How many LSAT study hours should you be doing each day? 10 hours a day? 5-6 hours, 7 days a week? Or maybe you know that’s not sustainable, so…. 1 hour a few times a week? 20 minutes a day?

None of these are ideal. Too much, and you’ll easily face LSAT burnout. Too little, and you won’t make progress.

Ideal LSAT Study Hours

The best way to set your LSAT study hours is to take a nice Goldilocks approach: not too much, but not too little. Generally speaking, 2-4 hours a day, with a day or two off each week, is a good, sustainable pace that will still lead to solid progress on the exam.

But if you have other things going on, like full-time schoolwork, a full-time job, children, a chronic illness, or any number of complex life circumstances, you’ll likely need to cut yourself a little slack and find the LSAT study hours that work for you. Here are some suggestions for busy students, and here are some suggestions for students experiencing some major life event that is (rightly) getting in the way of studying, such as the loss of a loved one, a move, a job change, a major life event, etc.

Over the years, I’ve written plenty of articles about LSAT studying:

I’ve created the LSAT Study Planner and more recently these LSAT Study Notes to support students as they study. So many resources about how to fill those LSAT study hours.

So here, let’s talk about NOT studying. About taking breaks.

Why You Need Study Breaks

It is so tempting to focus on the importance of an exam like the LSAT and to think that if you’re not going 200% all the time, then you’re not doing it right. You’ll hear stories of students who are studying 8 hours a day, and that might make you feel like you’re a failure for only studying 2 hours. And for taking days off here and there.

But here’s the thing. Studying super aggressively isn’t always productive. It’s really hard to stay focused for that amount of time, and it’s easy to get completely burnt out by a schedule like that.

So if you need permission to take a break, here are some solid reasons you can use to feel GOOD about your decision to put down the books for a while:

Prevents Mental Fatigue

Continuous studying without breaks can lead to mental fatigue, making it harder to retain information and stay focused. Short breaks can help prevent this by giving your brain a chance to rest and recharge. When you return to studying after a break, you’re more likely to absorb information effectively and maintain a higher level of concentration. You can therefore improve your overall study efficiency by not running yourself ragged.

Enhances Memory and Automaticity

Research suggests that taking breaks can aid in memory. Especially when you are learning a skill (rather than facts), resting gives your brain the chance to “replay” what you’ve learned. It’s counterintuitive, but you’ll actually build automaticity faster by allowing yourself to take breaks between repetitions of a new skill.

Improves Creativity

Breaks can help solidify your understanding by allowing you the opportunity to see connections between different topics. Research suggests that we problem-solve more creatively after a break. It’s why we get all those great ideas in the shower.

Of course, the LSAT is a logical test, not a creative exercise. Some question types, like paradox questions, do involve a degree of creative thinking, but for the most part, you don’t want to get too creative. HOWEVER, creativity can also involve things like seeing the connection between Necessary Assumption questions and Must Be True questions, or thinking of a process you can implement to maximize your accuracy even when you are running out of time in a section.

Reduces Stress

It goes without saying that studying for the LSAT can be stressful. Regular breaks can help manage stress levels, keeping you more relaxed and better positioned to tackle challenging material.

Not only is that a more pleasant way to live, but it can also translate into extra points on the LSAT since no one performs their best when they take a test under extreme stress.

Promotes Healthy Study Habits

Taking breaks encourages a healthier approach to studying, helping you balance intense focus with necessary rest. It allows you to treat yourself like a human, not a robot. You’re showing yourself kindness – the same kindness that you would show anyone else who decides to take occasional breaks instead of running themselves into the ground.

This self-compassion prevents burnout, allowing you to study more sustainably for the LSAT.

Prepares you for Law School

If you work now on developing a good system for balancing studying and taking breaks, you’ll also be much better prepared for the demands of law school. You’ll have a system you can draw on to make sure you work hard and get everything done – but without sacrificing your mental health in the process.

How to Take Effective Breaks:

  • Timing: Follow the Pomodoro Technique or a similar method, studying for 25-50 minutes followed by a 5-10 minute break. This cycle helps maintain a healthy balance between work and rest.

  • Activity: During breaks, engage in activities that are distinctly different from studying to help mentally disconnect. This could be taking a short walk, stretching, meditating, or getting a quick snack. Don’t “take a break from LR” by studying RC instead. Even listening to an LSAT podcast isn’t a real break.

  • Environment: If possible, change your environment during breaks. Stepping away from your study area can help signal to your brain that it’s time to relax.

  • End your break: Be mindful of activities that might extend your break time unnecessarily, such as social media or TV. These can make it harder to return to studying. And beware the tendency to say things like “I’ll start studying again at 2pm. Oh whoops, it’s 2:02. Guess I have to wait until 3pm now…”

This post may contain an affiliate link or a referral link. For more information, please see my disclosure here.

LSAT Notes

If this post resonated with you, I’d love to stay in touch. About once a week, in the form of an email newsletter, I share useful strategies and insights I’ve picked up during my years teaching the LSAT. “LSAT Notes” you can use to study more effectively and raise your score.

Often these are inspired by breakthroughs my students had that week. Other times, they respond to questions students like you have. My goal is to provide motivation and encouragement along with knowledge about the test and advice about how to study.

Learn more about it here, or to subscribe, simply fill in the form below.


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