Return to Blog Homepage

Don’t Be Flaccid at the Critical Time: How to Avoid LSAT Day Nerves


Don’t be flaccid at the critical time: how to avoid LSAT test day nerves.

We’ve all received them – the emails for Viagra and Cialis that pervade our inboxes despite the strictest of spam filters. Today I was scanning my incoming mail and saw the following subject line in large, bold letters:


I was caught so off guard (most of my email subject headers consist of snippets like “quick question” or “birthday emergency – send cake recipe!) that I actually yelped. Like a bunny tripping a snare, the Viagra ad caught me unaware and unprepared.

As I moved my hand to delete the email, it occurred to me that this male-centric piece of marketing spam actually has some relevance for the world of LSAT study. Don’t be flaccid at the critical time. Don’t screw the pooch, don’t eff it up, don’t pull an Obama during a mid-term election—all things that indicate you don’t want to choke during a high-pressure situation. In LSAT terms, it translates to don’t throw away months of study by panicking during the test.

That’s all very well to say, but how does one avoid freezing on test day? There’s no sure fire way to avoid choking on the LSAT, but there are things you can do that will improve your odds.

1. Do your homework

“The more you sweat in practice, the less you bleed in battle.” This anonymous quote, which I’m going to arbitrarily attribute to a 13th century pikeman, just means that the more prepared you are, the less likely it is that you’ll be caught off guard on test day.

If you’re barely familiar with LSAT question types when you tackle the real LSAT, it’s far more likely that you’ll freak out than if you’ve studied them intensively. Doing your homework and practicing techniques assiduously is the first defense against losing it on test day.

2. Take practice tests correctly

Not only is it important to learn and apply the correct techniques for LSAT study, it’s important to practice taking tests under pressure. Some students will say they’ve taken a practice test when what they’ve really done is taken one section, eaten some breakfast, and then taken two more sections followed by some television and a nap, and so forth. They then wonder why on earth they scored higher on their practice exams than on the real LSAT. When taking practice tests, simulate real testing conditions, including timing, as closely as possible.

3. Don’t psyche yourself out

Michael Jordan once said “I never looked at the consequences of missing a big shot… when you think about the consequences you always think of a negative result.” In other words, don’t dwell on the negatives. Reminding yourself daily about the pressure riding on your LSAT score is only going to be stressful. Be concerned enough to study, but not so much that it messes with your head.

4. Warm up the day of the LSAT

Take a couple of old problems with you on test day. Don’t do new questions, or you might miss them and start to panic. Instead, do a familiar game and some logical reasoning questions and a reading comp to get your mental processes working. That way, when the LSAT starts you won’t be caught sleepy and off guard.

Then, when the proctor says “begin”, take a deep breath, pull out that number two pencil, and don’t be flaccid at the critical time.

Article by Jodi Triplett of Blueprint Test Preparation.