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Getting into the February LSAT Frame of Mind: A Memoir


Three years ago, I took the LSAT, and the memory stays with me like all the halcyon days of yore. Here’s a rundown of how I spent my time the weekend of the LSAT. As an added note, I took the test on the only day in the last eleven years that UCLA has defeated USC in football. A plan to take the LSAT every December has been proposed.

Disclaimer: This is mostly true. As it is a mostly-true story about my life, I recommend absolutely none of the actions taken by me.

Friday, December 1, 2006

7:24 pm: Suddenly coming to the realization that ohcraptheLSATistomorrow, I crack open my roommate’s prep book for a little last-minute review.

8:52 pm: After an intensive hour and 28 minutes of studying, I consider myself prepared (they don’t call them logic games for nothing) and decide to head out to Sepi’s in Westwood (great sandwiches, great beer, great Luis). There, I meet up with my roommates for 2 to 4 pints of the world’s finest Amber Bock (these, kids, are what we call poor choices). I have set three alarms for the following morning.

10:32: I check a text message from a friend also taking the LSAT the next day: “Are you drunk?” I consider this question for many seconds of existential thought and answer “Sort of.” She responds: “We’re taking the LSAT tomorrow!” I fail to see the relevance, but acquiesce to the sentiment. I stagger to the door and set out on my journey home.

11:41 pm: Reel missing.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

6:30 am: Alarm sounds.

6:40 am: Alarm sounds.

6:50 am: I finally give in. My mouth feels as if a herd of goats has stampeded through it. I am lying somewhat askew on my bed and my neck feels like a small, but extremely dense fist has pummeled it with some degree of force. I am not hungover; it is simply morning.

7:06 am: After considering just not showing up to the test, I ultimately decide that I don’t want to put my hour and 28 minutes of review to waste.

7:11 am: I give up on showering. I call my friend also taking the test, but she doesn’t pick up. Ass.

7:26 am: I hit the road in my 1994 Plymouth Voyager. Coincidentally, I am driving right behind my friend. I honk repeatedly. She flips me off.

7:54 am: I arrive at Southwestern and am confronted with a few dilemmas, mostly because I have not educated myself in the slightest about the administration of the test. Can I bring my coffee? Cutting off the caffeine now will be dangerous. It’s coming. Can I bring my cell phone? What will I do if there is an awkward moment and I can’t fill the time by pretending to do something on my phone? What if my phone gets lonely? Fine, I will give this a shot. Phone stays in the car.

8:03 am: I meet up with my friend as she frantically pages through her Blueprint book. I ask her if there are 5 or 6 sections on the test. She stares at me and visibly debates verbalizing her middle finger from earlier.

8:19 am: I arrive at my testing room. The proctor at the door tells me that I cannot bring my coffee into the room. I attempt to bribe her with a piece of gum, but no luck. Then I give her the death stare and hope that she will back down. Nope. Chug. I am not going to be friends with this woman.

8:26 am: People are shuffling into the room. A few unlucky souls attempt to exit for the bathroom and are quickly tackled by security. Luckily, I have a bladder of steel. I’m not sure how that helps me with not having to urinate, but it sure is cool when walking through a metal detector.

8:32 am: The stress appears to be taking its effect on people. A girl in front of me sharpens her pencil to the point that it could qualify as a deadly weapon. A guy behind me is chewing on his fingernails as if he has not eaten in a week. Another guy in the back corner is giving himself a pep talk, loud enough for everyone to hear.

8:39 am: The doors are closed and the proctor starts to hand out the test materials. Now the freaking out reaches a new level. People stare at the test in shock; it is as though they expected it to be in a different language or something.

8:47 am: With the aid of a Hooked on Phonics workbook, the proctor begins to read the instructions. Please find the corresponding bubble to the first letter of your last name. Now please fill in that bubble completely. Now please find the corresponding bubble to the second letter of your first name. This is terrible. I miss my coffee dearly. I need some entertainment. I turn to the guy sitting next to me and casually ask, “Hey man, did you remember your graphing calculator?” He turns an odd shade of green and I hear some form of liquid dripping on the floor beneath him.

9:01 am: I spend a solid 4 to 6 minutes writing a passage in cursive about how I didn’t cheat. I am, by a full minute, the last person finished. I know without a doubt that this will be the hardest part of the test for me.

9:13 am: Finally, it is go time. I open the test to discover some long, dense reading comprehension passages. The bloom of my soul begins to wilt.

9:14 am: We lose our first one. A girl in the front row gets up, hands her test to the proctor, and exits the room. Apparently she was really disappointed with her performance in the first minute.

9:15 to 9:47 am: I have no memory of the events that transpire during this time period.

9:48 am: The proctor calls time. After another painful minute of instructions, we start section two. Logical Reasoning. As I glance around the room, I see a number of students begin to scribble frantically. Looks like some people have just started the Logic Games. The panic level in the room has reached a new high. Apparently these people think that the real key to Logic Games is to write quickly. Oh, look, we just lost number two. A disgruntled man from the back row is out of here. Apparently, he was hoping for a test without Logic Games.

10:18 am: The proctor calls out the five-minute warning. The frantic scribbling reaches an all-time high. A girl two rows up breaks her seventh pencil, good thing she brought 84 of them. A tall, skinny kid in the middle of the room is apparently not doing well. Otherwise, he must have a skin disease that itches terribly, a nervous twitch, and a serious perspiration problem.

10:23 am: Two sections in the books. More instructions.

10:24 am: Finally, I get to see the Logic Games, otherwise known as “the main thing for which I actually studied”. The other half of the room begins frantically scribbling now.

10:43 am: I finish the Logic Games in about 19 minutes, discovering that my 7th grade elective involving logic puzzles actually did have some use.

10:46 am: I begin to check my answers, but get lazy and decide to look around the room instead. The amount of sweat beading in this air-conditioned room is astonishing.

10:59 am: Break time. The proctor calls time and everyone takes a deep breath. A handful of smokers make a beeline for the door. Apparently they read that LSAT question about smoking improving your short-term memory.

11:03 am: I enter the restroom located across the hall from my testing room, only to be greeted by the smell of fear (actually, that is vomit). I quickly exit. I guess it can wait. I walk back into the hallway and it looks like an old bread line in Moscow. Students are scarfing down Powerbars and chugging Red Bull like they are in the middle of a decathlon. I ask a random girl for a sip of her 5 Hour Energy. She politely asks me to step back, or else she is going to insert something uncomfortable into my backside. I take the step back option.

11:08 am: I’m, all in all, pretty stoked to be almost done. I ask my friend how many more sections we have left, and if there’s any chance I’ll be out in time to make it to the kickoff of the football game at 12:30. She informs me with some relish that there are three sections remaining. I visibly deflate.

11:17 am: Section four begins and I am greeted with another section of Logical Reasoning.

11:31 am: In the middle of some question about speed limits, I have a brief moment where I wonder why I am taking the test. I have no intention of being a lawyer. I am taking this test almost solely to see how I can do vis-à-vis my friend with much less preparation. I am an asshole.

11:52 am: Time is called on section four. At this point, we have lost about six people in the room.

11:53 am: Crap. I open section five only to find more long, dense passages. According to my friend, who is a veritable font of knowledge compared to me, this means that my first section was likely the experimental and thus a huge waste of 35 minutes of my life.

12:24 pm: Game over. I wrap up the section and feel pretty confident about my performance. I fail to see why people are panicking. This is a combination of 10th grade reading comprehension and my aforementioned 7th grade logic class.

12:28 pm: The proctor calls time on section five. Everyone in the room lets out a loud sigh of relief.

12:37 pm: The proctor and her friends have collected all of the tests and answer sheets. They have to count everything in the front of the room, so I figure I have time to prove Fermat’s theorem in my head before they finish.

12:52 pm: What is this, some kind of essay? I didn’t sign on for this.

12:54 pm: The proctor says go and people jump right in. The stress is back in the room. I plan to silently protest for at least 10 minutes before writing anything.

1:03 pm: Okay, fine. I decide to write something. However, figuring that this will not be reflected in my score, I decide to draw a picture at the end. It looked like a pirate with a mutated hand. It was intended to be a tree.

1:29 pm: The proctor calls time. I have been finished with the essay for 16 minutes. I still don’t know if anyone liked my picture.

1:34 pm: Sunlight. I hit the courtyard and the LSAT is behind me. The crowds of students leaving the doors look like they are leaving a funeral home. I’m almost running to my car to get to the UCLA game.

1:36 pm: My friend runs up to me and wants to talk about the test. I mention that the only thing I can remember is doing a game involving dressing a clown. She begins to doubt that I even took the test.

1:44 pm: I get in my car and turn on the radio. UCLA is up 7-2 on USC heading into the second quarter. I debate between driving up to the Rose Bowl and getting there for the second half or driving home to Westwood and catching more of the game. After a long, dark struggle in my soul, I turn toward Westwood and begin driving 90.

2:02 pm: I arrive home. I find no one in my apartment save my roommate’s friend, sitting on the couch screaming at the TV. USC is up 9-7. I settle in and begin drinking.

So that is pretty much how it went, for me at least. I went into the LSAT somewhat under-prepared and with the intention of only getting out early enough to catch the majority of the UCLA football game. While I may have some innate ability to take silly standardized tests, doing well on any of this stuff comes down largely to nervousness, or lack thereof. Keep your cool and amazing things can happen.

But I did leave out the fun part, which is what happens after the test. The post-LSAT debauchery session is something you will only experience once (or three times in a two year period). Live it up.

Good luck to everyone and watch out for any mauve dinosaurs.