I did not know how to sign up for the LSAT, what LSAC was or even what the LSAT consisted of until February 2012. And I wrote my first LSAT in June 2012. Some things I wish I had known WAY earlier. A professor guided me through the LSAT process (make use of office hours!) and debunked a lot of myths about the test. You know those kids who brag that they have been studying for the LSAT ever since first year, how they will ace it because everyone in their family is a lawyer or that logic games are second nature to them? Well it is all BOGUS. Don’t let these self-titled hotshots scare you from actualizing your dream to go to law school. Useful advice my prof gave me: You only need 2-3 months to study “enough” for the LSAT because you either get it or you don’t and if these kids are taking 4 years then they obviously are not getting something. I’m the first in my family to consider a career in law, so I felt blindfolded until after I wrote the first one. The second one went much smoother only because the element of the unknown was lessened.
So, to all those considering writing the LSAT, let me be your Gandalf for a few minutes:
1) Ask yourself: Is law school something I really want to do? Studying for the LSAT is not fun. It’s a tedious, all-consuming, exhausting process which requires perseverance and dedication. If you are ready, know this is the path for you and have at least 1.5-2 months to properly prep then LETS GET THIS SHOW ON THE ROAD!!!
2) Sign up for a test date
- Make an account as a Future JD Student and register for a test (Oct, Dec, Feb or June—rumour has it that June is hardest and from my experience it definitely was) at least two months prior to your test date (spaces fill up two months before so try to book four months in advance to be able to write in a location close to you.
- Having to drive to Windsor to write the test is NOT FUN and unnecessary stress. If you still can’t get a closer test centre, then call LSAC and tell them you need one closer to you (it is your right to demand this). My friend got hers changed from Windsor to York this way.
- WRITE AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE. I wish I had written it during my third year because in fourth year you don’t have as much time to dedicate to prep with applications and more intensive courses.
3) Do it your way: I used the bibles to understand and get the coding/graphing technique down, but I did the thinking and solving my own way. The standard way just wasn’t working for me and it just kept telling me “you are stupid because you don’t think like everyone else.”
- Prep Courses: You can pay $$$$ and take a LSAT prep course with the big companies. But I find that these courses are only good for those who are not great with self-discipline. They only cover the basics which can be accessed through books/practice. Their main PRO is guidance. You don’t need to take a prep course to do well on the LSAT.
- Self-Study: This was my weapon of choice. I basically sat at home for all of May for the June test and whenever possible before the October test and did timed sections and as many prep tests as possible. I tracked my scores, my weaknesses and was able to get my timeliness on lockdown! Problem was that I ended up pseudo-studying half the time in May. My anxiety would make me do weird things like look at the answer key after every question and count it as right after I get it wrong. I would even refuse to see why I got a question wrong because I thought doing so would point out how stupid I am. You can be your own worst enemy during self-study! So key to studying well: BE HONEST with yourself, track your honest progress and address weaknesses.
- Books: ONLY practise with LSAC official tests and questions! All else will mislead you. Buy a bunch of books for learning technique and stick with the one which works for you. I ended up loving the Powerscore bibles only because they used real test questions and were straightforward. I wasted $30 and 1 week of prep on a book which gave me misleading info about techniques and test questions. So I highly recommend sticking to what is LSAC approved!
**no matter how you prep, prepare yourself for seeing the score of your first ever preptest.
4) Get in the right mindset
I wrote my first LSAT envisioning what my FB status would be when I had to tell people my failing score. Knowing smarter friends were writing it also put a damper on my spirits. I wrote the test from a super anxious, fearful and scattered mindset and the score reflected it. The second time I kept visualizing me acing it and was actually SO pumped to write it. Pretty sure it went better than the first.
5) If you fall, get back up dust yourself off and get back on that horse!
Seeing my score and telling my parents I did not do so well on the first LSAT was by far one of the lowest moments of my life. My whole world imploded and I felt like the biggest loser. It took me a month to get back up and prep again. Some people never recover from this fall. It is so important to be your biggest cheerleader. Who cares if you screw up, if you want it badly enough, then KEEP TRYING. You can write up to three LSATs in a period of two years. Some schools look at your highest score, others average the scores.
And for even more guidance, join the Pre-Law Society at U of T who hosts tons of Mock LSATs, prep seminars and law school information panels. You can also get a discount on prep courses through membership with them.
BEST OF LUCK!!!