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A step-by-step guide to dealing with Fluctuating LSAT Scores

One of the most common questions I get asked is how to overcome fluctuating scores either on practice tests or individual sections.

For many people, their study routine looks like this: they take a practice test and realize they got more questions wrong on one section type than another. They decide to focus on their weakest section and take a practice test, but to their dismay, they realize that now their score dropped in a different section.

As a result, they feel like they are playing 'whack-a-mole' with the LSAT. As soon as they solve one issue, it feels like a different issue pops up elsewhere. They begin to feel panicked and feel like they have to juggle many different things at the same time. To make things worse, their overall score constantly fluctuates or stagnates.

I have noticed this was the case for a lot of prospective students before they reached out to me. If you are one of those people, here is how these students overcome this problem through the use of a regimented, strategic approach. This plan will help you take control of your LSAT prep instead of feeling like you are at the whim of each test.

Here are some common questions I will answer in this post:

-Why do my section scores fluctuate? How can I overcome this?

-How do I focus on one section without losing the skills I acquired in other sections?


Why your test and/or section scores fluctuate

It’s important to understand that although each test is similar in terms of overall difficulty, individual sections can fluctuate. For example, sometimes a test may have an easier LR section but to compensate, the test will have a harder LG or RC section.

Another reason for fluctuations is that some sections play on your strengths more than others. For example, suppose you are very good at Strengthen questions. Not every LR section has an equal number of Strengthen questions, nor do they have the same difficulty distribution of strengthen questions (some sections will have more difficult Strengthen questions than others, for example). So, if you get a section that has more Strengthen questions or other question types that you excel at, you likely would score better on that section than others.

How do we combat this problem? By not focusing on the overall section score. Just because the overall section or test score went down, that does not mean you got worse. But also, just because the overall score going up doesn't necessarily mean you got better either. I know this is easier said than done, but don’t get too emotional regarding your score. Remember, the LSAT is testing your understanding of concepts. That’s all that matters. If your understanding goes up, your score will go up along with it, even though you weren't focusing on it. But because some sections have harder question of a certain type than others, we cannot be content with just having a basic understanding. You need to master concepts.

Here is a step-by-step process you can use to accomplish this:

1.       Look at the section and identify any question types that were giving you issues. Pick one of those question types and drill it specifically (UNTIMED!). Don’t worry about any of the other question types during this time. The goal here is to truly master one question type. Once you have mastered a question type, it is harder to lose the skills associated with it, much like riding a bike. This is where drilling platforms like 7Sage or books that sort questions by type come into play. Start with the easiest questions and work your way up to the harder ones—with thorough review, of course!

2.       Review the questions from previous practice tests/sections you missed of that question type

3.       Take two or three new timed sections

a.       Instead of looking at the overall score, look at how you did on the question type you drilled. If you consistently had a high rate of accuracy, you are ready to move onto the next question type that gave you issues.

b.       If you did not have a consistently high rate of accuracy, you need to continue drilling the individual question type

4.       Go through the same process for all other question types you missed in the past

5.       Focus on drilling full individual sections and monitor any additional weak areas that you need to prioritize


This strategy is effective for two main reasons. For one, it helps you focus on individual concepts instead of feeling overwhelmed by the thousands of concepts you feel like you may need to learn.

Secondly, it allows you to master concepts instead of just having a basic understanding of them. When you drill questions by type, it is much easier to spot patterns within that question. If you only do questions at random, the questions of that type will be more spaced out and it will be harder to spot the relationships. And I promise you all question types have patterns. Recognizing the patterns will help you immensely with accuracy, speed, and confidence. As you add more and more skills to your toolbelt using this strategy, your score can't help but to improve!

How to make sure you don’t lose your other skills

People often ask me “If I focus on only one thing, wouldn’t I get worse at other sections?” I completely understand this concern, but the answer is probably not. Skills in general take time to acquire, but they also take a long time to lose. If you feel like you are ‘losing’ your skills quickly, it is likely that you might not have as deep of an understanding of that concept as necessary. There’s no shame in that. It just means you need to drill more!

That being said, it is true that you can get rusty if you space out concepts too much. The solution is to take periodic practice tests and review the other sections. For example, suppose I am focusing on drilling Logical Reasoning. In that case, I may take a practice test once every two weeks or once a month, just to make sure I’m still gaining experience in other sections. During this phase, you should still be reviewing the questions from the practice tests that gave you trouble along with the drilling. Focus on drilling the question type you are primarily focused on, and then if you have leftover time in the day, review the questions from other sections you missed in the practice test. You don't need to go through all of them in one day.

Stay motivated!


Cho from Impetus LSAT

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