5 Ways to Balance LSAT Prep with College Classes

If you have a full college courseload and social life, it’s probably hard to balance the two already. Add studying for the LSAT to the mix, and you may feel overwhelmed. This post gives you 5 ways to balance studying for the LSAT (or GRE, GMAT, MCAT, etc.) with school and life obligations. I’ll speak about the LSAT in this article, but just apply my advice to your relevant exam.

1. Start your LSAT prep early.
It’s much easier to do a little bit each week over the course of several weeks than to cram all your studying at once. It’s less stressful, and it won’t detract as much from schoolwork or your social life. Plan ahead and treat the LSAT as if it were another college class, and study for it over the course of the semester. You may also choose to take a class at an online university if you learn better with instruction.

2. Fit in studying wherever you can.
Doing an LSAT Logic Game or a couple of Logical Reasoning questions between classes can keep you in the LSAT mind-set even if you’re not studying for a few hours each day.

3. Set aside specific days and times each week to study.
This will ensure that a few weeks or months don’t go by while your LSAT prep books gather dust in the corner. Create a study schedule and stick to it.

4. Stay off AIM, Facebook, and Gmail, and close your laptop.
I know computers and Internet are ubiquitous on college campuses, especially for socializing. However, you don’t need a computer to study for the LSAT, and having one around will only serve as a distraction. Get rid of these time-suckers and stick to the books.

5. Form a study group.
If you can find people on your college campus (or in your neighborhood) who are also preparing for the LSAT, it may help to form a study group. Try to find study partners whose abilities complement your own so that you can help each other. Meeting on a regular basis will take some of the isolation out of test prep, and, like a gym buddy, a study partner will help motivate you to study.

Time Management in the New Year

First, a quick introduction! I’m Sarah, a new writer around here at The Student Help Forum. I’m a full-time post baccalaureate student in public health education. I work over 30 hours a week, write for four blogs and try to have a social life on top of everything. I hope my words of advice within The Student Help Forum strike a chord with you and enhance your student life! I’m always open to writing suggestions and you should feel free to send me some mail if you ever have something you’d like to see me address!

Second, let’s get down to business!

If you’re anything like me, once finals week is over, your brain shuts down until about a week into the next term’s classes. However, over this winter break, I’d like to challenge you to keep thinking; start thinking about next term, and how you’re going to push yourself to do even better in it.

My first suggestion on how to improve yourself in the new year & the new term is:

USE A CALENDAR

Use a Calendar!Whether you choose to use a paper calendar, or Google’s wonderful calendar application, write things down, keep track of where you’re supposed to be and when you’re supposed to be there, and then celebrate as you cross things off your list!

I use my calendar to plan telephone calls, to make doctor’s appointments, to keep track of my work schedule, to remind myself I have a blog entry due (or blog inspirations), to write down lunch dates with friends, and even to write myself notes about how my day went.

When you have big events that you need preparation, pre-reminded yourself! I write down my finals during the first week of classes, and then one week before the final, I write “PHE 355 Final – 1 week!” and high-light it to remind myself that it’s coming up.

If it’s your thing, I’ve found that color coding my calendar is incredibly helpful. I have a colors for school, for work, for blogs, for WEGOHealth (where I am a community leader), for photography, for exercise and for personal stuff. It’s a bright looking calendar and even when there’s a lot of stuff going on, at least it’s shown in fun colors!

On paper calendars, sometimes it’s hard to write about your “to-do’s” in detail, but I recommend you write down all the details (address, contact name & information, things you may need to bring, etc) when you’re writing on your calendar. I often keep paperclips in my day planner so I can attach things to the days that they belong with as well.

Another tip that I have, which comes in handy for students is to write down all the family birthdays or anniversaries you need to remember when you first get a blank calendar. Most of us get calendars when we’re home for the holidays and since your mom is most likely to be right there, have her help you out. This will help you remember to send Grams a birthday card and remind her how great she is!

While it may seem daunting to use a daily calendar to keep track of your life, I promise you that in the long run, it will pay off and you will be incredibly pleased (not to mention organized) with the results!

Essential Software for Students

School is hard. Between papers to write, tests to study for, projects to finish, and trying to actually have a social life, there’s a lot for students to do. There’s also a lot of software out there that promises to make things easier – unfortunately, a lot of it can break a student budget. Fear not, though, there is help!

Students have a lot of needs when it comes to technology, and thankfully, there are free solutions to most of them. From security to socializing, I’m going to walk you through the essential software for students to keep their schoolwork and schedules on track.

    Security

AVG by Grisoft makes an excellent suite of anti-malware software. There are three programs in the suite: AVG Anti-Virus Free, AVG Anti-Spyware Free, and AVG Anti-Rootkit Free. They work well, update automatically, and you don’t have to worry about your subscription – and your protection – running out.

As for a firewall, ZoneAlarm is a great choice, free for personal and charitable use. When a program tries to access the internet, ZoneAlarm pops up a message requesting access – if you don’t know whether to allow it or not, ZoneAlarm will offer advice about what to do.

    Web Browsing and Email

For web browsing, you should get Mozilla Firefox. It’s free, it has thousands of extensions to do anything you could possibly want to do with a web browser, and it has security features built in. If you don’t do anything else, get rid of Internet Explorer. It’s a magnet for viruses, spyware, and just about every other kind of security problem that exists.

While you’re switching to Firefox, check out Mozilla Thunderbird for email. It does everything Outlook does, and like Firefox, has great extensions and built-in security.

    Office Applications

Eventually, you’re going to need to write something, or create a spreadsheet. Instead of paying $300 for Microsoft Office, get OpenOffice. It does everything that Microsoft Office does, and it’s completely free.

Likewise, why settle for the restricted features of Adobe’s Acrobat Reader? Get Foxit Reader instead – it’s faster, it lets you do things Acrobat doesn’t, and it’s free.

At some point, you’re probably going to want to do some image editing. You can shell out hundreds for Adobe Photoshop, or you can get The GIMP, a free, open-source alternative. GIMP can be a bit less intuitive, but once you learn to master it, there’s not much you can’t do with it.

    Calendar

If you’re going to keep your schedule together, you’ll need a calendar. Paper calendars are great, and it’s a good idea to have one for those times when you can’t get to your online one. However, there are a lot of positives to online calendars: email and text-message reminders, guest invitations and RSVPs, group sharing, and of course, being able to access it anywhere in the world. When it comes to online calendars, Google Calendar is my favorite.

If you like having a desktop calendar program, I recommend getting a Google Calendar account and downloading Mozilla Sunbird, a full-featured calendar program that integrates well with GCal. If you’re using Thunderbird for email, you can get Lightning, a great calendar extension for Thunderbird.

    Chatting

There are a lot of great services out there for chatting. MSN, AOL, Yahoo, and Google all have their own services. If you’re using them all, you should consider a multi-service client like Pidgin.

You can log into all your IM accounts through Pidgin and save the system resources used by running several different clients.If you want the ultimate in chatting, though, you should go for Skype. Not only does Skype provide user-to-user and group chats like the other programs, but it offers free user-to-user VOIP phone calls. You can even have large conference calls with groups of Skype users, anywhere in the world. Skype also offers plans that allow you to call landline phones, and to receive calls from landlines; in some cases, you can have your whole year’s phone service for less than you’d spend for two months with regular phone service.

    Online Applications

There are some great online applications out there for students as well. Google offers a whole library of services, including Google Scholar, Google Book Search, Google Earth, Google Translate, and the previously mentioned Google Calendar.

For note-taking, NoteSake is an excellent online application. NoteSake lets you take your notes online, share them with others, collaborate with groups, organize them, and even provide copies to others who weren’t in class.

If you’re learning a foreign language, Mango provides free online language courses. You can choose from eleven different languages, with more to come. Mango is a beta release, however, so don’t be surprised if you find the occasional cucaracha.

Justin Ryan is a freelance writer and technology consultant. He is the News Editor for LinuxJournal.com and a regular blogger for Wisebread.com, where he writes on technology, personal finance, and savvy living.