LSAT Tip #2: Prepare with Actual LSAT Exams


In my first post, I explained that, contrary to popular belief, you can actually prepare and study for the LSAT, and you can do so by learning the logic that underlies the exam.  In this post, I want to emphasize and explain that your preparation must involve using actual LSAT exams.  Preparation with actual exams will help you gain familiarity with the LSAT.

Generally, familiarity breeds comfort, reassurance, and relief.  This principle is premised on two concepts.  First, as human beings, we often search for things we like or are comfortable with.  Second, the more we are exposed to something (whether an object, a person, a sound, or any other stimulus), the more we come to like it or, at worst, become comfortable with it.

You should view the LSAT and your preparation for it in the same way.  Familiarity with the LSAT breeds comfort.  The more you expose yourself to it, the more you will become comfortable with it, and – for those of you who are obsessive – the more you will come to like it.  As you achieve that state of mind, you may actually begin seeking out this exam.  You might actually perk up and relish the challenge when you sit down and take yet another practice exam.  (OK, maybe not for most of you!)

For this process to be effective, however, you must use actual LSAT exams and actual LSAT questions.  Some courses or instructors may use made-up questions or examples to teach you the exam.  Stay away from that.  Otherwise, you will undermine the very objective of becoming familiar with the LSAT.  Preparing with past exams provides you with as close a prediction as possible of how the test writers prepare these questions and how they might continue to do so in the future.  Having a firm grasp on their mindset helps you anticipate what you will see on the next exam.  Combining that knowledge with the familiarity you will gain with constant practice is critical for achieving a high LSAT score.

Specifically, practicing with past exams will help you become familiar with (1) the logical principles that appear on the exam, and (2) the question types the test writers frequently use to test these principles.

1. Familiarity with the Logic

The best way to learn something is by doing it.  To learn how to ride a bike, you have to get on it and just do it.  Learning the logic on the LSAT requires the same action.  Being able to identify and rattle off the various logical principles the LSAT tests is one thing.  The ability to recognize these principles as they appear on the exam, in context, is another matter entirely.

Practicing with past exams will help you recognize the different principles and how they appear on the exam.  At the beginning, you will likely have difficulty identifying an example of conditional reasoning in a question, how the LSAT uses assumptions, how to isolate a flaw in an argument, or flawed logical reasoning in general.  By using actual exams, however, you will slowly recognize these concepts, be able to apply them, and, with repetition, you will know them.  This will help you not only prepare for the exam, but develop the legal reasoning skills you will need to practice law.

2. Familiarity with Question Types         

There is no doubt the test writers are smart and clever, and there is no question they are trying to confuse you.  However, there are only so many ways you can test a concept, which means there are only so many ways you can ask a question.

Practicing with past exams will enable you to recognize the different ways the LSAT asks questions and tests a given logical principle.  If you take a sufficient number of practice exams and expose yourself to a sufficient number of questions, you will be begin to instantly recognize certain types of questions.  Upon seeing a familiar question type, you will immediately understand how to approach it, what to look for and avoid, and how to find the right answer.

This is no different than preparing for an opponent in sports.  If, for example, you play basketball and know you will be guarding a particular player in an upcoming game, you will likely study that player and learn the way he/she plays and his/her tendencies.  Becoming familiar with that player will help you anticipate what he or she will do in the game and facilitate your ability to guard that player.

On the LSAT, using past exams will familiarize you with the question types the exam writers frequently use.  You will understand their tendencies, leanings, and trends.  This knowledge will, in turn, facilitate your ability to anticipate the types of questions they will ask on the next exam and help you recognize those questions as you come across them.

As I mentioned in my first post, there are no gimmicks or shortcuts with the LSAT.  It all comes down to how well you can understand the logic and recognize these principles as they appear on the exam.  You must spend your time learning the logic that underlies the LSAT and learning to recognize these principles as they appear on the exam.  To achieve these goals, you must use and rely on actual past exams.

This article was written by Robert M. Fojo from LSAT Freedom.


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