LSAT Information from a Test-Prep Instructor
Many law school applications are due at the end of the fall semester of your senior year. Because you need to allow time for the scores to be sent to your schools, I would recommend taking the LSAT no later than October during your senior year of college. However, it's always better to allow extra time in case you are unsatisfied with your score and would like to retake the test. To be on the safe side, the best time to take the LSAT for the first time is in May or June before your senior year.
Well, that depends on which law schools you're applying to. Some schools will consider all of your LSAT scores while evaluating your application, while others will only enter the highest scores into their admissions formula. In general, though, if you really “flopped” the first time, it's worth it to retake the test. If you want to make the best decision possible about whether to retake the test, I recommend contacting the school's admissions office and asking how they use LSAT scores to make admissions decisions.
Prep classes aren't for everyone. Sometimes buying a book from Kaplan or Princeton Review at the bookstore will do just fine. There are also free prep materials provided by the test maker at www.lsat.org. Because the LSAT is highly predictable, the more you study, the more practice tests you take, and the more time you spend analyzing the structure of the questions, the higher you will score. Some students are disciplined enough to study on their own; however, if you tend to procrastinate or prefer structure and accountability to help keep your studying on track, you may want to consider taking a prep class. However you choose to study, it is important that you allow at least two months of regular study for the LSAT, take multiple practices tests, and plan to wrap up your studying about two weeks before your scheduled test day.
First, read. Reading builds the verbal reasoning skills that the LSAT is testing. Read all assigned readings for your classes. In addition, make challenging (but interesting) reading part of your routine—anything that includes a more challenging vocabulary and is written at a higher reading level will work. My best suggestion is to subscribe to The New York Times, The Economist, or a similar periodical. However, fiction is fine, too—I regularly ask my SAT students to read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Next: Take a course in logic. If there are any advanced courses in logic, take those too. Many LSAT logic games not only test logical reasoning ability, but they also incorporate terminology that is typically taught in logic courses.
Any courses or majors that expand your ability to read and comprehend complex texts, think critically, and analyze arguments will prepare you well for the LSAT. Philosophy, history, English, writing, political science, pre-law... they all offer courses that will help you develop those skills.
The LSAT is a half-day multiple-choice test that includes reading comprehension questions, analytical reasoning questions, and logical reasoning questions. According to the administrators of the test, the questions are designed to measure “the reading and comprehension of complex texts with accuracy and insight; the organization and management of information and the ability to draw reasonable inferences from it; the ability to think critically; and the analysis and evaluation of the reasoning and arguments of others.” The multiple-choice questions are followed by a 35-minute essay, that while not included in your LSAT score, is sent directly to the law schools to which you are applying. Law schools vary in how they use this writing sample, but for many schools it does impact the overall admission decision. Note that you do not need to have any specific content knowledge about the practice of law to do well on the LSAT.