You Must Time Yourself When Preparing for the LSAT. It’s one thing to peruse sample LSAT questions at your leisure. It’s quite another to take a test under the ridiculously strict time constraints. In fact, I would say the single most important preparation tool is to take sample tests under timed conditions.
This point cannot be overestimated. You must time yourself at points throughout your prep, and the best way to do that is with old LSAT tests.
1. Why time yourself
I learned this lesson the first time I took the LSAT. My preparation then consisted of buying an over-the-counter prep book and working through questions leisurely on my lunch hour. I was doing great! (As would many people, with no time constraints.) I never actually timed myself. After all, I’d always done well on tests and I work well under pressure.
On the day of the exam, when they called the five minute warning on the first section, I about had a panic attack. I was hyperventilating as I frantically made guesses at the last questions.
So here’s how you learn from my mistake: Throughout your preparation, periodically time yourself. First with individual sections (which means setting a timer for 35 minutes and being strict about adhering to it); later you can simulate an entire test.
There are two schools of thought on the approach to timing: (1) Some believe you shouldn’t time yourself too soon; that you should first learn approaches to the different sections at a slower pace, and then later learn to speed it up; (2) Others think you should launch right into the fast-paced approach.
(There is a third way – the Kaplan approach is to teach you to work at a pace even harder than the actual test, sort of like training marathoners up at high elevations). Whichever approach you pick, all agree that you must time yourself before the actual exam.
2. Why Use old tests
My first over-the-counter prep book was published by a nationally known test prep company. But I can tell you, the sample questions they had were not very much like the actual test questions I faced on the LSAT.
The second time I took the test, I found out you can order old tests from the Law School Admission Council, and I ordered about four or five of them. Do this. As soon as you begin thinking about taking the LSAT. There’s nothing like getting it straight from the horse’s mouth.
You can usually get one old test online for free; but you’ll want a few more. You’ll want to take at least one complete test all in one sitting; you’ll also want several individual sections to time yourself on throughout your prep work.
Buying old tests is not expensive at all. Make sure you do it early, and then – more importantly – make sure to sit down with that timer and time yourself!