The LSAT is designed to evaluate skills that are vital for success in law school and ultimately for success as a practicing attorney. Reading comprehension questions test your ability to read, understand and analyze complex text. Logical reasoning questions require you to analyze and critically evaluate the reasoning and arguments of others. The analytical reasoning section evaluates your ability to take a set of facts and use deductive reasoning to make inferences. Furthermore, the LSAT tests your ability to accomplish all of these tasks quickly and efficiently. As you prepare for the LSAT it is important to be able to practice how to analyze and correctly answer each question type, but it is also important to practice doing so in the amount of time allotted. Therefore, timed practice tests are critical to your preparation and to receiving a good LSAT score.
Whether you take the February, June, October or December LSAT, the format is the same. The LSAT contains four scored sections, one unscored "experimental" section and an essay writing section. Each section is 35 minutes long. Of the scored sections, there are 2 Logical Reasoning sections with 24-26 questions each, giving you 1 minute and 20 seconds for each question. The Reading Comprehension section has 4 passages accompanied by five to seven questions per passage, for a total of 26-28 questions. The Analytical Reasoning (Logic Games) section has 4 "games," each accompanied by five to seven questions for each game, for a total of 23-24 questions. You have 8 minutes and 45 seconds to complete each of the 4 sections of the Reading Comprehension and 4 games of the Analytical Reasoning parts of the LSAT.
This does not mean, for example, that you must answer each Logical Reasoning question in exactly 1 minute, 20 seconds. Some questions will be easier for you to answer and will take less time. Other questions will take more time. The goal is that on average each question should take 1 minute, 20 seconds. If you end up spending 4 minutes on one tough LSAT Logical Reasoning question, you may find that you are unable to complete a few of the questions at the end of the test. Using a timer when you are answering practice questions will help you understand what it feels like to complete a question in approximately the right amount of time and what it feels like when you are on the verge of taking too much time. At that point you will know that it is time to "guess" and move on to the next question. Remember that on LSAT test day you will not be permitted to bring a timer into the LSAT test center. The only acceptable LSAT watch or time-keeping device that you can bring into the LSAT test locations is an analog watch. So practicing with a timer will help you get used to the time constraints even when you are not using a timer.
Another reason that a timer should be an integral part of your LSAT test preparation is that it is needed to simulate actual LSAT test conditions. Part of your preparation should be conditioning your mind and body so that they are able to handle the rigors of LSAT test day. Like any endurance activity, over time practice helps build stamina. Taking simulated LSATs throughout your preparation will help accomplish this. Use it to make sure that you take 35 minutes for each section and that you allow yourself only a 15 minute break after section 3. Also set your timer to give you a 5 minute warning before the end of each section, as the LSAT proctor will do on test day.
As you design your LSAT study schedule, it is important to plan to take 2-3 timed practice tests per week, along with completing daily practice questions. You will find as you progress through the 8-12 weeks of LSAT preparation that your score will steadily increase not only because you are getting fewer questions wrong on practice tests, but because you are completing more questions within the allotted timeframe