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The Five Stages of June LSAT Grief

Back before hyphenating your name was cool, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross interviewed more than 500 patients. Using this research, she wrote a book called On Death and Dying. While terribly depressing, it also introduced the world to the 5 stages of grief. Which is also terribly depressing. But because it was pop psychology that didn’t involve boning your mom (figuratively, Oedipus; that guy always took things too literally), it quickly caught on.

Despite being proven essentially BS by George Bonanno (you know, a guy with an actual scientific degree and a single last name), the five stages have entered the common lexicon, being applied in such scientifically rigorous sitcoms as The Fresh Prince and The Facts of Life, probably*. Now, it’s time to apply it to you, post-LSAT. Everyone thinks they bombed it (hell, I almost canceled my score), and everyone has gone through the stages.

1) Denial

Most of you probably hit this stage during a section on the test. Others, shortly after. It’s the belief that this is not, in fact, happening to you. Well, the LSAC has multiple forms of identification, a passport photo, and semen sample from you(thought you felt something under the registration table, didn’t you?). No way around it. You took the LSAT.

This stage is characterized by a heightened awareness of your possessions. Which is why you thought back on all of the valuables you’ve collected over the years, and how you would have to sell them to get by. Your car. Some albums (you kids still listening to 45s, right?). And that college degree.

Oh, wait. That’s not valuable. That’s why you’re headed to law school in the first place. Hmm. I guess it’s time for stage 2!

2) Anger

Like all good things, denial must come to an end. Wasn’t life just better when you could pretend you didn’t take the LSAT, possibly bomb it and ruin your future (I’m a huge help, I know)?

Stage 2 is characterized by misplaced anger. That’s why you’re yelling at your mom for putting too many mushrooms in the meatloaf. Just relax and apologize. She’ll still love you when your LSAT score comes back. Unless you really did do as poorly on the Chopin passage as you think…

Which leads us to…

3) Bargaining

What’s funny about bargaining is that it’s never for a complete reprieve but rather for some type of mitigation. And it’s also always with a higher power.

In this case, the higher power can only be the LSAC. And a temporary reprieve must come in the form of either a canceled question (that’s singular – don’t even hope for a whole RC passage getting X’ed out) or a switching of the experimental section to the one that you bombed. And, again, no, the LSAC is not going to randomly spread experimental questions throughout all five sections.

Did I just knock all of your cards off the table? Good, it’s time for stage 4…

4) Depression

That sinking feeling in your stomach? That’s normal. It means you’re at stage 4, and you’re almost done!

“I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I’m going to die… What’s the point?”; “I miss my loved one, why go on?” Those are the thoughts attributed to people who were dying or suffering through the loss of a loved one. They’re eerily similar to the ones going through your head right now (the last one will come when your significant other leaves you for a man or woman with better future prospects, i.e. the person who double majored in feminist literature and geology, thus rocking the RC).

There’s really only one thing to do. Fight fire with fire, double negatives, etc… Alcohol’s a depressant, so get to it! It really is the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems!

5) Acceptance

This stage probably won’t come until scores are released (when you might possibly go through these stages again) and the hangover is gone. However, it will come. You’ll see your score, realize it’s not that bad, and get on with your life. Or, it will be that bad, and you’ll register for October, hitting the books harder this time around.

The LSAT is important. But, in the grander scheme of things, it’s just a test written by a bunch of philosophy majors who were lucky enough to not be as unemployed as the rest of their classmates. Even then, I imagine some type of cage situation for their working stations (bottles of water that they have to lap at and all). If you did well, great. If you didn’t do as well as hoped, you can retake it.

When you learn to accept that, you can stop grieving over a test and start to plan for your future.

*I didn’t feel like researching this, but I’d still bet that it’s in there somewhere. I know I went through them when I found out Princeton didn’t have a law school and Uncle Phil was a fraud. He still kicked ass in Die Hard, though. Man, Die Hard 2 could have used more of him.