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A New LSAT Study Method

iceman322iceman322 Alum Member
in General 70 karma

If you have ever learned a new language, you know that after translating a new word, phrase, or sentence, you don't just stop there. You write that word, phrase or sentence down on a flash card and you DRILL it into your brain hundreds of times until you can recall its meaning instantly without thinking.

Similarly, when you are learning how to play basketball, you don't stop practicing your free throws once you get the ball in the net. Professionals spend hours shooting and scoring hundreds of free throws so that the motion becomes perfectly ingrained in their muscle memory.

Or think about learning how to play the guitar. Any guitarist knows that just because you have played a song perfectly once does not mean you are ready to perform. You have to play the same song perfectly over and over again before you can say that you have mastered the song.

But repetition doesn't just help you master a given phrase, skill, or song. By performing an action repetitively, you strengthen the capacities and skills you need to successfully perform that action. By strengthening those capacities, you will be better equipped to approach different actions that require the same skills.

Think about the basketball player. Once he has mastered the free throw he will likely be much better at shooting three-pointers, or from any distance for that matter.

Or think about the musician: by simply mastering one song, a guitarist becomes much better at plucking, playing specific notes, and keeping tempo. So even though he only knows one song, she will be much better equipped to learn and play new songs.

So what does this mean for the LSAT?

First, it means that getting a problem right once is not enough. The reason is that doing that problem over and over again CORRECTLY is how you build the skills and capacities you need to approach different and more difficult problems. The skills and capacities I am talking about include processing, comprehending, and retaining a lot of information. They also include understanding and manipulating logic and arguments. Simply solving a lot of different problems gives you no opportunity to develop these skills.

In short, my first radical claim is that taking a PT and conducting one BR basically does nothing to improve your skills. It's because doing something once or twice just isn't really practice.

But there is more.

When studying, your focus should not be on developing the skills you need to approach the LSAT. Since you get these skills through repetition, my second radical claim is that YOU SHOULDN'T BE WASTING YOUR TIME ACTUALLY SOLVING THE PROBLEMS. When you approach a new LSAT problem (LG, LR, or RC), look at the answer and the explanation and make sure you understand the question, the stimulus, and why the answer is right. Then repetitively review the steps you need to take to correctly solve that problem. This is how you will get better at reading, solving games, or LR problems.

Finally, you should focus on practicing the same problems a lot, and not be trying countless new problems. If you can master (and by master I mean that you have almost memorized) 5 PTs, you will have done so much more to build LSAT skills than by simply taking and reviewing once 50 pts.

So yes, what I am telling you to do is print out one PT, circle all the answers before looking at the questions, read the explanation as you go through each question and answer, and then PRACTICE each problem over and over again until you get to the point that each answer feels intuitive, obvious, and incredibly easy.

That is how you study for the LSAT.


  • btate87btate87 Alum Member
    782 karma

    The phrase musicians throw around: "Don't just practice until you get it right. Practice until you can't get it wrong." :smile:

    It seems to me that the key factor you're getting at is internalizing the lessons of the material you've been exposed to through repeated exposure. I totally agree with the importance of reviewing what you've already experienced over and over. Practicing your reaction to new material is also important, though. Rote learning is an important aspect of the process, but it can't be everything. Really digging into the BR process and not rushing to the next PT is crucial; cycle through old games you've fool proofed; return to LR questions and RC passages that tripped you up over and over. Our mental processes are different when it's new material and you can't let those skills atrophy.

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