At some point in your studies full, timed practice tests will become part of the routine. As such, it’s critical that you understand exactly how to self-administer an LSAT practice test. Here I’m going to outline exactly how to craft the perfect practice test experience! What follows is a list of considerations related to practice test-taking. I’ve also included links to resources for each of these points in case you need more information.
Consider Your Mindset
Like any serious discussion of the LSAT, the most appropriate way to begin is by talking about mentality. We’ve talked at length about the proper mindset in previous blog posts (both for Positive Thinking, and, interestingly, Negative Thinking). I’ll try to spare you too much redundancy, but suffice it to say that if you’re planning to take a practice test under any sort of adverse mental conditions, you should probably reconsider. Whether it be you’re tired from a long day or lack the motivation to take an entire exam. Regardless, if you cannot commit your full mental and physical resources to the task, you’re going to under-perform. Unfortunately this likely to result in bad habits and undermine some self-confidence in the process. Consider your mental state before you take a practice test and make sure to have the right attitude before beginning.
Use Official LSAC Questions
There are a number of materials available that use “simulated” questions, which are created by test prep companies to mimic actual test content without paying licensing costs. While the quality of these certainly varies, as a general rule they’re a poor substitute for the real thing: questions designed by the test makers and actually administered on previous LSATs. The good news is that official questions are easily obtained, and not terribly expensive. With our LSAT Testing and Analytics Package, you can take every released LSAT, individual test sections, and practice drills. So, access to real test content is never more than a few clicks away!
Stick to Recent Tests When Possible
Granted, some people will want to take dozens of practice tests, and will therefore have to dip into some older content, but the newer the test, typically the better the predictor it is of what you are likely to encounter on test day. That is not to say that tests from the 90s aren’t worthwhile (they are immensely valuable for certain purposes), but be sure to save at least a few of the most recently-administered LSATs to take as your final practice tests. Again, our Testing and Analytics Package includes every single released test.
Add an Experimental Section
The LSAT consists of four 35-minute sections, three of which are scored, and one of which is experimental. So I always encourage people to take practice tests with a fourth section added in to imitate the experimental section. Our Testing and Analytics Package does this for you! Anyone who has taken this exam will attest to the fact that it is in part a test of mental endurance, so to build that endurance prior to test day you have to train yourself with a task that mirrors the real thing.
- Side note: If you are unable to add an experimental section for whatever reason, then take all three sections of your practice test without a break. This is the best approximation of the LSAT if the experimental is removed.
As I noted above, you need to acclimate yourself to actual test day conditions. As such, you will need to take your practice test under the time constraints you’ll face when it counts. If you take a PT on our platform or on LawHub, the test is automatically proctored for you. Alternatively, you can use our LSAT Virtual Proctor to do this if it’s not done for you. To do this on your own, get a timer handy. Give yourself a strict 35 minutes for each section. Only take a 15 minute break after the second section (or no break for a 3-section test).
Take It at the Same Time of Day
Plan to take practice tests leading up to the LSAT at the same time of day the actual test is administered. If you schedule yourself for a morning test, read up on our “Not a Morning Person?” post for an in-depth guide of how to tackle this.
Each of the recommendations is based on the principle of accurately mimicking the day of the test. Test content, pacing, and environment are important focal points of your studying method, and this one should be no different. LSAC allows you to pick the general time/day, so try to take your practice tests in the same time frame you pick for the real deal. This helps get your body and mind as comfortable as possible!
Admittedly this isn’t so much about the test taking itself, but the final piece of maximizing the value of your practice test experience. Any practice test is incomplete without it. You need to perform a thorough post-test review, analyze your performance, and determine the most appropriate study plan moving forward. Without this type of comprehensive self-analysis there is no way to determine why you scored as you did. As a result, your potential for improvement is severely restricted. Put more succinctly, you must identify and understand your mistakes if you expect to have any chance of correcting them.
PowerScore has created an incredible and totally free Self Study Site for all test takers. It features several comprehensive study plans based on your predicted preparation timeline. You also have access to our powerful Test Scoring and Feedback system. With this, you’re able to enter in answers and receive a detailed score and performance analysis in return. Take advantage of these resources as you review your practice tests!
So there you have it, the pieces I believe comprise the ideal practice test experience. That said, there is one final point I’d like to make. “Ideal” is a far cry from “worthwhile.” Even if you find that you cannot satisfy every one of these points, there can still be a tremendous amount of value in taking timed LSATs. A 3-section test, a test from 1994, or a test taken in the evening at home are all better than no test at all, provided you do your best to meet as many of the recommendations above as possible.