Mentally and Physically Preparing for the LSAT

The February LSAT is coming up. “I know, I know,” you say. You’re should be busy practicing and then reviewing and then practicing again. That’s all great, but let’s take a step back and look at the bigger picture. How do you prepare yourself to go into the LSAT test center and rock the LSAT? Here are a few issues to consider:

Test-Day Environment
LSAT test takers sometimes report that they’re distracted or thrown off by things that happen on test day: a proctor’s loud high heels, or a fellow test taker’s sniffles or pencil tapping. That’s often a consequence of taking practice tests in overly controlled environments. If you’re doing all your LSAT practice in a soundproofed room, with earplugs in, you’re setting yourself up for the little noises and annoyances of test day to mess with you. So make sure you have the mental capacity to focus in any situation.

Don’t do anything drastic. I’m not going to suggest that you go to the bar on Friday night and whip out your LSAT homework (or anything else for that matter). But do some of your practice in places that aren’t quite silent. A library study room is a good example. If you work in a big office, do a timed section over lunch in another department’s (empty) conference room, with the door open. Don’t wear earplugs; you won’t get to wear them on test day. Get used to timing yourself with an analog watch, too.

State of Mind
In other words, how do you feel about the LSAT? In your relationship with the LSAT, who holds the power? You want to walk into the testing room confident in your abilities. Part of this comes from really understanding what’s on the LSAT. Review the questions you get wrong, and even the ones you’re not sure about, thoroughly. Your goal should be to really understand the test writers’ logic. Why are the wrong answers, to them, indisputably wrong? Why does the right answer work? The less mystery the LSAT entails, the better you’ll feel.

The other part of this comes from having a plan. For example, how much time should have elapsed when the tenth logical reasoning question in a section goes by? If you get in a time crunch, what will you look to skip first? Are you doing everything in order, or are you looking for easier things to do first on some sections? As you figure these things out, make a definite plan for how you’ll approach each section.

Know Your Body
Brain function is more closely tied to physical health than you think. Sleep deprivation doesn’t help with the LSAT. Nor does a diet of instant ramen. You need to take care of yourself over the next couple weeks. You have to study a lot. But if you let all that studying keep you from sleeping or keep you from getting any exercise, you’ll find that the returns diminish rapidly. Eat well. Sleep. Exercise. Plan to take one day, or at least an afternoon and evening, away from the LSAT. Trust me, you’ll come back with a better understanding of what you’ve been studying.

All in all, your goal should be to go into the February LSAT feeling like you know what to expect and you’re able to handle it. The studying you’ve done and that you’ll continue to do is important, of course. As you keep up that studying, take care of yourself. Vary your routine to minimize surprises. The end is in sight, so good luck!

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