So you want to get a perfect score on the LSAT. Who doesn’t? As you might imagine, however, it is incredibly difficult.
The exact number of people who accomplish this feat is difficult to determine from available data. Roughly 150,000 LSATs are taken each year, though that number changes every year and many of those tests are taken by people retaking the test–hence the difficulty in calculating exact numbers. A 180 is usually classified as a 99.97 percentile score, depending on that particular LSAT administration’s raw score conversion scale, which adds another complication in figuring out exact numbers.
In any event, it’s safe to say that no more than 200 people get a perfect score on the LSAT in any given year.
Read More: What Did Elle Woods Get on the LSAT?
Keep in mind, though, that a 180 “perfect score” is not necessarily “perfect.” Each LSAT consists of 100 or 101 questions (although some LSATs have included up to 103 questions). A student can miss 1 or 2 questions—and in some cases 3 questions—and still obtain a 180 score.
So, without further ado, here are 8 tips that will help you get a 180 on the LSAT:
1. Allow enough time to study
To determine how much time you need to study for a perfect 180 on the LSAT, take a practice test with no preparation whatsoever (a free LSAT practice test can be found here). If you score above 170, you may need only one or two months of preparation. If your score is 160-169, you should reserve three months. If, like most people, your diagnostic score is 140-159, you should spend at least four months studying to have a shot at a 180 on the LSAT. If your diagnostic score is below 140, plan to spend six months or more studying.
The LSAT is not a test you can cram for. There are no vocabulary words or math equations to simply memorize with flashcards. In fact, everything you need to answer any question on the test is given to you. The LSAT tests are not about how much you know, but rather how well you think. And learning a new way of thinking takes time and should not be rushed.
2. Study collaboratively
Self-studying with books and online materials is certainly a good way to improve one’s LSAT score. However, those reaching for a perfect score benefit tremendously from a more collaborative approach. Collaborative discussion and exchange of ideas are really the ticket to LSAT mastery.
A good private tutor can provide this. Being able to hash out issues with someone who really knows the test is a great way to master the concepts and methods required for that elusive 180.
An in-person or live online course can also provide a beneficial atmosphere. As long as you can, and do, ask questions and interact with the instructor, you will be better off than studying alone.
At the very least, seek out or create your own social media groups designed to share and collectively analyze tough questions. It’s a win-win; If your study-mates are smarter than you, then you learn from their approaches. If they aren’t as bright as you then you benefit from thinking through and actually vocalizing explanations in detail.
3. Set a study schedule
Many students begin their LSAT studies with intense vigor, then burn out just at the moment they should be ramping up. To avoid this pitfall, predetermine which days and which hours you’ll devote to which tasks. To get a 180 on the LSAT, aim for at least 20 hours of study per week.
There are several good study schedules available online which you can and should customize to your particular circumstances. I like lawschooli’s study plans, available for about $20 each. There are also free study plans available with a little searching. In any event, create a plan and stick to it. A plan is crucial for success on the LSAT.
4. Take official LSATs, timed, in real conditions
Unlike many other standardized tests, there are several dozen past LSATs available for purchase via the LSAC (the organization that administers the LSAT).
Take prep tests in realistic atmospheres. Don’t sit in your favorite chair in your familiar surroundings. Go take a practice test at a clattering cafe or at a library with puritanical wooden seats. You never know if the person sitting next to you during your test will have the sniffles, or if the clock in the room will tick loudly, or if the proctor will be clacking away at a laptop. Practice with these minor distractions. To get a 180 on the LSAT, you must be prepared for anything.
5. Keep track of your problem areas and progress
Top scorers don’t simply keep track of how many questions they got wrong on a particular section. Instead, they track whether their wrong answers were, for example, in the first half or the second half of the section; whether they were mostly parallel or inference questions; whether they were rule substitution questions in the games section, or whether they were science passages or law-related passages. Do not blindly do one practice test after another without analyzing your shifting competence along the way.
6. Train for speed on the easier questions
Practice quickly answering the relatively easy questions so that you have more time to ponder the difficult ones. In Logical Reasoning, “main point” questions and those asking for the “role” played by a specific sentence should be completed in less than 30 seconds. In Games, gain valuable time by aiming to complete any list/elimination questions (“which of the following is a complete and accurate list…”) in under 30 seconds. In Reading Comprehension, knock out those main point questions in under a minute. You’ll certainly encounter questions that require deep thinking, and having a nice bank of time allows you to calmly give them the dedication these tests demand.
7. Don’t neglect the rare question and game types
Most students, understandably and wisely, focus on the questions and game types they are most likely to encounter on the test. But you, dear reader, should strive to be better than most students. To get a 180 on the LSAT, you need to know how to approach every question and game type–even the ones that rarely come up.
In the Games section, this means mastery of circular games, pattern games, and mapping games. In Logical Reasoning, this means knowing how to diagram and manipulate quantitative logic (e.g. “some As are Bs” and “most Bs are not Cs”), how to approach and evaluate the argument questions, parallel principle questions, and “cannot be true” questions. In Reading Comprehension, pay special attention to the uncommon questions that ask you to choose an appropriate passage title, or ask you to contemplate which sentence would most logically start a hypothetical next paragraph.
8. Study the wrong answers
The absolute biggest mistake I see among students who can’t break through a stalled score is a tendency to figure out why the right answer is right, then perfunctorily move on. A 180 scorer can explain not only why the right answer is right, but also why the wrong answers are wrong. To score a 180 on the LSAT, you must give equal consideration to the wrong answers.
Become a mock LSAT tutor and think about how you would explain a wrong answer’s faults to a confused student. Once you can comfortably and confidently do that, you’re well on your way to a top score.
Follow these suggestions and you’ll be well on your way to that perfect 180 LSAT score. Good luck and happy studies!