How to Improve Your LSAT Score

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s most law school applicants know, the LSAT score is the single most important component of a law school application. And the better ranked the school, the better you need to do on the LSAT to gain admission. Top 14 law schools, for example, primarily take applicants who have scored in the top 5% on the LSAT. And at the very top schools such as Harvard Law School, Yale Law School, and Stanford Law School, the median LSAT score 173, the top 1% of all test-takers. To be a strong candidate at a top law school, you should aim to get an LSAT score of 170 or better, putting you in the top 3% of all test takers.

Not only is the LSAT extremely important, it is also extremely difficult. It is, in our opinion (and in the view of many others), the hardest standardized test offered in the United States. Even for those who are naturally inclined toward the test, months of preparation are required to score as well as possible.

So what can you do to maximize your LSAT score? The following will guide you through all aspects of the LSAT, giving you insights into how to prepare for the test, strategies for test day, and everything in between. This guide will help you maximize your LSAT score, and therefore maximize your chances of gaining admission to a top law school.

The LSAT score is the single most important component of a law school application. The top 14 law schools typically accept applicants who have scored in the top 5% on the LSAT.

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What is the LSAT?

The LSAT is a six-section standardized test required for admission to every law school in the United States. It is scored on a scale of 120-180.

Unlike other standardized tests such as the GMAT and GRE, it is offered only four times per year:

  • Early February. This is the only undisclosed test, so, unlike the other three tests, you won’t be able to see the scored questions or your answers.
  • Early June. This is the only test that starts in the afternoon and is offered on Monday only.
  • Late September/Early October. The date of this test depends on where Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah fall each year.
  • Early December.

With the exception of the June exam, each test is offered on Saturday, with an alternate date offered on the following Monday or Tuesday to accommodate Sabbath observers.

The test contains:

  • Two Logical Reasoning sections, which test your ability to understand, analyze, and make deductions from short prompts, usually three or four sentences in length.
  • One Reading Comprehension section, which tests your ability to quickly synthesize dense text and answer both general and specific questions about the texts.
  • One Logic Games section (officially called the “Analytical Reasoning” section), which tests your ability to apply schematic and logical rules to an open-ended framework.
  • One Experimental Section, which is one of the three above sections, but is not counted towards your numerical score.
  • One Writing Sample, which tests your ability to write a short, persuasive argument. Like the experimental section, this section does not have an effect on your numerical score.

 

 
The LSAT sections:


Two Logical Reasoning

One Reading Comprehension

One Logic Games

One Experimental

One Writing Sample

Why do law schools care about the LSAT?

Law schools care about the LSAT for two reasons:

  • To predict applicants’ potential as law students and lawyers
  • To increase their US News ranking

Law schools have long believed that an applicant’s LSAT score is a good indication of their potential as a law student. There is good reason to doubt this belief. But, regardless of your belief with respect to the predictive value of the LSAT, all that matters is that schools believe this and continue to so highly value the LSAT.

In addition to believing that the LSAT predicts its applicants’ potential, law schools know that the LSAT scores of their incoming classes are a significant part of the annual US News and World Report law school rankings. And law schools care a lot about their spot in the rankings. One way for a school like the University of Chicago to improve its law school ranking is to admit students with higher LSAT scores.

law-school-student

Law schools have long believed that an applicant’s LSAT score is a good indication of their potential as a law student.

How should you prepare for the LSAT?

Before we discuss specifics, it’s important to understand that the most important part of your LSAT preparation is the mentality you bring to it. You should be tenacious, persistent, and thoughtful in both your overall approach and in any LSAT class, LSAT tutoring session, and practice test you take. Because the LSAT is so difficult, it does a great job of separating those who will end up at, say, Columbia Law School, as opposed to a lower-ranked law school. Those who succeed dedicate significant time and resources to taking the test.

In addition, it is important to understand that almost nobody in the world can sit down and get their best score without preparation. Even those who are capable of scoring 175 or above on the LSAT generally need to spend several months preparing for the LSAT before consistently scoring 175 or better.

Below, we’ll go into detail on the following four essential components of LSAT preparation:

  • Making a plan
  • Learning the material
  • Practice, practice, practice
  • Targeted review of problem areas
Making a Plan

Taking the LSAT requires several months of dedicated study. At Stratus Prep, we recommend that our clients plan on spending approximately four months preparing for the LSAT, broken down as follows:

  • Two months to learn the relevant techniques and strategies
  • Two months of full-length practice tests and targeted study

Preparing for four months, scary as it may sound, is manageable. The key is to understand that you do not need to spend more than 15 hours per week preparing. In other words, the LSAT is not a test you can cram for. Instead, plan on devoting several two- to four-hour blocks of time per week to uninterrupted LSAT study.

Learning the Material

To learn the methods, techniques and strategies necessary to maximize your LSAT score, almost everyone needs some form of help. That help can be in the form of books, LSAT group classes, or one-on-one tutoring. Although LSAT preparation books can get you some of the way, most people benefit from the personalized approach that small-group classes and one-on-one tutoring provide.

Working with an experienced teacher or tutor on your LSAT prep creates a personalized approach. An experienced teacher or tutor will not just be able to teach you one approach, but multiple approaches, and help you identify which one best suits your learning style and way of thinking.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Having the proper mentality and learning the material are near meaningless without tons and tons of practice. This practice should come in two forms:

  • Full, timed practice tests
  • Targeted problem sets

Taking full, timed practice LSAT tests is a necessary part of a complete LSAT preparation. At Stratus Prep, we recommend that our clients take at least 25 full, timed practice tests before taking the real thing. To help our clients get comfortable with taking the test in real conditions, we give our clients four free, proctored LSAT tests before each LSAT administration at our New York City office.

Targeted Review of Problem Areas

Taking at least 25 practice LSAT tests not only gets you ready to take the real thing, it also gives you a ton of information about what you’re already doing well and what you need to improve on. To properly identify both the areas of weakness and how to improve them, an LSAT tutor is a great resource. A good LSAT tutor will be able to identify areas of weakness not just by question type or section type, but by identifying other, less obvious patterns. Identifying these patterns can be the difference between scoring a 165 and a 170 on the LSAT.

 
Four essential components of LSAT preparation:


Making a plan

Learning the material

Practice, practice, practice

Targeted review of problem areas

LSAT Prep with a Stratus Prep tutor: A Personalized Approach

At Stratus Prep, we have helped prepare thousands of students for the LSAT over the last ten years, and we have done so by giving personalized attention to each of our clients, whether they are taking one of our live LSAT classes in New York City, engaged in live one-on-one tutoring in our New York City office, or take advantage of our virtual one-on-one tutoring platform to be taught from anywhere in the world.

Our tutors are not only experts at taking the test themselves, scoring at least 173 on a real LSAT, they are also expert teachers. We find tutors with significant teaching experience and train them rigorously to ensure that they know both how to score well and how to impart that knowledge on our clients.

In addition, our tutors use a personalized approach to LSAT preparation. They customize our proprietary techniques and strategies to their clients, enabling them to continue to improve their LSAT score. This personalized approach also ensures that time with a tutor is spent most efficiently.

Many LSAT takers realize too late how difficult it is to score well on the LSAT and that investing in an LSAT prep course and an LSAT tutor will reap huge rewards down the road in terms of law school admission and all the benefits that going to a top school affords. Almost all LSAT takers are best served by engaging an LSAT tutor or taking an LSAT course at the beginning of their preparation instead of waiting until just before the test, when class and tutoring hours will be less effective.

Daniel Coogan

Vice President of Test Preparation and Law School Services at Stratus Prep

Dan has been teaching LSAT classes and tutoring clients on the LSAT for Stratus since 2008 and has helped hundreds of clients of all backgrounds and ability levels maximize their LSAT scores. As Vice President of Test Preparation and Law School Services, Dan manages our team of LSAT instructors, is the author of our LSAT curriculum and the creator of our LSAT methodology. Dan graduated from the New York University School of Law in 2012 and was a tax attorney at a Manhattan corporate law firm before rejoining Stratus in his current capacity.

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