We’ve all seen the stories. A guy scores a 146 on a diagnostic test and 165 on the real test five months later. Then there’s the girl that raised her score by 26 points between February and June. There’s a mystery here. The LSAT isn’t a knowledge-based exam; it tests reading and reasoning capabilities. The LSAT is a measure of intelligence—not knowledge. So how are people getting better at the LSAT? Are they actually getting smarter? The answer, it seems, is yes.
According to a 2012 study, preparing for the LSAT for extended periods of time can result in positive changes in your brain’s ability to reason. Participants in the study spent 100 hours over a 3 month period of time studying for the LSAT. These participants experienced changes in their neural pathways during this period of time; they had new connections forming in their brains. In other words, their brains became better at solving the kind of problems the LSAT required them to solve.
Is the LSAT Really That Hard?
If you’ve never taken an LSAT prep test before, this kind of study may seem absurd. How can a test be so difficult that it significantly changes a person brain? The truth is that the LSAT is absolutely that hard for most test-takers. The average test-taker misses about 45% of the questions on the test. To make matters worse, the LSAT is a multiple choice exam. If not for blind luck, that number would be even higher.
But the test is learnable. Everything you need in order to answer each question on the LSAT can be found on the same page as that question. All of the pieces of the puzzle are there; you just need to put them together. This skill can be learned. Whether the LSAT is easy or hard depends in part on whether or not you’ve properly trained your brain.
How to Improve Your LSAT Score
Practice. Practice. Practice. But not just any practice.
Psychologist Angela Ducksworth points out in her TED Talk on grit that one of the predictors of academic success is a willingness to attach personal weaknesses. It’s easy to work on the things you’re good at, but attacking weakness is more useful when it comes to challenges like the LSAT. If grouping games are your personal nemesis, then it’s time to drill grouping games. And tomorrow, it will be time to drill them again.
The key here is consistent study. That’s how you change your brain. You force yourself to attack the most difficult material day after day. This is the solution; this is how people learn do the LSAT logic games faster and master LSAT logical reasoning. Take on your weaknesses.
Note though that this is not a quick fix. Changing your brain takes time. You need to make a habit out of challenging yourself. Create a routine that regularly stretches your brain. You aren’t going to cheat this test. If you want to score well on the LSAT, you need to gain the kind of intelligence the LSAT is trying to measure.
So how you you challenge yourself? What habits do you need to incorporate into your prep rountine? I suggest the following:
1. Solve Crazy Hard Logic Games
When I prepared for the LSAT, I opened every single morning with logic games. I used Ace the LSAT Logic Games (which I review here), and I am convinced the games made a positive difference. Another great option is my logic games drill book. Both of these books are packed with logic games that make the LSAT’s games feel easy. Remember that the goal here is to stretch yourself; use the difficult games to make yourself a better test-taker.
2. Read Difficult, Complex Passages
Start your day off with The Economist or The New York Times. The hardest part of LSAT reading comprehension for most people is maintaining focus while reading. It’s far to easy to get bored or distracted while slogging through reading comprehension passages. And on a timed test, distraction is death. Train yourself to focus. Use some of the free resources available to you and read critically during your down time.
3. Complete Sudoku Puzzles
Sudoku is a fun way to prep for the LSAT, and it really does help. Solving a Sudoku puzzle requires you to makes inferences and think abstractly. Sound familiar? It should; the same skill-set is involved in LSAT analytical reasoning. I used Will Shortz during my prep. You can also get my Sudoku book.
Remember, the key with all of these tips is to create habits. If you expose yourself to LSAT-level material on a daily basis, your brain will learn how to handle it. What is now impossibly hard will eventually become second-nature.