How Should Freshmen and Sophomores in College Prepare for the LSAT?

    LSAT Prep

    How to prep for the LSAT in collegeThere's an old adage, a truism in its self-evidence really, that it's never too early to start studying for the LSAT. In fact, so compelling and pervasive is this advice that we often hear from high school seniors (and occasionally their mothers) wondering how best to begin the journey to law school. And while I think most would agree with me that that's a bit premature to start seriously investing energy into hardcore LSAT prep, college freshmen and sophomores are near enough to test day that it warrants some legitimate consideration.
     
    So what I'd like to do here is offer a comprehensive set of recommendations for those in the early stages of their college careers that should make the transition into more diligent, dedicated LSAT study far more manageable. Follow these pointers and you'll be perfectly positioned to expertly tackle all things LSAT.
     
    Above all the focus in your first two years of undergrad should be on your grades. Establishing a solid GPA is paramount—there are no do-overs when it comes to that 4.0, after all—so you can't afford to sacrifice your grades for other pursuits if you're serious about attending a top-tier law school. Leave the LSAT heavy lifting for your junior year, which is typically the earliest people looking to begin law school immediately after graduating will want to start gearing up for the exam, and use the first two college years primarily to lay academic bedrock.
     
    That said, there's a degree of LSAT fluency that high scorers universally achieve, and there's no harm in taking steps in that direction immediately! Part of that will naturally occur as you delve deeper into academia (your reading and reasoning skills are going to improve significantly by simply being in college), but there are some more LSAT-centric moves you can also make in the short-term.
     
    To that end, I suggest you begin incorporating the following into your routine:
    • As mentioned, your GPA is key, and the early college years largely anchor it. For one, freshman and sophomore curricula often include required courses that can be particularly, even intentionally, onerous, so work hard to secure As where your peers may stumble. Also, it's worth keeping in mind that a high GPA in a less rigorous major is, perhaps surprisingly, generally preferable to a more prestigious course of study where you don’t perform as well. I'd never dissuade someone from pursuing a degree about which they're passionate, but if you're on the fence and one academic path is far likelier to produce more favorable credentials, take it. You'll find that law school is, in every sense, a numbers game, and your grades factor above very-nearly all else.
    • While we're talking academics, consider letters of recommendation early. Develop relationships with professors in your first years at university, and maintain them. Law schools will want to hear from faculty that guided you through undergrad, so the sooner you can begin to forge those bonds the better. In fact, the majority of sound freshman and sophomore advice largely hinges on establishing a forward-looking network, whether in-person or online, as you'll see in the next several bullets.
    • Join a pre-law group, like Phi Alpha Delta. It's hard to understate the value at this stage in immersing yourself in a like-minded community. You'll experience camaraderie, of course, and a shared adventure as you all set sail towards a common destination, and those are invaluable, but the more tangible benefits deserve a mention too: membership in pre-law societies often grants you significant discounts on prep courses and other offerings; most pre-law groups maintain a small library of LSAT books for you to use free of charge; and a host of other opportunities will present themselves, from school visits to insider application tips. Get in early and participate often.
    • Subscribe to some LSAT blogs and familiarize yourself with not only the test, but also the companies who can help you get ready for it. You'll build a level of trust and comfort as you journey deeper into the industry's ecosystems, and that will help you make a more informed decision down the road when your attentions turn to prep in a more devoted manner. Since you've found your way here I strongly recommend subscribing to this very page, and then potentially researching a few other companies' blogs, as well.
    • Follow some industry heavyweights on twitter, as that will keep you abreast of LSAT news/developments. Truth is the application and admissions landscape could be a great deal different in three years than at present—a Digital LSAT is coming, for instance, and the GRE continues to shake things up in big ways—so the more aware you are of the ebb and flow the clearer various decisions will be when the time comes to make them. (I linked to Dave Killoran's twitter as it's the most popular and active out there, but you can check out others, including mine, as you see fit)
    • In fact, and in the same vein, immerse yourself in a number of online LSAT communities!  My personal favorite is our very own PowerScore LSAT Forum, where you can engage with our instructors and your fellow test takers, but others, like the reddit sub /r/LSAT, exist and are both well-populated and hugely informative. The objective in all of this, as mentioned, is that you find a dynamic and immersive background, a steady thrum really, to keep your ultimate goals in view and your pathway to achieving them close at hand.
    • Become, or remain, an active daily reader. I can't stress this enough. Try to read something fairly dense and academic every day, or at least as often as possible, like articles in the Economist, Nature, the Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, and more. Not only will that make you more comfortable when faced with challenging Reading Comprehension passages on the test—many of which are actually drawn from sources like those I just listed—but it will also make the reading volume in law school feel more manageable. A more comprehensive list of recommended reading is available here.
    • Find some logic puzzle exercises that you enjoy and can try your hand at solving on a regular basis. Whether things like Sudoku (perhaps via an app; there are dozens), or games on sites like Brain Matrix and Addicting Games, the more you get familiar with these types of analytical reasoning puzzles the easier you'll find the LSAT's Logic Games section...the most unique and inarguably strange component of the test for most people.
    • Put aside some funds for LSAT prep and law schools admissions in general. It can be expensive, but if done right it's one of the best investments you'll ever make: for example, our average course improvement is about 13 points, which translates into tens, even hundreds, of thousands of dollars in both scholarships and post-grad opportunities (given that you'll be attending a far better school than the old, 13-points-lower you could've hoped for). So you want to be able to afford the prep option that suits you best and is likely to produce the most profound results, without feeling overly-constrained by your budget.
       
    With such an early start you have an opportunity to successfully pre-prep that few people experience. If you've made it here as a freshman or sophomore you're off to a great start—don't squander it! Follow the tips above and you're well on your way to the law school of your dreams.
     
    Best of luck in college and keep us all posted on your progress, whether in the comments below or directly at lsat@powerscore.com!
     
     
    Photo courtesy of shutterstock.