Saturday, February 19, 2011

What should I be doing for the June 2011 LSAT?

We've already discussed the Zen of 180 overarching approach to LSAT self-prep, including the distinct phases of pre-study, diagnosing, self-correcting, practice, and endurance. If you're self-prepping for the June 2011 LSAT, we suggest you should have started your calendar last week. If not, don't worry, there's still plenty of time to catch up to our LSAT calendar by taking extra PrepTests!

The pre-study (time-to-test: 1 year to 4 months) should already be finished, but double check that you have set an LSAT goal and know what materials you should be using.
The diagnosing phase (time-to-test: 4 months to 2 months) is where we are now, so make sure that you've got the materials on hand.
  • Take 1 to 2 full (i.e. with experimental sections) LSATs per week for 5 to 10 weeks, until you have at least 10 full LSATs to analyze
  • Record the questions you miss into some meaningful classification system (like the Zen task standards for logic games, reading comprehension, and logical reasoning) 
If you look at the Zen of 180 LSAT self-prep calendar, then you'll see a week-by-week breakdown of what material you should be using.  For instance, during this first week of the diagnosis phase, you should take PrepTests 23 and 24 with an added experimental section.  This means you should be spending about seven hours split across two sessions.
Zen LSAT Self-Prep Calendar for June 2011 LSAT

We wanted to clarify what we mean by an "added experimental section from PrepTest 19."

LSAT 101: the LSAT has four scored sections, two of logical reasoning and one each of analytical reasoning and reading comprehension.  In addition to these sections, there is a fifth, unscored section, termed an "experimental" by LSAC. It serves as a balancing test for new LSAT questions.  While individual test-takers' experimental sections vary--even those taking it on the same day in the same site--it always occurs during the first three sections.

Thus, in order to accurately diagnose your ability to perform on the LSAT, you should practice as closely to the conditions of the actual test.  That means five full sections, not four.  And in order to maximize your practice, we suggest using actual LSAT material from older PrepTests in order to fill in the "experimental" role.

So, the steps to appropriately using LSAT materials for your diagnosing phase:
  1. Get the older PrepTests in the the "10 Actual, Official LSAT PrepTest" series.  The cheapest place we've found is the Amazon store, where you can get a 4-for-3 deal.

  2. Take the first section from PrepTest 19 and use it as an experimental section mixed in as section 1, 2, or 3 when you sit down to take PrepTest 23. (Our calendar supposes you've already done this, so you should be using sections 3 and 4 with PrepTests 25 and 26, respectively).
  3. Be sure to give yourself a 10-to-15 minute break after the third section, as that will also happen on the day of the test.  So, 15 + 35x5 = a little more than 3 hours for each practice session.
  4. Continue using the remaining sections from PrepTest 19 as "experimental" sections for PrepTests 24, 25, and 26, then repeat the process for later PrepTests as outlined in the Google calendar.
And that's how to use the experimentals in your diagnostic phase!  If you'd like to read about our general approach to LSAT training, and why we even care about approximating the real thing during your first practice, read this original post on the matter.