When you’re taking an LSAT class, the second practice test you take can be a bit scary. You’ve been learning new things and practicing applying them to LSAT questions, but now all of a sudden there’s a test. With a time limit. You get a score. It’s a bit intimidating, and since many Blueprint LSAT classes are having their second practice exam this weekend it’s a good time to discuss what to expect. How should you interpret this test?
You have some things going for you. You’ve been doing your homework (right?) and gaining expertise with a lot of what’s on the test. You know how to approach a lot of questions. You‘ve studied conditional logic, the common logical fallacies, and so on and so forth. Everything you’ve practiced will help.
But at this point, you have some things working against you, too. You’ve mostly been practicing concepts one at a time; you haven’t much had to jump around between question types as you do on a test. You’re probably a bit slow. (timing-wise, not intellectually, that is). That’s necessary at this point — you need to learn to do things well before you can worry about doing them faster — but it doesn’t help right now. There’s also a fair amount you haven’t studied yet, and it can be disconcerting to have step-by-step approaches for some questions while you have to wing it for others.
You’ll have time to overcome these issues, but they make the second practice test a bit unpredictable. Your score might get a nice bump. Or it might not. If your score stays the same, or even drops a little, that’s normal and not a big deal.
I’m serious. One student of mine went from a 152 on his first practice exam to a 177 on his sixth. His second score? 149. That increase is exceptional, beyond what’s typical, yada yada yada, but the small drop on the second test is normal. I’ve seen a lot of students drop a little and then see large score increases.
How should you review your second practice test and evaluate your performance? Simple. Focus on the questions you were able to get to of the types you’ve studied. How was your accuracy on those questions? If you did well on the question types you’ve studied but your score suffered because you were slow or because of the types you haven’t studied, you’re on the right track. The score just doesn’t show it, yet. On the other hand, if, say, Soft Must Be True Questions were a bloodbath, you have some review to do.
Finally, a little advice for practice test day: The point of the second practice test isn’t only to check in on your progress. It’s also to practice for the real LSAT you’ll take eventually. Strive to make your test conditions realistic. Bring an analog watch, since it’s all you’ll get to use to keep track of time on the real LSAT. Use real #2 pencils since mechanical pencils and pens aren’t allowed at the real LSAT. When time is called, stop work right away. It’s a good habit to be in, since the consequences of not doing so on the real LSAT are dire.
Above all, good luck. Remember, it’s just a practice test. The point is to learn from this test so that you can eventually do your best on the real thing. There will be some bumps along the way.