As the September LSAT draws nearer, most LSAT prep courses are wrapping up new material and shifting into review mode. Now is the time to start thinking speeding up your timing and planning your section strategy. Here are some tips to help optimize your studying:
Target your problem areas. Assess where you feel you have potential to improve, and start there. Look at the types of questions you’re getting wrong. Are you consistently getting tripped up in logic games? Struggling with reading comprehension? Zero in on your less successful points, and spend some extra time reviewing the relevant strategies. Give yourself time to understand the material before timing yourself. You can’t get faster at something you have yet to get the hang of.
As you get more comfortable with the material, pick up your pace gradually. Getting faster doesn’t happen in one fell swoop, and expecting it to will only lead to frustration. If you start rushing to improve your time, you’re likely to start making silly mistakes. Instead, shoot to increase your pace in increments. If your accuracy nosedives, slow down a little. So how do you increase your speed?
Aim for efficiency. It’s better to work smarter than harder. When reading a passage, take the necessary time to understand what you’re reading the first time. If you speed through a passage to “save time,” you’re likely to miss important information the first time around and end up having to revisit it later to understand what’s going on. Instead of doing it once correctly, you’ll lose time jumping back and forth. Worse, the questions might take longer to answer, or your rushed understanding will lead you to wrong answers. In logic games, take your time assessing how the rules work together, and split the game into scenarios when it’s called for, because it’ll help you go faster in the long run. Taking your time on a reading passage will help you come out with an understanding that’ll help you answer at least some of the questions without doing any more work. This is true for the stimulus in logical reasoning, the setup in logic games, and the passages in reading comprehension. Make sure you’re spending the appropriate amount of time on these areas, because it will save time when you don’t have to backtrack.
Trust your own judgement before looking at the answers. For conditional questions in the logic games section (the ones that give a puzzle new information), immediately assess how this change affects a setup before reading the options. In reading comprehension, returning to the passage may give you the answer immediately. In logical reasoning, read the stimulus carefully and take the time to anticipate what you’re looking for from an answer. It’s tempting to jump to the answers to see if things stand out, but you are less likely to be tricked if you have an idea of what to look for. Answering the question independently first can keep you from getting lost in trickily worded answers.
Maximize your points. There is no prize for finishing. Unless you’re aiming for a perfect 180, it’s unlikely that you will finish every question correctly. Instead, focus on your strengths. If skipping a long parallel reasoning question gives you time to answer a few questions that you feel more confident in. it is worth it. For some people it is more beneficial to to focus on 3 of the 4 reading comprehension passages or games really closely, and getting to the fourth with any remaining time. Guessing on the forth is always an option, especially if you feel solid in the first three. If you finish the exam at the expense of your accuracy, what was the point? Getting less done correctly is more important than rushing to finish with huge mistakes.
Stay calm. When you stay collected, you move more quickly because there is no wasted effort. Having confidence in your abilities will propel you forward more successfully than rushing.
Getting faster is a challenge and doesn’t happen over night. Practice and review in these next few weeks are key.. When you can understand each question to the extent that you could explain it to someone else, you’re on your way to success, and, will go effortlessly faster.