Welcome to the latest installment of Law Admissions Q&A, a feature that provides law school admissions advice to readers who send in inquiries. If you have a question about law school admissions, email us for a chance to be featured in a future post.
HI! I had a quick question about mobile apps for LSAT prep. Which ones do you suggest? Thanks so much! — CJ
Less than a year after the LSAT went digital, the COVID-19 pandemic began pushing LSAT prep largely online. Applicants weighing test preparation options now have to think about which methods will allow them to study safely and practice social distancing. In-person classes and tutoring are out; virtual courses and resources are in. Smartphone applications seem like the next step.
However, LSAT questions are not exactly mobile-friendly. Doing practice sections on a smartphone could encourage bad habits of mind as well as body if you tend to crane your neck!
The Risks of Smartphone-Based LSAT Practice
The experience of taking a tablet-based test can’t be reproduced on a smartphone. Hand-drawn diagrams and annotation are essential for logic games and reading comprehension questions and helpful for many logical reasoning questions, particularly those involving causal, conditional and formal reasoning. Test-takers also sometimes need to refer back to work on past questions and to approach questions out of order using strategic flagging.
More importantly, smartphones are designed to captivate attention through novelty and distraction. Some psychological studies show that having a smartphone in hand primes the brain to seek instant gratification from rapid-fire actions like scrolling, clicking and skimming. Most humans lack the willpower to focus on a brain-straining task like a tough LSAT problem on a device routinely used to check email, browse social media and read irresistible articles on Law Admissions Lowdown.
Still, there are plenty of apps on the market that can supplement regular, methodical LSAT practice, or help keep your skills sharp while you’re waiting in line.
Distraction blocking. Perhaps most useful are apps designed to block distraction, like RescueTime, Offtime, Freedom, and Cold Turkey. Cold Turkey has a free option while Offtime is free for Androids but costs for iPhones. RescueTime and Freedom follow a “freemium” model with free basic trial versions that allow users to later pay to continue, upgrade and access more features.
Such apps can make it harder to “cheat” and fall back into old habits than built-in smartphone features like airplane mode, app time limits for iOS or focus mode on Androids.
Habit building. Regular practice is critical to building LSAT skills. Without fixed blocks of time dedicated to LSAT practice each week, other priorities will take precedence, setting behind your long-term study plan.
Most calendar apps allow users to schedule recurring practice sessions, but Clockify and Plan are apps that make it easier to create and track time blocks. Both offer free versions. Habit trackers like EveryDay and Momentum, which also have free options, can help you hold yourself accountable to your study schedule.
Robotic proctoring. When taking practice LSATs, combine distraction blockers with a timekeeping app like TestMax Exam Proctor or 180 Timer, both free apps preprogrammed with LSAT time limits. They even include options to simulate live test conditions like five-minute warnings and ambient noise.
Skill building through spaced repetition. While memorization plays a smaller role on the LSAT than other standardized tests, there are some concepts that test-takers should know cold, like diagramming conditional reasoning and recognizing words frequently used to make logical arguments. The free Magoosh LSAT app, for example, is a nice way to familiarize yourself with such terms and concepts using flashcard features.
Full courses. Many test prep companies offer apps that deliver resources common to online courses like drills, practice tests, lectures, video explanations of answers, and analytics to track progress. 7Sage LSAT Prep stands out for its free availability, despite its limited features. LSATMax and LSAT Demon offer app-centered courses and free trial versions while Blueprint has a particularly strong paid app.
Nevertheless, many users may find it easier to make the most of courses on larger-format devices like laptops or tablets.
While no app holds the key to a perfect 180 on the LSAT, some of these apps may help turn your smartphone from a shiny box of distractions into a tool to reinforce your study habits and keep your LSAT prep on track until test day.
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