At this moment, there are only five days left until the October LSAT. (Pause here for a gorilla riot and sounds of muffled sobbing). But as close as that may seem, five days can also feel like an eternity. After all, there’s a lot you can do over the course of 120 hours. You could read the entire Twilight series, watch every season of LOST, or make 5/7 of the world if you were an old testament God. But what should you be doing for the LSAT in the next five days?
One thing you’re not going to do in the next five days is learn more information. Like a kitchen sponge floating in a bathtub full of grey post human wash water, you’ve absorbed just about all the new information you’re going to absorb. Your LSAT prep must now move into the realm of review and mental preparation.
How to Study
Preparing for the LSAT isn’t like preparing for a final as an undergraduate. You probably know this already but the truth is that cramming for the LSAT just doesn’t work. You can’t stay up all night drinking coffee to write a 15 page paper on why Jane Austen prefigured the feminist movement, back when you actually thought she had. Instead, you must…
I. Study in moderation
As anyone who has ever eaten an entire box of Betty Crocker fudge brownies with walnuts can tell you, there is such a phenomenon as too much of a good thing. You can (and should) practice implementing all the skills you’ve acquired in class, but not during marathon study sessions. If you were to study hours and hours every day between now and the LSAT, you’d be utterly exhausted on test day, which is not a great way to get the score you want. Arriving at the test center rested and in a calm state of mind is a much better idea.
Now don’t get me wrong, I, Jodi Triplett, am certainly not saying that you should forget about the LSAT over these last few days, but rather that you should limit the amount you study. Depending on who you are and how much you can accomplish before mind-numbing fatigue sets in, two to three hours per day is plenty.
II. Don’t take a practice exam every day
In LSAT study, there are few things more gratifying than finishing the last section of a practice test, scoring it, and then viewing a numerical validation of your success. I recognize that there’s a lot of satisfaction that can come from taking practice tests. However, there are reasons to limit the number you attempt. The first is that if you take a test every day, it becomes incredibly difficult to learn anything from them. It’s unlikely that after three-ish grueling hours of testing every single day , you’ll have the energy to thoroughly review your mistakes.
Instead, tackle full sections mixed with practice problems (If you’re a Blueprint student, there are full sections in book four). Rather than taking a practice exam every day, set aside every other day for a few 35-minute sprints. Take two or three of these timed, full sections in the morning when you’re fresh. Then, later that day, look over the questions you missed, evaluating why you missed them. This will decrease the chances of you missing similar problems the next time you see them. You can still do practice tests, just not every single day. One or two between now and the test will allow you to build up your stamina without sapping too much of your strength.
III. Get up every day at the same time.
You want to wake up every day this week like it’s test day. If you’re planning to wake up at 7 on Saturday, start now. Give yourself enough time to eat breakfast, relax, and get to your test center. This is huge because you don’t want test day to seem abnormal. Do everything you can to make that day comfortable.
III. Nothing on Friday
The day before the LSAT is a very important day for your LSAT prep. So important, in fact, that it should involve nothing to do with the LSAT whatsoever. This is because Friday is devoted to getting you in a calm frame of mind for Saturday. To that end, take the day off from LSAT study and engage in activities that relax you. Exercise. Watch Disney movies. De-tag questionable photos of yourself on facebook. Whatever it is that brings you relaxation, Friday is the day to do it.
IV. The day of the LSAT
It’s a good idea to bring four or five logical reasoning problems and a game or two with you to your testing center. Have you ever seen Lance Armstrong bicycling on a stationary machine before he begins a time trial in the Tour de France? This is so he’s warmed up before tackling the course. In the same way, you should do several problems before the test begins so your brain is working clearly. However, they MUST be problems you’ve done before. DO NOT attempt virgin material, because if you do that, there’s a decent chance you’ll miss at least a few, which has the potential to wreak havoc with your confidence.
So when you find yourself reaching for a practice LSAT in the wee hours of Thursday morning, fight the urge. Turn on Bambi or Toy Story 10: Is Tim Allen still Alive? and relax, confident in the knowledge that you’ve done all you can to get ready for the big day.
Article by Jodi Triplett of Blueprint LSAT Prep.