By Peg Tittle, LSAT Tutor • July 01, 2015
The LSAT is a cognitive marathon, so just as you would if you were preparing for a physical marathon, you have to increase your stamina gradually. You’d be an idiot to run five miles one day and then expect to be able to run twenty the next day. You might be able to do it, but you won’t be able to do it well. So that’s my first point. I have the people I work with start with just 5 LRs in a row (and I don’t care if it takes them all day, as long as they get them all right) (speed will come on its own) (usually) (and if not, there are a few strategies…), then they step up to 7 LRs, then 10, 12, 17, 20, 22, and then finally, a whole LR section. For RC and LG? I have them start with just one passage or game, then 2 in a row, then 3, then all 4. Similarly, we start with just one section at a time, then 2, then 3, then 4, then 5.
Note where you make your mistakes. If they’re clustered at the end, it could be mental fatigue: you’re running out of stamina, your mind is tired, you’re not focusing as well as you were at the beginning… Many people think the harder questions are at the end and that explains why they get more of them wrong, but I’m no so sure. When I worked at LSAC, I wasn’t on the assembly team, so I don’t know for sure, but I don’t recall anyone ever mentioning that they arranged the questions in order of increasing difficulty. And I have seen some difficult questions near the beginning and some easy questions near the end.
If you’re mistakes are clustered near the middle, it could be that your brain’s taking a little snooze. So you need to figure out whether it’s better to give it what it needs (and just take a thirty second break) or to think of a way to stay alert without a break (perhaps visualize “FOCUS!” at the top of each page or something).
Peg Tittle used to work at LSAC writing the questions that go on the LSAT; she’s the author of a logical reasoning textbook (Critical Thinking: An Appeal to Reason, Routledge 2011); she has an M.A. in Philosophy (we’re all about argument!), a B.A. in Literature (there’s my RC!), a B.Ed. (so I know pedagogy), and ESL certification; and she has over ten years’ teaching/tutoring experience.
She has set up an FAQ page about her LSAT tutoring (which she does by phone or skype).