Conquering LSAT Stress: Proven Strategies for Test Day
- Jan 27, 2024
- LSAT Preparation, Mental Health
- Reviewed by: Matt Riley
The LSAT is the final gatekeeper for anybody who is motivated to pursue a successful legal career. And no matter how you’ve fared thus far in your academic life, this exam is in a league of its own. Even the most confident prelaw student can get a case of the test-day jitters caused by undue LSAT stress.
In this article, we’ll provide you with effective strategies and techniques to successfully manage stress that may creep up on LSAT test day. By implementing these proven methods, you can approach test day with confidence and composure, maximizing your ability to perform at your best.
Understanding LSAT Stress
LSAT stress often stems from fear of the unknown, high expectations, and the impact the LSAT can have on your future and affect law school admissions.
As a result, LSAT stress can manifest in several ways. Do you have random headaches, stomachaches, trouble concentrating, or unexplained anxiety? That could be stress-talking.
How to Manage LSAT Stress
Preparation: The Foundation
Managing your LSAT stress and anxiety begins way before your LSAT test date. Thorough preparation boosts your confidence and significantly diminishes stress.
Ironically, LSAT prep can also be stressful in itself with all the concepts and skills you need to master for the LSAT. However, knowing that you have covered all bases can provide a sense of control and readiness by the time you take the exam.
Being well-prepared also means having strategies for the different question types and time management. Taking regular practice LSAT tests is great for this! Take tests under realistic conditions to get accustomed to the pressures of test day and build your mental endurance.
Reduce Prep Stress With Organization
A structured LSAT study plan that covers all sections of the LSAT and allocates time for studying, practice, and review is key. [Psst: You can make a study plan using Blueprint LSAT’s customizable Study Planner Tool completely free!]
Your study plan should be realistic without overloading yourself. Cramming and or not giving yourself enough time to prep can lead to burnout, which can exacerbate stress.
Including downtime and days off in your study plan ensures a balanced approach to LSAT preparation.
Physical and Mental Well-being
It’s not all about studying! Taking care of your mental and physical health is just as crucial when prepping for the LSAT.
You don’t need to go hard in the gym every day, but physical activity is a proven stress reliever. Exercise releases endorphins, chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers and mood elevators.
Regular exercise also helps improve sleep quality, which is crucial for mental well-being.
Speaking of sleep, don’t skip it! Sleep impacts cognitive functions such as memory, attention, and logical reasoning, which are vital for LSAT success.
It also plays a crucial role in emotional and mental health, helping to manage stress, depression, and anxiety.
Before you roll your eyes at the phrase, “Mind over matter,” hear us out.
Your mindset is a powerful tool in helping you overcome major challenges like the LSAT. Here are three ways to leverage it.
Mindfulness and Meditation
Practices like mindfulness and meditation can significantly reduce stress. They help you focus on the present moment and develop a non-judgmental awareness of your thoughts and feelings.
Even short daily sessions can improve focus and calmness, helping you approach your studies and the test with a clearer mind.
Reframing negative thoughts about the LSAT into positive, realistic ones challenges your anxiety head-on.
Change thoughts like, “I will never be able to reach my goal LSAT score,” to more balanced and rational ones, such as, “I am preparing well for the LSAT and will do my best”.
Develop a Growth Mindset
Having a growth mindset means believing that your abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. This contrasts with having a fixed mindset, where you believe your abilities are predetermined and cannot be changed.
By applying a growth mindset to your LSAT preparation, you will see mistakes you make as opportunities to learn and improve rather than a measure of your innate intelligence.
This perspective shift can help reduce anxiety and increase motivation during studying and taking the test.
LSAT Support Systems
A robust support system can make a significant difference in managing stress and staying motivated throughout the LSAT journey.
Although it might be tempting to isolate yourself during your LSAT prep, don’t. Lean on your friends and family for motivation and encouragement. They can provide a different perspective or provide a listening ear.
You can also reach out to other LSAT students in your live LSAT class.
Sign up to get expert tips and exclusive invites to free LSAT classes and law school admissions workshops!
Pre-test Day Strategies
LSAT test day is a culmination of all your hard work, but it can also make your anxiety rear its ugly head. However, having a set of strategies for test day can significantly help ease test-day fears and enable you to perform at your best.
Familiarize Yourself with the Test Center
If you’re taking the LSAT in person, visit the test center beforehand. Knowing the location, understanding the commute time, and getting a feel for the test environment can reduce anxiety related to logistics.
Troubleshoot Tech Issues
If you’re taking the LSAT remotely, ensure that your computer meets LSAC’s tech requirements and can run the Prometric software. Clear your desk and only keep the permitted items to avoid any risk of your test being flagged.
Create a calming morning routine that you’ll be able to follow on test day. Focus on a nutritious breakfast to fuel your body and light exercise or stretching to relax your muscles.
This routine can set a positive tone for the day and help maintain a calm mindset by providing a sense of consistency.
Strategies To Use During the Test
Once the test begins, it’s important to stay focused and apply the strategies you’ve practiced.
Focus on the Present
Concentrate on one question at a time. Avoid dwelling on past sections or worrying about future ones. This helps in maintaining concentration and reduces the chances of becoming overwhelmed.
Managing Difficult Questions
Don’t get stuck on complex questions. Mark them and move on; return to them later if time allows.
This skipping and guessing strategy ensures you don’t waste valuable time on questions that you find particularly challenging, allowing you to answer as many questions as possible.
Practice deep breathing exercises to calm nerves.
Techniques like the 4-7-8 method, where you inhale for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds, can be particularly helpful.
These exercises can be done before the test starts and even during the exam to help maintain a sense of calm.
Why would you need to worry about stress after the LSAT? Well, the anticipation of waiting for score release day can often be as detrimental as the buildup to test day.
This time can be filled with a mix of relief and anxiety, but the right approach can make it more manageable.
After the test, reflect on what went well. Don’t dwell on the negative. Most students end up doing a lot better than they thought they did.
Consider what strategies worked, what didn’t, and how you managed stress. This reflection can be a learning experience for future challenges, like law school.
Leveraging Proven Strategies for LSAT Success
Managing LSAT stress requires a multifaceted approach that includes thorough preparation, physical and mental well-being strategies, and effective test day techniques.
Remember, stress is a natural response, but with the right tools and mindset, it can be managed effectively for LSAT success.
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