If you’ve been studying for the LSAT, you probably already know that practice tests can and should be a valuable part of your preparation. It’s always helpful to see how you’re scoring, but the potential benefits of taking practice tests go far beyond merely tracking your performance—and you can begin to derive those benefits from the outset, well before you have mastered every LSAT concept. With each practice test you take, you can increase your familiarity with the language and logic of the test, as well as the pacing required to complete each section in the time allotted. You will also begin to develop your mental endurance, a necessity for a strong performance on the LSAT.
We’ve previously posted articles about the ideal way to take a practice test, and dealt with how to review practice questions; now I would like to discuss how to get more out of your practice test review—that is, what to do after you have completed any given practice test. But let’s start with the practice test itself: Take it seriously, and be strict with the time! We have a free virtual proctor that is easy to use and obviates the need to set timers or continually check your watch. And be sure to use a real answer sheet—the more closely your practice tests mirror the real thing, the better.
Once you have completed your practice test, check your answers, and make a list of the ones that you missed—just the question numbers, not the correct answers. Fight to urge to immediately revisit each question you got wrong, looking at each right answer and "working backwards." The list that you just created can provide a great resource; it is custom made for and by you. It includes the questions that gave you trouble—regardless of whether those issues were based on actual difficulty or thoughtless error.
Next (and ideally after at least a short break) go back to the test and revisit the questions that you got wrong, but do so on a clean copy of the test; making a photocopy before taking the practice test allows you to look at the questions without the advantage of any markings you may have made on the practice test itself. Do these questions off the clock; take as much time as you need to understand the question and how best to approach it. Going through this process will allow you to derive far more value than do the many who simply look at each right answer, ask themselves “does that make sense?,” answer “yeah, I guess…” and then move on.
Before you move on, ask yourself whether you have a sufficient understanding of the question, and whether you would get such a question correct if you were to encounter it again. If the answer is “Yes,” that should be very reassuring, because the LSAT has many, many recurring themes. If the answer is No, come visit our LSAT Forum, where students, instructors, and course developers (even our company’s founder!) regularly respond to questions about specific LSATs as well as more general inquiries about the test and how to best prepare.
Image: Archery Range, courtesy of Daniel Wetzel