Thursday, June 21, 2018

Top 5 LSAT Hacks for a 160+

Hello, beautiful! As you may have already heard, my most popular blog post of all-time here on Haley Marie Blog is still my classic "8 Tips Every Prelaw Student Needs to Know" - yet even though law school applications are becoming an even bigger, more pressing part of my life, I haven't written anything about going to law school since then.

That's why I figured a post on LSAT prep was way overdue, since the LSAT is literally all I can eat, sleep, breathe or think about from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to bed at night. (JK...except not really.) Granted, if you're not gunning to go to Harvard, there's no reason to kill yourself over the LSAT - but that doesn't mean a little bit of reasonable test anxiety isn't warranted, either!

Whether you're at the infancy stages of your LSAT progress or gearing up for the big test this summer, these tips will help you hack the LSAT. With so much conflicting advice out there, it's my goal that this post will help you filter out the unhelpful noise and get to the heart of the exam. And after that? Nothing but blue skies and 165s for the both of us!

...or, at least, let's cross our fingers for that ;)

Hack #1: Eyes on the Prize

You might remember from taking the SAT in high school that standardized tests tend to cause a big fuss among ambitious students. Well, if you happen to know other students vying for law school after graduation, I can assure you that the LSAT is no different!

With all that discussion of target scores and dream schools, it can be easy to lose sight of your personal goals and start comparing yourself to others. For example, if you just want a 160 and your best friend is gunning for a 175 to get into Harvard Law (what, like it's hard?), you could easily start to get down on yourself the more you hear her beat herself up over getting a 170 on her practice exam.

That's why I say "eyes on the prize": once you set your individual goal, stick to it, and try your darnedest not to fall prey to comparisons. As they say, comparison is the thief of joy - and once you start viewing your own goals as inferior, you're likely to find yourself stressed out, burned out and worn out long before test day.

Hack #2: Cut Out the Noise

Similarly, there's a lot of conflicting advice out there about which test prep books are the best, how you should be studying or solving questions and what scores you need to get into the law school of your dreams. But if you try to follow all of this advice at once, you're likely to get overwhelmed and just plain confused when answering practice questions.

My advice? Find what works for you and stick to it, regardless of what anyone else says! If something helps you study and you can see that it's helping you make progress on your practice questions and exams, then there's no use trying to adopt a method recommended by the "top LSAT tutors" (hint: they all say they're the "top tutors"). Instead, stick to your guns and follow a path that works well for you, and you alone!

That being said, a few tried and true resources come up time and time again among LSAT prep blogs and tutors - and when you hear something recommended to you that many times, you know there's gotta be something special there. For me, the PowerScore series, Manhattan Prep series, official LSAC practice test books and free Khan Academy LSAT tutoring were total game-changers (not to mention that they're all either LSAC-official or LSAT tutor-approved)...but if that's not what works for you, then don't listen! It really is as simple as that.

Hack #3: Request, Review, Renew

Between test center fees, the Credentials Assembly Service (CAS) and LSAT prep books, you can easily drop over $1,000 on applying to law school. So, how does one study for the LSATs without spending a fortune (or compromising their goal of a score above a 160)?

The number one most useful thing I've done so far in preparing for the LSAT was seeing if any of the books I wanted to buy were available at my local library. Requesting books from my local library has saved me both time and money in preparing efficiently and effectively for the LSAT on the cheap. 

Library resources tend to be underutilized among college students, and I highly recommend taking advantage of them whenever possible! However, if you're going to take advantage of these resources, make sure you get there early so you're first in line for your favorite LSAT books. (And in the meantime, check out the LSAC's free new prep course with Khan Academy! #notsponsored)

Hack #4: Be Your Own Drill Sargent 

Being able to answer questions correctly is all fine and well - until you start timing yourself, that is. If you crack under the pressure of being timed, find yourself running out of time or start getting exhausted by the end of a section, it's time to start drilling yourself to build up endurance for the real test.

There are a couple ways you can go about drilling yourself for the LSAT so you can build up as much endurance and stamina as possible. Namely...
  • PowerScore Workbooks. The PowerScore series of LSAT prep books is incredibly helpful - but PowerScore also makes a series of workbooks to help you drill yourself on the Reading Comprehension, Logical Reasoning and Analytical Reasoning series. 
  • Khan Academy Timed Mini Sections. When you sign up for the LSAC's LSAT prep course with Khan Academy, you start by taking a diagnostic test and creating a study plan. Then the course will automatically test you at various checkpoints by running timed mini sections to help whip your reasoning skills into shape! 
  • Full-Length Practice Exams from the LSAC. During your LSAT preparation, you should strive to take a full-length (timed!) practice exam at least once a week. The LSAC only offers one free practice exam online, and it's too old to have the comparative reading passages in its Reading Comprehension section. Instead, I would advise you to splurge for the LSAC's most recent books of ten full practice tests each, and the free LSAT Proctor app to time you along the way! 

Hack #5: Take a Breather

Last but not least, do not - I repeat: do NOT - try to study all day, every day, all week long. I put this bluntly because I want to emphasis how important it is! After all, the last thing you want to do when studying is burn out months before you even take your first exam.

So, take a break! Whether it's stepping outside for a breath of fresh air, watching an episode of Game of Thrones or calling a loved one to set up a much-needed coffee date, it's important to maintain healthy relationships with your self and others, even when cramming for this life-altering test.

Another strategy you might want to try is using a Pomodoro timer, which gives you set periods of work interspersed with short breaks every hour or so. The Focus Timer or Tide apps are great ways to time your study sessions Pomodoro-style. Simply set a timer on your favorite Pomodoro app and get down to business! Then, feel free to scroll through your favorite sites, take Buzzfeed quizzes or unwind with a YouTube video on your breaks...until it's time to rinse and repeat, that is ;)

What's your number one test-taking strategy? LMK @haleymarieblog or in the comments below!