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Withdrawing from the LSAT: Nerves or Warning Signs?

Two days before I took the LSAT, I scored lower on a practice exam than I had in months. I was so mortified, I started thinking about postponing until the next test. I imagine that some of you may be facing a similar dilemma.

There’s a clear difference between common nerves and legitimate reasons to withdraw from Monday’s exam. This post is meant to help you figure out if it is in your best interest to go forward with the June LSAT, or whether you would be better served by postponing. I’m going to lay out a few clear warning signs that would warrant taking the test at a later date.

Warning Sign #1: Consistently Scoring Below Your Target
At this point, you probably have a pretty clear idea of the LSAT score you hope to achieve. If your practice test scores are consistently 5+ points lower than your target score, then you may want to reconsider taking the test in a few days. It is highly unlikely that you will see your score improve that significantly on the actual exam. Rather than settling for an unsatisfactory score, I would take the extra time to study and get your score up to your target range.

Warning Sign #2: Particular Question Type Issues
Blueprint’s diagnostics provide an effective way to track your performance on every individual question type, and even if you’re not a Blueprint student you can sign up for a free account to score your exams and see question-type analysis. Regardless of whether or not you’re using in-depth diagnostics, you should have a pretty good sense of the areas that are giving you trouble. If you find that you are regularly struggling with a particular question type, then that’s another good reason to consider postponing. This is especially true if you’re struggling with a concept that is essential to performing well on a variety of question types (e.g. diagramming or identifying flaws). These kinds of conceptual issues can usually be overcome by drilling question types or making sure you truly understand your methods, but likely not in the next few days.

Warning Sign #3: Timing Issues
“You miss one-hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.” That famous quotation from Wayne Gretzky (or was it Michael Scott?) perfectly sums up my point here; if you are consistently unable to complete all the questions in a section and you routinely find yourself leaving answer choices blank, then you have a legitimate reason to consider taking the test at a later time. With a few more months of practice, you should be able to get through questions more quickly. Getting a well-reasoned answer choice for every question will improve your potential to score higher on the test.

It’s natural to feel nervous in the days leading up to the LSAT. But it is important not to confuse nervousness with unpreparedness – most of you should stay the course, and take Monday’s exam. But if you’re seeing the signs I’ve described, you may want to consider postponing. Please bear in mind, I am by no means suggesting that you should abandon your plan to take the LSAT altogether; rather, it may behoove you to take it at a time when you are in the best position to succeed.