There’s just a little more than two weeks to go before the February LSAT. The pressure is on, the clock is ticking, etc., etc. Most students in our classroom courses have completed Lesson 13 by now – the last lesson with new subject matter – and so it’s time to review and practice under time pressure. Everyone knows this, but not everyone knows that preparing psychologically for the exam is just as important.
You don’t really have a choice over whether to be stressed. It’s out of your hands. I mean, it’s the LSAT after all. As much as it’s just a test and all, it’s a really important test that has serious implications for your future, including where you go to law school, how much debt you’ll be in afterward, and where you get hired (or don’t).
You do, however, have a choice over how to deal with the stress, and, if you deal confront it and deal with it constructively, it can be a useful motivator. If you don’t, though, it can degrade your performance.
Hopefully you’ve been managing your stress all along during your studying, but, if you haven’t, here are some ideas about how to do so:
1. Exercise – The benefits of exercise are well-documented and indisputable. If you feel like you want to scream after missing your fifth LR question in a row, go out for a jog (or maybe an insane, 2-minute sprint through your neighborhood). Don’t, however, just exercise in response to stress; make it part of your routine. The benefits compound over time.
2. Meditate – No, really. I know you’re going to be an attorney, and you’re not into all that touchy-feely, Eastern Zen nonsense. But, again, its benefits are documented. It’s easy to get thrown off by a question on test day that, at a glance, looks like something you’ve never seen before. If you have a calm mind, you can address it without panicking. Incorporating 15 minutes of meditation into your routine can do wonders for your soul, not to mention your score.
3. Eat healthy – Yes, yet again, I’m going to tell you about documented benefits. Y’know the feeling after the Big Mac and large fries? No, not the self-loathing – although that, I suppose, could affect your performance. I’m talking more about the fatigue and discomfort. A Mediterranean diet – vegetables, fish, nuts, plant-based oils – will help you remain quick on your toes. I’ve got nothing against Taco Bell and a sixer of PBR, but that’s post-LSAT stuff.
4. Take time off – No, really. Burnout is real, and it can affect your score. Choose at least one day between now and test day that has nothing to do with the LSAT or work or school or anything else.
5. Visit your testing center – If possible, you should take a practice exam at your testing center sometime before test day. In-class, proctored practice exams are good, but the closer you can get to test day conditions, the better. If you’ve done it before, you’ll have a greater ability to navigate exam day with the added stresses of administrative procedures, nervous test takers, and the weight of having it be the real thing.
As a very informal number six on our list of five, considering learning and singing this song when you’re feeling stressed: