As my time as a Princeton student quickly comes to a close (it’s scary just thinking about it), it becomes imperative to look ahead to what the future holds for me. I’ve known that I want to go to law school for a while now (see this post for an interview with a current law school student). In high school, I wrote a paper about the practice of child marriage in certain areas of the world, and I began longing to take part in a system that would correct such injustices. Since then, I’ve educated myself on a wider variety of injustices and have come to focus on the American prison system while expanding my interest in the law.
Princeton University doesn’t have a pre-law program (although we do have a pre-law adviser), but this isn’t a requirement in order to go to law school. In fact, the only requirement for law school is that students take the LSAT—the Law School Admission Test. In other words, it’s the SAT, but for law school. The LSAT is comprised of five multiple-choice sections: two logical reasoning sections, one analytical reasoning section, one reading comprehension section, and an unscored section that could be any of the ones listed. Additionally, there is an unscored writing sample administered at the end of the test. The exam takes 3-4 hours including administrative work and breaks. Ultimately, the score you get on the LSAT is a huge deciding factor in the law school admission process.
So, how do you study for such an important exam? Many students choose to take a gap year (or a few) between undergraduate and law school in order to work and study for the LSAT. However, a good amount of students choose to go straight to law school from their undergraduate programs. Thus, these students study for the LSAT while completing their schoolwork. I’ve decided to go straight after, as well, experiencing the trials and tribulations of balancing Princeton with the LSAT along the way.
There’s no sure-fire way to study for such an important exam since every student learns in different ways. However, here are some tips that have worked for me so far:
- Take a diagnostic exam. Take a practice LSAT before you start studying for the exam. That way, you can get a taste of what the exam is like and start getting used to the format before you begin studying. In addition, this will help you keep track of your progress. I struggled with choosing a textbook to study out of, as I saw many older students struggling through studying on their own without any preparatory courses. Ultimately, I decided to take a Blueprint online live course, because a few friends had recommended it to me, and I didn’t feel like I wanted to take on the independent work of my thesis as well as the responsibilities of studying for the LSAT independently.
- Study each section and question type before taking another practice exam. Once you understand each section at least on a superficial level, you’ll be able to take a practice exam to understand which sections you need the most work on!
- Treat the LSAT like another class. Keeping yourself accountable for studying for the LSAT can be hard sometimes, especially when you have classwork and Princeton exams to study for at the same time. Treat the LSAT like another class by blocking time out in your schedule for it. Go to a specific location to study—the library, a student lounge, the study room in your hall, etc. This will make your imaginary LSAT class seem more legitimate, and it’ll motivate you to treat it as an actual class.
- Form a study group. But not necessarily to go over questions together, although that can certainly be done, as well. What I mean by a “study group” is a group of students who study for the LSAT in the same location at the same time. This will help your imaginary LSAT class seem more real, as the other students will feel like classmates. Also, the presence of other students will push you to be more accountable for your studying.
- Don’t take the LSAT until you feel 100% ready. The exam is costly—$200 to be exact—so you shouldn’t take it until you feel 100% ready. Not to mention the fact that a lot of schools require you to send the scores of every official LSAT you’ve ever taken!
As I mentioned before, each student learns in a different way, but these tips have definitely helped me throughout my own ongoing LSAT process!
—Andrea Reino, Social Sciences Correspondent