Do not take the LSAT until you have spent a substantial amount of time preparing for the test. Under normal circumstances, you should anticipate taking the LSAT only once. However, you can repeat the test, and most law schools will consider your highest score in making admissions decisions. You cannot take the LSAT more than three times in a two-year period, and this restriction applies even if you cancel your score. While scores for a repeated test often rise slightly, there is a chance that your score will the lower. The LSAC will provide law schools with all of your test scores during the five year period prior to the application and even average the scores. Effective preparation will help you get the best score you can the first time you take the test.
Since the LSAT is an aptitude test and does not test a specific body of knowledge, the best preparation is to become familiar with the format of the test, the types of questions that appear on the test, and the timing issues the test presents so that you can maximize the skills you already possess. Thus, the core of any test preparation is to take numerous practice tests under simulated test conditions. Most editions of the LSAT are disclosed by the LSAC after they are administered, and these disclosed tests are the most reliable source of practice tests. These past LSAC tests are available from online sources such as Amazon. Please note that questions on disclosed editions of the LSAT are not used again.
Since one of the skills tested by the LSAT is the ability to work under pressure, the most important simulated test condition relates to timing. Take practice tests and sections of practice tests under timed conditions. Your goal should be to increase the number of correct answers within the thirty-five minutes allotted to each section.
Diagnose areas of weakness and focus your preparation time on them. First, identify the type of section or question that is a problem. Find the sections where your score was low and determine if you ran out of time or chose the wrong answer. If you ran out of time, determine if you need to rebudget your time for that section or type of question, learn to read more efficiently, or skip the questions and come back to them if you have time at the end of the section. If you chose the wrong answer, determine both why you chose the wrong answer and why you did not choose the right answer. Practice these types of questions under both timed and untimed conditions and learn strategies for answering these questions using LSAC practice test materials with explanations or commercial study guides. If you continue to have difficulty, learn to identify the type of question so that you skip over them or guess effectively.
Once your score on repeated practice tests under timed conditions has stopped rising, recognize that you have reached a score that likely represents the upper limits of your skills and abilities.
Preparation requires time, motivation, and self-discipline. Test takers who have more money than time, motivation and self-discipline can use commercial test preparation services. A commercial test preparation service will not hurt your score and will probably help it. While these services do not possess secret, inside information on the LSAT, they will provide you with test-taking strategies and force you to do the work that you can do on your own. Please note that the test-taking strategies are disclosed in the commercial test preparation study guides that can be purchased from these services. Ultimately, the decision to use a commercial test preparation service is a personal one based on your individual circumstances.