Three Keys to Success on the LSAT: Simplify, Simplify and Simplify

If you’ve started thinking about preparing for the LSAT, you’ve probably gone to your local bookstore or online and come home with an armload of LSAT study guides (or their online equivalent).  Or maybe you signed up for an LSAT prep class, an LSAT review course or for private LSAT tutoring and received in return for your not insubstantial investment a hefty volume of LSAT study techniques.  Before you opened them, you thought, “Wow, this is great, with all this insight, I’ll be ready!”

Then you opened your bounty and after a few pages in each one, your eyes started to glaze over as you tried to follow the discussions of techniques.  Confidence and hope gave way to a slack-jawed “Whu?” and fear that you could never master the LSAT strategies that these materials were trying to explain.

You were right.  You can’t.  But that’s the fault of the techniques, not you.  The plethora of LSAT prep books, online advice and other LSAT materials, including Kaplan, Princeton Review, Barrons and a score of others, simply aren’t any use for your purpose—which is to get your highest LSAT score on a pressure-packed exam day.  Private tutors and online LSAT study tips generally follow commercial guides’ lead of producing a blizzard of paper.  Some very expensive LSAT tutors give pupils 7 or 8 techniques for a single type of question.  You want and need one method per type—if you have more, there’s something wrong with the method and you’ll make mistakes you shouldn’t on exam day.

We get why prep books complicate the LSAT—most people wouldn’t pay $20-$40 for a book that wasn’t 300-500 pages long.  The LSAT test prep industry wants to sell you a book.  And LSAT tutors want to show you they understand the LSAT, so they follow the same strategy.  But it’s different to “understand” the LSAT in the abstract and to understand it in the context of actually taking the LSAT.  We can all read football playbooks and understand them—but we can’t all play the game.  Understanding while sitting comfortably at home with a muffin is abstract understanding; being able to execute during the game is actual understanding.

You can’t bring any of your LSAT prep materials into the exam with you, and you wouldn’t have time to consult them if you could.  You must be in complete memory control of any technique you need when you walk into your LSAT.  You’ll need to know automatically what the next step on any question is and how to execute that step efficiently and in time.  You can’t do that if you’re trying to recall methods and then having to decide which of the myriad of possibilities you need to employ.  Your LSAT strategies and methods have to be clear, few and easily repeatable.

The key to LSAT success is efficiency under pressure.  It’s not non-game understanding of a playbook or fooling around with Ken-Ken on Sunday morning, but being able to execute when it counts, i.e., answering 5 sections (4 graded) of about 25 questions apiece in 35 minutes per section.  LSAT prep books’ nearly incomprehensible techniques won’t help you do that.  They’re selling materials, not paying attention to the point—taking the exam under tight time conditions. 

What’s the answer?  Simplify.  The LSAT is a predictable exam, and if every technique that you need to answer every type of LSAT question doesn’t fit on two or three pieces of paper (or 4 or 5 index cards) by exam day, you don’t sufficiently understand the structure of the LSAT, will have too much muddle in your head and won’t be able to get your highest LSAT score.  Not only won’t you be able to remember several hundred pages of techniques (or even ten), but you haven’t really grasped how to simplify the LSAT into a manageable range of possible questions.  But if you have command of a few, clear techniques, you’ll know what the next step is to get to the right answer: quickly, confidently and without panic.

~ by Kyle Pasewark at Advise-in Solutions on November 30, 2009.

21 Responses to “Three Keys to Success on the LSAT: Simplify, Simplify and Simplify”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Advise In Solutions, Advise In Solutions. Advise In Solutions said: @CliffyP87 Three Keys to Success on the LSAT: Simplify, Simplify and Simplify […]

  2. […] Your ability to make complex choices less complex—quickly.  Your preparation should be focused on simplicity, which will increase your accuracy and your efficiency.  See our blog post, “Three Keys to Success on the LSAT: Simplify, Simplify and Simplify.” […]

  3. […] Advise In’s LSAT program the way I do.  I’ve talked about this in our free white paper and in blogposts and presentations. Advise-In emphasizes exam day from the start and develops easy-to-use techniques […]

  4. […] preparation program, too.  But don’t think that more is the same as better; in the same way that too many LSAT techniques can get in your way, so can too much LSAT preparation time.  There are four principal reasons not to spend too much […]

  5. […] fresh for exam day, the problems created by excessively long preparation, the need to keep your techniques simple, etc.  And for some of the same reasons as Sokolove details in his discussion of the Ajax club in […]

  6. […] one for LSAT preparation: you need simple, repeatable techniques that can be applied automatically (I know, I’ve said this before; I’ll surely say it again because it’s paramount).  It’s not that you can use one […]

  7. […] –be smart about your LSAT preparation (keep it simple, take the LSAT once (ideally), don’t over- or under-prepare and don’t try to save yourself a […]

  8. […] that I work very hard to incorporate as much individualized attention as possible.  And I focus on simplifying techniques so they’re useful on a stress-filled exam […]

  9. […] It’s a hard exam and the pressure of exam day is heavy, so there’s a premium on having a few simple and repeatable LSAT techniques that you can actually use efficiently on exam […]

  10. […] Is the LSAT So Difficult Even Though It’s Not Complicated? Yes, it’s a loaded question.  Not complicated?  Well, I guess you can make it as Byzantine as you like, and many LSAT takers complexify to no […]

  11. […] crucial to break down your analysis and steps into bite-size pieces.  That’s part of making the LSAT manageable, so that when exam day comes, you know exactly what the next step is—automatically—at all […]

  12. […] so that you can obtain your highest LSAT score.  That means we’re focused on techniques that simplify the LSAT rather than make it complicated and […]

  13. […] can substitute for those kinds of LSAT study strategies.  But if your exam is months or a year or more away, there’s a lot you can do to develop the […]

  14. […] on exam day, so that you can obtain your highest LSAT score.  That means focus on techniques that simplify the LSAT rather than make it more complicated and […]

  15. […] of the day to melt away.  The way to do that is to have clear, repeatable techniques that are simple to apply and that make the right answer clear with a minimum of (which is not to say no) mental strain.  […]

  16. […] situation; practice under “game” conditions; calibrating the right amount of practice; simplifying the LSAT and LSAT study techniques rather than making LSAT prep an obtuse “your instructor is smarter […]

  17. […] […]

  18. […]” […]

  19. […] Simplifying the LSAT.  This won’t come as a surprise to regular readers of this blog or those who have read my free […]

  20. […] that I work very hard to incorporate as much individualized attention as possible. And I focus on simplifying techniques so they’re useful on a stress-filled exam […]

  21. […] very first blog post was about simplifying the LSAT. I warned about the “blizzard of paper” that LSAT study guides […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: