The digital LSAT is no longer a figment of the imagination—it’s here, and while it’s only the format that has changed (content has remained unchanged), it’s essential that you understand how to modify your LSAT study methods and testing strategies in order to achieve maximal success.
The phrase “practice-how-you-play” has never been more relevant, and that means it’s essential for you to include digital materials into your LSAT studying. The more you’re able to expose yourself to digital LSAT questions—the better. The LSAC provides a free digital LSAT familiarization tool on their website and it includes three official PrepTests: 71, 73, and 74. The digital LSAT familiarization tool exhibits the official digital LSAT format that you will encounter on test day, and it features all of the digital tools that you will have at your disposal. Be sure to do these specific exams using the familiarization tool, and if possible, use a tablet (iPad, Android, etc.) to mimic the test-day conditions, the digital LSAT is administered on a tablet.
Digital LSAT Tools
Using the tablet’s digital tools, you’ll be able to: underline text, highlight it (in pink, yellow, and orange), cross-out answer selections, flag questions, change the text size, adjust the screen brightness, and you’ll also have the option to display a section countdown timer.
Remember, just because you can underline and highlight text doesn’t mean you should. Being able to underline a conclusion and highlight its support can be useful, but don’t neglect traditional pen-on-paper methods when they’re applicable. Moreover, highlighting takes time, and while it is convenient to have multiple colored highlighters—highlighting isn’t a ‘reductionist’ method that breaks information down, and you might find traditional evidence tracking and diagramming methods on scrap paper to be more effective and ultimately less time-consuming overall.
The digital LSAT section countdown timer means you no longer need to wind back your analog clock hands. You will have the ability to display or hide the digital timer at your discretion. All LSAT students should get comfortable using a digital timer to track pace and section progression during their preparations. Just as a track-and-field runner knows their approximate elapsed time as they approach mile 5—you should learn to understand your pace and how to track your section progression in order to ensure you complete the LSAT as efficiently and as strategically as possible. Keep in mind, you must learn to walk before you can learn to run, and efficient question-timing on the LSAT is a by-product of learning and applying strategy correctly and efficiently.
15 Pages of Scrap
You won’t be able to diagram arguments, notate passages, or create logic game scenarios on the tablet—but, you will be given roughly 15 pages of double-sided scrap paper and an ink pen with a stylus on the end (compatible with the testing tablet). Don’t worry about running-out of scrap paper and don’t hesitate to use an entire side of a page to create scenarios or gameboards for each game or to track evidence in a reading comprehension passage. Even if you end up with a logic game or reading comprehension experimental section (and you use one-side of a page per game or passage)—you’ll still have roughly 9 pages of double-sided scrap paper at your disposal to use throughout the logical reasoning sections.
Benefits of the Digital LSAT
While there is somewhat of a learning curve for students that transition to the digital LSAT, students who are used to the paper-and-pencil exam will find the digital LSAT does come with its advantages. Specifically, no more “bubbling-in” answer selections as well as having the ability to “flag” questions. Putting this into perspective, if it takes a student roughly 5 seconds to find and bubble in an answer selection, that means a student spends roughly 125 seconds bubbling per section—leaving digital LSAT students with upwards of two minutes of additional test-taking time. Not having to bubble in answer selections eliminates the possibility of bubbling in the wrong answer selection, and subsequently makes it easier to change an answer selection (no more hectic erasing too). Flagging a question can also be extremely useful, you will have the ability to flag questions that you might want to return to later in the section. Moreover, on your screen you’ll notice a “bubble-bar” that tracks your section progression (answered and unanswered questions) and displays any flagged questions.
At the end of the day, the LSAT hasn’t changed—just its format has. It’s made some things slightly more complicated (diagramming, notating, etc.) and it’s also proved itself to be advantageous with regards to some key aspects. Future-LSAT students reading this should remember to incorporate digital preparations, learn to work on scrap paper, and should get acquainted and comfortable with the official testing format found on LSAC.org. Good luck!