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Finding an LSAT-Life Balance

If you’ve been studying for the LSAT for a while now, you may be starting to feel the strain. Let me lay out a scenario for you…

You don’t have enough time. After a long day of work, you might normally go to the gym then get dinner with a friend. But these days, you have to spend the nights unpacking logical fallacies. And since the LSAT keeps you up late you’re groggy and inefficient at work, so you have to stay after hours to keep from falling behind. You skip the gym again, and it’s another late night of Logical Reasoning. You call your friends to back out of Saturday’s Dodgers game as you run your thumb along the hundreds of pages of study material awaiting you.

Meanwhile, your brain is in manic LSAT-mode all the time and you can’t ever relax. You see the Matrix, but it’s not green 0s and 1s – it’s embedded conditional statements and unstated assumptions. As you’re trying to fall asleep, stray LSAT phrases – “presumes without justification…” “supporting a claim the argument ultimately refutes…” – loop in your head, incoherent but urgent.

And above everything else, your score isn’t even improving. You’ve been studying for weeks, learned dozens of new concepts, memorized strategies and rules and do’s and don’ts and on your most recent test your score went down. You feel overwhelmed and discouraged. You look over your study plan and wonder how realistic it is. Maybe you start looking at business schools.

I hope this doesn’t sound too familiar, but I suspect most people go through at least a few weeks of this while preparing for the LSAT. Those of you who are feeling drained, don’t register for the GMAT just yet. There are a few things you can do to regenerate.

First, it’s okay to take breaks. Be cognizant of diminishing returns. Sometimes your brain is so maxed out that nothing will be gained from forcing yourself to do ten more practice questions. Quality trumps quantity; it’s more important to learn from the practice LSAT questions you do than to get through as many of them as possible. So take a day or two off. This is not only healthy but also strategic. Weightlifting analogy: you don’t build new muscle during your workouts. Your body builds muscle on recovery days.

It’s also a good idea to carve out time for the things that support your physical and mental health. Skipping the gym to do extra LSAT questions may feel like the responsible thing to do, but getting exercise is actually incredibly important for brain function, and investing in your health will keep you from burning out.

As for your practice score, focus on what your results tell you about your strengths and weaknesses rather than what law schools they would get you into. It’s completely natural for scores to plateau or even dip. When you learn dozens of new tools at once, it takes a while to make them work for you.

Lastly, get and stay competitive. Think back to all the sports clichés about pain and gain, heart and endurance. See if you can trick yourself into enjoying the fight. There’s pleasure in running 26 miles – for some people anyway. There’s pleasure in Logic Games, too.

Easier said than done, of course. But try not to get discouraged, build in some balance, and keep working hard. And seriously, forget about business school. The math on the GMAT is not fun.