Using the LSAT for GMAT Verbal Mastery

My guess is that you want a shot at an impressive MBA program and that you’re ready to take some unconventional steps in order to improve your GMAT verbal score. How about using the questions from another test (the LSAT) in order to craft you into a GMAT destroyer. Most of my students end up working on LSAT tests (both of these did: a GMAT Tutor Resigns, Earning a Harvard GMAT) at some point in there GMAT preparation and so far I’ve seen great results from this work.

What’s the LSAT? The Law School Admission Test. Yep, if you want to be a lawyer then this is the test that you need to take. Lucky for us the LSAT has some sections that overlap with the GMAT, namely the Logical Reasoning and the Reading Comprehension. Here are some compelling reasons why LSAT practice is worth it.

The Official Guide is too easy (most of it)


There’s not a lot of official verbal practice for MBA hopefuls seeking 700+ GMAT scores. For example, the Official Guide has 124 critical reasoning questions. Let’s say 1/3 are easy, 1/3 are medium, and 1/3 are hard. That leaves about 40 hard Critical Reasoning questions to practice on. You could finish that in a weekend or might even get that done in a long afternoon. I know: Not quite the comprehensive GMAT preparation you were hoping for. Even when you lump in the verbal review, the question pack 1 software, and the GMAT Paper Tests you’re still left with a dearth of really difficult verbal questions (Wondering what all of these things are? Check out this breakdown on GMAT Books and Practice Materials). And if you actually want to practice a specific question type in the Critical Reasoning the numbers get far worse thinning out to the single digits.

Yes, there are non-official/third party GMAT verbal questions. But far too often I hear students say “my verbal score was great on the Insert Test Prep Company practice tests but then dropped like a stone on the real test”. LSAT questions provide higher quality practice than third party questions.

Logical Reasoning = Critical Reasoning

LSAT Logical Reasoning is almost the same as GMAT Critical Reasoning. Yes, some of the topics are a bit different, the passages are denser, and there are some different question types but: what is being tested is identical. Both of these gatekeepers reward the same critical thinking skill set. Ready to hone your GMAT verbal blade? There are thousands of LSAT Logical Reasoning questions waiting to be solved.

Reading Comprehension


The Reading Comprehension sections of the LSAT and the GMAT have the same format and for the most part cover the same array of topics. On the LSAT you will see some “legal” topics that probably wouldn’t pop up on the GMAT but let’s agree that the topic shouldn’t matter: You are reading for structure. There are hundreds of these LSAT RC passages ready to be systematically dismantled by you! Want some reading comprehension practice that might be a bit more interesting? Read the Economist every day! Here’s an article on using the Economist for improving GMAT reading comprehension.

LSAT for GMAT – Recommendations


Be careful with the LSAT work. It can be tough and demoralizing. When I assign LSAT to GMAT students I have to be careful about how much to assign, the timing of the sections, and what type of questions to omit all depending on that student’s profile. There is a subtlety to using this material but here are a few general guidelines to get you going in the right direction:

1. Ignore the timing on the LSAT. Go with GMAT per question timing.

2. Skip parallel reasoning questions.

3. If you are struggling with Critical Reasoning start out by doing only questions 1-15 of each Logical Reasoning section for the first couple of weeks so that you can get used to the material.

Be prepared for the worst


I always try to challenge my students with the toughest GMAT work possible so that when the real test comes the only surprise is the amazing score. Become adept at LSAT verbal you should have no surprises on any of your GMAT work. That said – this is going to be difficult. Take your time especially when you are starting out. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Take a look at the GMAT Study Schedule for organizational tips. Measure your progress not in days but in weeks and months. You hear this saying a lot: it takes time and effort with the stress on the effort. I already know that you are going to put a lot of effort into this project but let’s remember that it also takes time.