The bulk of Blueprint classroom students took Practice Exam #1 this past weekend. (If you skipped it, you’re getting off on the wrong foot, friend. You really ought to have that guy in the bag before you set foot in the door tonight or tomorrow!) The most common reaction to seeing the first practice exam score is, for most students, a fairly horrifying experience. Most students prepare themselves to do poorly, and then they do significantly worse than that.
Was this your experience? If it was, there’s no need to freak out.
Although, freaking out is at least part of the point. Let me explain. We give students a practice exam right out of the gate before the first lesson for two reasons. The nice reason is that we want you to be familiar with the basic format of the exam and what’s being tested. Because the LSAT is far different than any other standardized exam – it’s the only one that tests logic and argumentation, as far as I know – most students aren’t really aware what’s coming at them.
The second, less pleasant explanation for this frontal practice exam assault is to scare you. Many students think they’re going to study for this exam like they did for the SAT or like one would for the GRE or any other similar exam that tests math and verbal skills, which is to say whenever they get around to it. That works with other exams because other exams test skills you already have to some extent. Not so with the LSAT.
Instead, you’re doing nothing short of rewiring your brain when you take the LSAT. This is, for most people, not something that happens overnight. So, when you see that score that was way below the score you thought was the worst-case scenario, you are terrified into allotting the proper time and seriousness the test requires.
So, what to do with all of this? Well, we’ve done a number of posts on practice exams, not to mention a video or two as well. You can rifle through that stuff, but what you’ll find is mostly the same. For your first practice exam, there’s nothing you ought to do in response. Even for the next two or three practice exams, you needn’t be to worried about progress. It’s only toward the end – Practice Exam #5 and #6, really – that you’re really trying to put up your test day score, or something close to it. For the most part, the practice exam is just a tool to gauge progress early on and to fine tune strategy later on.
All this is to say that your first practice exam serves its purpose if you walk into Lesson 1 knowing a little bit about what the LSAT looks like and with a healthy bit of motivation to study hard.