Monday, October 15, 2012

Time to Start Preparing for February 2013 LSAT

No really.

You can see the 4.5-month Zen of 180 self-prep calendar in the sidebar on the right, but we wanted to describe for the February 2013 LSAT takers how to incorporate experimental sections in test prep to get used to the full 5-section test day. This is what we call the "diagnosing phase."

Diagnosing (time-to-test: 4 months to 2 months)
  • 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 our free analyzer, and go over them with explanations so you start to improve!
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.

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, which serves as a measuring stick 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.  
  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.
  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.
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.