Updated: Jan 11
Everything you need to know about studying for the LSAT.
The Beginning of the End
Everything you need to know about studying for the LSAT
Law school is one of the craziest things I have ever gotten myself into; I honestly don't even know where to start. It completely changed the person I am today, and I'm only two months away from finishing my first year of law school at Emory. I think it's best to rewind to 2019 when I was living my best life. I took the LSAT in March of my Junior year, which is technically early for an average applicant-– but I just knew I had big plans for my summer, and the LSAT had no place there, so I did what I had to do. I studied for six months straight (starting in August 2018), but I really buckled down in January and got my life together. I realized the score that I had at the time was terrible, and that if I didn't pull it together, then getting into a decent law school would not be in my future. So before I even start on how law school affected the person I am emotionally and physically today, I'm going to give you guys some insight on my LSAT journey and what I did to get a decent score. (because this is a question, I'm always questioned about). I'm not the best at taking standardized tests, so I knew that everything I did counted.
You have to be savvy in how you acquire tools to study for the LSAT!! If you are a freshman or sophomore and diverse in any way, apply for a pre-law PLUS program!!! This is super beneficial as you begin your transition to law school. I was a part of the Duke Pre-law PLUS Program in 2018. (Shoutout to the Fellows)! This program helped me realize the wide variety of fields you can go into and what to look for in law school when applying. This was when I was first exposed to the LSAT, law school class settings, and work. They provided me with not only a stipend for the summer but they also paid for two LSAT exams and 6 law school applications. If you can apply for this type of program, do it! The Duke program helped me realize how much work I would have to do to prepare for law school.
I used Kaplan to study for the test. Test preparation centers are expensive, and yes, I know everyone can't afford it – I couldn't afford it. But I made it work. I reached out to multiple scholarship organizations that were funding my undergrad tuition, asking them to cover an LSAT course, I knew I needed the extra help, and I explained that to them. It worked out for me because one of the organizations agreed to pay it off (shoutout to the Nsoro Foundation), and I didn't have to have the financial burden weighing me down. I think Kaplan was a gem because you were allowed to take the class more than once, and they offer three different versions of the course! I initially took the class in person in August of 2018. However, because the class only lasted a month, it was hard to get anything out of it. Each class is 4hours long, and all the teacher does is show you how to attack different questions. The real trick to this is to practice those skills on your own time. My score only increased three points in that month. I was devastated. However, I found out that Kaplan would allow you to retake the class if you felt that you didn't get much out of the first one. So in January, I decided to take a self-paced version of the course online, and that's where I saw a difference in my score. Their online catalog is impressive. They have a channel for every type of question. Not to mention they have so many practice exams to choose from!! I went through almost all of the channels by the time I took the test.
Consistency is Key!
I studied five days a week between Monday and Friday for five hours each day. I spent three
hours in the morning working on each section for a hour and spent two hours at night reviewing my work and what I had learned. Because the actual exam I was taking was held on a Saturday at 8 am, I took a practice exam every Saturday at 8 am to get my brain and body acclimated, accustomed and conditionEd to the test. This is a real thing !!! I took a total of 15 practice test over a three-month duration. By the time I took my test, my score had increased 22 points! Discipline is the name of this game!!! Don't let anyone tell you any differently. Especially if you are a part of underrepresented groups, that test does not cater to us or our experiences. It was created to prevent us from entering the field. You have to work hard. The LSAT is not a test you can study for a few weeks before; you need to practice. You have to teach yourself skills and learn what common mistakes you make to avoid them next time. Reviewing your exams is essential!!! I used Sundays to review the practice exam I would take on Saturdays. This was super helpful because I would schedule my next week depending on what I needed to work on. So you see I had no days off in my journey to take this test. But when I finally sat to take the exam, it felt like a regular day to me. Whenever someone asked me how I felt, I told them I felt regular because the exam was a normal part of my schedule. Discipline, Dedication & Concentration are indeed the names of the game. (This is a statement I learned from my dance teacher in high school, Mama Adjepong! Shoutout to her, because I was able to apply this philosophy to so many different stages of my life!)
So, I only took the test once––I could not bear to retake it. After I took the exam, I wanted to go for a higher score, but I just stared blankly at a page every time I opened a book. While studying for the LSAT, I experienced significant self-doubt and questioned my worth and intelligence enough to overcome the test. One morning, I started a practice exam, and I could not get past the first question. I was so heartbroken I just went back to bed and cried for hours. I promised myself that night I would never give up on myself like that again. You will learn that the journey to becoming a lawyer can be a lonely one sometimes because there are not a lot of people that understand what you're going through or even how to support you. I have always been a type-A personality, always finding ways to control everything and be on top of whatever came my way. Taking the LSAT was my first real struggle with academics. I started going to therapy because it made me feel so unsure of myself. Depression became a real thing because I had deleted social media, I barely went out with my friends. Not to mention I gained 30 pounds while studying for this exam!! (It took me about a year to lose that weight!). I felt I had no choice but to dedicate all of my time to this test because I held myself to this unrealistic standard. I just had to have a 170, lol …. Once I learned to let go of the unrealistic goals and just put my best foot forward, I started to feel much better. All of the work I put into the test truly paid off, and it was taking that test was the start of a great year. So no, I don't regret going through what I went through.
This section is honestly for friends and family of those who are preparing for this test. I think it's essential that we treat academia the same way as we would treat a sporting event when
showing support to students preparing for any test. I remember feeling so good coming out of my exam, I was ready to get lit lol, but there was no one on campus that weekend to go out with me. (For some reason, all of my friends were in DC). I barely got any encouraging messages from my friends. My family was supportive, and they did try to be there for me throughout my journey. The sweetest done for me at school was by one of my closest friends, Loryn. (Shoutout to Loryn) She was also studying for the LSAT, so she understood and saw first the amount of work I had put in to take that test. Anyhoo she had snuck into my dorm room and left a bottle of wine and some snacks on my bed. That was the sweetest thing anyone had done for me, and it's a gesture I'll never forget. But honestly, I wanted someone tailgating while I was taking that test. Like, make it a party because honestly, I sacrificed so much even to make it to the test. I felt like I finished a marathon after walking out of that testing center. What's worse is that others feel like they deserve to know your score when they didn't help or encourage you along the way. Outside of my family, I refused to tell anyone my score because it was something that I had worked hard for; I had to motivate myself every day to keep going with no one else. I will eventually share with you legal baddies soon enough as I continue to take you on this journey with me because I want you all to stay motivated.
Last Piece of Advice
MIND YOUR BUSINESS!! I think it's important to say this. This is some advice that I got for a Duke Law Student while I was a fellow in summer 18'. (Shoutout to Amber). But Amber said that to us, and I'm passing it to you. Stepping into the legal world, you will find that you are being challenged left and right. It's essential to not worry about how others are doing because that's just another way to hold yourself back. Worry about yourself and work on ways to improve. Worrying about others only stops your bag!!! You are your only concern!
"Mind Your Business"