Many students don’t take much time to consider the order in which they attack the questions on the LSAT, but the right strategic approach can be extremely valuable. For most test-takers, the natural inclination is to do all or most of the questions in order. but there are quite a few benefits to be gained from a slightly more flexible approach to every section of the test.
When most students begin the Logic Games section of the test, they take a look at the first game and dive right in. Instead, the first minute or two of the section might be better spent considering your options! That way you can be sure to start with your favorite game type. And, you avoid the risk of being thrown off if you encounter a particularly challenging game that happens to be presented early in the section.
The same goes for the Reading Comprehension section of the test. Instead of simply starting with the first passage, take an initial look at all of the passages the section has to offer. If you find a topic you like, you might start with that one; if you like comparative reading passage sets better than longer passages, you might consider starting with those. One primary criterion for such a decision should be the writing style of the author: Some LSAT authors are relatively straightforward, but others take something of an intellectualized approach to writing. I generally recommend reading the first few lines of each passage, and starting with the one whose language you find most immediately accessible and comprehensible.
Flexibility can be particularly valuable in the Logical Reasoning sections of the test; unlike the other sections, which are split into games or passages, each Logical Reasoning section features about twenty-five individual questions, so you are in complete control of the order of attack. As you may have noticed or read, the first several questions tend to be on the easier side, and the later questions tend to be more difficult, but these are, again, only tendencies (the test-makers don’t go out of their way to be predictable, and of course, not everyone agrees across the board about which questions are the most or least difficult). Most students are willing to skip a question or two if they run into something really difficult, but I would recommend skipping much more liberally. As soon as you encounter a question that seems challenging, particularly long, or even just annoying, skip it! There is a decent chance that there are easier questions elsewhere in the section, so it might be beneficial to attack those first. If you go through and choose all of your favorite questions, you start out strong, working on the questions with which you are most comfortable, and you ensure that you have seen all of your favorite questions on the first run through the section. Then, by your second pass through, you’re already warmed up, you have already completed your favorite questions, and you have some grasp on what remains.
A lot of students are more comfortable attacking the questions in order (and some do quite well regardless). Order of attack is one component of the LSAT over which you have complete control, though, so it might pay to give yourself every advantage!
Image: Ambiente-24 courtesy of Rafael Nepô