LSAT Diaries: Self Study Success

LSAT Blog Diaries Self Study Success
This installment of LSAT Diaries comes from LSAT Blog reader Shiva, who scored a 168 on the June 2012 LSAT after using my 3-month day-by-day LSAT study schedule.

Enjoy, and if you want to be in LSAT Diaries, please email me at (You can be in LSAT Diaries whether you've taken the exam already or not.)

Thanks to Shiva for sharing her experience and advice, and please leave your questions for her below in the comments!

Shiva's LSAT Diary:

My perspective on taking the LSAT comes from someone working a full time, pretty mentally demanding job, being more than three years out of college and not having taken an important test in a long time! It took me a master’s degree and two years in the working world to finally come to the decision to go to law school. Once  deciding this I was genuinely terrified of what I had gotten myself into. I started studying for the February 2012 LSAT, but quickly realized (it being mid December) that I needed much more time. So I decided to wait to take the June test. I’m really glad I did because the absolute key to this test is preparation. Maybe there are some really smart people who know how to think the right way and can nail the exam right off the bat. But I, along with most people, cannot do that.

Figuring out how to prepare was fairly straightforward for me, given my somewhat unpredictable work schedule, a course wasn’t going to be an option. All the courses in my area were from 6pm-10pm several times a week which I couldn’t pull off. Financially, a course wasn’t the best option for me either. So I decided to engage in some serious self-study. I am eternally grateful to Steve’s 3-month LSAT study plan, it gave me the necessary structure that made it a no-brainer to get home from work and just plop down and start my studying. I was often so tired that if I even had to think about what book to open or what problem to do I would have thrown in the towel and watched reality tv on my couch for the rest of the evening.

In terms of general challenges, the hardest part was realizing that I wasn’t going to have any free time until the test was over. If I wasn’t working, I was studying so that meant evenings and weekends were no longer free for friends or fun. Putting all that in perspective though, it was totally worth it to put those things on hold, and my friends, family and boyfriend were all extremely understanding and supportive. Sometimes I would set up little study dates on Saturdays with my friends so I could at least have some company.

In terms of specific challenges I faced with regard to the actual test, the main problem type I struggled with was the Logic Games. It was very hit or miss for me, some LG sections I could fly through and ace, others I would struggle with 2 out of the 4 games. It became pretty discouraging so I kept exposing myself to different types of logic games and I didn’t feel as flustered by games that looked totally new and different.

Test day came just in time, I was getting really burned out with studying and started hating every moment I had to take a prep test. I wanted to be fresh for the test, so I started tapering my studying and didn’t do much of anything the weekend before (the test was on a Monday).

On the actual test everything went smoothly EXCEPT those dreaded logic games! I knew they were going to be my downfall and alas that was the case. I had a hard time with the second two logic games in the section and with the time constraint didn’t do as well on that section as I had hoped to. But, as I found through doing many practice tests, the key to not turning one bad section (or bad game) into a complete flop on the exam, was to keep it in perspective, not panic and plow forward on the rest of the sections. I mentally compartmentalized the frustration from the LG section and I think that made all the difference in my final score. I ended up with a 168, which I was really happy with and allows me to feel comfortable applying to most of the schools I was hoping to (at least without fear of being laughed at outright by the admissions committee).

My general tokens of wisdom about preparing for and taking the LSAT: 

-Give yourself the right amount of time. Make sure it is enough time that you can study in a focused, intense way without burning out before the actual exam comes around, and that you are forced to follow a schedule. If you give yourself too much time you might not take the studying seriously until it’s too late, and if you don’t give yourself enough you obviously won’t feel confident or prepared! (3-4 months felt just right)

-Try to identify early on what your weakest point is. At least for me, it was very clear that I didn’t have to worry too much about reading comp and logical reasoning, but that logic games needed some serious work. The sooner you figure out what you are naturally better and worse at, the sooner you can hone in on strengthening those skills. That’s where you’ll see the most potential improvement.

-Commit yourself to studying. This is your only extracurricular for three months! For me that meant no long dinners out on weeknights, no more happy hours after work, no beach days on the weekend. I treated my scheduled study time like it was the same as my job, I had to show up and I had to stick around for the allotted time, no questions asked.

-Find things that help ease anxiety and keep things in perspective. During the time that I was studying and leading up to the exam, I started doing lots of yoga, eating pretty healthy and getting enough sleep every night. That helped a lot to ease the pressure associated with the test. Obviously the LSAT is very important, but stressing about it and constantly reminding yourself of that will have the opposite of the desired effect: you will probably do much worse than your actual abilities would normally allow.

-Stay calm. When you mess something up in a practice problem, a prep test or on the actual test, the best thing you can do for yourself is not spiral and freak out. I feel like a lot of this test measures how cool you can keep yourself under pressure, and for someone who has studied sufficiently, one of the main barriers to doing well will probably be your ability to move past a challenging game or question and stay confident and on track for the rest of the test.

Photo by bobaubuchon

1 comment:

  1. First of all, congratulations on your score. Thank you for your blog entry. I'm about to start studying for the December LSAT and will take all your great advice to heart.