One of the most common LSAT preparation questions we receive is: "I've been studying for a while and want to increase my score even more. Do you have any tips to help me out?" This is a question we love to get because it directly relates to what we do. We love the LSAT, and we are passionate about helping students get better at taking this test. When answering this question, one of our goals is to provide advice that is specific to the student. While it would be easy to put out a blanket response, that type of answer isn't all that helpful. But, to provide a personalized answer we need a lot of specific and detailed information. So, if you are asking us a question, what info should you provide?
Test Date: The first thing we need to know is when you are taking the LSAT. That tells us how much time you have to prepare, and will allow us to best shape our overall advice.
Study History: It is important for us to know how long you've been studying. The advice we give to a student who has been studying three months is going to be different than the advice we give to one who has been studying for three weeks. And, not only do we need to know how long you've been studying, but also how many hours a week you've been able to study on average. A month of studying 4 hours a week is a lot different than a month of studying 20 hours a week!
Scoring History: If you've taken any practice tests, it's extremely helpful for us to know how well you did. And, if you use our free LSAT scoring system, pass along your score results to us. Those score reports give us a unique and incisive view into your performance, and allow us to see patterns that can help us give you very specific and helpful advice. However, even if you don't use our scoring system (and you should!), give us a breakdown of how you generally score in each section, including how many questions you typically finish, and the type of variation you see in scores.
Target Score: Even if your goal is 180 (and why not?), let us know your target score. The increase you need to achieve your goal can affect the advice we give.
Preparation Material: We also need to know what LSAT preparation material you've been using, and what material you have on hand. For example, if I know you have the Logical Reasoning Bible, that allows me to reference specific chapters or pages for you to review. Or, if I know you have a Princeton Review book, I can tell you to start using it as a doorstop for now and then to set it on fire when it gets cold later this year ;) Seriously, when we know what you've been studying, we know what knowledge you've obtained, what you should work on, and where to direct you for information. And don't worry if you are using materials or were in a course that isn't from PowerScore. We know that there are other materials and courses out there, and we realize that students sometimes start elsewhere. That's ok—just give us all the details you can.
One side note: If you are looking for tips in one of the three sections and haven't yet read our LSAT Bibles, that is most likely where I will refer you for advice. Those books are packed with hundreds of tips, techniques, methods, and strategies, and they collectively span almost 2000 pages. There's no way I can distill all of that into a few short paragraphs! While I can comment on things you should change or areas you should study, if you ask me about fundamentals—such as how to solve an Assumption question—the Bibles are the gold standard for that type of information.
Problem Areas: One thing we ask all students to do is keep a log of questions missed and the problems encountered while studying. When assessing how to best increase your score, it is immensely helpful to know what you see as your most difficult question types, and also the patterns you have seen within your test taking. We can often see connections that you might otherwise miss.
As you might have noticed, the key is to give us as much information as possible. The basic rule I have is that if you think it might be useful, then include it! Our goal is to give very specific, tailored advice to each student and the more information we have about your strengths and weaknesses, habits and patterns, fears and preferences, the better.
Have any questions or comments? Please post them below!
Image: "Escalators to Canary Wharf" courtesy of Okko Pyykkö.