[An updated version of this post can be found here: Future-focused blind review for LSAT]
Do you know how to blind review your LSAT practice tests? Or are you making any of these critical mistakes when reviewing practice questions?
- You review the questions you miss, but not the questions you get right–even if they were a guess.
- When checking your answers, you say to yourself, “Ah, that would have been my second choice.” And then you move on.
- You make an effort to understand the question you missed… but then miss a similar question on the next practice test.
Unfortunately, most LSAT students aren’t reviewing their practice tests and homework questions effectively. So resist the urge to focus on quantity rather than quality. It’s not about taking more tests or doing more drills.
Instead, work on developing the effective review habits I’ll show you in this post. Your score will thank you. (And so will your wallet, after you rake in that scholarship $$.)
A solid, growth-oriented blind review process is single-handedly the best thing you can do to raise your LSAT score.
The wrong way to review for LSAT
Let’s analyze how most students review an LSAT practice test:
They check their answers immediately, put red x’s on questions they miss, and maybe even circle the right answers. Then they tally up the score and are either happily surprised or disappointed that yet again they missed so many.
Maybe they’ll look back at the question and the right answer (which they already know, since they circled it). And mayyybe they’ll come away with a vague idea like “I need to trust my instinct” or “I suck at assumption questions.”
They may even figure out why the right answer is right. But they don’t actually LEARN enough from the question. They don’t learn how to approach future questions, because they aren’t actually forcing themselves to think through the question completely. After all, it’s easy to justify answer choice C when you already know C is right.
It’s much harder to figure out how to be crystal clear on what the right answer is if you don’t know it in advance–or if you don’t even know whether your original instinct was right or wrong. But that’s exactly what we need to be able to do. The LSAT is a critical thinking test. And so we need to put a lot of hard work into developing your ability to think through the questions.
A better review process relies on blind review. That is, you initially review questions without knowing whether you missed them or not, without knowing what the right answer is. This forces you to think deeply about the question, noticing the argument structure and the distinct wording that makes one of the answers unequivocally right and the other four completely, utterly wrong. By practicing this deep thinking, you’ll develop your accuracy on future questions. (Don’t worry. Speed will come naturally as you keep honing your accuracy.)
How to blind review LSAT timed practice tests
(Keep reading below for a step-by-step blind review process for untimed LSAT practice.)
I realize that it is sooo tempting to check your answers as soon as you finish a practice test or problem set. The blind review process I recommend to my students acknowledges that temptation, but keeps you as blind as possible throughout most of the review process.
Side note: This is the review process I honed while prepping for my own LSAT too. It worked to land me a 177, and has helped my students see some massive increases as well.
Side note #2: If you want an easy way to keep track of your review, check out the LSAT Practice Test Review Guide I created. It will walk you through the steps and will ensure that you are getting as much as possible out of each question and each test you review.
Step 1: Mark questions for later review while taking the practice test.
As you go through your practice test, circle, flag, or jot down question numbers for any questions you aren’t 100% sure about. These are the questions you’ll be taking extra care to review later.
Rationale: You want to mark these while taking the test so you don’t forget which questions you had doubts about. This also ensures you’re marking them before you know if you got them right.
Step 2: Go ahead. Get your score.
After all, you’re probably going to want to do this anyway. I’m giving you permission. BUT do it as blindly as possible. If you did the test digitally, look ONLY at your final score. Don’t look at how you did in RC versus LG or whether you got question 17 in section 4 right. If you did the test on paper, calculate your score manually by tallying up HOW MANY questions you missed. Don’t write down which questions they were.
Rationale: By just noting your overall score, you’re not priming yourself during the rest of the review process. You’ll have no idea whether the questions you noted in step 1 are actually right or wrong–just that you weren’t 100% sure.
Step 3: Work back through each of the questions you circled.
Here’s where the bulk of the review takes place.
For Logical Reasoning & Reading Comp:
- Reread the stimulus or reading passage. Is there anything you didn’t notice or pay enough attention to before?
- Reread the answers. Do you still agree with your initial answer? Is there particular wording that makes you want to change your answer? Look for solid, 100% certain reasons for your answer.
- Commit to an answer (either your original answer or a new one) and record it.
- Make notes about what you’re noticing.
For Logic Games:
- Reread the rules and double-check your set up. Were there any rules you misread? Any major deductions you didn’t notice before?
- Rework any questions you weren’t sure about. Did you get the same answer as before? If you used brute force by testing out all the answers one by one before, is there a more efficient way to get to the answer?
- Commit to an answer (either your original answer or a new one) and record it.
- Make notes about any of your insights.
Rationale: By working through the question blindly without time pressure, you’re giving yourself another chance to notice exactly what the question hinges on, which helps develop your critical thinking skills. Committing to an answer prevents you from being too easy on yourself in step 4.
Step 4: Rescore your test.
Score your test again, this time using your new answers for any questions you may have changed. This score will likely be higher than your previous score. We’ll analyze the discrepancy later.
Step 5: Analyze question by question for takeaways.
Now it’s time to go back through each question and figure out what really happened. You finally have permission to continuously refer to the answer key here!
- If you had the right answer originally and kept it → Congrats! Be sure to record what helped you be more sure the second time through.
- If you had the wrong answer originally and changed it to the right answer → Congrats! You likely spotted something the second time through that you didn’t notice at first. Write down what to watch for in the future.
- If you had the right answer originally and changed it → Chances are you didn’t choose the right answer for the right reason originally, and still weren’t spotting quite the right things the second time through. Find an explanation online for the question, and create a takeaway that will help you with similar questions in the future.
- If you had the wrong answer originally and changed it to another wrong answer → This is another opportunity for growth since it looks like there’s something you are still unclear on. Find an explanation online for the question and/or read through general strategies for that question type. Create a takeaway summarizing what you learned.
Rationale: This step is designed to make your review future-focused. After all, your review on each test is only worthwhile to the extent that it helps you on the next one.
Looking for a way to stay organized with all of this information? Check out my LSAT Practice Test Review Guide, available on Amazon.
Step 6: Reflect and plan.
Each practice test is a stepping stone to the next, all the way up until test day. So in this stage, we’ll figure out what your next steps are.
Take some time to think through these questions:
- What sections or question types came up the most in your review?
- How different were your first and second scores? Would you attribute the difference purely to time pressure, or were nerves, focus, time of day, or carelessness also factors?
- What takeaways came up repeatedly in your review?
Based on your reflections, come up with 2-3 section-level or test-level takeaways or next steps. These could be things like:
- Review strategies for strengthen questions and drill them.
- Don’t start practice tests at 11pm. ← Word for word one of the takeaways I created for myself after a late-night practice test I bombed after I literally dozed off in one section…
- Practice keeping calm when time is running out. Do the best you can on the questions remaining, then guess!
Rationale: It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture, so this step forces you to look more holistically at your performance for trends or mindset issues that may be holding you back.
Modification for how to blind review LSAT homework
Say you’re drilling assumption questions or grouping games. You’ll want to modify the review process listed above. I recommend checking your work after every game/reading passage or every 5 LR questions. You’ll likely remember that you got questions 2 and 3 wrong, but do your best not to instantly memorize what the right answers are. Enlist the help of a friend if you must.
The rest of your review process can follow the same steps as above. At the end of your study session, write down 2-3 key points you learned.
Good blind review takes time
At this point, you are probably wondering how to blind review an entire LSAT practice test without it taking a really long time. Here’s the deal: It will always take a long time, but it’s totally worth it.
In fact, it will almost always take longer than it took you to take the test originally. Still totally worth it, since this is where the actual learning takes place.
Let’s use weight loss as an analogy. An LSAT practice test is like stepping on the scale to see how close you are to your goal. The actual progress, however, comes from the hours of exercise you put in between weighings.
I’m no sports expert, but we can also consider the LSAT to be like an NFL game. Afterward, a player may watch and rewatch key plays from multiple camera angles, figuring out exactly what went wrong and how he needs to improve. This thorough review takes far longer than the seconds that the original play actually took. But it’s an essential step in making sure the same mistake doesn’t happen again.
A Motivational Push
Now that you know how to blind review your LSAT practice tests, it’s time to put it into action. Go tackle a section or a full-length test, and try out the review process. Don’t forget to check out my LSAT Practice Test Review Guide or make a copy of the free Error Log spreadsheet. And send me a message to share the most valuable takeaway you gained from your review.
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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