You purchased the LSAT prep books. You took the practice tests. You even sat for an actual LSAT and received a commendable score. Unfortunately, it was not the score that will get you into your dream law school.
If you feel disappointed by your first LSAT score, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. Nearly one out of three test-takers take the LSAT for a second time or more.
How Much Can You Improve Your LSAT score?
According to LSAT prep company PowerScore, retaking the LSAT is beneficial for many law school applicants. On average, those who retake the test see an improvement of up to 5 points.
If you are even semi-familiar with the LSAT, you know that the better you do, the more difficult it becomes to continuously improve.
This article aims to help those who received an “average” score on the LSAT in the range of 150-154 increase their score by up to fifteen points on their second take.
That's right, we believe that with these strategies, you can beat the average score increase by three-fold!
The Basics of Improving Your LSAT Score
If you hope to apply within the same admissions cycle, you probably have two months maximum to bump your score before retaking the LSAT. This is not a long time, especially if you initially prepared for about six months or so.
However, don’t let test anxiety set in just yet. You can employ a few different strategies to considerably bump your retake score. Here are the basics:
1. Take longer practice tests
We’ve been there. Practice tests are a pain in the behind. They’re long, and they’re hard. As if studying specific techniques for each section isn’t enough, you have to endure realistic test simulations as well.
Unfortunately, if you want to improve your LSAT score, you’ll have to take even longer ones.
Fatigue acts as a significant score-reducer for many students. In fact, many LSAT takers suffer from a common human phenomenon called “decision fatigue.”
According to Healthline, decision fatigue occurs when one faces a constant stream of decision making and, as a result, they progressively make worse decisions.
When you take a three-and-a-half-hour long test, decision fatigue will indeed materialize. You are probably asking yourself, how can I possibly overcome this part of human nature?
Have you ever heard the saying, “If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball”? This quote comes from the 2005 film Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, but it unintentionally applies to real life too.
The saying conveys a person’s ability to easily accomplish a difficult achievement after preparing for an even harder one. It applies to the LSAT, too.
Many available practice tests feature an experimental section, or an unscored section implemented during a prior LSAT administration to test its difficulty for future applicants. Some practice tests even include two experimental sections.
You can increase your LSAT endurance by sitting for and scoring these extra experimental sections. Treat them as seriously as you would any other section.
Once you get used to these unusually long practice tests, taking the real thing will feel like cheating. Before you know it, you will have successfully sat through another LSAT administration, and your score will be safeguarded from decision fatigue.
If you don’t want to pay for practice tests with experimental sections, don’t fret. You can mimic the experience yourself. Here’s how:
- Set aside four prep tests that you would like to take using experimental sections. For example, perhaps you would like to take the “long version” of prep tests 80-83.
- Take another prep test and randomly choose one section to be included with the prep tests you plan to take in full. Maybe you would like sections from prep test 84 in your simulations of prep tests 80-83.
It’s as easy as that.
Now, by dividing one prep test into multiple sections and adding them to other prep tests, you have created your own experimental section simulations.
You’re well on your way to bumping up your LSAT score.
2. Identify your best and worst LSAT section
Do you know what one of Superman’s strengths is? He knows that his weakness is kryptonite.
Knowing your weaknesses will only add to your strengths by giving you the ability to capitalize upon what you’re best at.
This applies to the LSAT as well. It can feel good to continuously practice the section you’re best at because it feels good to get things right.
Unfortunately, this focus won’t do your LSAT score any favors.
During the beginning of your LSAT studies, it’s best to devote equal time practicing each section as you adjust to their quirks and techniques. Yet if you’ve already taken the LSAT, there’s no reason for you to continue this practice.
It’s time that you practice each section in proportion to your strengths and weaknesses.
To do this, rank each section in order from your strongest to your weakest. Then, divide your study time in a way that maximizes practicing your weakest section.
For example, let’s say that you rank your strongest and weakest sections in this order:
- Logical Reasoning
- Analytical Reasoning
- Reading Comprehension
Consequently, you should spend half of your study time practicing Reading Comprehension, a third of your time practicing Analytical Reasoning, and a sixth of your time practicing Logical Reasoning.
In layman terms, if you’re studying by section for two hours, devote your time as such:
- 1-hour practicing Reading Comprehension
- 40 minutes practicing Analytical Reasoning
- 20 minutes practicing Logical Reasoning
This technique augments the efficiency of your study sessions.
3. Master the blind review strategy
If you peruse LSAT forums, you’ve probably seen the term “blind review” quite a bit. So, what is a blind review, anyway?
To take advantage of this strategy, DO NOT immediately check your answers after completing a practice test or section. Instead, write down any questions that you felt uncertain about. This includes any questions that you left unanswered.
Now for the fun part. Retake each of those questions. That’s right, go back and see if you want to choose a different answer. Or, if you feel confident enough, stick with the same one. Take as much time as you please.
After doing so, check all of your answers and compute two separate scores. You will calculate your score before reviewing the questions that you felt unsure about. You will also calculate your score using any changed answers after reviewing.
These two scores give you two critical insights:
- Your first score shows you what types of questions you struggle with.
- Your second score demonstrates what eventually clicks for you on a second look and points out what to look for during future hang-ups.
Blind review is valuable because it reveals where you most often make mistakes and why. It is also an encouraging technique because it shows you just how well you can do.
4. Focus on tactics for improving your LSAT score in specific sections
Some test-takers will find themselves absolutely crushing it on two sections of the LSAT, only for the third section to completely drag down their entire LSAT score. If this happens to you, you’re not alone.
How to Improve Your LSAT Score in Analytical Reasoning
Now that you’ve acquired some general tactics for improving your LSAT score, it’s time to explore how you can advance in each specific section of the LSAT.
Many students and tutors regard Analytical Reasoning as the most learnable section on the LSAT. You simply need to pinpoint the techniques that work for many.
First, you should recognize that there is a finite number of Analytical Reasoning question types. When doing your blind review, take note of which question types commonly stump you.
In case you need a reminder, these are the types of Analytical Reasoning questions found on the LSAT:
Once you become familiar with these varieties, you should grow your capability to quickly and accurately sketch a diagram that will help you to get the correct answer on your first try.
Perhaps you use a personalized diagram design that works best for you. If you ace the Analytical Reasoning section using these diagrams, then, by all means, do not change your methods.
However, do keep in mind that many tutors and test-takers have devised a language of rule representation that helps students to bang out Analytical Reasoning questions at lightning speed.
Many people use the system found here on Khan Academy’s website. If you find yourself struggling with time on the Analytical Reasoning section, try implementing these rule representations.
Analytical Reasoning is the last section that you want to struggle with. It is the most difficult section to guess the correct answer. Of course, if you have extra time, you can always plug each answer choice into your diagram and “test out” the variable.
This might land you the correct answer, but it is highly time-consuming. Indeed, it should be considered a last resort technique.
To further improve Analytical Reasoning, you will want to practice your inference skills. By continuously practicing, you will realize that you can answer some questions without additional diagramming.
In this way, making inferences can save you a ton of time and help you blow through the more straightforward questions at the beginning of the section.
However, the only way to cultivate this skill is through pure practice and drilling for Analytical Reasoning questions. By doing so, you will begin to recognize common patterns that arise in the section.
It also helps to pay careful attention when reading the conditions provided in the question. Don’t just glance over them to quickly sketch your diagram; you could miss out on a valuable opportunity to make a quick inference.
Nonetheless, once you’ve made a carefully crafted diagram, look back at the prompt and specifically search for any inferences that you can make off the bat. Inferences will also be easier to make once you’ve already established a diagram to help you.
Using these tips, you will soon master the most straightforward section of the LSAT.
How to Improve Your LSAT Score in Logical Reasoning
Logical Reasoning can feel frustrating. There will be many times when it feels like the test makers designed this section using the principle of “because I said so.”
Even so, while Logical Reasoning may not seem as straightforward as Analytical Reasoning, you can still use tried and true methods to drastically improve your score in this section.
When running through Logical Reasoning, you must remember that each prompt is just an argument. The test makers are not trying to trick you. They simply want to test your ability to identify different components of an argument and identify how that argument should logically conclude.
Don’t focus on the material of the argument. It doesn’t matter if the prompt argues that dinosaurs could not possibly exist because their existence contradicts a religious text. It doesn’t matter if you’re reading a prompt and think to yourself, “This is a ridiculous argument.”
It only matters that you can successfully identify the main components of the argument. These components are:
An essential part of improving your LSAT score in Logical Reasoning is understanding what each of those words mean and look like in an argument. Let’s look at a real Logical Reasoning question and dissect its premise, inference, and conclusion. Here’s a question from LSAC:
"Executive: We recently ran a set of advertisements in the print version of a travel magazine and on that magazine’s website. We are unable to get any direct information about consumer response to the print ads. However, we found that consumer response to the ads on the website was much more limited than is typical for website ads. We concluded that customer response to the print ads was probably below par as well."
Currently, we will not look at the question that follows this argument because we are only concerned about identifying each part of the argument.
Think of the premise as the “circumstances” surrounding the argument. In this prompt, we learn that an ad agency ran a set of advertisements and could not get information on consumer response to the ads, both in print and on the website. Additionally, consumer response to the website ads appeared to be lower than expected.
These statements are your premises. They act as your roadmap to figuring out why the argument is relevant and if the conclusion logically follows from the circumstances provided.
Next, let’s find our inference. This prompt is interesting because it combines the premise and conclusion into one statement.
By considering the premise of low consumer response to the website ads, the executive reasons that consumer response to the print ads was also lacking. This is the inference of the argument.
Think of inferences as the “Eureka” moments that arrive after the premises. It doesn’t matter if the inference is technically true or technically false. It only matters that the author states a “Eureka” moment after they contemplate certain premises.
Again, in this response, the argument combines the inference and conclusion. It certainly helps that it uses the directive language “we conclude.”
However, if you still struggle to identify the conclusion, use the simple trick of asking yourself: “What is the argument’s main point?” The conclusion can be understood as the whole reason behind the argument being made.
By first dissecting Logical Reasoning prompts, you should easily determine any missing components or flaws within the argument. You might even get lucky with a simple question like, “What is the author’s main point?” (This is just a fancy way of asking for the argument’s conclusion.)
Knowing that Logical Reasoning questions can be boiled down to their premises, inferences, and conclusion, you can go attempt these questions with confidence.
How to Improve your LSAT Score in Reading Comprehension
Many argue that Reading Comprehension is the most challenging section to improve upon. It can prove challenging to quickly sort through all of the passages’ dense information and still have time to identify its essential points.
Yet, like many things, there’s always room for improvement.
One of the quickest ways to improve your LSAT score in Reading Comprehension is to exercise your recall abilities. Many Reading Comprehension questions will ask you to recall small details within the larger passage.
You don’t want to waste time combing through the passage line by line for these details.
To practice this skill, take a Reading Comprehension section outside of a practice test. Read the passage without worrying about answering its related questions.
After you finish reading, simply write down everything that you recall reading in the passage. No detail is too large or small.
Reading comprehension is indeed a lifelong skill that’s cultivated over many years. Some people naturally excel in Reading Comprehension, while others struggle to improve.
However, by working on your reading endurance and consistently exercising your recall abilities, you will find yourself quickly improving your Reading Comprehension score.
The LSAT is a long, uphill battle. If you know that your current LSAT score doesn’t satisfy you, it is worth it to try again.
An improved LSAT score can open up priceless doors of opportunity and scholarship. By implementing these tips and approaching the test with confidence and coolness, you will surely improve your LSAT score by a few points or more.
As you prepare for the LSAT, a great tool to have in your arsenal is a high quality LSAT prep course or a private LSAT tutor. Check out our expert review of the best LSAT courses on the market.
Now let's get ready for test day!