I have already gone through LRB and LGB as well as 7 PTs. I sent you an e-mail but thought I would try this too!

    Love your blog.

    Johnna

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hi Steve,

    Do you have a daily schedule for any of the retake schedules?? I am retaking in February and just need more structure for my study schedule. Thank you!

    Yara

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hi Steve,

    What do you suggest for people that may only have a month between when October scores come out and the December test? I am still hoping that I have reached my target score of 170+, but I am just not sure, particularly because of the LG section.

    Thanks so much!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Even though this post is a year later, I'm in the exact same position and would like some advice.

      Delete
  25. I'm no expert but from experience with studying so far, I think your schedule should include some breaks and accurate room for revision and studying mistakes. Taking 3 timed preptests, for 5 weeks straight seems like a one-way ticket to self-exploding. Yes, we should be practicing time, but not at the expense of accuracy. Assuming that most of us are working or in school while studying, it just seems a bit much. I guess it will work for some people who enjoy torture.

    ReplyDelete