LSAT Prep While Working or in College

LSAT Prep While Working CollegeIf you have a busy schedule with work or school and a halfway-decent social life, it’s difficult enough to manage everything. Add in LSAT prep, and it's easy to feel overwhelmed.

For this reason, start studying for the LSAT earlier than you think you'll need to.

Your elementary school book reports probably took longer than you'd thought they would, due to both procrastination and underestimation of the project's enormity.

Same goes for LSAT prep.

It's a more difficult exam than those you took to get into undergrad, and it has higher stakes.

Because you likely have more to do now than when you were in high school, you really can't afford to procrastinate.

Give yourself extra time to prepare. I recommend a minimum of 3 months, but 4 months wouldn't be a bad idea if you want to give yourself a bit of a cushion.

The busier you are with work or school, the greater the number of months you'll need. This won't necessarily mean you'll be studying for a greater number of hours, of course. It simply means that you'll have to spread out your studying.

This is a good thing. You shouldn't cram your studying all at once anyway. The LSAT is not about memorizing material. Rather, it's about refining your thought processes to think more logically.

The more spread out your studying is, and the greater the number of months that you're thinking about this, the more you'll learn the LSAT mindset of skepticism, analysis, and improve your ability to interpret convoluted text.


The following are just some general suggestions for how and when to study. Of course, you'll have to adjust them for your specific needs, and your actual studying will vary week by week.


If you work full-time or go to school full-time, 15 hours per week of LSAT studying over the course of 4 months might be a good guideline.

Here's how you might fit it in over the course of the week:

-5 hours on Saturday
-2.5 hours per day, Mon-Thurs
-0 hours on Friday
-0 hours on Sunday


If you work part-time or go to school part-time, 20 hours per week of LSAT studying over the course of 3 months might be a good guideline.

Here's how you might fit it in over the course of the week:

-5 hours on Saturday
-3.75 hours per day, Mon-Thurs
-0 hours on Friday
-0 hours on Sunday


If you work full-time, you'll probably have a harder time fitting in your studying because you'll have less unscheduled (free) time.

Here's how you might fit in 2.5 hours on a weekday:

-.5 hours before starting the workday (may require getting to the office early)
-.5 hours during lunch
-1.5 hours



Now, I know 5 hours of LSAT studying is not your ideal way to spend a Saturday. Aside from killing a good chunk of a weekend day, it'll probably tame your Friday nights a bit.

(If it doesn't on the first Friday night you party while prepping, it certainly will on the second. You'll realize that the correlation between Friday night partying and Saturday morning hangovers may, in fact, be of a causal nature as well.)

However, the studying has to happen sometime. Unless you want to fit even more study time into your weekdays, or you want to study on both weekend days, 5 hours of studying will have to happen on one weekend day. (I'm not necessarily saying it's better to load your weekend studying onto one day, just that you may prefer it. Modify as desired.)

So, how do you study 5 hours on a weekend day?

First of all, waking up early is probably the way to go. This gives you the late afternoon/early evening to spend with family or friends.

However, don't study as soon as you get out of bed. It takes your brain up to 2 hours to fully wake up in the morning, so do other stuff before starting your studying for the day.

Here's how you might study for 5 hours on a weekend day:

8AM-10AM: wake up, brush teeth, eat breakfast, shower, exercise, check email/Facebook/news, etc.
10AM-12:30PM: study LSAT
12:30-1:15PM: lunch
1:15-3:45PM: study LSAT
3:45PM-???: fun stuff

Feel free to shift it all 2 hours later if you're on a different sleep schedule. Remember, though, that you're not supposed to party the night before.



If you're in school, you probably have a great deal of unscheduled (free) time, during which you have several things to do at undefined points during the week:

-Facebook
-Friends
-Extracurriculars
-Internship
-Job
-Exercise

Then, of course, there's class, which is at a defined point during the week. That (supposedly) makes you more likely to go each week because you know exactly when it is. It's scheduled in your planner/calendar.

I don't care whether you miss class sometimes. Professors ramble, and you can probably get a good GPA without going too often.

However, I do care whether you study for the LSAT.

If there are specific times each week that you're supposed to study, you're more likely to actually study. At the very least, it may make you feel guilty for doing other stuff during that time.

Guilt is a great motivator.

Since your classes aren't necessarily at the same time each day, the LSAT studying doesn't have to be at the same time every day either.

However, you should still treat it like a class (or two). It might be a good idea to take this into account when planning your classes and other responsibilities during the semester. If the norm at your school is taking 4 or 5 classes a semester, consider taking 3 or 4 classes during your LSAT prep semester instead. Consider not doing an internship that semester. There's a good chance you'll need the time.


Summary:

-Start your prep earlier than you think is necessary.

-Set aside specific times to study each day.

-Try to spread your studying throughout the week.

-Give yourself at least one or two days off from studying per week.

-Try to reduce other obligations during the period that you'll be prepping.

Photo by jackol



22 comments:

  1. Thank you SO much for this post! I work full time and I'm taking the December LSAT. I also want to be back in school by next fall, so I've been stressing that I didn't leave myself enough time to accomplish all of this. This just brought down my stress level IMMENSELY!

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  2. Thank YOU!!

    I too work full-time, study full-time and will take the LSAT on December 10th.
    Great article.

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  3. Great post. To be honest, 2.5 even sounds like a lot of time to me. Guess I'll have to try buckling down more often.

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  4. Bravo! Thanks again, Steve for taking the time to assist others as well as myself in wanting to make a great score on the LSAT exam and get into the law school of my choice. Have a great weekend.

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  5. Thanks for the tips. I'm taking the LSAT in February, and because I know that I'll be busy with school, a research job, and extracurriculars, I've decided to take a lighter-than-usual load to accommodate LSAT studying. I was unsure about dropping a class and how law schools would feel about it, but I figured that being able to allocate more time to LSAT prep this quarter while still keeping good grades is a smarter option than stretching myself too thin.

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  6. Steve, somewhat off topic, but when can we expect PT 60 to become available for purchase? LSAC's online store says it will be available "mid-July" and Amazon does not have it in stock yet. Do they usually take this long to release the most recent tests?

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  7. Hey Jim,

    It doesn't usually take this long. I can't predict when they'll make it available for purchase.

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  8. Hey Steve,

    Thanks for the post. I'm just about entering the tail end of my prep schedule - the half where you start doing practice tests rather than drills. I'm using your 4 month schedule and it works out to be about 3 PTs a week. I actually plan on doing more PT than what you lay out in your post.

    But then, this works out to about 6-8 hours a week of prep, with post-game review. Is there something else I should be doing? Or should the hours be amended when you enter this stage?

    And yeah, I'm working full time.

    Thanks

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  9. Jim and Steve,
    My PrepTest 60 arrived on Monday, August 23rd--FINALLY! It also came UPS...I think that was b/c LSAC realized they made so many people wait for so long. I originally purchased mine around 4th of July.

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  10. Thanks for this post Steve! I feel more encouraged now!

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  11. I took a class last summer, then decided I wanted to stay on at my job and didn't get around to taking the test. Now I'm doing a 7 week 6 hours a day marathon training session for the October lsat. Will that be enough?

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  12. Thank you SO much for this post! I work full time and I'm taking the December LSAT. I also want to be back in school by next fall, so I've been stressing that I didn't leave myself enough time to accomplish all of this. This just brought down my stress level IMMENSELY!

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  13. I didn't see anything in here for people who work full-time and go to school full-time, while still trying to prep for the LSAT. :)

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  14. Steve,

    Thank you for this post. I am working full-time as well and trying to study for the LSAT. I am currently following your 5 month study schedule and plan on take the LSAT in December. I looked ahead in the schedule and I'm wondering how I can implement taking the 3 practice tests a week with the small amount of time that I have? If you could offer any suggestions, that would be helpful.

    --Sue

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  15. Thank you so much! Very honest and helpful.

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  16. Steve,

    What are your thoughts on taking a prep course that ends mere days before the LSAT? Do you think taking a course earlier and leaving more time for self study would be a better idea?

    Thanks,
    Blake

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  17. Thank you Steve!

    I am just starting to prep for the Feb test. Much of your info is just what I've been digging for.

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  18. Hello,

    I was just reading this post and wanted to know around how many hours would anyone recommend studying if i had 5 months of study time for the june 2011 lsat? i saw that for a 4-mth study plan around 15 hrs per week would be ideal...

    would 5 months be too much study time spread over? I'm thinking that 2 hours per day (Mon-Fri) 5 days a week and then 1 PT per week (4 hrs on Sat), which would amount to 14 hours per week would be good and then perhaps up the PTs during the last 3-4 weeks before test day.

    any feedback would be appreciated. thanks.

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  19. I am a bit late, but I am taking the LSAT this upcoming December and I NEED a good score to get into the school I want to go to. I just stumbled upon your blog and I think it's amazing. However, I have questions I feel that only you can answer. I suck at self-studying so I am going to take a course. I also work full-time, Monday-Friday. How should my study schedule be then, considering I spend majority of my free time in the actual course?

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  20. Thanks for this! I work full-time as a consultant and just have project upon project handed to me - and I really enjoy them, and have to balance the work I do and love with LSAT studying - it can be difficult and often am told I'm procrastinating and "losing focus" by my family, but I think of it more as process; like you said: "The LSAT is not about memorizing material. Rather, it's about refining your thought processes to think more logically." Thanks again for the post, and the blog looks great! Best of luck!

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  21. I just want to add my thanks. I used one of your detailed study guides and extensively took advantage of your free articles and book recommendations a couple years ago. I got a 175! So, thank you for keeping me sane, focused, and successful with my prep!

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