By: John Rood and Zack Baldwin
If you have ever taken the LSAT without timing yourself, you know it is a very different experience than the timed exam.
The limited time provides an additional obstacle to reaching your target score, so in this piece, we'll be discussing how to efficiently plan your time management strategy in order to maximize your LSAT score.
LSAC, the company that administers the LSAT, allows you to bring a non-digital watch into the testing room with you. You should already be doing practice tests to prepare for the exam, but make sure you do so with the watch you plan on using. If you don't have a watch, consider purchasing or borrowing one; while the test room is supposed to have a clock, you can't be sure you'll be able to see the time from where you will be seated. Further, with your own watch, you can rewind it back to the hour at the start of each section, making it easy to track the 35 minutes for each section. Practice with a watch, and while you do so, start to get a sense of how many problems you can comfortably do within the time limits.
When you're practicing on your own, you want to spend time working on your weakest areas, especially for the Logic Games (LG) and Logic Reasoning (LR) sections. On test day, however, you want to tackle these weak areas last. If you know, for example, that inference questions are difficult for you, make sure that you handle all the questions you are sure you can do successfully first, then come back to the inference questions when you know that you’ve gotten through the easier content.
This is a long test with a lot of repetitive questions — especially in the LR section. You will inevitably misread questions or falter on your methods as you get tired. You will experience — and at this point, you probably already have experienced — several questions in which you narrow it down to two answers and can't choose. Or you will have the experience of reading the prompt and going: “What?" Don't panic. Circle it, do two or three other questions, and come back. You don't have to do the questions in order, and saving questions that confuse you until the end guarantees you will have time for the questions that don't give you trouble.
Students very often run out of time on Reading Comprehension (RC). The challenge with timing in this section is that you don’t get any points for having read the passage — only for answering the questions. This comes up frequently with students who are able to read the fourth passage carefully but then run out of time before doing many of the questions. One quick and easy strategy is to do the passages with the most questions first. That way, you can invest time reading a passage that could theoretically yield eight points, rather than a passage that would yield six if you got all the questions right.
If you're shooting for 165+, you'll need to at least try nearly every question. But what if your goal is a 155? You need a raw score of about 61 to achieve this. How does this help you? Well, first, it means you can get approximately 10 questions wrong per section.In the LG and RC sections, it means you can comfortably ignore an entire game/passage, allowing you to spend your time on the remaining three items.
In the LR, you can safely “skip" (be sure to at least bubble in a guess) five or so questions. This additional time will greatly increase your accuracy. Remember: If you can accurately answer 17–18 questions per section, you should score close to a 160.
For LR, this means leaving parallel reasoning, parallel flaw, and some principle questions for last. These questions are significantly more time-consuming than the typical strengthen question; rather than read one argument for one problem, you will need to read six. This can slow you down and stress you out. Save these kinds of questions until the end of the section.
In RC, these are what are called “local" questions: The answer can be found in exactly one sentence in the passage, and you will need to spend time hunting for it. If you work on some of the more general questions that require broad reconsideration, you may spot specific details that will be tested on the local questions. Save these to answer last.
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If you're totally new to this exam, first check out this one-page guide to the LSAT before you begin your preparations.
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