A Few LSAT Exam Day Reminders (and Good Luck to December’s LSAT Takers!)

Tomorrow and Monday are the December test administrations for thousands of LSAT takers.  Before the October exam, I put up a post on what LSAT takers should and should not be doing in the days before the LSAT, and especially the day before.  That post proved so popular that it’s reprised below.

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The next few days are big ones for many thousands of LSAT takers and law school aspirants.  Best of luck (and skill) to all!

The day before exam day, what should you be doing?  The basic answer is, just enough to keep your head in the game for the next day.  You shouldn’t shift into high gear for the LSAT at this stage; indeed, the opposite is better.  You understand what you understand,  you have the techniques you have, and an extra day isn’t going to matter.  In fact, hard preparation the day before the test is usually counterproductive; it can induce panic, uncertainty in your techniques, and just generally wear you out so you’ll be less rather than more fresh on the one day that actually matters.

You should, in other words, follow the schedule for the day before the exam that you established weeks ago; seldom do adjustments to a well-conceived plan help.  Do a little refresher work or review but no more.

If there’s not much “content” work that will be productive, there are still a few LSAT-related activities that can help lock you in to do the best work you can do (aside from the obvious getting enough sleep, having sensible meals, etc.).  Hopefully, there’s nothing here that you haven’t been doing regularly during your LSAT prep, but it’s useful to remind yourself of them now (and on exam day).

There’s a simple fact and two general rules.  The fact: most LSAT takers fall off their “best practice LSAT score.”  That can’t be content-related, which is why my clients’ LSAT preparation programs are structured to maximize  exam-day test-taking from the start, so that content and exam day execution (which differs from non-exam day execution) are always integrally related.

The two rules that follow from that fact: first, no surprises; second, the only thing that matters to you while taking the exam is the question in front of you.

To help minimize surprises, you should review LSAC’s rules carefully the day before the exam (if you haven’t already).  They’re available here.

The second rule, focusing only on the question in front of you, has a lot of LSAT exam day implications, a few of which follow.

Before the exam and at the break, it’s helpful to be thinking about one or two types of questions that have given you trouble and drill yourself on how you’re going to approach them (here, the “question in front of you” is the first question on the exam or after the break).  There’s often a lot of milling around and yakking before the exam and at the break, and you should not participate.  Find a quiet corner and occupy it.  There’s plenty of time to catch up with people after the exam is over.  But in fallow times on exam day, all the chatter is a distraction from what you’re there for, which is getting your highest LSAT score.  Drilling and review can be especially productive during the break, when you know at least one section that’s coming and can focus on approaches to question types in that section.

There’s also a registration gap, including filling in your demographic and test information, and writing your certifying statement.  All the time you’re doing that, or waiting for others to finish, you should be thinking about approaches to certain types of questions on the exam.  For baseball fans, it’s essentially “bullpen” work that a starting pitcher does before taking the mound.

During the exam, there will be distractions.  Simple as that.  The person next to you may be irritating, there are people who try to depress other takers, the proctors may be loud or walk around, their time cues may be inconsistent, etc.  You need to tune those distractions out and focus on the question in front of you.  You should have developed and refined specific techniques to do that during your LSAT prep, so just remember to use them.

You’ll also need to avoid self-distractions.  One of the most common is constantly reminding yourself of whatever you believe the significance of your LSAT score is.  It won’t help you to keep thinking, I’ve got to do well, I’ve got to do well, my future’s on the line, etc.  That will prevent you from getting your highest LSAT score.  To do your best on LSAT exam day, concentrate on the question in front of you.  You can worry later about whether your preparation and your score were good enough.

Still, you will lose focus at various times during the LSAT, and you’ll need to recover that focus.  I’ve talked in the past about some rituals to do that.  But here’s the point: not only does nothing around you matter, but the last question and the last section don’t matter either.  You’ve done what you can do, and there’s no percentage in missing the question in front of you because you’re still thinking about a prior question.

A special note on time cues: during LSATs, when the proctor notes time, there’s generally a mad shuffle of papers.  That indicates a loss of focus among many takers.  You should understand the significance of those cues (and your own cues when occasionally you check your analog watch) and use them to refocus.  If the proctor gives a 10-minute cue, you still have ton of time to do great work.  Often, it helps to think, ok, just focus for the next 10 minutes.  Then, the cue isn’t a distraction but a refocusing opportunity.  Even a minute left, even 30 seconds, is enough time to do some accurate work.  At 10 or 15 seconds, well, maybe not, and you should fill in the remaining ovals on questions you’re not going to get to.  And then forget about it as you turn to the next section.

Above all else, keep it simple and don’t panic—every bit of energy not focused on the question in front of you not only wastes energy that you’ll need for hard questions but decreases both your speed and your accuracy.  If your preparation has been effective, you should be able to obtain an LSAT score at your top practice range—good luck!

~ by Kyle Pasewark at Advise-in Solutions on December 10, 2010.

2 Responses to “A Few LSAT Exam Day Reminders (and Good Luck to December’s LSAT Takers!)”

  1. […] one of my LSAT-related posts is designed to be read right before the LSAT, more as a reminder than new information.  One of the points I make in that post is that the day […]

  2. […] of advice on what you should you do (and not do) in the days leading up to the exam. Remember – keep it simple, and don’t […]

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