How to Speed Up on Timed Practice LSAT Exams

LSAT Blog Speed Up on Timed Practice ExamsIn the final month of your LSAT preparation, you should take full, timed, practice exams.

Some of you have difficulty transitioning from untimed sections to timed ones. With the added pressure of timed 35-minute sections, sometimes you lose track of the fundamentals. This post will help you stick to them.

Once you already have a strong foundation in the various sections of the LSAT, most of your mistakes will be careless.

This means you missed the key words in the stimulus or answer choices.

That one word you skip or neglect can totally change the meaning.

Of course, it all comes down to being careful, but sometimes that isn't enough.

Taking PrepTest sections untimed is kind of like riding a bike with training wheels. It may look similar to riding a two-wheeler bike, but it's a very different experience from the real thing.

Finding your center of gravity was a gradual process with a patient parent or older sibling slowly letting go.

Leading us to...

2 tips for students scoring below 165

1. Adjust to the 35-minute limit
Adjusting to timed sections may be difficult, so gradually cut down the time you allow yourself per section.

If you've only been doing untimed sections, consider giving yourself 40 minutes/section in your next practice exam, then decrease 1 minute/section on each of your next exams: 39, 38, 37, etc...down to 34 or 33. You want to have a small cushion to review anything of which you were unsure. Don't forget to leave time to bubble your answers!

2. Consider not answering every question
If you're struggling to make it into the 150s, it may not be realistic for you to answer every question.

If this describes you, and if you're okay with admitting that you may not get in the 160s or 170s on Test Day, consider the following tips:

On Logical Reasoning, consider taking more time for the easier questions (the earlier ones in each Logical Reasoning section).

On Logic Games, consider skipping the hardest Logic Game. (It could be any of the games, but generally not the 1st. It also varies from person to person and from exam to exam).

On Reading Comprehension, consider skipping the passage's topic you dislike the most. Topics typically include: Humanities, Law, Natural Science, and Social Science. (Although, as I've always said, the topic shouldn't matter!) Alternatively, you might consider skipping the Comparative Reading passage.

A tip for students scoring around or above 165
Even if you're not expecting to get 165+, this tip may help you, but use it at your own risk.

-Answer the first 10 Logical Reasoning questions in 10 minutes.
Another trick many students use is to complete the first 10 Logical Reasoning questions in 10 minutes.

The benefit: the first 10 LR questions tend to be the easiest in the section. Getting through them quickly gives you more time for the more difficult questions towards the end.

Along those lines...

Remember that the average time per game or passage is not your actual limit.
Remember 8 mins and 45 secs (35 mins divided by 4 games or passages) is just the average amount of time you have for each Logic Game and Reading Comprehension passage. You'll find some LG and RC easier than others. Believe it or not, some games and passages are solvable in less than 6 minutes. For this reason, don't force yourself to complete each in the average allotted time. You can use the time you save on the easier ones for the harder ones.

Reviewing the fundamentals
However, you might still find timed sections unbearably frustrating even after you've already eased yourself into doing them. If this describes you, it may simply be that you lack a strong foundation in certain question types. Take a few days to slowly analyze your approach to the question types that give you difficulty. Don't be afraid to spend even 5-10 minutes looking at a question that you answered incorrectly or were unsure about.

As you begin to acquire the LSAT mindset, you'll adjust to the timing aspect of the exam.

If I haven't yet answered your pressing question, leave a comment!

Photo by thatguyfromcchs08


  1. You're a mind reader. This is exactly the kind of post I needed - I get most of the questions right, but what hurts me is the two or three questions on each section I don't do that I realize later were a breeze to answer.

    I only have one question; I've learned to mitigate the time issue on logical reasoning and reading comprehension by mastering them - but I can't do that with logic games because it takes me an unbearably long to finish a single game - I'm talking ten minutes and that's the minimum.

    Would it be better for me to just go for the 7-long question logic games that might take me even longer to finish but give me the greatest chance of success? Or should I just focus on the game that's five questions long but easier to finish?

    I realize it's sort of a pick-your-poison decision, but the logic game section is the only part that drops me from a 160+ to the mid 150s and I'm open to anything to better my chances.

  2. Glad you found it helpful!

    The number of questions isn't nearly as important as the game's difficulty/setup.

    Looking at the number of questions alone won't tell you the difficulty of the game.

    If you plan to skip one game, make it the game where you can't figure out the setup or the game type that you were just never to figure out during your preparation.

    Good luck!

  3. Thanks for the tip! That approach seems appropriately pragmatic.

  4. hi there,
    great blog, im writing the lsat this september in about a month a would greatly appreciate your feedback

    currently, i am doing a test a day and will be for the next 30+ days until the sept. 26 lsat

    I have so far finsihed about 8 timed tests and will most probably do around 30 - 35 by the end of it

    on the 8 tests so far, the pattern emerging is:

    LR = 6 mins over each time - 16-21/25
    RC = 8 mins over - close to perfect
    LG = 8 mins over - close to perfect
    overall score 84-85/101 - 164 ish

    big question: by the time im done the next 25+ prep tests, do you think i can cut the time on these prep tests down under 35 mins / sec, and keep getting these scores of around 165

    also, do you think I have a chance of improving timing and my score to around the high 160ish or low 170 level

    thanks a lot

  5. i am taking the lsat for the first time in February (canceled my December score) and only have this one last chance to do well! I am pretty good at logic games naturally but can always do better. also, i am having problem with the timing..I can answer a question if given enough time but i often go over the time per question do I get my time lower??

    thanks in advance!!

  6. Hi Steve,
    I'm in a similar situation as the person who wrote on 5/30/09 @ 6:29pm.
    I'm taking the test in June. My avg score is 148. I have taken 5 test in the past month. The avg breakdown has been: I get through about 18 on LR with 14 Correct. Two Games-10 correct, RC-2-3 passages with an avg of 15 Correct. When I review the questions from LR, I usually get them right the second round. They were just careless mistakes. At this point, do you recommend that I take 4-5 test a week, or 2-3 test a week with a thorough review? Also, I could get through 4 Rc passages with no notation, but then get the same score roughly as with little notation. Please share with me your thoughts. I'm a big advocate for you. THANKS!!! PLEASE HELP!

  7. Hey Steve (and to all who have already taken the actual lsat before),

    In your experience, would you say there is a higher likelihood of one receiving a lower score on the actual test than on practice tests? Based on a lot of the blog posts that I have read on this site as well as others, I felt that most people who have taken the actual test before have found that they had done worse on the "real" test than on the practice tests they took at home.

    Do you think this is primarily because of "nerves" and being intimidated by the situation? If so, would you recommend any ways of overcoming these unnecessary roadblocks towards higher scores??


  8. How long would you recommend doing full timed exams.. one month prior to the test? My exam is in December 12 and I spend all of September reading the bible and doing 60 questions per question type to practise, writing a full test every weekend. Do you think that I should spend October doing exams untimed to attain endurance or go right into the timed sections?

    Please let me know. Thank you for all your help!

  9. Thank you so much for the advice!!!!

  10. I can get most questions right but the timing of full tests is where it counts. Do these steps:

    Time each question individually - you will naturally/internally learn the speed. I have no other explanation than it just happens.

    My next step will be to time individual sections and learn how to put 25-27 questions together with less and less fatigue.

    Put it all together - multiple timed sections - once your endurance is built up.

    You don't just run a marathon without building the steps first. LSAT is a mental race.

  11. Totally right about the first ten questions of the LR section. What I've noticed is this:

    For the first ten questions, when I'm going through the possible answers A, B, C, D, and E, when I come across what I think is probably the right answer, it ends up being the right answer. If that happens to be anything other than E, I end up wasting time by reading the remaining answers.

    For LR questions 11-25, when I come across what I think might be the right answer early, I VERY OFTEN end up picking one of the trick answers LSAC throws in to mess with you. For those questions, I very MUCH should have carefully checked the remaining answers.

    Unfortunately it is easy to end up doing the precisely wrong strategy here, because when I'm doing questions 1-10, there seems to be sooo much time left, ergo no need to not be thorough and careful by checking the remaining answers.

    On the flip side, particularly by the time one gets to LR questions 20+, I'm eyeing that timer (talking LSAT-flex here), and am looking for quick wins to save time, and so much more frequently will find the first good sounding answer and dismiss the remaining ones, resulting in me embaresingly picking one of the nonsense trick answers designed to discriminate 165ish takers from 17x takers.

    That's my experience, at least.

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