Keep Calm and Study On

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There are three weeks left until the LSAT. What’s the best plan of action?

A) Spend all your time studying, with breaks to go to the bathroom (two minutes max), sleep (two hours max), take showers (two a week max), and answer the door for the smoothie delivery guy (no solids—remember the bathroom rule).
B) Do practice tests, wonder why you’re not making as much progress as you should be, wail about how the world will be over to anyone who will listen, and pull a Chicken Little and send a series of tweets to LSAC demanding the LSAT be canceled, because there won’t be any test centers around anyway. #theendisnigh
C) Party, go to the beach, Netflix all day and night. You’ve already learned all you’re going to learn anyway. What will come will come. Who are you to fight fate?

Those are obviously all the wrong choices. But let’s be honest, you probably considered all three when you realized the LSAT is less than a month away. The cycle usually goes from A to B to C and back to A (when you find your inner Rocky or just plain panic about the wasted time).

Rather than go through those highs and lows (mostly lows dropping to lower lows), I want you to stay calm, which is…the worst thing to say to someone who is freaking out (you’re not—I know you’re not).

First things first, go get some exercise. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from Legally Blonde it’s that exercise raises your endorphins, which makes you happy. Or you can do something else that makes you happy. Act out a clichéd Tinder profile and take a long walk on the beach, or play with some puppies, or go to that cool new restaurant you’ve been dying to try. Happy people are better at maintaining a sense of perspective, which means that they don’t go off the deep end and murder people (they go with unlisted choice D—staying calm). Now that you’re near the end, it’s important to maintain a positive outlook and believe that you will be rewarded for your efforts.

Let’s go through a hypothetical: You’ve cleared your mind and you’re ready to turn back to the LSAT. You take a practice test, and you haven’t gained any points since the last time. You no longer think the world’s going to end, but all that sustained frolicking with puppies was for nothing. What then?

Don’t freak out. It’s important to remember that the progress you make now won’t be as big as the progress you made early on. Learning the LSAT is like taking up running after not doing any physical activity since high school P.E. When you first start, you’re flapping your arms in terrible form; working with the wrong shoes for your feet; and panicking at any setback. Those are glaring problems with easy fixes, like how having a clear way to diagram and link rules can really improve your Logic Games.

After a while the problems aren’t as big, but they become more specific. Re-do questions from earlier lessons and see how much more sense they make. Then, go back to the problems you missed two or three weeks back. With some, the correct answers will seem clear to you; with others, you’ll still be puzzled. You’ll understand that you have both made progress recently and have concrete areas to improve.

Remember, even if it seems pointless to keep studying for incremental gains, these specific focuses plus a calm state of mind will make it much more certain that you’ll find success on test day.

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