The Ultimate Summertime LSAT Study Plan

By Ross Rinehart

Many people use their summers to study for the LSAT. Historically, the September/October LSAT has been the most taken, as hoards of undergrads and recent grads use the free time afforded by summer to bunker down and study. With many universities’ spring semesters wrapping up this month, the season of pre-law students eschewing beaches and barbecues in favor of conditional statements and logical fallacies is upon us.

Last year, the number of LSAT takers rose for the first time in years, and the number of law school applicants with high LSAT scores experienced an even more dramatic uptick. So the field of LSAT takers prepping over this summer will, in all likelihood, be a competitive one. That means you want to make the most of your study time — especially if you’re going to be avoiding the usual comforts of summer to do so. But you may have questions about how to approach the LSAT. Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about using the summer to study for the LSAT, to help you get the most out of the coming months.

 

Q: There are two summer LSATs: July and September. Which should I take?

A: For the first time ever, there are two ways to use your summer to prepare for the LSAT. You can, as students have in the past, use your entire summer to prep for the September exam. Or you can use the first few months of your summer to prep for the brand new July 23 LSAT.

Which exam should you take? The short answer: it depends. The July LSAT will be administered on a Monday in the afternoon; September will be administered on a Saturday morning. Night owls may prefer July; early risers may prefer September. The July test is “nondisclosed” — meaning LSAC doesn’t release score reports or copies of the exam to test takers, only the score the test taker earned — while the September test is not.

You should be aware of these minor differences, but the most salient consideration is your schedule. Essentially, you should pick the test you can dedicate more study time to. The July exam is just over two months away, so if that’s the test you elect to take, you should begin your study plan immediately.

 

Q: When should I sign up to take the LSAT?

A: ASAP. You can register for either the July or September exams right now. The deadline to sign up for the July test is June 13, and the deadline for September is July 23, but you should try to sign up for either well before those dates. Signing up for the test early will give you a better chance of finding a favorable test center and avoiding the dreaded waitlist. Plus, once you’re signed up, the test will become a reality, and you’ll be forced to fully commit to your study plan. 

 

Q: There are multiple LSAT testing centers near me. Which should I choose?

A: Do some Googling and try to find some reviews on your area’s testing centers, but here’s our general advice: you should aim to take the exam at a small college or law school, and try to avoid larger universities and hotels. Small colleges and law schools typically have more easily navigable campuses, will assign you to smaller rooms (so you won’t feel the collective anxiety of 100 pre-J.D.s), and will give you a large desk to work at. Larger universities will have more labyrinthine campuses (making it difficult to find parking and your check-in point), will place you into large rooms, and may give you tiny desks that won’t fit both the test booklet and answer sheet. Both larger universities and hotels may have events or conferences that may make the center noisy or distracting.

 

Q: There were no open LSAT testing centers near me and I’ve been placed on the waitlist … how worried should I be?

A: Well, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that pretty much everyone who’s placed on the waitlist will eventually be assigned to a test center. The bad news is that you’ll be assigned to the first open spot in any test center within 100 miles of you. However, you may request to be placed in a different test center before the test center change deadline (June 19 for July and August 14 for September), if a spot opens up at a more convenient center. Do some research into the best centers near you, check your LSAC online account regularly, secure $125, and make the request as soon as you see a spot open up in your preferred test center.

 

Q: How long should I study for?

A: For most test takers, two to four months is sufficient study time. Those who can dedicate themselves entirely to prepping for the LSAT can get prepared within two months. Those who are hampered with classes, work, or other life responsibilities may need four or more months to adequately prepare.

 

Q: How many hours per day should I study for the LSAT?

A: Two to four hours per day, five or six times per week. It’s a lot, and you should be very realistic from the start about how much time you need to budget for the exam. At the same time, the LSAT shouldn’t completely take over your life. It’s important that you refrain from studying for 8 hours a day, and that you still engage in the activities that keep you happy, healthy, and well.

Ideally, you can study in a concentrated block lasting four hours, with a 15-minute break somewhere in the middle. This is because you’ll be taking the real LSAT over a four-hour period, with a 15-minute break in the middle. If you can, study during the time you’ll take the exam. That means 1-5 pm if you’re taking the afternoon July test, or 9-1 pm if you’re taking the morning September test. Try to be as focused and diligent during this four-hour period as possible. That means closing the seventeen tabs you have open in your browser, and leaving your phone in another room. Part of studying for the LSAT is building your mental endurance for a grueling test day. If you’re constantly taking breaks to check Instagram, you’ll lose out on that part of the study process. Plus, if you can finish a day’s studying within four hours, you can use the rest of your day to rejoin your friends and family in polite society, and enjoy the summertime activities you may otherwise miss.

 

Q: I’ve been studying for X number of months and I’ve taken Y number of practice exams, and my LSAT score still hasn’t gone up. Is it time to panic and give up?

A: Of course not. Many students find themselves in your predicament, which is not at all unusual or panic-worthy.

Progress on the LSAT is a confluence of two factors: accuracy and speed. When you start studying for the LSAT, these two factors are in conflict. You’ll need to learn new skills and develop sound strategies to build up your accuracy. Further, the thought processes that the LSAT tests are counterintuitive to many students and the correct answers frequently defy expectation. Since you’re developing new skills and trying to answer questions without relying on your intuition, answering these questions will take quite a bit of time. Then, once you move on to doing timed practice, you’ll be keenly aware of how little time you have to answer the questions on the LSAT. You may not utilize all the skills and strategies you’ve been honing during your untimed practice, and your accuracy may take a hit.

For many students, their scores stagnate as they try to strike the right balance between accuracy and speed on their practice exams. But with continued practice they eventually reach a point at which their accuracy and speed both increase. They become comfortable enough with the skills and strategies that they can employ them easily and effectively on a timed exam. And they become used to working through the questions quickly, and the test speed feels manageable. When these students make a big improvement to their speed and accuracy, they see a dramatic improvement in their practice exam scores.

 

Q: I took the LSAT and I’m not sure I did well. Should I take the LSAT again?

A: If you’re up for it, yes! Your LSAT score is the most part of your law school application, so if you’re confident that you can earn a better score, you should definitely give the exam another try.

One thing you should note, if you take the July test and want to try again in September: the deadline to sign up for the September test is July 23, the same day as the July exam. So you’ll have to make your decision very quickly; you have until 11:59 pm Eastern to sign up. Unfortunately, you’ll have to make your decision without the opportunity to do much reflection, much less after seeing the score you received.

 

Q: Will law schools hold the fact that I took the LSAT more than once against me?

A: It’s not the case that every law school admissions committee weighs your application materials in the same way, so I’m hesitant to make any sweeping generalizations. It is true that if you take the LSAT more than once, law schools you apply to will be able to see every LSAT score you received. A lot of students worry that law schools will then average your scores. So if you received a 150 and a 170 on the LSAT, you’ll be assessed as a candidate who earned a 160.

There used to be some merit to this concern. Prior to 2006, the ABA and LSAC required law schools to report the average LSAT scores earned by their matriculants when computing the median LSAT scores of an entering class. But after 2006, law schools can now simply report the highest LSAT score of their entering students.

So now that law schools can simply take your highest score, the vast majority of schools do. Admissions officers will never admit to ignoring part of your application and your lower LSAT score will be part of your application. But when asked how they assess applicants with multiple LSAT scores, most of the top law schools admitted that they did not average the LSAT scores, but instead merely take past scores into “consideration” … whatever that means.

If your first score is lower than the typical range of scores you earned on practice exams, it’s a good idea to take the test again. The tangible benefits of applying with a better LSAT score greatly outweigh the vague drawbacks of law schools taking past scores into consideration. If your score improves significantly — like six points or more — from the first to the second LSAT you take, you should definitely write an additional essay in your application that explains why the second score is more representative of you as a student.

-------

I’ve spoken to many students who are planning to use their summers to study for the LSAT, and these are the most common questions I hear. Hopefully, the answer to these will offer clarity on how to make your summer as productive and rewarding as possible.

 

For more LSAT tips and strategies, check out these articles:

How To Prepare For LSAT Logic Games And Reading Comprehension

'Do Nothing' Is The Best LSAT Advice You'll Receive Today

How To Start Studying For The LSAT

LSAT Scores: How low should you go?

10 Steps To A Stellar LSAT Score

How To Take An LSAT Prep Test

 


Ross Rinehart graduated from UCLA with a degree in English and Political Science and went on to secure a J.D. from USC Law. After getting a 170 on the LSAT, a 98th percentile score, Ross began teaching for Blueprint LSAT Prep. Having taught for Blueprint for almost 4 years, he has helped countless students improve their LSAT score.


 

Categories: