Taking an official LSAT is so awesome that I did it more than once. In fact, I did it three times!
Okay, maybe awesome is not the word. However, taking the exam is a singular experience, and I’ll give you a brief rundown of how it went on my first journey into the dark heart of the LSAT. Even better, I’ll tell you what I learned and how I did things differently thereafter.
The first time I took the exam was in October 2001 at UC Irvine. Please do not try to calculate my age given this information. You’ll need serious calculus skills, and, if you’re reading this, chances are you’re a humanities major who needs a calculator to leave a tip. (Just double the tax, professor.)
Anyway, I did not attend UCI as an undergrad, and I didn’t bother to figure out exactly where my test room was located or where the nearest parking was beforehand. I did a good bit of wandering and made several U-turns. As you can imagine, I was already a little flustered when I got to where I was supposed to be.
Fortunately, the wheels of LSAT administration churn excruciatingly slowly, so I still had plenty of time to make awkward small talk with the other nervous test-takers in line.
When I was ushered (herded) to my seat in a large auditorium, I discovered that I would be taking the test on one of those seats with a stowaway desktop. While those things are super neat and the dude who invented them is probably a cool guy or whatever, taking the LSAT on them is a mess.
As you probably know, the desk is approximately the size of one sheet of 8 ½ x 11 paper, which means that you can’t have your answer sheet and test booklet in front of you simultaneously. You can’t even lay the test booklet open in front of you. So if, for example, you’re trying to answer a Logic Games question, you need to flip back and forth between the page with your setup and the page with the question. Then you have to swap the test booklet out for answer sheet. All in all, this introduces unnecessary complications into an already taxing process.
Things settled down, however, and the test went smoothly enough. Students have since told me stories about someone getting thrown out for cheating, or someone quietly sobbing through the test, or someone getting turned away for failing to follow one of the million specific rules LSAC enforces to a tee and having a full blown meltdown as a result.
The larger point here is that there are many variables in play on test day, and you should do your best to prepare for them. The last time I took the LSAT, I made sure that the venue I was at had full tables, not tiny desks. I scouted the location beforehand, etc., etc. There’s always going to be something you didn’t see coming; that’s life. But if you are as prepared as possible, you can totally tune out the poor soul who’s crying quietly in the corner and get that awesome score you’re looking for.
Feel free to share your own test day experiences in the comments section. Good luck this Saturday!