174 LSAT Scorer's Study Schedule: LSAT Diaries

LSAT Blog LSAT Scorer's Study Schedule LSAT Diaries
LSAT Blog reader Samson scored a 174 on the LSAT. He's already written a great LSAT Diary with many excellent tips.

He's also written about his LSAT study schedule in the months prior to his LSAT test date.

In this blog post, I've compiled a few of his thoughts.

Samson's LSAT study schedule:

(Note: He took the December LSAT.)

1. July and August: During the week, my workday ran from 9:00am to 11:00pm (and often later). During the weekend, I typically worked about 20 total hours.

LSAT: Very few opportunities for prep.

2. September: Much like July and August, except for my vacation.

LSAT: One important week-long opportunity for prep.

3. October and November: During the week, I left work at 5:30pm at least three times per week. During the weekend, I typically did not go to work.

LSAT: Many opportunities for prep.

4. December: I took off work the week before the test.

LSAT: I took a practice test each day, except for the day before the test.

Here are some details about the weekend:

I was at the library. I had a binder of practice tests. I had access to practice test explanations. My exclusive focus was timed practice sections. I got into the rhythm of completing a section, checking the section, and reviewing the section with the answer explanations. I did this ad nauseam.

Some insights:

1) It's difficult to know precisely how much time to spend drawing inferences before answering the questions. With practice, I discovered a "sweet spot" - i.e., a point at which I've made all the inferences that I can make easily and would need to work laboriously before making further inferences. After I hit this sweet spot, I tackled the questions. It's important to find your own sweet spot.

2) It's important to understand which variables have no restrictions. The variables with restrictions are peculiarly shaped blocks; the variables with no restrictions are like water.

3) It's important to understand which variables are "in" if certain variables are "out".

4) It's important to keep track of the number of elements vs. the number of slots. Sometimes the number of surviving elements and open slots is the same, and therein lies your answer.

5) Questions sometimes feature a new rule. In fact, such questions are popular in the most recent exams. Sometimes they require you to redraw the master diagram; sometimes, not. Be comfortable with these questions.

6) Be comfortable with the idea that the contrapositive of an "or" statement is an "and" statement (and vice versa). In terms of pure logic, the reasoning is never more difficult than this.

7) To maximize a total selected you need to minimize a total rejected.

8) Trial-and-error is very rarely the right approach. Look for more inferences. If you must use trial-and-error, do so at the end of the game.

9) Doing many games over a short period of time, I was able to refine my diagramming technique in small but meaningful ways. Perhaps you can do the same.

10) Doing many games over a short period of time, I was able to burn new pathways in my mind. My spatial reasoning skills improved, and I could do some games mentally after preparing the initial diagram. There's some magic in doing many games over a short period of time. You can anticipate the relationships the test is trying to tease out.


Further advice:

I did not do early morning or mid-day prep. I focused on work so I could leave early and concentrate on evening prep. In October and November, I would study five or six hours at a time on the weekdays (at least three times per week); I would study many hours at a time on both weekend days (with some exceptions).

My strong advice is to try to find more hours to study. Success on the LSAT requires you to have reflected on the full range of LSAT questions. You must allow yourself time to become “intimate” with the test. Do not take the test until you are fully ready, that is, achieving your desired score on strictly timed practice tests. Also, be open with your colleagues about the test. Ideally your manager has full information about your preparation schedule. You want your colleagues informed and on your team.

How did I push myself to work so long on the weekends? That, in fact, was fairly easy. I was given injections of serum created by a scientist named Howard Stark. I am Captain America. In all seriousness, I was just very keen on doing well on the LSAT. I was ready to crank. I also had the benefit of regular breaks, fresh fruit, and plenty of water.

Photo by bdorfman

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