Everybody who has ever come near the LSAT has probably at least considered the “how long will I have to study for the LSAT?” question, and there’s a lot of different ways to answer it, because everyone brings some different needs to the table.
Let’s come at the question by looking at what is true for most students staring down the LSAT: some tried-and-true pieces of advice that have worked well for the many students I have taught. You will be well served by planning in advance and getting your non-LSAT schedule prepared for your preparation hours.
First of all, let’s talk bare minimum: 120 hours worth of preparation to get pretty well-acquainted with the test in general. The key word here is “minimum.” If you are looking for a massive score increase or want to spend more time diving into test skills according to your needs, this should not be your “hours goal”.
I recommend that most students look to spend 150-300 hours studying for the LSAT; that’s a healthy range over a 2-3 month period at around 20-25 hours per week, which is a standard amount for most students. Keep in mind that those hours include any classes or private tutoring sessions you might be using– if you are self-preparing, you should nudge toward the higher end of that time recommendation, because you will have to do more of the analyzation and organization of material yourself.
There are, of course, people that start six months or a year in advance; for most people, this is unnecessary, and can even lead to some burn out if you are pushing yourself too hard for too long. If you know that you have a crazy schedule with a lot of commitments, however, you may want to examine whether a longer timeline would work out.
If you only have 10 hours a week to spend preparing, you may want to start a lot earlier than someone with more free time. The rule of thumb is to balance how long preparing for the LSAT impacts your life (because it will thoroughly disrupt your day-in and day-out existence) while still committing to enough studying, which will be a little bit different for each person.
The first thing you need to do is take a practice test and see where you are scoring right now, followed by some research into what kinds of scores the schools you are interested in are accepting. Set a goal score, and do some LSAT preparation exploration: will you prepare on your own or with a class or tutor, on site or online, interactive or on demand? Figure out what kind of prep will work best for you and your schedule. Then take a blank calendar and fill in all of your current obligations; get an idea of how much time you really have to spend on the LSAT, and be realistic. That’s when you can set a test date, and weekly schedules for studying, taking into consideration both time and how dramatic your score goal is in comparison with your first test.
As always, we are here to help; talk to us in the comments, ask some questions, or feel free to reach out on Facebook or Twitter. You can do this! Planning will make it that much easier.