Learning Science and the LSAT – Part 4: Spiraling


Manhattan Prep LSAT Blog: Learning Science and the LSAT - Part 4: Spiraling by Matt ShinnersLearning science has come a long way in recent years, and we’ve been learning with it. We incorporate the latest discoveries in learning science into our LSAT course to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of your prep. Want to see? Try the first session of any of our upcoming courses for free.

The LSAT is a hard test. No doubt about it. When well under 100 people out of 100,000 taking the test every year get a perfect score (with even fewer of those getting nothing wrong), you’ve succeeded in making a hard test.

But while the test overall is difficult, that doesn’t mean that each step of answering questions is (those in a class might recognize that conclusion as a whole-vs-part flaw). To me, the difficulty of the LSAT isn’t that it asks you to make huge, difficult leaps; it’s that it asks you to do a whole lot of small steps without making a mistake.

What learning science tells us is that, to master these small steps, you need to do a few things:

  • Distribute your practice over time
  • Repeat it enough that the strategies are ingrained in your long-term memory
  • Mix it up so that you practice picking and recalling a specific strategy as much as you practice the strategy itself

All of this leads to a principle of curriculum design referred to by many as a spiraled approach.

We’ve already talked about the power of forgetting, and why it’s important that you don’t just cram.

But spiraling throughout the curriculum is also important, as it reflects how you can best retain this information and how you should be studying.

For a test that’s very much about picking the right strategy and repeating it throughout a test when appropriate, it’s important to internalize these processes and learn when to apply them. That requires time, and it requires repeating the steps over the weeks and months leading up to the test.

And it’s when you’ve repeated these steps enough times – through practice, targeted drills, flash cards, and even Flash games – that the steps will come naturally to you. Each of those small tasks you need to do to answer the bigger question will be easier. Your cognitive load will be lessened for things like identifying question types and translating an “unless” statement.

And with that extra brainpower freed up, and the strategies at your disposal, you can tackle the harder, bigger questions that the LSAT presents, and find yourself in that upper tier of the score band. 📝

Don’t forget that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person LSAT courses absolutely free. We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.

Matt Shinners Manhattan Prep LSAT InstructorMatt Shinners is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in New York City. After receiving a degree in Biochemistry from Boston College, Matt scored a 180 on his LSAT and enrolled in Harvard Law School. There’s nothing that makes him happier than seeing his students receive the scores they want to get into the schools of their choice. Check out Matt’s upcoming LSAT courses here!

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