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How To Build Stamina For the LSAT

After years of tutoring students, I found that lack of stamina is one of the most common issues people run into with LSAT practice tests. This can be frustrating because you may feel like you have the skills but have trouble focusing due to fatigue. Unfortunately, people often overlook how important endurance is during their LSAT prep. Here are some tips to help you boost your endurance and build your mental stamina...



Tip #1: Gradually work your way up


If you are preparing for a marathon, you wouldn't run a full marathon everyday. In the same way, you should not jump straight into full LSAT practice exams everyday. That is a recipe for burnout. Instead, focus on gradually building up your stamina. Throughout your LSAT prep, you should build endurance in phases:



Phase 1: Individual Sections

Start off with an individual LSAT section each day or every other day. If you are having issues with accuracy, you may want to start off doing them untimed and gradually work up to timed sections when you feel comfortable. Don't give yourself any breaks until you have completed the section. Try to especially focus on section types that are more mentally draining for you.


Phase 2: Practice Tests with Breaks

Once you feel comfortable with individual sections, it's time to gradually increase the period of time we spend focusing on the LSAT each day. Take practice exams with breaks between sections as needed. This will allow you to ease in more sections each day. For example, your initial schedule may look something like this:


Day 1: Section 1, break, Section 2

Day 2: Section 3, break, Section 4


How long you rest between sections is up to you, but it is important that you push through and complete each entire section. If you ran out of time in a section, you should be completing those questions untimed between sections.


Phase 3: Full Length LSAT Practice Tests

At this phase, you are ready to take full length practice tests. Take it with the scheduled breaks you can expect to receive on test day. For those of you who are not receiving accommodations, here is how your LSAT practice test should be structured (assuming you are not receiving any accommodations and get 35 minutes per section):


1. Section 1

2. Section 2

3. 10 minute break

4. Section 3

5. Section 4


Notice how we have four sections. Some of the more recent LSAT practice tests have only three, but this is because they removed the Experimental section, which is included on the actual test but is not included in the overall score. Regardless, you should be including your own Experimental section to simulate actual testing conditions. You do not want to only have the endurance to last for three sections when you have four on test day.




Tip #2: Strategically Add the "Experimental" Section


If you are taking a practice test that already has four sections, you don't need to change anything. But if you are taking a three-section practice exam, my recommendation is to pull the "Experimental" sections from older practice tests. Save the newer ones to simulate full LSAT exams because those are more reflective of what you can expect on test day.


It is also beneficial to occasionally use sections you previously had difficulty with as your "Experimental" sections. Even if you reviewed them before, it's a great way to make sure you fully understood the questions. You may be surprised by how many questions you still missed or struggled with on a section you have seen before, which can help you determine what you need to prioritize.


Additionally, we want to simulate the hardest possible testing conditions because it will not only help you build your stamina for this type of situation, but it will also ease your anxiety. Since the Experimental section is not graded, it can only impact your performance by draining your energy or hurting your confidence. But there are two scenarios where the Experimental would not have much of an impact--when it is right before the break or at the very end of the test. So, it makes sense to alternate between two different ways of ordering the sections:


Option A:

  1. Section 1 (Experimental)

  2. Section 2

  3. Break

  4. Section 3

  5. Section 4


Option B:

  1. Section 1

  2. Section 2

  3. Break

  4. Section 3 (Experimental)

  5. Section 4


These options allow you to position the Experimental sections so that you will be prepared for the worst case scenario.




Tip #3: Make the Practice Tests Longer or Increase the Frequency


This should only be done after you have completed the three phases in tip #1 and you are seeking to maintain exceptional stamina heading into the LSAT. At this phase, you are seeking to go beyond the LSAT parameters.


Think about it this way--if you are used to running 3 miles, running 1 mile is going to feel much easier. That is the approach we are taking with the LSAT.


You can boost your stamina by either adding an additional section (in other words, adding TWO Experimental sections) or by taking practice tests more frequently (2-3 times per week).


In general, I do not recommend taking a practice test more than 3 times per week. Doing so is often counterproductive because you may not have enough time to review questions between practice tests, which is where the real growth happens. It is beneficial to have a target number of tests to take each week, but don't sacrifice review to reach that number.



Tip #4: Get More Proficient With LSAT Concepts


One of the reasons why you are struggling with endurance may simply be due to you not fully mastering particular concepts. When you are first learning a new skill, your brain requires more energy than when you have mastered it. (Check out this interesting article by Scientific American for more details.) As a result, you may be spending a lot of brain power on questions, which in turn may be causing endurance issues. This is why I always advocate mastering specific concepts before moving on.


As you take practice tests and sections, mark down questions that were challenging or took you a long time to complete. Then, try to determine what concept was giving you trouble--was it a particular concept, such as conditional reasoning? Did you have trouble understanding the structure or finding the gap in the argument? Did you struggle with finding an inference? This is why I analyze students' practice tests prior to each private tutoring session--it is to help them evaluate what concepts are draining their energy and determine what to prioritize. Focus on drilling those concepts until you feel very confident with them.



Tip #5: Meditate


There is an argument to be made that our attention spans are decreasing. From social media, advertisements, and daily responsibilities, there are so many things calling for our attention at once. In fact, studies suggest that our average attention span is shorter than that of goldfish!


For this reason, it has never been more important that we focus on well...being more focused. Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center claim that meditation can help us improve our memory and attention span. On top of that, it has been suggested that meditation can help with anxiety, depression, among many other things.


I have tried meditating myself and I can attest to these claims. It felt very unnatural at first, but overtime I became more comfortable with silence after practicing meditation consistently. This helped me especially with the Reading Comprehension and Logical Reasoning sections, where it was often difficult for me to stay focused on the longer passages. It also helped me tremendously with LSAT prep because I was able to stay focused for a longer period of time.




Use these tips to help you take your LSAT stamina to the next level!


Stay Motivated!


Sincerely,

Cho from Impetus LSAT



If you are interested in learning more about how to study, check out more free LSAT tips or read my book on how to study.


Interested in getting personalized help? Sign up for private tutoring. I offer a free 2-hour trial session.







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