So, your LSAT is fast approaching. Now, more than ever, you’re more eager to maximize the value of their remaining study time. That’s exactly what I’m here to discuss. How do you, with only two weeks and a mountain of materials, get the most out of the days ahead.
Last Minute Game Plan
There is a key to effective practice, particularly with time constraints. Recognize that the volume of work is less important than the insights that work can provide. You don’t need to go through everything in your arsenal to prepare, just focus on the most important pieces. The truth is, any time I elaborate on the specifics of the idea of “proper practice,” it occurs to me that at the core of effective studying is the process of comprehensive performance review and self-analysis. What follows is a breakdown of those concepts. Take these ideas to heart as you continue with your preparations and reflect upon them often in the coming weeks.
The tendency to relentlessly push forward, doing section after section and LSAT after LSAT, without self-awareness or self-reflection can be to your detriment. It can lead to a lot of anxiety and frustration over score plateaus. This becomes particularly compounded when the exam is just days away. If you’re thinking, “I did 50 LR questions and only got half right, I should do another 50,” you could be hurting your progress. That’s no way to make improvements!
Take Time to Reflect
Instead, when you find yourself struggling, stop and take a detailed look at what’s going wrong. Even if it’s a small sample of performance like a single passage or game, take time to reflect. Have a conversation with yourself and figure out a game plan. For example, a game crushed you. Go back to the beginning and see what you should have done differently. As yourself some questions.
- Did you identify the variable sets correctly?
- Pick the right base?
- Recognize the numerical distribution?
- Diagram each of those rules properly?
- See their connections and the inferences that would result?
- Was all the above done in a reasonable amount of time?
- Could you have gone faster?
- With each of those questions, did you recognize the type?
- How could you have found the correct answer more quickly?
Essentially, find out the source of your difficulties. Figure out why it caused you trouble and how to respond differently when you’re inevitably faced with it again.
To answer those questions, return to the conceptual discussion of the thing being tested. Filter your analysis of what you did through the conceptual framework of how it’s supposed to be done. Look back at relevant content in your study materials to ensure you fully understand the underlying nature of the subject. Return to the specific source of difficulty and reevaluate it based on your improved comprehension of its conceptual basis.
Once you’ve satisfactorily answered each of those things for yourself, move to a fresh example of the concept or idea. Now, try again. This time with an intense focus on a better application of how it should be done. This should lead to:
- Gradual, but consistent improvements over time. You’re getting better at recognizing familiar elements and structures. Applying the appropriate techniques is easier. You can identify when things are going off-kilter so you don’t stray too far from where you want to be.
- Immediate rewards in the days before the exam. As you refine and perfect your approach, further establishing the skills you’ll need on test day.
Quality is the Clear Winner
In short, it’s an issue of quantity versus quality. You want quality! Make sure everything you do is given a proper review. Be it something brief or an entire five-section practice test. Take the time to deconstruct it thoroughly and analyze your performance. Look for any possible areas of improvement by comparing what you did with the recommended strategy for that concept. Do not let a limited amount of prep time dissuade you from spending a significant portion of it on self-reflection and review!
Finally, don’t be afraid to start small and build if you still find yourself struggling. If Logical Reasoning is a weakness, an entire practice test with 50 questions is probably not the best use of your time. Instead take a smaller selection of questions, even a single type if you have one that particularly troubles you. Work through those while timing yourself and then follow the process of comprehensive review/analysis described above. The idea is that, with a lot of work already under your belt, you should be able to efficiently address and eliminate these weaknesses. But you need to be precise in approaching them.
I know this can feel tedious and tiresome, but you must have a clear understanding of where you are struggling and why if you want to eliminate your various points of difficulty prior to test day. A thorough, consistent process of self-analysis and review is the most reliable way to do just that.