Introduction To The LSAT
In addition to the following discussion see:
What is the LSAT?
The letters “L S A T” stand for “Law School Admission Test. The LSAT is administered by Law Services based in Newtown, PA. The test is required as part of the application process to the overwhelming majority (I know of only one exception) to Canadian and U.S. (ABA approved) law schools. At present the test may be taken four times a year – usually in June (best time), October (very good time), December (a bad time of year for those in school) and February (suitable only as a retake or an early bird start).
How and When Do You Register?
You register online. You should register well in advance of the deadline for registration. Major test centers fill up quickly. Registration for the June 2007 LSAT opened in January 2007 and the most popular test centers were filled within a couple of days.
What Is The LSAT About And Are There Specific Skills That It Tests?
The LSAT is a multiple choice test of reading and reasoning in context. All LSAT question types test these skills. That is both good and bad news.
Good News: The LSAT tests only reading and reasoning – no specific background knowledge is tested.
Bad News: The LSAT tests only reading and reasoning – no specific background knowledge is tested.
It is easier to prepare for tests that test background knowledge. All you need do is learn that particular knowledge. LSAT preparation is NOT that simple.
What Is The Specific Format Of The LSAT?
The LSAT is composed of six thirty-five minute sections. Four of the six count toward your test score (reported on a scale of 120 – 180). One of the six is experimental (not counting toward your score) and one is a writing sample (which although does not count toward your score is used as part of your application file) at some law schools.
The four that count are:
– two separate and distinct Logical Reasoning sections (24 – 26 questions each);
– one reading comprehension section which contains three passages and one “Comparative Reading” set (total number of questions 26 – 28);
– one Analytical Reasoning (Logic Games) section (total number of questions 22 – 24).
Although these sections have different names, they all test reading and reasoning in context.
About LSAT Preparation – What Does It Mean?
To put it simply:
Your goal in LSAT preparation is to improve to the point where you are able to achieve the highest score that you can with your level of reading and reasoning ability.
LSAT Preparation And Anxiety
The LSAT preparation industry (books and courses) give you the impression that you are hopeless without preparation. This is not true. Many people can answer many questions without any preparation. Don’t forget this! Your goal when you prepare is to improve your timing (there isn’t enough time) and improve on the question types that give you trouble.
Sources Of LSAT Preparation
There are two sources.
Source 1 – LSAT Themselves – www.lsac.org
It is imperative that you begin by seeing how LSAT describes their own test. They have a publication – The LSAT Registration Book – that contains a free sample test and commentary on the questions. The contents of the book are also available on their site – www.lsac.org
Start with this! You must understand what LSAT says about their own test.
This is another example of:
“The best things in life are free.”
LSAT also sells most a number of actual LSAT exams. Use them!
Source 2 – Third Party Books And Courses
There are a large number of “third party” books and courses. “Third party” means the book or course does not come directly from LSAT. This doesn’t make it either bad or good. A good book or course can add a great deal to your understanding of LSAT questions. Almost all test takers use “third party” sources. Just remember, to begin by understanding what LSAT says about their own test! Here are some steps to LSAT prepartion:
Step 1 – Becoming Familiar With The LSAT
Start with the LSAT registration book. Read it from cover to cover. LSAT also publishes a book called “LSAT SuperPrep” which is an important part of your prep. After all, it does come directly from LSAT.
Step 2 – Take A Sample LSAT Under Timed Conditions
This will give you a sense of how much preparation you need. Some of you will not need any additional work and some will. There is at least one free LSAT sample test on the LSAT site.
Step 3 – Acquire A Number Of Actual LSATs
These can be purchased directly. They also come with the course materials of almost all LSAT courses.
Step 4 – Purchase Any Third Party Books You May Want
People are always asking the question:
What is the best LSAT book? Well, it really depends on the stage of LSAT preparation that you are at. The blog will provide some thoughts on commentary on LSAT books for whatever stage you are at.
You will see that groups will be grouped into the following categories:
- Beginning Books
- Intermediate Books
- Advanced Books
- Specialty Books – Logic Games
- Specialty Books – Logical Reasoning
- Specialty Books – Reading Comprehension
The site lsatbooks.com is another site that you may want to consider when evaluating books or ordering books.
Step 5 – Enroll In An LSAT Course – If This Is The Route That You Want
LSAT preparation is a function of:
First, actually being prepared; and
Second, feeling prepared.
It is entirely possible to achieve a high score without taking an LSAT preparation course. To put it another way – an LSAT course is (to use the language of certain LSAT questions) neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for a high score.
That said, a good course should help most people, improve their scores, most of the time.
Since all LSAT courses teach off actual LSAT test, you really are paying for the instruction. Hence, the issue is – who is teaching and (given that there is no universal agreement on what constitutes a good, medium or bad teacher) do you like the teacher. Shop the market looking for a teacher. You may also want to consider private tutoring.
There are basically two kinds of courses – those offered on weekends and those on weeknights.
Step 6 – The Most Important For Last – Don’t Adopt Just One Method!
Please remember that there is NOT single correct or best way to answer LSAT questions. There is no shortage of books and courses trying to sell you on their method. Do NOT buy into one method. Your approach should be as flexible as possible and incorporate as many methods as you can. In some cases, the best method is:
No method at all. I just know the answer!