Has this ever happened to you? You’ve taken an LSAT practice test and reviewed the answers. And as you re-read the questions you got wrong, you notice some seemingly silly errors. Like, on a logic game, you quickly chose an answer that was a could be true, but the question asked what must be true. Or, you realize that you diagrammed a conditional statement on the logical reasoning section incorrectly because you diagrammed “the only” as a necessary condition. You might think, “How could I have been so careless?” Let’s tackle this problem once and for all. Here’s how to avoid careless errors on the LSAT.
Are “Careless” Errors Truly Careless?
Jed Applerouth writes about his experiences with SAT students making seemingly careless errors that turned out to be pretty consistent. Could this be the case for you? Maybe you haven’t realized yet that you often choose the could be true when the answer demanded a must be true. Maybe you’re having trouble narrowing down what it means for something to have to be true? There might be underlying skills or processes that you need to work on. Ultimately, Jed suggests that “the key to solving for ‘carelessness’ is actually to identify the gaps in the mental processes of the student.”
One of the easiest way to make an error is to read too quickly! Whether you’re feeling nervous or buckling under time-pressure, it’s easy to try to take shortcuts and read too fast. That is the main tension of the test. You could surely get a perfect score with unlimited time, but of course, you don’t have that. So what can you do? Have a realistic game plan to manage your timing. You’ll have a good timing strategy if you determine your best pacing strategy.
After you’ve figured your pacing strategy–have your plan and stick to it. Will you aim to finish the first ten questions in under ten minutes? Will you skip the most difficult questions to save time for the easier ones?
If you’re clear about how you’ll pace yourself and how many questions you can skip and still reach your goal score, you’ll have adequate time to read your questions. So then you can slow down and avoid taking the test frantically!
Don’t Rely On Your Memory
The next easiest way to make a careless mistake is the think you’re too great to write down rules or conditional statements! Yes, it isn’t feasible to write down everything in every section. You won’t have time to make extensive, detailed notes on every reading comprehension passage, for example. But truly, writing down information when necessary is one of the best ways to avoid careless errors on the LSAT.
So do you consistently diagram your master-gameboard and pieces in every logic game? Do you diagram complicated statements on the logical reasoning section? If not, you should start ASAP.
Be Prepared for Tricky Words
Finally, be prepared for the tricky vocabulary that the test-writers have prepared just to trip you up. At the simplest level, try to have your alarm bells ring when you see “except.” This is easy to skip over, in addition to phrases like “at least” or “at the same time or before.” If you practice and stay vigilant, you can catch these tricky words and avoid the errors they would’ve made you commit!
With these fundamental tips, you should be well prepared to avoid careless errors on the LSAT!