Re-taking the LSAT in February? Here's an Awesome Plan B

    LSAT Prep

    10.29.13_blog.pngYou just got your December 2015 LSAT score. If you did well, congrats - you get a cookie (and maybe a free ride at a top law school)! But if you didn't, don't be too hard on yourself. That pattern game was brutal, and the second LR section wasn't too much fun either.

     

    Are you considering a retake? If so, read on.

    As we've discussed extensively in the last few months, you are unlikely to be penalized by the admission cycle for taking the LSAT in February and applying closer to the due date. Sure, you would have gotten a slight bump by applying earlier, but a good score in February can overcome any potential or actual disadvantage of a late submission date. Having just taken a month-long break from the LSAT is a good thing. Now, you need to dig in and focus: first, take a new diagnostic test, then thoroughly review it following our guidelines. Here is an article that might help with that process: Best Way to Take Practice Tests

     To prepare for February, you have three primary objectives:

    1. Address specific weaknesses you have;
    2. Improve your overall timing and endurance;
    3. Work on test mentality. 

     

    To achieve the first objective, you need to look at your most recent practice test results and use the feedback to determine which concepts and question types need work. If you took a PowerScore course or studied the Bibles Trilogy, are you applying the techniques correctly? Do you prephrase whenever possible? Maybe you have trouble manipulating causal arguments, or lack the requisite technique to diagram conditional relationships. Maybe you misunderstand arguments employing numerical evidence. If you're running out of time on some of some sections, review not only the questions you got wrong, but also the ones that cost you valuable minutes (even if you got them right). Then, focus in on those, either by re-doing all the questions of that type from your course homework, or by using something like our Training Type books. 

    How you go about studying for the February test will depend, in part, on what resources you have available to you. If you used the Bibles Trilogy in preparation for the December test but not the Bible Workbooks, consider investing in them. They contain a ton of drills you've never seen before, even if you took a course with us. Alternatively, if you took a PowerScore course, take advantage of the extended access to the Online Student Center (you have access to it until February 2016). Use it to score your practice tests and review all the supplemental materials that come with it.

    • Do not underestimate the importance of tackling older LR question types or games, which are discussed extensively in the supplemental virtual modules you can access through the Online Student Center. Quite a few LR questions last year contained elements of Formal Logic, and apparently Pattern games are having a comeback. There is also anecdotal evidence that a Circular game appeared on a recent February test. Cover all your bases, and don't play LSAT casino.

    If you've exhausted the resources available through the Full Length or Live Online Student Centers, or have already studied the Bibles and Workbooks cover-to-cover, consider the Advanced Logical Reasoning or the Advanced Logic Games course. They are designed to take your understanding of the test to higher level, by examining concepts that appear less frequently and/or are inherently difficult. Needles to say, Advanced courses cover really challenging questions, and are particularly well suited to students struggling to break out of the mid-160's. Ultimately, breaking through a plateau is a difficult task - something you may or may not be able to achieve in a month. That's where some students resort to tutoring, especially since plateaus are so unique to each test-taker and benefit immensely from an individualized approach.

    As you well know, doing well on the LSAT requires both speed and accuracy, but accuracy has to come first. Having the ability to solve the questions also means that your process is solid. If your process is solid, then what we want to do is retain that and then speed it up. That requires practice and repetition. Some of that is on your own, breaking down questions and then reverse engineering them to see what pieces were most important, and sometimes it requires out-of-the-box techniques like teaching the questions to other people.

    To achieve your second objective, you need to realize that overall timing and endurance are built around taking practice tests, and then reviewing them rigorously. Overall, I'd suggest taking at least 2-3 tests/week while you are studying, and possibly more depending on your progress and the time you have available. We also have more detailed study plans and a free LSAT scoring analyzer that you can use throughout the process as well. Please see PowerScore Self-Study Site.

    As you work through the various materials, don't forget the third objective: work on your mental approach, particularly if your December LSAT score was significantly lower than your practice test scores. Nerves might have played a role in that. Some of these resources might help: The Ultimate Test Mentality Resource List

    One last word of caution: be realistic! If you find that your scores are not improving as quickly as they need to, reconsider whether it's wise to take the test in February, or wait until next year to apply. It is emphatically unwise to take the test when you aren't fully prepared for it. Of course, whether you wait to apply next year is a personal decision that will depend, at least in part, on how far off target you are, how comfortable you are with a (slightly) lower score, and whether or not you can keep yourself productive and busy until Fall 2017.

    Good luck!