The Last Week Before The LSAT: Make it Count
- Sep 16, 2019
We’re getting down to the wire on another LSAT, as the September 21st LSAT is now only days away. So rather than panic about how unprepared you think you may be, let’s use those remaining days productively. And maybe bump that score up a few points while you’re at it.
Are you the type to get test anxiety? Or do you simply fall into any test, sight unseen, and ace it, no sweat? While a few people fall into the latter category, and quite a few in the former, most are in the middle. I’m somewhat lucky in that I tend to panic before an exam/major life event, but am generally fine once I’m actually doing what needs to be done. But if you’re not so lucky, there are ways to cope with it. Always make sure you’re giving yourself the best chance to score your highest.
Part of this approach is to also use this time to make note of any particular patterns in how you deal with the endurance-run that is the LSAT. Do you get fatigued at a certain point of every practice test? Do you zone out and lose precious time from lost focus? There are methods to counteract the inevitable fatigue and loss of focus that afflict us all. For example, my focus starts to flag around the 2/3rds point of every section, when I start to read a stimulus or a paragraph of a Reading Comp passage without absorbing any information. At this point, I’ve taught myself not to panic but instead take a short “mini-break” that allows me to re-focus and get a second wind. I break eye contact with the test, look around the room, stretch, massage my shoulders, crack my neck, and take a few deep breaths, all in the time span of about five to ten seconds. While this particular approach may or may not work for you, you’ll definitely want to come up with your own personalized methods to counteract fatigue and loss of focus.
Know the LSAT
Remember, the LSAT is a skills-based test, not a knowledge-based one. This makes it almost unique amongst standardized tests; you aren’t going to be able to “cram” for it the way that you could most college exams (or law-school exams, or the bar exam). Instead, you have to learn best practices and how to apply them to the types of situations commonly found on the test. So don’t cram; instead focus on how you’re approaching each question in each section, take lsat classes beforehand, if you need more guidance.
Review here is critical, so give yourself enough time, and crucially, energy to properly take and then review practice exams. Don’t take an exam every day, but rather take an exam on one day and do a blind review of it the day after. This is the worst possible time to burn out, and there’s only so much that can be learned and practiced in a few days, so focus on refining your approach rather than trying to make huge leaps. Now isn’t the time to learn the difference between causal and conditional reasoning, but it’s a great time to review the indicator words and make sure you’re picking them up on actual questions.
Lastly, as the first all-digital LSAT, be prepared for using the assigned tablet and any potential hiccups that might entail. Definitely know how to approach the Reading Comprehension section, which has been the most affected by the switch from paper to digital. Make sure to get at least a couple of digital timed tests in as well, if only to practice how you can approach the digital exam and become a little more comfortable with this new version.
Remember that everyone else is in the same boat as you: heavily stressed and anxious about this LSAT and all its implications for this fall’s application season. And tons of people have been in this boat before and somehow emerged unscathed. You can do this, and now is the time to remind yourself of that fact. Take a deep breath, make a reasonable, healthy, balanced plan for the week, and stick to it. The LSAT isn’t your life, and one test isn’t going to make or break your future.
Make sure to take Friday off as a mental-health day. Do something fun and treat yourself. Try and get some physical exercise so you don’t end up a bundle of nerves and unable to sleep that night, but don’t overdo it and exhaust yourself to the point where it might affect your Saturday. And of course, be prepared with everything you’ll need for Saturday morning. If you absolutely must study, do a few easy games or Logical Reasoning questions to prime the pump and get your head in the game. Make them easy, this is positive reinforcement to pump up your confidence before test day.
Remember all that work you’ve done over the last few months? How it’s paid off in score improvements? If you don’t remember, now is the time to remind yourself. You’ve put in months of work, and now it’s going to pay off. Keep this attitude through this weekend, even if you have to force yourself to repeat it like a mantra. This is your time to shine, you’ve put the work in, now show off how much of a logic ninja you’ve become.
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