The LSAT, Practice, and Over-Practicing

    LSAT Test Mentality | LSAT Prep

    8.26.13_blogA recent Time article on over-practicing contains several good pieces of advice for LSAT test takers, and from that advice we can draw some guidelines on how you should prepare for the LSAT. Let's take a look at what they said, and what it means for you.

    The Time article references a recent study published by the Journal of Neuroscience, in which researchers observed subjects performing tasks repeatedly, and measured energy expenditure as the tasks were completed. At first, the subjects expended a lot of energy, and then as they kept up the task, the energy expended kept dropping. Which makes sense because they became more efficient as they repeated the task. What was interesting was what occurred next. The study involved a physical activity, and as the muscular activity stabilized (meaning no less muscle energy was being expended), the subjects still continued to expend less and less energy. Why? Because their brains kept getting more and more efficient, and expending less and less energy. As they kept practicing the task, even though there was no apparent improvement in how they were doing, their brains continued to become more economical (which means more energy available over the long haul of the test). As the article notes, "The perfect execution of a piano sonata or a tennis serve doesn’t mark the end of practice; it signals that the crucial part of the session is just getting underway." This is a salient point for LSAT takers: even when no apparent progress is being made, keep on practicing because you are ingraining the activity deeply into your neural pathways, which over time will make you more efficient and a better test taker. Literally, your brain can go on auto-pilot at times during the test, with no loss in performance. That's an immense advantage for a test taker, and keeps you fresher and mentally more energetic as the test wears on.

    So, once you start nailing full sections of LSAT Logical Reasoning or Logic Games, that's not the time to stop. That's the exact moment to keep on studying, because you will continue to get better and better, even if you can't see that happening physically. As the lead researcher states, "We have shown there is an advantage to continued practice beyond any visible changes in performance." So study hard, and long too.

    Questions or comments? Please post them in the comments.


    Photo: "My Brains..." courtesy of Liz Henry.