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Mastering the LSAT: Making the Leap to a Top Law School
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Summary: Taking the LSAT is an important part of getting into the law school you want. Learn what you need to do to master it in this article.

In her brilliantly funny book The Joy of Stress, author Pamela Pettler carefully explores the wide array of daily opportunities we each have to indulge in stress. Inside one chapter, she even laments that unfortunately, “You can’t always be at the dentist’s or studying for the bar exam.”

Surely the same can be said for taking the LSAT (Law School Aptitude Test). Nevertheless, thousands of highly focused college students are now preparing for this upcoming exam. And all of them are finding different ways to battle the unique stress that awaits everyone seeking admission to a top law school – or even just a reasonably reputable one.

  
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Need help studying for the LSAT? Find out how to do well on the test in this article.

Who Are These People Driven to Join This Daunting Job-Hunting Milieu?

For one thing, we know they’re either idealistically eager to right the wrongs of society or perhaps hoping to enter a profession that often guarantees its elite a lifetime of generous income. While some may pursue civil rights law and consumer advocacy positions, others are definitely eyeing the various lucrative fields of corporate law. Whatever their personal motivations may be, these students are usually die-hard optimists – people willing to ignore all of The New York Times articles that regularly remind everyone that our nation has a glut of unemployed attorneys burdened by immense law school debt.

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Fortunately, a good many aspiring lawyers will eventually find their niche and begin making a moderate or higher income – even if it takes several years to find where they belong. Although stereotypes abound that demean attorneys, a surprising number of Americans often wish they had the legal knowledge often demanded by our increasingly sophisticated world.

Complex social issues like those involving healthcare, the environment, and civil liberties will surely guarantee a permanent need for this profession. And we’ll always need lawyers to help us sort through the many legal issues that constantly arise in a country where poverty has become a staple amidst extreme levels of affluence.

Taking the LSAT is the important first step toward learning all about this nation’s laws and hopefully interpreting and applying them for the common good. This test tries to determine how well those taking it have the innate ability to “think like lawyers.” Although some use law school as a “hiding place” where they can remain on the family dole or on student loans, it really should only be entered by those who have taken the time to gain a firsthand understanding of what the day-to-day practice of law is really like.

Whatever may be motivating you to take this exam, here are some general reminders that may help you ace it and move forward with your career and life goals.

Three Basic Steps That Can Help You Maximize Your LSAT Score

Hopefully, you’ve already visited the Law School Admission Council’s (LSAC) website and registered for the next LSAT date ahead of time. By now, you may have even received notice of your personal testing site for the exam. If you haven’t already taken the following steps – try to pursue them right away.

1. All test takers should seriously consider signing up for a highly reputable LSAT-Prep course. These are often offered by such regional providers as Manhattan Prep or Fox LSAT in California. Others simply seek out programs offered by nationwide providers like Kaplan or Princeton Review. Be sure to ask academic advisors in your college community or students recently admitted to good law schools which programs they think provide the best learning experience.

When questioned about his company’s unique offerings, Jeff Thomas, the Executive Director for Pre-Law Programs for Kaplan Test Prep was quick to emphasize a number of special training options for LSAT test takers. His company makes every effort to “tailor the two components of instruction and practice” to each student’s personal strengths and weaknesses. He says Kaplan employs a “team of learning scientists” who have created a special algorithm that lets them carefully analyze each student’s performance on past practice exams and other exercises to determine the best ways to strengthen and improve their skills.

Those who sign up for Kaplan are introduced to a core learning curriculum and are strongly urged to watch the company’s specialized LSAT Channel. Mr. Thomas likens it to a kind of “Netflix” for LSAT test takers. He says it allows students to listen to over 100 unique lectures on the subjects and test-taking strategies they need to master the most. He adds that there are even lectures that specifically target effective ways to manage stress while preparing for the LSAT.

Regardless of the specific training program you decide to take, be sure it offers all or most of the types of services just referenced above.

2. Individuals with special testing needs should ask for help. If you have a major, compromising medical condition or unique educational challenges that might justify special testing accommodations, reach out early for such help. Wendy Margolis, LASC’s Director of Communications, Publishing, and Creative Services, says these can often be provided to you. She suggests that students visit the following two links to learn more about qualifying for this type of help: http://www.lsac.org/jd/lsat/accommodated-testing and http://www.lsac.org/jd/lsat/accommodated-testing/available

3. Study, study, and then study some more. If you believe you have strong enough college grades to gain acceptance into a good law school, chances are that you already have the self-discipline necessary to do well on the LSAT. During this process, be sure you take many time-monitored exams with a pencil and printed copies of past exams. Too many students fail to do this and later realize that trying to master every necessary skill online won’t always translate well into the real experience. If for some reason your study program doesn’t provide you with ample copies of prior exams, at least find out if you can take those offered online by Princeton Review.

Never Let Stress, Anxiety and Other Common Maladies Derail Your Efforts

Great test-taking tips are shared in an excellent U. S. News & World Report article entitled, Five Ways to Manage LSAT Test Anxiety”. Among other suggestions, it reminds students to keep exercising, get plenty of sleep, and to eat healthy meals while preparing for this exam. Far too many students fall back into self-defeating college study habits and neglect all three of these healthy life habits. Ignoring them can quickly cripple your ability to think clearly and perform at the top of your game.

It’s also wise to regularly blend in some social activities and one or two hobbies. Whether you’re into arts and crafts, photography, or carpentry, time spent on these activities can really help clear your mind of all your worries and help you return to your studying much more eager to learn.

Whatever else you do, try not to obsess about the test. Yes, it can affect your future. However, should you not do as well as you had hoped, you can usually take it again. Just be sure to sit the first time well in advance of any law school admission application deadlines.

Finally, be smart and go to bed early the day before the exam. Try not to do any last-minute studying before leaving early for the test site with all required identification and other materials. Chances are, you’ll do fine and receive results that let you choose among the law schools best suited to your long-term career interests and goals.

For more information about the LSAT (and tips for taking it), see the following articles:

 

Elizabeth Smith, J.D., M.A., is a freelance writer who has successfully written about general business, legal, medical, and consumer topics for over twenty years. She has also served as the author and co-author of two professional legal texts.



 

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