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What To Do When You Backslide

  • by Anna Wang
  • Mar 24, 2015
  • General LSAT Advice, LSAT

When preparing for the LSAT, you may find that you’ve suddenly mastered a section of the test that you’d been having problems with, resulting in a rapid score increase in a very short period of time. This is wonderful, and will confirm many things you suspected about yourself: you are a genius, you are as charismatic as Chris Pratt, and you are destined to clerk for and become BFFs with the Notorious RBG.

And then you might find that, after a week of riding high, you get a ton of answers wrong in the section you thought you’d conquered, and your score backslides. This will make you question many things: Were you really switched at birth with a better, LSAT wizard of a baby? Is the Earth actually flat?  And just how notorious is RBG anyway?

Crying bitter, existential-hued tears into your ice cream does not help. Stop ruining the flavor of the ice cream and do the following things instead:

1. Take a mental break
Worrying about it makes it worse. Don’t twist yourself into knots, wondering what went wrong and if it will happen again in the future. Avoid hammering away at that section of the test while you’re so hopped-up, lest the cycle continue.

This is not healthy, nor helpful. Take your mind off of things. Spend time with friends, and talk about things other than the LSAT and your switched-at-birth theories.

2. Focus on another section of the test
After your mini-break, focus on another section of the test. Your break may have been less of a break and more of a distraction (“I want to get back to fixing the problem!”), so you still need more time away from the problem to really clear your mind and get it away from working in the same patterns.

Plus, you can always improve on other sections of the exam; you’d be wasting your time doing the same thing over and over again with the problem section.

3. Review the fundamentals of the troublesome section
Now you can to go back to your problem. You’ve distanced yourself from it, so you’re ready to approach it with a fresh perspective.  You’ll be tempted to jump back into doing questions, but it’s better to build your ability up, block by block.

Go slowly, and review the fundamentals of how to tackle problems in that section. Pretend you’re a newborn LSAT baby, and are learning things for the first time. You’re reworking your wiring, and making sure it’s going the right way, rather than, in your panic, relapsing into what you did in your pre-epiphany days.

4. Review the questions that brought you down
Now you’re finally ready to head back to the scene of the crime. Redo the questions that started your backslide. This will help solidify your fundamentals and let you see where you went wrong. It will reassure you that you know what you’re doing, so you can go forth and master that section from now on.

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