Whether you are self-studying or taking an LSAT course, it’s going to be tough to succeed if you have trouble sticking to a plan for your studies. And sure, life can get in the way sometimes, but even when nothing is actively preventing us from getting down to work, we sometimes struggle to follow through with our plans. Creating a system for accountability in your LSAT prep is therefore vital.
Why LSAT students struggle with follow-through
Our struggle to hold ourselves accountable might stem from a number of issues, although our judgmental selves might jump to the conclusion that it’s just that we’re “lazy” or “unmotivated.” In my experience, though, that’s usually not the reason LSAT students fall off from their study plan.
Most students don’t have the luxury of JUST studying the LSAT. Many of you are attending school and/or working. Many also have significant family obligations. These other obligations can interfere with our ability to follow through with what we planned to accomplish in our LSAT prep.
The trick is to carve out time in your day for the LSAT as well. Making LSAT prep a priority doesn’t mean everything else becomes less important. It just means that because the LSAT is important too, you’ll invest energy into making sure you can fit in some LSAT prep on a regular basis. Before work. During your lunch break. Before the kids wake up. Whatever works in your situation.
Uncertainty about what to do
Students also have a hard time sticking to their LSAT study plan if they aren’t sure whether they are setting the right goals. This is common when students are just getting started and are feeling completely overwhelmed by all the material and advice out there.
But it can also strike students who have been prepping for a while. In recent conversations I’ve had with students, uncertainty has led to problems with follow-through when students are trying to juggle multiple study resources and don’t know which one they should be using when. Or when students get “behind” on a pre-made study plan and don’t know how to adjust. Overwhelm leads to avoidance, and the next week’s goals don’t get accomplished either.
The solution here is guidance. Talk with someone you trust to give you solid advice about what you should be working on. (If you’d like to talk with me, schedule a no-strings-attached free consultation call.)
Discouragement or burnout
The LSAT can be a psychologically brutal exam, and it’s common to feel discouraged or defeated at some stage in the process. After all, you are learning to think better, and that’s hard work!
And the longer you spend in this discouraged state, the more susceptible you are to the symptoms of burnout: loss of motivation, stagnating or even decreasing test scores, and a general antipathy toward the LSAT.
Here, the trick is to actively work to encourage yourself or to develop a support network that can give you the pep talk you need.
Especially when students use pre-made study plans that don’t take into account any other priorities you may have, unreasonable expectations can lead to overwhelm and therefore to avoidance.
Some study plans are notoriously overly intense. 7sage, for example, often auto-generates a study schedule asking students to prep for 50+ hours a week. I’ve even seen it suggest 80 hours a week! No one should be studying that much. Not only are there diminishing returns after a certain point, but the burnout from following a plan like this would likely negate whatever progress you might make.
The solution here is to give your study plan a reality check. For a week, keep track of how much time it took you to read that Powerscore chapter or to do that LG section review. That information should help you create a more reasonable study plan next time.
Lack of an adequate support network
Another time students sometimes struggle with follow-through is when they don’t have enough of a support network. If your family doesn’t support your dream of becoming a lawyer, they aren’t going to be the best people to help you when you feel discouraged about the LSAT. Or perhaps your spouse just doesn’t realize that the support you need is a couple of child-free hours each day on the weekend so that you can get some high-quality practice time in.
Sometimes you can address this issue simply by letting the people around you know how they can best support you. Other times, you need to be more proactive about surrounding yourself with supportive people. Find others who are prepping for the LSAT, and support each other.
How an accountability system can help
So, those were a lot of reasons why you may find it difficult at times to follow through with your LSAT study plan. My intent here was not to discourage you though! Once you know what’s holding you back, you can take steps to address those issues.
Having an accountability system can be one of those steps.
The problem with accountability partners
We’re more used to talking about an accountability partner – someone you share your goals with and who checks in with you to make sure you are sticking to those goals. But a couple of problems usually arise.
First, it can be hard to find the right accountability partner. You often need someone who is just as committed to you reaching your goal as you are. Personality fit is also important. If you don’t have someone like that in your immediate circle, it can be hit or miss to try to find that person on social media or among your acquaintances.
Second, accountability partnerships can be difficult to sustain. The very nature of accountability partners suggests that there is some issue with follow-through. If your accountability partner doesn’t follow through with their commitment to check in with you, it’s easy for the arrangement to fade away.
What is an accountability system?
An accountability system, on the other hand, shifts the focus to the structure of the accountability relationship rather than just assuming that once you’ve found your accountability partner, the rest will automatically work out. You’ll still need the accountability partner or group, but the system part of it is about defining a clear structure for the relationship.
When and how often will you check in with each other? How? What happens when you can’t check-in or forget to? What reminders can you set? Do you need your accountability partner to be compassionate, encouraging, and nurturing? Or do you need someone to “tell it as it is” and give you the kick in the pants you need?
If you can make sure you’re on the same page with these things and can put a system in place for your check-ins, you’ll do a better job of sustaining the relationship and benefitting from the accountability.
And I know from personal experience that this kind of solid accountability relationship can be life-changing.
Over my years as an LSAT tutor, I’ve noticed that self-study LSAT students tend to struggle with accountability, direction, or both. So after talking with students about what they need, I’m excited to announce that I’ll be opening an LSAT Accountability and Student Support Group!
The group will consist of the following:
- Weekly accountability calls, consisting of progress check-ins, advice and mini-lessons about effective self-study, goal setting for the next week, and Q&A
- Weekly office hours where you can ask for advice, whether general advice about your study plan or specific advice about test questions
- Assistance setting up student-led study sessions, along with advice about how to make the sessions most productive
- A network of other motivated LSAT students
- If you join for a month or more: a free copy of the LSAT Study Planner – my 6-month customizable study planner to schedule your study sessions and track your progress
- My goal is also to start offering LSAT workshops in this group as soon as it becomes logistically feasible to do so
I sincerely hope you’ll consider joining us!