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When I ask my students how they review the LSAT prep tests they take, they usually fall into what I call the “spell of the score”: they’re mostly interested in whether they hit their target score or not, and not so focused on how to maximize their LSAT review process.
This is a huge mistake.
Of course, it’s useful to know what score you’re getting on your practice tests—but it’s much more important to review that material properly, so that you’re improving with each test rather than rolling the dice. You only have a set number of prep tests available, and studies show that taking too many (more than 16!) is actually correlated with lower LSAT scores. The solution? Get the most out of each test.
I’m going to break down the LSAT review process I always recommend, called blind review—but first, let’s talk about what most people naturally do (and why it doesn’t help).
LSAT Review Process: What NOT to Do
Here’s the usual process I hear:
Right after taking the prep test, test preppers will check their answers and see what score they got. If they reached their target goal, they feel great! If not, they feel not great! And, usually, they’ll take a closer look at the questions they got wrong, to understand why the answer they picked doesn’t work.
There are a few problems with this.
First, it’s a missed opportunity to spend more time with those juicy LSAT questions. Whether you got it right, got it wrong, or skipped it, every single question can teach you something about the test. By just focusing on your score—and, typically, the questions you got wrong—you’re throwing these lessons away.
Think about it this way: Let’s say there was a really tough problem you struggled with while taking the practice test… But then you ended up getting it right! Most people tend to celebrate in their heads for a second before moving on. But in doing so, you don’t understand why it gave you trouble in the moment—and how you can get better for the next time around.
Second, you have no way of knowing whether you got a question wrong because of limited timing or faulty reasoning. Is this a question you should have skipped upfront? Is there something you fundamentally misunderstand? You can’t answer these vital questions if you’re speeding through your review.
How to Use Blind Review
I’ll give you the steps for blind review, then explain their benefits:
1. Take the test!
2. Step away—for a few hours, but not much longer. (Some ideas: Eat lunch, take a walk, read a book, read our other blog posts.)
3. Circle every question you don’t feel 100% certain about. (Notice the present tense! Even if you felt pretty sure about your choice while taking the test, reappraise your answers for each question.)
4. Take a deep dive into each question you’re NOT certain about, with no time limit. Stay with each question until you’ve decided to stay with your answer or change it, and you feel positive about your decision. You should be able to completely explain why each answer choice is either right or wrong to someone who’s never taken the test before. (In fact, that’s not a bad review technique!)
5. Once you’ve finished, check your score and answers. Here’s where things get fun.
After you’ve celebrated or bemoaned your score, then it’s time to figure out where your weaknesses are hiding. You should be feeling 100% certain of each answer choice you settled on (whether during the test or during review), right?
So if you still got a question wrong, there’s something you’ve misunderstood about the logic of the problem! Bingo—a weakness you need to brush up on. If you got a question wrong that you initially got right, then there’s even more for you to dig into. How did you convince yourself out of your gut position? Pay attention to what your instincts latched onto to prevent this in the future.
Plus, you get to analyze what question types gave you struggles that you ended up winning versus the ones that sapped your energy and proved too hard. This will help you build a strategy for which questions to skip during the test, making sure that timing is less of an issue.
And, finally, by fully articulating why each answer choice was right or wrong, you forced yourself to understand every bit of the logic in each question. It takes a long time, but it will lead to more confidence and control over the test. Try to write a full explanation, like in the back of your strategy guides, for any questions that really caught you. (You can even post them to the forums or send them to an instructor for feedback!)
Did blind review help you in your LSAT review process? Let us know in the comments!
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Ben Rashkovich is a Manhattan Prep LSAT instructor based in New York, NY. He’s a graduate of Columbia University, and he scored a 172 on the LSAT. He enjoys the mental challenge and logical acrobatics of the LSAT—and he feels that studying for the test can teach everyone to approach problems more rationally. You can check out Ben’s upcoming LSAT courses here!