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How Long Should You Study For the LSAT? Tips and Timelines

Updated: Dec 10, 2023


People often ask how long they need to study to reach their target score on the LSAT. This is an important question because it can influence when you may be able to apply to law school, and people often have misconceptions on how long it can take to improve. Many experts advise to study for at least 3 months or to study a certain amount of hours each day, but this depends on many different factors. Let's discuss each factor that affects the length of time you need to study, and why focusing on how long you should study can actually be misleading.




 

Factor #1: Consistency


If you are trying to improve at anything skill-based, it takes consistency. It would take you much longer to get better at golf if you were only practicing once a week compared to practicing once a day. Yet people often feel like it is okay to only study for the LSAT once a week. This is because we tend to think of academic exams as knowledge-based, but the LSAT is more focused on acquiring skills that can only be obtained through practice. If you are staying consistent, it will help you dramatically reduce the length of time you need to study for the LSAT.


Also, as discussed in my book on how to study for the LSAT, you don't need to study a crazy amount of hours each day. Just doing 1-2 hours per day can be extremely effective if you are studying the right way. Check out my book or LSAT blog for more advice on how to boost your studying efficiency.





 

Factor #2: How You Study


Some people do just fine studying for the LSAT on their own. But for most individuals, getting some type of outside help can be a huge benefit, whether it is through online resources or textbooks. This is because as the saying goes, you don't know what you don't know! Here are some of the options you can choose from.

  • Khan Academy provides free full length, official practice tests and explanations for every question, which come directly from the test writers.

  • You can use LSAT books that can guide you through their curriculum, which can be found through Amazon or bookstores. Some LSAT prep books are general while others provide assistance with specific sections or concepts. My recommendation is to study specific concepts rather than learning everything at once, so it may be more effective to get a book that goes more in depth on a particular section.

  • You can use online subscriptions such as 7Sage or LSAT Demon that provide drilling for question types. This can be very beneficial because it allows you to practice specific question types while also analyzing your results.

  • You can enroll in an online course. However, please note that many people struggle with courses because they end up falling behind. Courses tend to cram all the LSAT concepts into just a few weeks or months, which can be very overwhelming. Only enroll in a course if you are a fast learner and have time to commit to mastering concepts prior to moving onto the next session. Or alternatively, you can go for a self-paced course.

  • Obtaining personalized help from others can help you avoid mistakes others have made in the past, which allows you to improve at a much faster rate. Additionally, when you are just starting out you may mistakenly think you understand certain concepts, thanks to the Dunning-Kruger effect. This is nothing to be ashamed of--it is just a natural part of human psychology. But having another person objectively watch your thought processes can be very beneficial in helping you prioritize and pinpoint weaknesses you were previously unaware of. This is why private tutoring can be beneficial as well.


Self-studying can take longer than other study methods due to the fact you don't have as much hands on training. However, it is still entirely possible to improve, so don't let that discourage you if that is your only option. I would recommend at least 4-6 months of consistent studying if you are hoping to achieve an improvement of 15 points or more. If you are planning on using a tutor or course, you may only need 2-4 months, potentially even less.


While these different study methods influence the length of time you may need to prep for the LSAT, keep in mind the learning still needs to be done by you. This means you need to practice what you have learned between sessions in order to see significant improvement. As discussed in my other LSAT posts, it is important that you thoroughly review and repeat questions. If you don't you are only testing yourself and not learning, which hinders your progress and in turn wastes money.




 

Factor #3: Your Target Score


As you may have guessed, improving 5 points can take a much shorter time than improving 20 points. But also, improving from a 150-160 is a very different journey than improving from a 160-170. Just because it took you two months to improve 10 points, it does not necessarily mean it will take you another two months to improve another 10 points. As your score goes up, getting that one extra point gets harder and harder because the test requires more advanced skills. Therefore, if you are hoping to achieve an exceptionally high score, be willing to expand your time horizon.




 

Factor #4: Your Learning Ability


Notice how I was saying these factors can help you improve faster, not necessarily fast. People have different learning speeds and varying strengths and weaknesses. Some people may take six months or a year to reach their target score even if they do everything perfectly. There is no shame in that, and if you take your LSAT score seriously there may be sacrifices you have to make.


However, it can become problematic when people say "I have to score a 175 in 3 months!" when that is unfortunately not in the cards for them. There is nothing wrong with having a target test date, but sometimes that target needs to be given more flexibility if you are truly committed to reaching your score. Not only that, but having a very rigid view of your timeline can actually add more anxiety and stress, which can slow down your progress even more! Sometimes, you may need to decide between going to law school when you had planned or applying later with your target LSAT score. There is no right or wrong answer and it depends on the individual. Be sure to do your own research and find the option that works best for you if you are ever in this type of situation.


I want to clarify that I am not trying to be discouraging. You CAN improve and most likely CAN reach your target score, but you just may take longer than expected. My goal is to simply be as transparent as possible so that you can make the choice that works best for you.




 

Why is this question misleading?


Here's the thing--law schools don't care how long you studied for the LSAT. They only care about the final score. And the final score is determined by your understanding of concepts and skills, not necessarily by the amount of hours you spent. There are some people who studied for an hour a day and saw significant results, while there are others who studied for eight hours a day with no progress. There are also people who have seen significant progress in weeks, while others have taken several months. So, it doesn't make sense to think about it strictly in terms of time.


Don't think that once you hit X number of hours you will see a 10 point improvement. Instead, think about your study schedule in terms of concepts. As discussed in my book, have a specific target number of questions or think of a particular skill you want to improve on and continue drilling until you feel comfortable with it. Some days it may take an hour. Other days, it may take 5 hours. But you can be sure that you are improving and studying within the time frame that works for you.


Another reason why it is beneficial to think about studying in terms of concepts is it gives you a concrete goal each day, which in turn allows you to set up an efficient LSAT study plan. When you are only focused on time, you don't have a specific priority. When this happens, people often just jump around between various different concepts and don't gain anything out of it. This is a very frustrating feeling, because you may be working really hard without learning anything new.


Focusing on time can also be harmful because everyone learns at different speeds. Think of math, for example. Two people might have arrived at the same skill level in learning multiplication, but that doesn't mean they spent the same amount of time studying. The same applies to the LSAT. Also, not all concepts are created equal. Let's face it--the LSAT is a hard test. Naturally, some concepts will be harder to learn than others. Be prepared for that and understand that some concepts will take longer to learn. Don't limit yourself to a specific time frame.



Stay motivated!



Sincerely,

Impetus LSAT



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