7 things I wish I knew before taking the LSAT

Hey all,

I just started a new year of fellowship, this time on the director’s side. I’m instructing as well as studying with this year’s fellows for the upcoming digital LSAT in September. Of course the fellows have plenty of questions, but it seems that they are most interested in the day-of experience.

It makes complete sense. You can practice all you want but you don’t know what the real day will feel like. As I look back to taking my first LSAT, I realize what a mess I was. I had the material down but I wasn’t as mentally or emotionally prepared for the day as I should’ve been. There are definitely things I would’ve done differently.

 

  1. Research and believe the reviews you find about your test center.

My test center was literally hell. It was way too hot and we were waiting for so long. When we finally got into the mini chem lecture room to take the exam, the desks were far too small and the air conditioner was blowing my papers away and my baby hairs in my eyes. I saw reviews saying this wasn’t a good test center, but it was so close to my home and the reviews were quite old, so I thought the convenience would surpass the cons. I WAS WRONG. Pay attention to reviews. People don’t write them unless they feel VERY strongly.

Also, I realize papers getting blown away will no longer be a problem for the digital LSAT, but you’re still going to want enough room for the tablet, your scrap paper, and some pencils.

2.  BRING EAR PLUGS. DON’T TALK TO ANYONE.

People really show up to this exam thinking they can wing it. They show up not having studied for the exam and they WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT. This is not your time to be friendly or feel like you have to soothe someone who was irresponsible enough to take this expensive exam without studying for it. Do you. Bring ear plugs. Meditate on your 15 min break. DON’T START CONVERSATIONS. Misery loves company and if you’re already feeling bad about the first half, talking to other people will make you feel WORSE.

 

3. PLAN AHEAD.

It’s 2019 and when I travel without my phone, I literally feel naked. What I noticed when I took my exam was that people brought their phones but either locked it up at the local gym or paid the local bodega/deli to hold on to them. (I live in NYC where this is/was common practice for high school kids who weren’t allowed to bring their phones into school). Go visit your testing center. If you feel that you need your phone on you, plan ahead and look in the area or have a friend tag along for the 4 hours to work nearby so that you’ll have your stuff as soon as it’s over.

 

4. IF YOU HAVE HAIR, BRING/WEAR A SOFT HEADBAND.

Emphasis on soft. You don’t want a headband digging into your head and causing you headaches mid-exam. However, a soft headband will keep the hairs out of your eyes especially if there is a DAMN AIR CONDITIONER NEXT TO YOU.

 

5. WEAR LAYERS.

I did this.. but phew.. the temperature differences on that late September morning were extreme. From the hot and humid hallway to the cold, windy lecture room. Wear layers. You won’t regret.

 

6. This test doesn’t define you or your worth. There are people that have been trained their whole life for this exam. It’s kind of elitist, but it’s still important.

The reality of this exam is that it exists. It’s changed in form and other schools are beginning to accept the GRE, but right now the LSAT is still an important component of your law school application. That being said, how you perform on this exam does not define you. Don’t let it scare you into thinking it does because you’ll let it win. Meditate, observe yourself, be mindful of your emotions but don’t let them make you so reactive that you mess up the exam.

7. Work smarter, not harder.

You can take a thousand PrepTests and still keep getting the same score. Be aware. Recognize what you’re struggling with and work your way to understanding the question type. Work with other people to understand their way of thinking. You’ll burn yourself out trying to take so many PrepTests so take a good amount, but balance it with problem sets for specific question types. This allows you to drill in questions or question types that you are weaker at.

 

If you’ve gotten this far, thank you! I’ll be coming up with more content soon as I continue to study for this exam again. I’m coming from quite a different headspace this year so I’m hoping I can make better choices and observations to get a higher score for this exam!

Some of my stats in case you were wondering:

Diagnostic: 149

Highest prep test: 163

Actual: 154

 

^^ I personally think those are big differences which is why I’ll be taking this exam again.

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