With preparations for the October LSAT in full swing, many students are preparing for their second practice test right around now. The second practice test is a lot like a second date: you know what a little more about what to expect, you’re a little more comfortable with the process, but you’re still trying to figure a lot of things out. The good news is that you’re guaranteed a third, fourth, and even fifth date with the test. The bad news is that you might not want to see your date ever again after practice test number two is finished.
The reason for the bad news is that a lot of people struggle mightily on their second go around. I, for one, scored lower than my diagnostic on my second practice test. I was demoralized, mortified, humiliated, etc. etc. I didn’t really believe my instructor when he told me that I should expect to struggle. I thought that meticulously completing every practice problem and reviewing the answers would lead to instant improvements. It did not. And it does not for most people. The reason for students’ struggles is that they still aren’t familiar with the methods. As a result, the questions that they have covered take longer—they’ll want to diagram every conditional statement and carefully follow the other steps they’ve practiced—leaving them less time to complete the other questions on the test. If you struggle with timing, or see a score decrease, don’t worry. Everything will be fine.
So, you might be asking why the second practice test takes place before you’ve covered all the material. Well, first, it is important to periodically get exposed to a simulated LSAT environment. They are spaced out to ensure that you’re comfortable with the test-taking process before the actual LSAT. Second, it is a great way to test your comprehension of the early question types. You can use your results on the “must be true” questions, for example, to make sure that you’re on the right track with those. If you don’t diagram when you should, or you consistently miss question types that you’ve covered, use that as impetus to review your methods and materials. Apart from your results on those question types, I wouldn’t really be concerned at all with your score on practice test number two.
To summarize: don’t be worried if you struggle, don’t pay attention to your score, don’t panic, but do make sure that you review and analyze all of the question types that you’ve covered. A lot of the concepts in the course build on one another, so if you don’t have a strong foundation now, you’ll be in hot water later on. Use your results on the early question types to formulate questions for your tutor or instructor. I improved on my third test, and even more on my fourth test, so trust me when I say the results will come. It isn’t all about instant gratification—stay in school, kids.