August 14, 2020
Professor Joe Brennan is a Professor of Law and Director of the Academic Success Program. Professor Brennan began his legal career as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Edwin H. Stern, P.J.A.D, in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division. Following his clerkship, Professor Brennan was a civil defense litigation attorney in New Jersey. His practice focused on product liability, premises liability, personal injury, complex litigation, employment law, breach of contract, fraud, and claims brought under the Uniform Commercial Code.
These are his top tips for success on the LSAT:
- Pick Your Battles - Every question is worth the same, but some are more difficult than others. This is especially true with the games. Typically, you will have a mix of easy, medium, and hard games. If you have practiced and can identify what type of board you need to solve the game, you can identify which games should be the easiest to solve. Do those ones first! It is worth the time to identify which games are easier rather than struggling with a very hard game just because it came first in the section.
- Know Your Task - The logical reasoning section has about 10 or so different types of question. Each one has its own strategy to solve. Start by reading the call of the question. There are words in the call that can help you identify what type of question it is. When you know that, you can have the right strategy in mind as you read the question stem. You won't be distracted or miss important facts this way.
- Formal Logic Basics - You don't need to be an expert in formal logic to ace the LSAT, but having a basic foundation in some simple concepts really helps. One of your best friends is the contrapositive. Remember, if you have a conditional statement that is true, flip and take the inverse and that will also be true. For example, if you play the piano, then you are a musician. Flip and negate that statement and you get if you are not a musician, then you do not play the piano. If one is true, the other must be also! Be careful to do both (flip and negate) or you end up with something like if you don't play the piano, then you are not a musician. And that is not true.
- You Don't Need Special Outside Knowledge - The LSAT tests on a wide variety of subjects. If you are reading a comprehension passage about Marie Curie, you do not need to be a chemistry expert to get all of the questions right. If the subject of a passage does happen to be an area you know a lot about, be careful! It can be helpful to have some familiarity, but, if you find yourself relying on facts and concepts beyond what is included in the question, you are going too far. Everything that you need to answer the question correctly is right there for you.
- Practice - The LSAT is a test of skills rather than of substance. It is also a timed test. You can improve on the LSAT by mastering strategies for attacking certain types of questions, but doing so takes repetition and time. Create a realistic study schedule that will give you the opportunity to learn the strategies and practice them so they are second nature by test day. There are lots of good LSAT resources out there (and some really good free ones too). Take advantage of them to put yourself in the best position on test day.