November 12, 2012
It should be no secret that how well you perform on LSAT test day is going to seriously depend on how well you prepared in the months leading up the LSAT. Unlike your Writ 300 essay or your Calculus midterm, the LSAT can’t simply be mastered in a sleepless night. Even the biggest procrastinators need to learn to buckle down and set up a consistent, long-term study schedule.
Once you’ve been studying for several weeks and have a solid grasp of the major concepts that the LSAT tests, it’s important that you begin to work through practice problems under actual testing conditions. This doesn’t mean that you need to hire a proctor to stare at you inside a college classroom for four hours, but you do need to get comfortable testing under time constraints.
Even the most competent LSAT students, those who ace every practice problem that comes their way, can be shaken up the first instance that a timer sits alongside them. Though there is obviously nothing officially binding about a timer that you set yourself, it can change everything. You’ll be alarmed to see how fast the concepts and strategies you’ve been taught fly out your head. You’ll find yourself rushing through Reading Comprehension passages and jumping into Logic Games before making crucial deductions which you would typically spot. Keeping your cool under the gun is a skill that must be practiced, even for the brightest and most composed LSAT students.
Practicing under proper testing conditions also means that you should be consistent with the substances you consume. Don’t depend on coffee to get you through every practice test if you don’t plan on drinking coffee come test day. Similarly, don’t try popping an Adderall on the morning of the LSAT if you don’t already take it consistently. Stimulants and test-day nerves are not a good combination, students who make this mistake typically report feeling overcome by a tornado of anxiety, rather than a laser-beam of focus. Finally, don’t be surprised when your LSAT score comes back lower than expected if you decided to skip breakfast on test day.
You’ve probably heard countless sob stories of students who underperform on test day. Don’t let that happen to you. If you take your practice tests under official testing conditions, and don’t try to pull out any new stops on test day, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at just how “normal” the actual test feels.