One of the challenges of taking the LSAT is that, of course, test day feels like a high-stakes situation — you’ve been preparing for months, and you feel like you only have one shot to get it right. You probably can’t totally avoid test day nerves unless you’re some kind of LSAT-taking robot, but there are some ways to minimize them; furthermore, there are ways to encourage confidence, which is the LSAT secret sauce. Here’s the skinny on each.
On test day nerves and how to handle them
There are a couple ways to deal with the nerves that ensue from test day. One is to make sure that you’ve taken your practice tests in conditions that are as similar to test day as possible; in addition to following strict timing conditions and always practicing with a scantron, this can mean going to a public library or other place with ambient noise, or even using a proctoring app with background noise so that it’s as if you were in a room with other people.
This might just be me, but I’ve also always found it comforting to think through the worst-case scenario. If you’re taking the September LSAT, the worst-case scenario is that you don’t do well and have to keep studying until December. That probably doesn’t sound particularly fun or appealing to you, but it’s also not the end of the world, so that knowledge should help take some of the test day pressure off.
Test day nerves are, obviously, detrimental for a number of reasons: If you’re especially nervous, you might start second-guessing yourself, working more inefficiently, or even blanking on things that you should know how to do. That’s a big part of the reason for why we at Blueprint emphasize following certain steps for each question type; even if you read a question and have that “oh shit” feeling of not knowing the answer, you’ll still know where to start, and often that’s enough to get you through the question without too much trouble.
On the importance of confidence
On the flip side of test day nerves, we have test day confidence, which is a feeling you should be trying to cultivate as much as possible — if you’re feeling confident, you’re less likely to waste time second-guessing yourself, and less likely to succumb to those pesky nerves.
Now, if you’re anything like my students, you probably aren’t feeling particularly confident at this exact moment — you’re worried about all the things you still feel shaky on, and you wish you had more time to study. The thing is that, no matter how long you study, you will always feel like there’s something else you could have studied if you’d had just a little more time.
Furthermore, although it may not feel this way, if you’re reading this blog you’re likely exceedingly well prepared for the LSAT. There are an astonishing number of people who show up on test day having never seen an LSAT question before, or who have just taken a couple practice tests and decided to see how they do on the real thing. When it comes to the amount of time spent preparing, if you’re the type of person to be reading an LSAT blog, you’re likely already above the median.
For the rest of this week, try to encourage yourself to feel confident as much as possible. If you absolutely killed it on your last practice test, you probably don’t need to take another one; instead, just ride the wave of the positive feelings from your last test. And on Thursday (which should be your last day of studying, if you’re taking the test on Saturday), make sure to cap off your studying by working on some question types that you’re really good at, so that you end your studying on a positive note.
Even if it doesn’t always feel like it, you ARE ready, and you ARE prepared. So get ready to kick some LSAT ass.