You’ve gotten a handle on the strategies for the LSAT. Now all that’s left for you to do is practice them. What habits should you avoid getting into so you can be at peak preparedness come test day?
Unrealistic test conditions
Taking the actual test is a high-pressure event, so you want to replicate those conditions as closely as possible.
Studying in Complete Silence or in Noisy Conditions
While it may make things easier for you to study in complete silence, this is not what’s going to happen on test day. Your neighbor will be tapping her pencil, fiddling with her collar, and playing with her hair (how does she have so many hands?!). You will be distracted—if you let yourself. That’s why you need to practice at not being distracted when there are distractions.
This doesn’t mean that you should be studying somewhere that has Spotify or a TV going on in the background, no matter how satisfying it is to yell in self-righteous indignation at your roommates or family, “I’m trying to study here for the LSAT, which is much more important than whatever you’re doing, so TURN IT DOWN!” You’ll get used to the noise, and you’ll get thrown off on test day when there’s too little noise and/or noise that is comes inconsistently. Also, you’ll have gotten in the habit of yelling any time you’re aggravated, and you’ll spend too much time curbing that impulse.
Study somewhere that’s quiet, but where there’s some movement and the occasional quiet noise. Somewhere like… a library.
Taking Unscheduled Breaks
When you’re studying, you’re going to want to take breaks whenever you get frustrated or restless, regardless of whether you’ve only been studying for fifteen minutes or if you’re only two -thirds of the way through logic games on a practice test.
You obviously know you shouldn’t take breaks whenever the mood strikes, but you’ll start thinking, “What’s the harm in one?” Pretty soon, you’ll find that your breaks takes up more time than the time you spend studying.
Granted, you’ll probably be able to reign in the impulse in the weeks before test day, and you won’t be wandering around every five minutes on test day, but you will spend valuable mental energy fighting the impulse to take a break whenever you feel frustrated.
Schedule your breaks beforehand and no wandering about in the middle of a practice test.
There comes a point in your LSAT studying when you have to work really hard to keep your inner eight-year-old from coming out. You know, the voice that says, “Ughhhh, I’d really rather not do this—can’t I just go out and play? Just do whatever it takes to make this go faster.” And while you’ll know the strategies, you’ll think, “Okay, quick check—the strategy is this. I can gloss over it, because I know it, and I’ll still be able to apply it on test day.” And you get in the habit of taking shortcuts with each section.
There are so many questions in Logical Reasoning, it’s easy to justify not marking the question type for just one question, or when you’re reviewing questions you’ve done before. Pretty soon, this leads to not marking the question types for all the questions you think you already know. You tell yourself, “I swear, I’ll actually do this on test day, but I need to get to happy hour ASAP.”
The actual test is no more pleasant—dare I say, less pleasant?—than studying, and you will want to do whatever is possible to get it over with quickly, even doing things you promised you wouldn’t do when you were studying.
Don’t let yourself make excuses, and mark each question type.
It’s so much work coming up with the main diagram, why bother coming up with separate hypotheticals for each question when you can fill in the main diagram and erase?
Because you’ll be keeping a tight lid on your impulse to freak out during the exam, and any mistake may be liable to send you in a tailspin and a game of Clue. “Did I just erase something that was a part of the main diagram and not just the hypothetical? What did I erase? Okay, deep breath, retrace your steps…ohshitohshitohshit.”
And now you’ve just wasted five minutes from the ten seconds you “saved” from drawing up a new hypothetical.
The passages are a slog, and you think you should get a reward for even reading each word. Forget marking up the passages—that’d mean spending even more time reading the passage carefully, and you know how to read anyway.
The reading passages on test day are somehow going to be even more boring and make you want to die even more.
Get in the habit of marking up your reading passages, because you sure as heck won’t want to do so on test day.