1L year is well underway, but it feels like just yesterday I was studying for the LSAT, drafting emails to former professors inquiring about recommendation letters, and deciding on a topic for my personal statement. Whether you’re thinking about law school or in the middle of the application process, the Impact Blog writers wanted to share advice on these topics and more which will hopefully address some questions you may have. Welcome to the launch of Preparing for Law School: A Series Providing Tips and Tricks from BC Law Students.
Because the LSAT is, for most, the first step in the application process, we thought it made sense to tackle this topic first. How do you balance school/work and studying? Should you drink coffee the day of the exam even though you’ve never been a coffee drinker? Is it strange that logic games seem fun to you? Well, here’s our take:
Standardized tests have never been my strong suit; however, I knew there was no way around it if I wanted to go to law school. My biggest piece of advice is to try out a number of LSAT prep companies and methods before deciding on one to pursue. Many companies let you sit in on a class before you commit. Take advantage of this to see if you like the teaching style, class size, and structure. I tried three before I found one that worked for me.
I also found it very helpful to create a routine and stick to it for every test, including all the practice ones. Create a Spotify playlist, order the same drink at Starbucks, and wake up at the same time. I found that this made me a lot less anxious on exam day because it felt just like practice.
If you’ve made it to the point where you’re taking the LSAT, something about your study routine is working. My biggest advice to those gearing up for the LSAT or about to start 1L is that you already know what works, so keep doing it. Personally, I go slow and steady over a long period of time; cramming isn’t for me. So for the LSAT I studied every day for between half an hour and two hours, depending on how motivated I was feeling. But I did at least a little every day. Every other weekend for those six months I woke up Saturday morning and the first thing I did was take a practice test. It didn’t matter what my friends were up to, and where I would rather be. I was in the library doing those tests. I knew that this would work for me, but it may not work for you. If you’ve been a crammer your whole studying life, and it’s worked this far, I’d say keep going. If you study better late-night, do that. If you wake up early and study at three in the morning (I know someone who does this), do that. You’ll have enough to worry while learning the ins and outs of the different LSAT sections without trying to change your whole studying approach. Stay the course.
(1) Keep a schedule and stick to a routine. When I started studying for the LSAT, I decided every Wednesday and Saturday I’d take a full, timed practice test. And every Thursday and Monday I’d review. Having a set study schedule kept me accountable, and helped me manage my time. (2) When you take a practice test, take it under exact testing conditions!!! I took every practice test at 8:30am, in the library, with 35 minutes for each section. I used an LSAT proctor video on YouTube and even included an experimental section. I treated every practice test like the actual LSAT, and it was hugely helpful come test day. (3) Understand why you got questions wrong AND why you got questions right. During practice tests I’d circle any question I wasn’t totally sure about. Then when I went back to review the test, I focused on those questions and made sure I knew why I got it right/wrong before moving on. That really helped on the logical reasoning section. (4) Practice waking up early! A couple weeks before the test, I woke up every morning at 6am and went for a run. I knew on the day of the LSAT I’d have to wake up early. I also knew that I performed a lot better after I went for a run. So that’s what I did. And on the day of the test, when I woke up at 6am and went for a run, it felt like any other day. It really helped me keep my focus and calm my nerves.
I worked full-time and took prep tests at night whenever I could. I think about three months in, my score plateaued, and that’s when I went to the library on weekends to take prep tests in a noisy environment. Getting nervous or distracted during the actual exam is more detrimental to your score than not “studying enough.” Prep-test to a point where you are confident that you know what to expect on the day of the exam. Also, find a routine that calms you down (e.g., going to work as usual, walking your dogs, brushing your dogs, rubbing your dogs in the forehead with your thumb because that’s one of those spots that is hard for them to scratch or massage themselves, etc.), and follow that routine over the two to three days leading up to your exam date. Remind yourself on the day of the exam that you are naturally confident – and that you do not have to be the best, but rather just need to do your best. Oh and dress in layers. You can take off that extra sweater if you need to, but having cold hands will affect your score. It’s also plain uncomfortable. Good luck guys!