The fast pace of the LSAT makes the test fiendishly difficult. In fact, the LSAT is designed so that the average person cannot finish on time. Because time is scarce on the test, it is important to budget your time wisely.
Think about how you manage your time at school or at work. When you receive a slew of new assignments, you don’t just sit down and do them in the order you received them. If you find a task taking longer than expected, you don’t just let it take over your calendar.
Instead, you set a realistic schedule to get as much done as possible within the time you have. You prioritize each task based on how much time and energy you anticipate it will take, how much you like it and how important it is.
Likewise, time management on the LSAT means taking control of your time. If you find yourself falling short, don’t get frustrated and don’t just try to work faster. Work more strategically. Follow these tips to manage your time more proactively:
— Get the fundamentals right.
— Understand where your time goes.
— Do questions in the best order for you.
— Keep a steady pace.
Get the Fundamentals Right
When you are first studying for the LSAT, you may find unfamiliar terms and concepts daunting, like the variety of logical fallacies. You may be tempted to skim through the basics and get to the practice tests.
However, good technique is critical on the LSAT, as it is in other skill-based activities like swimming or fly-fishing. Study the fundamentals on your own, or with the help of a course or other test prep option. Then use untimed practice to build good habits and approach each type of question skillfully.
Understand Where Your Time Goes
Once you feel comfortable with each question type, move to timed practice to hone your timing. Pay attention to which types of questions, logic games or reading comprehension passages take you the most time regardless of their difficulty.
For example, on the logic games section, sometimes a question will ask you about the consequences if one of the game rules changed. These questions are not necessarily hard, but they often require setting up a new diagram of the game rules, which may not be worth the time and effort.
[Read: How to Set Up LSAT Logic Games.]
Do Questions in the Best Order for You
Remember that on the LSAT, every question is weighted equally and there is no penalty for wrong answers. It is better to guess than to leave an answer blank, and it is better to correctly answer two easy questions than one hard question.
Once you know what questions you find most difficult and most time-intensive, you know which are the lowest priority for you. Save them for last.
The digital LSAT makes it easier than ever to flag questions to revisit later. So if you start reading a logical reasoning question and realize it will take extra time or energy to complete, flag it and move on.
Logic games and reading comprehension passages are especially important to approach in the order you prefer. If certain kinds of passages or games turn you off, do them last. If you struggle to complete the whole section in time, focus on fully completing three games or passages rather than rushing through all four. Use any extra time to take educated guesses on questions you skipped.
Keep a Steady Pace
Test-takers often get questions wrong in clusters. They’ll get 10 questions in a row right, then miss two in close proximity. Why? Because pacing is critical on the LSAT. Being thrown off balance can result in careless errors.
[Read: What Is a Good LSAT Score?]
Moreover, whenever you feel lost, stressed and uncertain, you are liable to lose precious time and focus. That’s when test anxiety creeps up to distract you.
So whenever you notice yourself stuck on a question, take a guess, flag the question and move on. Whether or not the question was hard, it is more important to get back to a steady tempo and confident attitude.
The LSAT is a marathon, not a sprint. Rather than cutting corners or trying to speed up, pay attention to where your time is going and how to use it better. You will find improving your score to be just a matter of time.
More from U.S. News