Doing LSAT Prep While Not Preparing for the LSAT

You don’t prepare to take the LSAT from a vacuum.  You have a particular biography, methods of thought, ways of learning, strengths and weaknesses.  The ideal LSAT program will account for those and, based on knowing who you are, will help take you from where you are to where you need to be in a focused way that builds on (and gently reconstructs some of) your foundations.

Nothing 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 kind of skills you’ll need to obtain your best LSAT score.  We think that doing these things is more helpful than beginning your “official” LSAT prep too early, which runs the risk of your peaking too early and falling well off your better practice scores on your actual LSAT.

Two recommendations:

1.  Read—A Lot of the Right Kind of Material.  People who do a lot of reading outside of what they are forced to read have a huge advantage.  They’re just used to doing much of what they need to do on the LSAT Reading and Logical Reasoning sections; successful techniques feel more natural to them and they’re generally faster.  If you read a lot, great; if you don’t, you should start.

What should you read, and how?  LSAT Logical Reasoning and Reading questions require you to break an argument down.  So, what you should read to help prepare the foundation for your highest LSAT score are: arguments.  Read newspaper op-eds regularly.  Academic book reviews are good, as are some humanities and social science academic journals.  Popular science magazines (such as Scientific American and Science) and news magazines (such as The Atlantic, The New Republic, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, The National Review, Harpers and The New Yorker) are very helpful; authors make fairly complex (sometimes good, sometimes awful) arguments that can be analyzed on the basis both of several consecutive paragraphs (the sub-arguments that build the central argument) and of the article as a whole.  Whatever your sources, the key is to read arguments and get in the habit of dissecting them.

2.  Do Logic Puzzles.  Bookstores sell a lot of logic games books.  None of them are just like the questions you’ll see in the Analytical Reasoning section of the LSAT, but if you spend time with games on the bus or the subway, you’ll get in the habit of solving puzzles by clear, logical steps.  You’ll have to adjust those steps for the LSAT (just as you’ll have to adjust some modes of analyzing arguments) but Analytical Reasoning won’t seem like a new world if you’re accustomed to logic puzzles.  They’ll “get your head in the LSAT game” even when you’re not actually preparing for it.

If you’re taking the LSAT in a month or two, you probably should put down the puzzles and just focus on LSAT Analytical Reasoning (but you should keep reading in your spare time).  If your LSAT is months or more away, strengthening your analytical abilities through reading arguments and doing logic puzzles can build your engine power before you formally begin your study program.

~ by Kyle Pasewark at Advise-in Solutions on February 21, 2010.

5 Responses to “Doing LSAT Prep While Not Preparing for the LSAT”

  1. Thanks the author for article. The main thing do not forget about users, and continue in the same spirit.

  2. […] gym work before you go to training camp.  I’ve talked about some of these measures in a prior post and won’t repeat them here.  I will give two reminders about why this pre-prep prep is a good […]

  3. […] early 2010, I did a blog post about how to prepare for the LSAT before you actually start preparing for the […]

  4. […] op-ed pages in particular if they don’t have time to read the entire publication.  One of my first posts on this blog contained similar […]

  5. […] op-ed pages in particular if they don’t have time to read the entire publication.  One of my first posts on this blog contained similar […]

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