The Best Books to Help You Study for the LSAT
Law School Admissions Test
The Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) is the most important test you will take before you take the Bar Exam. It is required before you can be admitted into a law school and it is given more importance than your GPA. LSAT scores have been a proven indicator of success in law school, so law schools place a lot of importance on the LSAT. A bad score can significantly affect your chances of getting accepted into law school. That is why studying for the LSAT is of the utmost importance. Studying for the LSAT while completing your last year of college is difficult, but I will provide a list of essential books to help you study for the LSAT. This will help you develop a study plan for yourself so you can do your absolute best.
About the LSAT
Now that I've sufficiently scared you, relax. You can miss about ten questions on the LSAT and still be in the 98th percentile. You don't have to do perfectly in order to do great on the LSAT. Of course, you should strive for perfection; but if you don't have time to finish the last couple of questions on a section or two, don't worry about it.
The LSAT includes five sections that last 35 minutes plus a writing sample. There is the logical reasoning section (there are two of these), the analytical reasoning section, the reading comprehension section, and the variable section. The variable section can contain logical reasoning, analytical reasoning, or reading comprehension questions, but it is a section that is testing new questions. It is unscored, but you won't know which section it is. The writing sample is also unscored. It is, however, sent to law schools along with your LSAT score. The entire test takes about five hours including preparation time and a short break.
First thing's first: Learn more about the LSAT. These two books are released by the Law School Admissions Council, the creators of the LSAT.
This book gives you detailed information about each section. It teaches you how to master each section and is the official guide to the LSAT.
This contains three previously administered tests with detailed explanations for the answers. It also contains a score conversion chart so you can see how you would have done.
Taking practice tests under timed conditions is the most important study tactic you can employ. You may know the ins-and-outs of all the sections, but being timed is a whole new experience. Take as many practice tests as you possibly can during the months before you take the LSAT.
More Practice Tests
Yes, this is here twice. You should buy two books with past LSAT tests. I know taking more than ten practice tests sounds outrageous, but think of it this way: Take at least two complete tests under similar conditions of the actual LSAT. Take one when you first start studying to get a baseline and then take one when it's closer to the test date. In the months before the LSAT try to do at least one section each day. (Remember to pay attention to the time). By doing a section each day you will finish almost two complete LSATs each week. This will give you a lot of practice and you will be able to determine which sections you are improving in and which sections you are still struggling with.
Decide which section or sections are most difficult for you and focus extra attention on those. Buy a book that is dedicated to the section you need the most help with.
The Logical Reasoning section of the LSAT is the argument analysis part. You're asked to evaluate arguments and find the flaws, compare them to other arguments, determine what supports or weakens an argument, and decide what assumptions are made for a particular argument. This section will account for half of your score, so be sure to master these types of questions.
The Analytical Reasoning section is the "logic games" questions. It requires strong skills of deduction. This is the hardest part of the test not because of the difficulty of the questions but because of the time constraints. The questions are actually easy if you have all the time you need; but you don't have all the time you need, you have 35 minutes. The instructions say to draw a rough diagram, which you should do. But the diagram will be very rough and will not be detailed enough to be of much use. It is impossible to work out every possible scenario with the parameters given in the amount of time you will have. It is best if you use a process of elimination with each of the questions. There will always be one or two answers that are blatantly wrong because they openly violate the parameters set forth. The rest you can whittle away through trial and error (work through each one to decide if it violates one of the "rules" that are given). This is still going to take time, but it's faster than working through every possible permutation. Of course, practice as much as you can and develop a system that works for you.
The Reading Comprehension section of the LSAT contains questions about short passages that you are given. The passages are usually boring but contain all of the information you need to answer the questions. You don't need to bring in any outside information. However, one of the ways the test will try to throw you is by having answers that are true based on common knowledge but are not completely relevant to the passsage. Learning how to identify the true-but-not-a-perfect-answer answers will help you greatly with this section. This is another case in which the section is difficult only because of the time constraints. In the past few years comparative passages have been added to the Reading Comprehension section. You are given two passages and a few of the questions ask you to compare them. When this happens both passages will be shorter than the passages provided when you only have one passage for the group of questions.
The writing section is not scored. Because it is not scored you shouldn't spend too much time studying for this section. However, it will be seen by the law schools you apply to, so practicing a little will be beneficial. With every sample LSAT comes the writing prompt for that test. Practice with at least two of these prompts before you take the test. You only have 35 minutes for this section, just like the rest of the sections. The only thing you really have to focus on during the writing section is to be organized in your writing and use proper grammar. Make sure it's something that will reflect well on you.
During the first few minutes (no longer than 5) decide which angle you're going to take with the prompt and come up with two or three arguments to support your decision. All of the writing prompts ask you to decide between two options and defend your position. Choose which position you're going to take and make a rough outline (you will be provided with scrap paper) to keep yourself on track. Don't waver during the essay. It's okay to point out an argument against your position and then refute it, but don't vacillate between the two options. Remember, you're trying to show that you can come up with cogent arguments and communicate them clearly.
Another LSAT Book - If you feel like you need something more, here is an additional book about the LSAT.
This book contains four practice tests with detailed explanations of both right and wrong answers. It also includes study tips.
You're Going To Do Fine
Don't Study Too Hard
Don't obsess too much over the test. Your brain needs to rest and focus on other things in order to process what you learn. So make sure you take some time to relax and forget about the test for a little while.
© 2011 Marigold Tortelli