The LSAT is the work of the devil. If you have never had the pain of reading args or searched every corner of your brain for a way to solve the impossible logic game in front of you, I envy you. The thing about the LSAT is that while it isn't a list of facts you can memorize, the way of thinking for the test can be learned. One of the questions I get all the time is "How did you do it?!" It actually boils down to a pretty simple method that anyone can do, and doesn't require thousands of dollars in prep courses or books with crazy methods.
Set aside the time
You cannot study for a week and get a 175 on the LSAT (if you did this I need your contact info so I can work on cloning your brain). I personally studied for three and a half months. This amount of time worked for me because it was long enough to improve, but not so long that I stressed myself to death. You know your learning speed better than anyone, so really think about how much time you are going to need. Consider your schedule as well- if you work every day you will need longer to accommodate for shorter studying times.
Buy the materials
Obviously you aren't going to learn the LSAT without any assistance. There are a ton of books on the market, but it's important to remember they all teach the same thing in one way or another. I recommend buying one instructional book that is very basic ( I used Cracking the LSAT from Princeton Review). While it's great to have books that lay out specific methods, I soon adjusted to find what worked for me. Even the basic diagramming in Cracking the LSAT had to be adjusted to make sense to me- and that's OK! There is no need to spend a ton of money on fifteen different methods just to realize you are going to use your own.
You will also need as many practice tests as you can get. LSAC puts out old tests every year and they are your ticket to success. I used the four most recent collections of ten. That's forty LSATs. You want to be sure that you are getting the most recent ones you can- the LSAT evolves over time and the newer the test the more it will resemble your actual LSAT. If you can only afford one make sure to get the most recent since it will be the most helpful.
Take a diagnostic
Some people say they don't see the point in this. These people must be blind. Taking a diagnostic shows you what you are already good at and what you need to spend the most time on to improve. Personally I saw that I was better at args than expected. Because I took a diagnostic I knew that I needed to spend more time on logic games (Satan's games) and was able to plan accordingly. If at all possible try to find a free test online that you don't already own so as not to waste precious resources. I used the one available on LSAC. Make sure to time yourself and simulate testing conditions- anyone can get in the 170s if they take ten hours.
Make a plan
Now that you have your time set aside, a jumping off point, and the materials you need it's time to set a plan. I set aside one week to conquer Cracking the LSAT. I went through a different part every day and worked on mastering basic skills, like diagramming or identifying the flaw in reasoning. After that I took another diagnostic. You will be shocked how much your score improves just from learning the basics!
After that I divided the LSAT prep tests up so as to take roughly two a week for three months, then four a week for two weeks, then one every day for a week. I bought a huge wall calendar, scheduled the tests, and hung it by my desk. Sticking to the schedule is key here. Remember to schedule days off too! Overloading yourself will kill your brain and actually make your scores decrease. The three days before the actual test I did no prep work and I definitely think it helped keep my brain clear.
Reviewing the tests
If you just take tests and do nothing with them you will get no where. I used the blind review method. It is absolutely genius. Basically you take the test and as you go circle any questions you are unsure about. Then when you're done DO NOT SCORE YOUR TEST. I repeat DO NOT SCORE YOUR TEST. (You will be tempted. Don't shoot yourself in the foot and throw all your hard work out with no gain. You will get to score it eventually.) Get another answer sheet and go back through the test and focus on the questions you didn't have time to answer or circled. Take all the time you need. It is OK if these answers are different than your originals. Once this is done you can score your original test. Then score the answers from your untimed attempt.
The point of this method is to show you WHY you are getting questions wrong. Did you miss the question under pressure but get the right answer when you had time to work it out? It's a timing issue. Did you miss the question on both sets? You don't know the process or concept- time to review and rework. Did you get the question right the first time and then miss it once you thought too hard? Time to work on your confidence. Once you know WHY you are missing questions you can fix the underlying problem. This will boost your scores, promise.
A more detailed overview of the blind review method can be found HERE.
This is the layout of what I did. Was it time consuming? Yes. Was it stressful? You have no idea. But when I walked into the LSAT I knew I was prepared and had done the most I could.
How did you prepare for the LSAT? What do you wish you had done differently?