A few weeks ago, Blueprint LSAT instructor Branden Frankel shared his tale about the first time he took the LSAT. Branden exemplifies the laid-back, West Coast, chill approach to one’s first LSAT attempt. I, on the other hand, exhibited the uptight, Type A, super paranoid (but prepared!) approach to LSAT-taking. (Hmm, maybe I should have become a lawyer after all….)
Back in the day, I was a fresh-faced, bright-eyed pre-law student with big dreams and an even bigger stack of #2 pencils. I had taken an LSAT course with this company I’d never heard of prior to researching classes called Blueprint LSAT Prep. I had been scoring well on my practice exams and was feeling pretty confident about my odds of getting the score I wanted.
The night before my LSAT, I woke up literally every hour, petrified that I had somehow slept through the multiple alarms I had set. Far from a restful night. Fortunately, my excellent LSAT instructor (no joke, Colin Elzie is/was my hero) had warned us to get plenty of sleep in the nights leading up to the LSAT for this very reason, so I woke up feeling surprisingly chipper.
I was living in Queens, NY at the time and had to take the subway to Manhattan. I made this exact commute every day to get to work but was paranoid that it would somehow take way longer on the weekend (a fear that, in light of weekend subway service, was not entirely unfounded), so I left my apartment extremely early. So early, in fact, that I arrived at my test center a full hour before it even opened. I had obediently left my cell phone at home, so it was a very slow hour to kill.
Finally, we were allowed to enter the testing center – huzzah! I crouched in a stairwell to complete my test warm-up before filing into the gigantic test room, which was lined with long tables. After taking my seat and listening to the nervous chatter around me (and marveling at how unprepared some people were – I heard multiple people say that they were taking the test without preparing “just to see how they’d do”), the test finally got underway.
The rest of my memory about taking the LSAT is a blur. I am one of those fortunate people who doesn’t get very nervous when taking important tests (though I make up for it by being exceedingly nervous about every step leading up to the test), and I knew I was well-prepared, so taking the test just felt like getting down to business.
In his post, Branden mentions the importance of preparing for as many variables as possible to eliminate unnecessary stress and confusion. I wholeheartedly cosign that statement – I was still nervous about the things I couldn’t control, but because I had prepared so well for the things that I could control, I was able to stay focused on the task at hand. Some degree of stress and anxiety is inevitable, unless you have nerves of steel, but feeling prepared and confident makes a huge difference in your overall test performance.
I might sound like I was a total basket case on test day – and, okay, I still have the occasional dream about being late to the LSAT and not being allowed in – but my overall experience was relatively stress-free because I knew I had done as much as possible to ensure I was ready. Don’t get so caught up in the details of preparing for the test itself that you forget to prepare for the logistics, and you’ll be thanking yourself later.