And we’re off!
The final sprint to the February 2017 LSAT has begun. There are a few scant weeks until the exam comes around, so it’s time to buckle down. Whether you are trying to get your applications in under the wire, improve your score to get in from the waitlist, or you’re a planner and won’t be sending in applications until the Fall, it’s still important to put your best foot forward on test day.
Here are my last-minute tips, both overall and by section, for the next month and test day.
- Don’t overdo it.
The biggest danger in the final sprint is burnout. Put in the work, but take time away from the test. Still do things you enjoy. Exercise. Go out with friends. Cook. The time away from the test is as important as the time with it.
- Make each study session count.
Go in with a specific goal (e.g., “I’m going to work on spotting causality in questions, and watching for patterns in those answer choices.”). Spend time at the end of each session assessing how you did at that goal. Write a list of things you are taking away from that study session; review them before the next.
- Get everything set by the Tuesday before the test.
Pencils, sharpener, erasers, ID, what you’re going to eat, how you’re going to travel – the further ahead you knock these things out, the less stress that final week.
- If you don’t already have one, start a Strategy Log.
For each question you get wrong, weren’t certain on, or spent too much time on, write out what you would do differently next time to get it right, be more certain, or find the answer more quickly. We have a free LSAT Strategy Log on our Student Center if you sign up for a free account.
- You will see something weird and new on test day.
While it’s always been a pattern, they’ve dialed it up to 11 recently. Knowing this can help you not to panic when you see it, because you knew it was coming!
- Getting something down on the page is the most important part of the game.
Even if it’s wrong, you’ll figure that out as you start working with it and can adjust. The worst thing to do on test day is stare, because you won’t get that time back.
- If your pencil isn’t on the paper, you’re not doing work.
Don’t try to do anything in your head. Experts cover their paper with diagrams; you should, too.
- Over the next month, definitely practice making inferences, frames, etc.
However, be sure to also practice brute forcing questions and answers. While there’s usually a smoother way to finish a question, you can always just test out each answer. If you practice until you can test that answer in 15-20 seconds, you’re guaranteed to finish on time, even if you test out every answer.
- Don’t discount the effort and skill it takes to quickly digest a question stem and shift gears from the previous question.
Blocked practice (doing the same question type over and over) will not prepare you for the actual exam, which switches gears with each question.
- Have a rule of thumb for each question type for when all else fails.
Down to two for an Inference question? Pick the weaker one. Stuck on two in an Assumption question? Compare them each to the conclusion to see which is closer.
- Practice a skipping strategy.
Each question is worth the same, and I guarantee you that you’re spending more time on the questions you’re getting wrong. Everyone should skip a few questions while working through their first pass. Personally, I skip ~5 (Necessary Assumption and Weaken questions in the hard zone; Matching questions with no clear eliminations). I don’t give up on them, but I don’t attempt them until I’ve earned points in areas in which I’m stronger.
- When in doubt, pick the weakest, most wishy-washy answer there is.
You won’t be right all the time, but you’ll beat the shot-in-the-dark 20% chance by a wide margin.
- Finalize your passage strategy within the next week, and then practice it.
Whether you’re taking notes, underlining/circling, or writing out nothing, it’s time to settle and practice.
- Read material other than the LSAT this month.
Go for a variety. Pick up some copies of The Economist, Scientific American, and The Atlantic. You’re still working on your RC chops while taking a bit of a break from the test itself.
Want more advice in the leadup to test day? Follow us on Facebook to receive updates about live broadcasts from me featuring tips and tricks in the leadup to the February test!
Matt Shinners is an LSAT Instructor and Head of LSAT Academics for Manhattan Prep. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Matt owns a perfect 180 LSAT score and has made a career combining his passion for teaching with knowledge of the test to help students achieve their goals. Manhattan Prep is a leader in LSAT prep, with courses engineered using the latest techniques in learning science to optimize high-level learning. Sound interesting? You can try the class for free.