How to Study for the LSAT

Written by: Will Bond

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How to Study for the LSAT

If you’re thinking about applying to law schools, one of the most important hurdles to overcome in your journey will be the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). While it can seem daunting at first, succeeding on the LSAT is completely achievable with the right approach and resources.

In addition to guiding you through some essential study strategies when preparing for the LSAT, we’ll also explore how long this process typically takes and what is considered a good score.

Whether you’re just starting out or looking to improve your score, this guide will provide valuable insights to boost your preparation and confidence for the LSAT.

Recommended: Interested in getting started? We recommend Kaplan’s LSAT preparation courses, which come with more than 200 quizzes and practice tests, one-on-one tutoring, and interactive online lessons.

4.7 out of 5 starsKaplan ($799+)

LSAT Study Guide

To help you organize your preparation for the LSAT, we’ve compiled a series of practical tips and strategies.

1. Plan Ahead

Improving at the LSAT is largely a question of developing the right habits for approaching and solving questions. This mental muscle memory takes time to develop and can’t be learned by watching someone else solve problems or trying to cram months of work into just a few weeks.

Since these skills take time to develop, giving yourself enough time to learn them is central to success in the LSAT. For example, if you don’t have the luxury of forgoing your personal or professional obligations in order to dedicate this time to your LSAT studies, you’ll need to plan ahead and start your preparations earlier.

Alternatively, you can reduce your hours at work, take more vacation time, or drop a few hobbies. Regardless of what you do, you will need to make these adjustments in advance in order to give yourself enough time to prepare for your exam.

2. Take a Practice Exam First

We strongly encourage candidates to take an official LSAT practice exam before they do anything else. While many test takers tend to avoid this step for fear of performing poorly, doing a practice test first is essential to get an idea of your baseline as well as the areas you need to focus on.

In many LSAT prep courses, doing this baseline test will be required at the start of the course so that your instructor can understand your strengths, areas that need improvement, and mistakes you tend to make. If you’re studying solo, be sure to use your score on this test to focus your efforts — you can even take a free practice LSAT test when you’re starting out.

Contrary to popular belief, scoring highly on the LSAT is an acquired skill and not a test of intelligence. This means that the score you obtain on your first practice test is almost inconsequential as it’s just a starting point; a high score is great, but a low score isn’t a sign to give up.

3. Get Familiar With the LSAT’s Structure

Keep practicing with mock exams throughout your studies to become familiar with how the LSAT is structured. While it’s best to gain this understanding through practice, we’ve provided a brief overview of the LSAT’s structure to get you started.

The LSAT consists of a standardized multiple-choice exam and a separate writing sample assessment, which is unscored but can still influence your law school applications.

Currently, the scored multiple-choice test evaluates your ability to think critically and reason across four 35-minute sections:

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Analytical Reasoning (also known as the Logic Games section)
  • Logical Reasoning
  • Experimental Section (one of the above sections, just unscored)

Note: From August 2024 onwards, the Analytical Section of the LSAT will be replaced with an additional Logical Reasoning section.

4. Create a Detailed Study Schedule

When prepping for the LSAT, establishing a good study schedule that you stick to is key. Each study session should have clear, established goals. If you’re following an LSAT study course, this schedule, alongside regular assignments and practice exams will be organized on your behalf.

However, if you’re studying alone, you’ll need to design this schedule yourself, making sure to complete periodic assessments, keep track of mistakes, and highlight tough spots to focus on later. The more you practice, the better prepared you’ll be and the fewer surprises you’ll face on the actual test.

Continually taking timed practice tests and thoroughly reviewing your answers should be a staple in your schedule. This form of practice not only prepares you for the exam format, it also helps to track your progress. If you notice you’re not improving as expected, it might be worth changing your approach or enrolling in a prep course for more structured guidance.

5. Invest in Good LSAT Study Materials

When preparing for the LSAT, one of the best ways to get started on the right foot is investing in quality study materials — particularly prep courses. There are a range of different commercial LSAT prep courses available to you, all of which feature different resources, methods of instruction, and price tags.

You’ll need to research thoroughly in order to find a quality course that best aligns with your personal learning style and budget. While some students may prefer the freedom of self-paced options, others may be looking for a more structured choice.

We’ve included a few tips to guide your selection when researching LSAT prep courses:

  • Research Thoroughly: Look into what each course offers. Pay attention to the structure, content, and duration of the courses
  • Consider Your Learning Style: Are you more comfortable with self-paced learning or do you benefit from the structure of live instruction — this is central to choosing the right course
  • Try Free Samples: Be sure to utilize the free sample courses many vendors offer to get a feel for the course material and teaching style
  • Budget-Friendly Options: While it’s important to invest in good materials, be sure to balance the cost with the benefits and ensure it fits within your financial plan

Remember, the right preparation material can significantly impact your LSAT performance. Take your time to choose wisely and then jump into your studies with full commitment!

Recommended Course

Interested in getting started? We recommend Kaplan’s LSAT preparation courses, which come with over 200 quizzes and practice tests, one-on-one tutoring, and interactive online lessons.

4.7 out of 5 starsKaplan ($799+)

Alternatively, you can check our picks for the top prep courses you can use for the LSAT in our Best LSAT Prep Courses article.

How Long Does it Take to Study for the LSAT

On average, candidates will need to dedicate between 150 and 300 hours over several months (or 20 hours per week) to prepare for the LSAT.

While this figure is great as an estimation, the specific amount of time you require can vary significantly depending on several factors, such as your:

  • Baseline Score: Your initial practice test score can help gauge how much preparation you need. A higher baseline score might mean you need less study time compared to someone starting with a lower score
  • Schedule and Commitments: If you’re balancing a heavy workload or school schedule, you might need more time to spread out your study hours. On the other hand, if you can devote full-time hours to studying, you might be ready sooner
  • Learning Style: Self-study requires more discipline and potentially more time, especially if you’re new to the LSAT format. In contrast, structured courses provide a guided study plan that can streamline your preparation time

Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Some may need only a couple of months, while others may need six months or more — it’s about what works best for you.

What is a Good LSAT Score

While LSAT scores range from 120 to 180, a “good” LSAT score is largely individual to each person. This is because, despite often being used to refer to a score that beats the average score achieved by the applicants of that year, what counts as a good score will depend on the law schools you’re aiming for.

For instance, while a score of 160 might be considered acceptable for some law schools, it may not be enough for the more competitive ones. To get an idea of the score you’ll need to be admitted to your dream law school, you can find its score range by going to the ABA Standard 509 Reports.

On top of this, the time you put into studying for your LSAT plays a large role in what you should consider a “good” score. Since most people study for between 20 and 30 hours a week over three months, a lower score might be great for you if you’re unable to dedicate the time to study that much.

How to Study for the LSAT FAQ

How long does it take to prepare for the LSAT?

Preparing for the LSAT typically takes between two and four months, with an average of 20-25 hours of study per week. While this varies depending on your baseline score, learning style, and other commitments, a total of between 150 and 300 hours of dedicated study is generally recommended. Interested in learning more? Check out our What is the LSAT article.

What is the best way to start studying for the LSAT?

Begin by taking a practice test to establish your baseline score and follow this up by creating a structured study plan. By using the insights into your strengths and weaknesses provided by this test, you can create a plan that focuses on areas that need improvement. Find out more about preparing for this exam in our How to Study for the LSAT article.

How hard is the LSAT?

The LSAT is considered challenging as it’s so different from any other standardized tests. It requires strong analytical reasoning, reading comprehension, and logical thinking. However, the skills and abilities tested in LSAT tests are learnable, meaning you can score highly by your test day if you prepare appropriately.

How to study for LSAT in one month?

If you have only one month, you’ll need to focus on intensive study. Prioritize understanding the test format and question types and spend time daily on practice questions, taking many timed official practice tests from the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). Be sure to concentrate on your weak areas, but don’t neglect to maintain strengths — efficient time management and focused test preparation are key.