The number-one problem facing most of my LSAT students isn’t what you might think. It’s not nightmares about Logic Games with fifty rules or Reading Comprehension passages with teeth. It’s not learning inferences, Conditional Logic, or common flaws. It’s balancing LSAT study with their lives.
In my eight years of teaching LSAT students, I’ve never met an LSAT student who wasn’t in some way an overachiever. After all, the very fact of aspiring to go to law school (and typically a very good one) suggests a high degree of ambition. As a result, most of my students are performing an intense juggling act: some combination of studying for the LSAT while also working 60+ hours a week, taking demanding college courses, committing to multiple internships, and having a social life.
So what should you do if you’re in that situation? There’s no easy fix, but here are some pieces of wisdom on balancing LSAT study and life that I’ve acquired by working with many students in your shoes (and occasionally being in them myself!):
1. Be realistic about the amount of time you’ll have for LSAT study.
Many students start out their LSAT study plan envisioning themselves studying before work, during their lunch hour, and at home after a ten-hour-plus day, every single day of the week. Few of my students actually follow through with that plan. The LSAT is intellectually demanding, and it won’t accept your leftover energy. And life happens: you hit the snooze button, you get sick, your friend comes in from out of town—all of these can throw off a carefully-calibrated LSAT study plan. Instead of expecting the impossible for yourself and then constantly feeling guilty, plan a reasonable number of regular LSAT study sessions that will still allow you some flexibility and breaks. You’ll be more likely to stick with the plan—and more able to monitor your progress in a realistic way.
2. Adjust your timeline or your goals.
If you have less time than you’d like to for LSAT study each week, then you may need to consider starting your studying early: maybe five months ahead of time instead of three. Or think about pushing your test date back. This is a great year to do that, since the LSAT is now offering several new test dates! If your timeline is really important to you or unfixed, then consider adjusting your goals. Is your goal score truly what you need to get into a school you’d be happy with? If you can adjust it a little and still be satisfied with the results, you may want to do that.
3. Game your LSAT study plan.
Make the most of the limited amount of time you have to study by taking about half an hour each week to plan your LSAT study time. The best LSAT study plans are based on recent practice data and have you focusing at first on areas of weakness, in priority of how many points they account for on the test. Further, make sure you mix up the topics so that you’re seeing all three sections of the test on a regular basis, and build in timed mixed sets and an error log. If you have a tutor or LSAT instructor, let them know you’re in a time crunch and ask for their help in determining your priorities.
4. Practice self-care.
The LSAT is an emotionally exhausting and intellectually challenging test. It’s difficult to have an effective LSAT study session when you’re not feeling rested, fed, and mentally healthy. Be responsive to what your mind and body are telling you about your LSAT prep, whether that’s to eat dinner or take a nap beforehand (even it that means a shorter LSAT study session), to wrap up a little early and go to bed because your brain just can’t handle any more Logic Games, or to do some lighter practice (maybe watch a video or play an arcade game) because you’ve had a long day. This is me officially giving you permission!
If you’re in this situation and you’ve read this far, then you probably already need to get going to your next commitment. So hang in there, and remember that this crazy LSAT study crunch won’t be a part of your life forever. Good luck! 📝
Ally Bell is a Manhattan Prep Instructor who lives in the Washington, DC metro area. Ally first encountered the LSAT while getting her Bachelor of Arts in English and history at Duke University. In college, she scored a 178 and very nearly applied to law school. In the end, she followed her true passion, teaching. Ally currently has the pleasure of being an eighth grade English teacher in Northern Virginia. As an LSAT teacher, she has the opportunity to blend her love for teaching with her passion for logical argument. Check out Ally’s upcoming LSAT Complete Courses here.