Let’s be honest, sometimes studying for standardized tests can be tedious and expensive. (If you’re looking for a quick 8-week low cost study plan, scroll to the bottom to find a link to a free resource.) In the Office of Graduate and Professional School Advising, we’re often asked “what is the best way to prepare for the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)?” While it may seem like a simple question, the answer is nuanced. There are a number of factors including time, budget, level of self-discipline, and knowledge base. Here are a few tips to figure out what type of preparation and study plan you need:
- Look to the past. What typical methods of test preparation have worked for you in the past? Did you use a set of books or take a course to study for the ACT or SAT? How early did you start preparing? Do you enjoy standardized tests or do you suffer from test anxiety? Look to your past experiences to determine what you may need in order to prepare for the upcoming LSAT. Patterns and effective habits can help inform your new study plan, allowing you to work with your habits rather than against time. Additionally, consider early steps you should take to plan for test day. If you received accommodations in the past, plan early, read carefully, and fill out the appropriate information to request accommodations for the LSAT.
- Assess your accountability needs. If you only require a calendar and a pencil to stay on schedule with your prep plan that is fantastic! However, if you’ve found that you work best when there are others holding you accountable, discover a way build accountability into your strategy. This could mean taking a course, creating a small group to which you report your preparation progress or finding a study buddy to check-in with weekly. Others can hold you accountable for making progress on your plan and keep you focused when difficult decisions need to be made about prioritizing your obligations.
- Take a diagnostic test. Don’t simply look at your score, do a complete assessment. How fatigued are you after testing for 3 hours? Did you feel stressed or anxious during the test? Which sections did you prefer? What were your strengths and weaknesses? Did you prefer to use scratch paper? Are you comfortable with the digital platform or did you find it confusing? A diagnostic test can be a great way to acquire more information than a single score. Most importantly, remember that a diagnostic score is never the final comment on your ability to learn and improve.
After you’ve gathered some information on yourself, you can decide whether or not you’d like to self-study, take a class, work with a tutor or create a hybrid option that works best for you. For those that decide to go the formal course route, we encourage checking with others about their experiences. Look through the course books or curriculum training materials. Understand your options, as many programs offer several formats: in-person, hybrid, online, small group, individual sessions, etc. Find the right format that will fit with your schedule and understand the fine print on any guarantees or money back satisfaction options. Check online for discounts. Some programs offer tuition scholarships that are available to those with financial need.
For those that opt for self-studying, here are a few options:
- Gather your resources from free / low-cost spaces. Look for LSAT studying materials through the public libraries, friends, alumni. Some LSAT prep courses offer free material online, so feel free to hunt for options.
- KHAN Academy. Khan Academy partnered with the Law School Admissions Council to prepare free online materials for test-takers.
- LSAC Law Hub. Through the LSAC Law Hub, you can sign up for an Official LSAT Prep program for free. The program includes 2 full free Official LSAT Prep Tests and exam simulations. Law Hub also offers The Official LSAT Prep Plus program, which provides a cost-conscious online subscription to 70 full official tests.
Curious about how to structure your studying schedule and time? The following 8 Week Winter LSAT Self-Study Plan resource is free from Kaplan. It focuses on the use of Khan Academy and LSAC Law Hub to offer a strategic plan for content-review and skill building over an 8 week period.
Ultimately, the best study plan is the one that provides skills, value and encourages consistent use. As mentioned in our advice, create a plan that will work for you. Friends, family, peers, and reddit threads may have tons of suggestions. But come test day, you will be the one reading the questions and selecting the answers. Collect your data points now, make decisions based on your tendencies and options, and don’t be afraid to seek help early if something isn’t working for you. Designing a study plan is one of the many decisions you will need to make on your journey to law school. Use this as an opportunity to discover what fits with your learning style, time commitment and personal strengths. Happy planning!