The NFL regular season begins tonight. The preseason, an annual four-game exercise devoted to figuring out roster spots and fleecing season ticket holders, is over. Starting tonight, there will be much less talk of deflated balls and the extent to which said balls merit punishment for the alleged deflators, and much more talk of who’s winning and losing.
It just so happens that the shift from the preseason to the regular season coincides with a shift in how those studying for the October LSAT should view their practice tests. Of course, on the LSAT, nothing counts until the real thing, but there are parallels nonetheless.
In preseason football, no one cares who wins or loses. While it’s possible to bet on the outcome of preseason games, that’s reserved for the most degenerate of degenerate gamblers. In each preseason game, coaches play their best players for a short time if at all. The bulk of the action is devoted to things like figuring out who will make the team. The final score is irrelevant.
There’s a lot in common there with how you should view the practice tests you’ve taken so far. The details of your performance matter far more than the final score. The tests you’ve taken so far have been a chance to apply the skills you’ve been working on, but you haven’t had to worry about putting it all together.
Starting now, the score becomes relevant. There’s a difference, of course: NFL regular season games count, and your practice tests don’t. But nonetheless, you can start to evaluate where you stand in the big picture. Just as the results from week 1 of the regular season don’t determine who wins the Super Bowl, your practice test results don’t determine anything right now. There’s time to improve. The difference is that you can start to look at the big picture.
In the preseason, coaches and coordinators don’t call plays the same way they will in the regular season. They’re mostly interested in evaluating personnel, and they don’t want to give away anything big as to how they’ll approach certain situations in the regular season.
There’s a lot in common there with the way you probably approached your early practice tests — you most likely took things question by question without regard for a bigger picture strategy. Now, it’s time to develop a section strategy. How long do you want to spend on the first few questions? Is there anything you’ll skip at first? Where would you like to be at the five-minute warning? You have time before the real LSAT to adjust all these variables, but it’s time to start thinking about them.
NFL training camp is known to be a rigorous test. Things may not be quite as brutal as they once were, but it’s still not exactly easy. Now that the regular season is underway, teams will still practice and practice a lot. But there’s a little bit of a shift in focus; there’s a little more priority on avoiding injuries and fatigue.
In these last few weeks before the LSAT, you need to study and study a lot. But you also need to put yourself in the right physical and mental state to succeed on game day. That means you need the occasional day off, for your sanity. It’ll help you learn better, too. If your LSAT studying interferes with getting adequate sleep, you’ll find that the returns diminish rapidly. Exercise is important as well. You can’t succeed at the LSAT by doing the LSAT all day and all night.
So watch that game, if that’s what you like to do. Play that touch, flag, or fantasy football if you feel the urge. As long as you get that study time in, you can afford to take some time to do things you enjoy.