Study Effectively When Retaking the LSAT
Now that the June LSAT scores have been released, many test-takers have decided to retake the LSAT in October in an effort to improve their score. Although there are some similarities between preparing to take the test for the first time and preparing to retake the test, there are also a few significant differences.
One of the most common misconceptions about preparing to retake the LSAT is that all you need to do is refresh your knowledge. The truth is that consistent, rigorous study is the most important aspect of your preparation, no matter your situation.
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Although you may be familiar with all the concepts and strategies from your previous preparation, there is always room for improvement. It’s equally important that successful test-takers consistently take two or three tests per week, not just because it’s great practice, but also to get as comfortable as possible with taking the test under timed, simulated conditions.
The more you do this, the more comfortable you’ll be on test day. I recommend that my students continue to take three tests per week, including the week of the test. Make sure to leave the day before the test completely free to relax, clear your head and rest.
Once you’re on board with the need to approach your preparation with the same rigor as before, take a hard look at what happened on the June test and identify areas of improvement. For every administered test except February, the Law School Admission Council sends each test-taker a copy of the scored sections of the test, an answer key and the answers entered on the score sheet.
The first thing to look at when reviewing your score report is whether there was a significant problem with timing. If you ended up guessing on a significant portion of any section of the test, some of your preparation should be devoted to taking timed individual sections, focusing on slowly improving your timing for that section.
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The second thing to do is to thoroughly review every question you got wrong and determine whether each question is of a type that you consistently had trouble with during your preparation. If most questions are of those types, you should come up with a different strategy for those questions.
If not, it’s possible that you were thrown off by the pressure and environment of the real thing, and you should take as many practice tests in simulated environments and with precise timing.
I often recommend that students take practice tests in a library. It will generally be quiet, but there will still be some noise, movement and other minor distractions just as there are during the real test.
A final consideration when preparing to retake the LSAT is whether there is value in retaking practice tests that you have already taken in your preparation for the previous test. Fortunately, the LSAC has published more than 70 practice tests, and most students have not taken all of them.
However, it is important to take 20 or so of the most recent tests, as these tests will be most similar to the next administered LSAT and there is likely to be significant overlap in most students’ preparation.
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On the extreme end, I worked with a student who had taken every single published LSAT but wanted to prepare to take the test a second time. Like most students, he worried that having seen a test before would makes retaking it a less effective preparation tool, but that is not the case.
If you have taken 30 practice tests – which is on the low end of what I recommend to my students – then you have seen over 3,000 questions, and unless you are blessed with an incredible memory, you will not remember the details of any of these questions with enough specificity to help you the second time around.
Furthermore, although the LSAT never recycles entire questions, passages or games, the test is formulaic, so taking a test that you have already seen will continue to reinforce your recognition of the formulas and patterns that the LSAT employs, which will ultimately improve your score.
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