Saturday’s a big day. If you’re reading this, then you’re probably going to take the LSAT on Saturday. We are as of now a mere 96 hours (give or take) away from the test. During these last few days you want to wind down the studying, and get in your happy place. We’ve already gone over what you should be doing in this final week, so I’m here to talk about what the actual test day is going to look like.
I’ve taken the LSAT twice myself, and have had hundreds of students who have done the same, so I should be able to give you a decent idea of what’s going to happen. It’s going to be the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to you. Make sure you go to bed early, wake up early, and…
Get to the testing center by 8:00. Seriously. I know you’d probably like to be sleeping more, and arriving later. But get there by 8:00. Why? First of all, you should be doing some warm up before the test – do a handful of LR problems and a game to get the juices flowing. The other reason to get there early is for the just-in-case factor. Maybe there’s an escaped pack of rabid cats causing a traffic jam. Maybe the subway is being hijacked by Robert Shaw. Maybe a homeless person punches you in the leg and you have to stop to massage it (your leg) back to health. The point is, things happen, and you want to be absolutely certain that you don’t miss
Check-In at 8:30. You absolutely, positively must be at your testing center by then at the complete, utter latest. You should have been in the parking lot for the last half hour doing your homework, anyway. But this is the fun part. After making you throw away your coffee, the LSAC minions fingerprint you like some common criminal or bank account-opener. They check your ID, making sure it’s not expired, and that you’re not taking the test for someone else (linked to ATL craigslist article). They then herd you with the rest of the cattle into where you’ll actually be taking the test. This entire process can happen in many ways. At some centers, they’ll tell you to go to a specific room and you check in there with 20-30 other people. If you’re at a community college or high school, this is fairly likely. Sometimes, though, they put you all in one giant room, and you might have hundreds of classmates for the next couple hours. The test is the same either way, so don’t worry about it too much.
One important thing here: make sure you go to the bathroom BEFORE you check in. Once you’re in, they don’t let you out until the test actually starts. So go take a piss. If you don’t have to go, then, in the words of your mother, “go anyway.” It’s going to be a couple hours at least until you get another opportunity to urinate without sacrificing your LSAT score, so whatever residual liquid is sloshing around in your bladder, let it out.
So you go to the bathroom, check in, and, if you’re lucky, everyone will be seated and shitting themselves (proverbially, unless they didn’t go to the bathroom) by 8:50. At which point you’ll be read
A long and stupidly obvious list of instructions. Your proctors tell you how the test works. This will be fun, because they’ll be learning for the first time themselves, as they read it from a sheet of paper. The instructions will include such useful tidbits as where to write your name (where it says “Name,”) how to bubble in scantron bubbles (fully!), and where to fill in your “racial/ethnic description” (little known fact – if you bubble in “Canadian Aboriginal,” an honorary reading comp passage will be written about you, and LSAC must grant you one wish [though you can’t wish for more wishes]).
This is also when you’ll be given your test and answer sheet. You won’t get to open the test until it’s time to actually start. It will just be sitting there in front of you, staring at you, withholding its deep, dark secrets, laughing at you. Some people get freaked out about this. But not you. You know that the joke’s on the LSAT; you’re about to violate it. Because finally, at long last,
The Test Begins – This will probably happen somewhere between 9:00 and 9:30. 35 minutes of joy coming your way. It could be any section to start. Don’t worry if people next to you appear to be doing games while you’re doing reading comp. You all get graded on the same 4 scored sections, but you also get them in different orders. But why were you looking at the person next to you anyway? Shame on you.
Also, make sure you only work within the section that you’re on. If they catch you in another section, they are allowed to kill you with fire. This will be among the rules stammered out to you in the beginning. 35 minutes later, time is called. Put your pencil down. Really, RIGHT THE EFF NOW. If they see you writing after they’ve called time, bye-bye LSAT score. They’ll read some more directions for a minute or so, then it’s on to section 2. Rinse and repeat, then section 3. Of these three sections, one of them will be experimental. But there’s no way of knowing which one it is, so don’t waste any time trying to figure it out. Before you know it, those three sections will be over, and it’ll be time for
The Break, which is supposed to be 15 minutes. It’s usually a bit longer, when you count the time it takes to collect your booklets, which they have to do before you can take off. Then it’s off to the bathroom to empty your bladder. Make sure you do this. Again. Even if you don’t really have to go. Also, this is when you get to eat your snack and drink your 20 oz beverage. The excitement. It’s time to get back, though, because
The Test Continues with the last two scored sections. Your proctors will hand back your test booklets, and it’s more of the same. Sections 4 and 5 just breeze right by, and before you know it, it’ll all be over. All those hundreds of hours of studying will have finally, finally paid off, and you’ll be done with this terrible, terrible test. You’ll want to do nothing more than just collapse, but you can’t, because you’ve got to do the
Writing Sample. Oh, yeah. That. They’ll collect your test booklets, and hand you out a new booklet with the writing sample. You now have a half-hour to write an advocacy essay about something incredibly stupid. You have to do it, and you should do a good job, but this is pretty much the easiest thing in the world, so don’t sweat it. Then, probably around 1:30, you’ll turn your paperwork in, collect your stuff, and start
Drinking in the Parking Lot. Make sure you obey all state and local laws, but seriously, if you ever needed a justification for afternoon drunkenness, it’s the LSAT.
The above should give you a decent idea of what will be happening, although variations abound. Hopefully you’ll start around 9:00. But it could be a lot closer to 11:00 if you have a poorly-run center. This isn’t likely, but it can happen. Also, one would hope to have quiet and professional proctors who know what they’re doing. But they might talk to each other during the test, they might all smell like different varieties of dumpsters, and they might actually answer their phones. While it’s certainly not common, all of those things can and do happen. It’s not like LSAC has legions of highly-trained proctors, kept in stasis chambers in an underground lair in Newtown, PA, only let out four times per year to administer LSATs. I think these people get compensated with $5 and a hot meal, and they may or may not come from the magical land of Craigslist (pure speculation). I say this just to remind you that things can deviate from the plan, and you’ve gotta roll with the punches. What matters most is that you stay focused, calm, and confident. You’re ready, you’re prepared, you’re going to do great.