An Unsettling PSA: Your Test Day May Not Go Perfectly
- Jan 08, 2020
- Reviewed by: Matt Riley
A test that has been administered on pen and paper for decades goes digital … what could possibly go wrong? Turns out, quite a lot! Test-day horror stories from LSAT takers ever since the big September digital switch have been terrifying: three-hour check in queues, tablets malfunctioning, proctors reading outdated instructions … anything can happen! It just goes to show you that you can’t control what happens on test day, but you can make sure you used the best LSAT prep you can!
Although we don’t want to drive you into a panic just a few days before your test, we want to make sure you are prepared in case something does go wrong.
Without further ado, here’s a list of a few things that could go wrong on test day (and what to do if they do go wrong):
1. Long check-in times: Most people will see the 12:30 start time on their admissions ticket and assume it’s a swift check-in, sit-down, start-testing kind of a situation. Unfortunately, this is sometimes not the case. We have heard horror stories of three-hour lines just to get into the testing room.
What to do about it: Bring something to read while waiting! Maybe try a few easy Logical Reasoning questions and an easy logic game? Make that your reading material is disposable — the proctors will make you throw it out prior to entering the testing room. You could also bring an extra snack to have on hand — getting hunger pains in the middle of the test would not be cute.
2. Tablets don’t arrive to test center on time: This sounds crazy, but it has happened! Here’s an anecdote from an October test taker:
“I showed up to my center about 15 minutes before my 12:30 test. After checking us into the room, my proctor announced that the tablets were 20 minutes away. After 20 minutes, he announced they were a couple of hours away. We finally started the exam just after 4 p.m.”
As awful as this sounds, tablet delays are something that have happened in the past and may happen again.
What to do about it: Go to the bathroom, have an extra snack on hand, try not to stress out. As cheesy as this sounds, meditating helps calm test day nerves. You could also try a very Los Angeles method: “manifesting” a higher score. Don’t think of the delay as an inconvenience, think of it as extra time to get into a high scorer mindset.
3. Proctor reads outdated rules: Although the digital LSAT is fairly new, there have been developments since the launch. Some proctors receive outdated rules which may say things like, “You may not bring your own pencils,” which you absolutely can!
What to do about it: Bring a printed copy of the rules to the test center, which you can find on the LSAC website. This way, you can point out any discrepancies to your proctor.
4. Tablet malfunctions while you are taking the test: Here we have an absolute nightmare situation. Your tablet has a small chance of not working, skipping a ton of questions, or completely shutting down. Your first reaction may be to begin panic mode — we get it, it’s a natural reaction. However, there are other ways to get out of this awful situation!
What to do about it: Notify your proctor immediately! If you are unable to finish your exam, or if you lose significant time, LSAC should know about this. Make sure your proctor puts a note about the situation into your file. Also make sure to send a follow-up email to and/or call LSAC about this. Although it may seem like the end of the world, LSAC should work with you to help you take the test again, hopefully for free.
5. The check-in folks say that you don’t look like the photo on the admissions ticket:
Look, with all of the college admissions scandals, it’s the responsibility of the proctors to ensure that everyone is taking their own test. Uploading a current photo seems straightforward, but we’ve heard of too many students trying to upload a “pretty” photo of themselves and end up choosing a photoshopped senior-year-of-HIGH SCHOOL picture. This isn’t a beauty contest, it’s the LSAT. Save the beauty for an Elle Woods-style Harvard video. This doesn’t mean you’re banned from taking the test; it just means you’ll need to prove that you are the person on your ticket.
What to do about it: Bring extra forms of identification. A driver’s license, school ID, passport … anything with your name on it!
6. Your proctor eats pistachios as a snack: I have to throw this absolutely ridiculous personal anecdote in here as a PSA that proctors can be inconsiderate. We’ve heard stories of proctors typing loudly and furiously, spilling coffee everywhere, whispering on the phone, humming, and my personal favorite: my very own proctor, eating pistachios (the world’s loudest and most unnecessary snack).
What to do about it: The truth is, your test center will probably not be completely silent, and you can’t let that affect your performance. (Also, you cannot wear earplugs to the test center.) A long-term solution is to practice studying in public places (coffee shops, libraries, etc). Another great option, if you’re a Blueprint classroom student, is to actually attend the in-person practice exams!
7. Your whole test gets canceled: You show up to the test center with your gallon-sized Ziploc bag, nervously wait with other test takers, and then get told that the test was canceled. Again, this sounds crazy — but it has happened. During the November administration, there were multiple reports of LSAC being under-staffed and proctors failing to show up to test centers. The bad news: it’s not a cruel joke and you actually won’t get to take the test that day. The good news: you’ll eventually take the test.
What to do about it: Email LSAC and await a response. Every report of a canceled test center resulted in students either a) taking the test a week or so later, or b) getting a free retake for a later test administration. Either way, do not freak out! View it as an opportunity to get some extra studying in!
If you’re freaking out about your test day after reading this — please don’t. For most test takers, the day is very smooth. However, if things do go wrong, you’re not alone. Feel free to vent! No matter how badly you think things went, there’s always a solution, and we’re here to help you!
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