Showing posts with label FAQ. Show all posts
Showing posts with label FAQ. Show all posts

LSAT Frequently Asked Questions

LSAT Blog Frequently Asked QuestionsI've already posted an LSAT FAQ and some book recommendations.

But you asked for more, so here's the next edition of LSAT FAQ:

What are the most effective methods for preparing for the LSAT?

Before taking full-length practice tests, build a strong foundation in the basics of the exam. Learn which techniques and strategies work best for you, then move on to completing several recent practice tests under timed conditions where you apply those techniques.

Develop effective diagramming techniques for the Logic Game section. Develop an efficient and minimalistic notation system for the Reading Comprehension section. Figure out which systems work best for you, and putting them into practice before Test Day.

Approximate the test-day conditions as closely as possible. Time yourself strictly (no food or bathroom breaks during test sections!) and take at least a few tests in a mildly-distracting setting. The published practice tests only contain 4 sections, but you'll take 5 sections on test day due to the insertion of the experimental section. For this reason, insert an extra section from another exam to build endurance.

After taking a full-length practice test, spend several hours reviewing anything that gave you difficulty - whether you answered it incorrectly or not. This includes questions where you were down to two choices and guessed. In the final weeks before the exam, this is where the greatest score increases come from. After all, you're not simply taking practice tests to gauge your performance and impress your family and friends with great practice scores - you're taking them to learn about what's holding you back from your goal score so that you can avoid similar mistakes in the future.


How long should I spend preparing for the LSAT?

I generally recommend a minimum of 3 months. This gives you time to learn strategies and practice them under timed conditions. Some factors that may determine how long you should spend preparing are:

-your prior history with standardized tests (are you a naturally-good test-taker?)
-your work/school/life schedule (do you have many other obligations?)
-your goal score / desired law school
-your college GPA (a lower college GPA means you'll probably need a higher LSAT score to make up for it.)


What strategies should I use while taking the LSAT on Test Day?

Since the Comparative Reading passage in the Reading Comprehension section requires a slightly different approach than the 3 longer passages, test-takers may want to do this passage first or last in the section.

There are 35 minutes per section and approximately 25 questions per Logical Reasoning section. This means the test-taker has approximately 1 minute and 24 seconds per question. Questions in the Logical Reasoning section are presented in a general order of difficulty. For these reasons, test-takers who intend to complete all questions in the section should work through the first 10 questions of the section in less than the average time allotted per question. This allows the test-taker to have more than the average amount of time for the tougher questions where more time is needed.

Similarly, there are 35 minutes per section and 4 games per Logic Games (Analytical Reasoning) section. Although this creates an average of 8 minutes and 45 seconds per game, not all games are of equal difficulty. When completing a particular game, think about how difficult it is compared to the games you practiced. If it's on the easier side, try to complete it in less than 8 minutes and 45 seconds so that you'll have more than 8 minutes and 45 seconds for the tougher games.


Which college courses best prepare students for the LSAT?

Philosophy and logic courses are helpful but not necessary. Reading dense material, reading and making logical arguments, dissecting logical arguments, getting a foundation in formal logic, etc.

Philosophy majors tend to do much better than the average test taker (and much better than English majors).

See this breakdown of average LSAT scores by major to get a sense of who does the best.

However, as you will learn from your LSAT prep, correlation does not guarantee causation. Perhaps the type of people who tend to major in philosophy already have the skills/ability to do well.

As I said, majoring (or taking classes) in philosophy does help, probably more so than majoring in something like English. Pick whichever you like more, though. You can prepare to get a super-high score no matter what your major or classes (even underwater basket-weaving, although even a 4.0 GPA in that course of study would not impress adcomms).

Photo by bjmccray

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.


How do I reach you?
I love hearing from students. You can email me at LSATUnplugged@gmail.com


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

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

Best LSAT Prep Books | Book Recommendations


UPDATE: *See this list of Best LSAT Prep Books. That's what I'm updating, not the list below.*

*See LSAT study schedules to find out how to use these.*



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

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

LSAT PrepTests 1-6 (June 1991 - October 1992), 8 (June 1993), and 17 (December 1995) are out-of-print, but available on Amazon.com

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.


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See my LSAT Study Schedules for advice on using LSAT PrepTests effectively.