Ten Days Until the LSAT: Everything You Need to Know
I feel like I’m giving a lot of LSAT advice right now, being asked:
- Am I ready?
- What do I do for the next 10 days?
- How do I calm down?
- Is December too late?
- Should I withdraw?
- How will I know whether to cancel my score?
I know the advice I always give in response to these questions. For example, just this week a client asked me:
“I’m still having trouble finishing on time, any tips on that? I read somewhere that on the day of the exam, the adrenaline rush takes over and people usually finish earlier than their prep tests?” I responded, “Just do the best you can on each question, knowing you might be sacrificing other questions for timing. Check through each section quickly and see which ones you think will be hardest to answer. But practice this strategy so you don’t get freaked out on test day.”
I always like to know what advice other people would give since I’m the Law School Expert, not the LSAT expert : ) So I consulted someone who I consider to be an LSAT expert, my friend Noah Teitelbaum of Manhattan LSAT. And after his great advice, below, I’ve included tips from some of my Facebook friends who responded to a call for last minute LSAT advice. Also, if you haven’t heard it before, you MUST spend 45 minutes in the next few days listening to my Blog Talk Radio show/podcast on last minute LSAT tips, featuring Noah on the panel of experts.
Without further ado, here is Noah:
It’s about 10 days until the October LSAT – 240 hours, 14,400 minutes, or 864,000 seconds – but let’s not spend our time counting! If you’re freaking out, here are some ideas to help keep you chugging along smoothly into a great LSAT score:
1. Focus on the main event. Right about now we see on our LSAT forums lots of questions about unimportant topics and students freaking out about the hardest LSAT questions in written history. Rare question and game types are rare! If you find them tough, that’s not a big deal. What is important is that you are able to get the easy and common ones correct without wasting too much time, leaving you enough time for the rare question or game. And, games are generally more consistent today than in days of yore, so don’t freak out if you think CD game or the Zephyr airlines game is hard – they were! Focus on capitalizing on your strengths, not trying to do an emergency patch-up of a minor weakness.
2. Clean up your act. Time to switch to O’Doul’s for the next 10 days, and start exercising (exercise has been linked to neural growth). And, create a schedule for yourself. Most people should be doing just 2-3 more practice LSATs in the last 10 days, though there are some strange people who do better doing an LSAT every day until test day. Think about what generally makes you stay on the top of your mental game, write out a schedule, and execute. For most people, this means a steady diet of 2 section practice sets, deep review, replay of tough questions, and a full, 5-section practice LSAT sprinkled in here or there.
3. Go mental. Before an Olympic diver takes a dive, she imagines the whole process, from start to finish. That way, the dive is simply an execution of a plan, not something that’s being invented at that moment. Same thing for you. Consider how you’ll take this test – what you’ll do when you face a tough question, what you’ll do if the proctor screws up. Practice envisioning this before each practice test. Then, do the same thing on test day morning.
On test day:
4. Keep it real. There’s something magically disastrous that happens on test day for many people. Let’s say two people are both getting 160-164 on their practice LSATs. When Mr. Proctor says begin, Mr. 164 now is possessed with the idea that he might be able to get a 180. This is a problem. The truth is that Mr. and Ms. 164 will NOT GET A 180. Ms. 164 does a better job of controlling her passions: she aims for a 164, knowing she can get about 18 questions wrong. When she comes across a ridiculously tough question, she makes an educated guess and moves on, saving time for other questions that are tough, but doable with a bit more time. Mr. 164 instead spends 2.5 minutes on the first impossible question he faces, still gets it wrong, and is now trying to catch up. In short, go in there and know how many you want to get wrong, and get them wrong.
5. Admit it, it is hard. Unless you’re scoring well-below the national median, chances are that if you think a question is hard, most everyone else in the nation does too. There are always some geeks out there who won’t, but if we stick to thinking about the mortal population, let’s keep a cool head. It’s a tough question, lots of people will get it wrong, the question is whether you’ll get it wrong and waste a lot of time on it. Notice that this is the same advice as #1?
6. Warm-up with a warm-up, not section 1. Your brain is a muscle, and it probably isn’t used to working on Saturday morning, so bring a tough game that you’ve mastered, maybe an LR question or RC passage, read it outside the LSAT center as you sip your usual morning beverage (don’t over caffeinate!) and then crumble it up as you walk in and toss it triumphantly. Better that than using the first section as your warm-up…
7. Even if you’re going to cancel, take the test like you won’t. Keep on trucking through that LSAT. It’s always good to get the practice, and perhaps that section you bombed was an experimental one. . . And what if everyone in the nation thought that the third RC passage was completely baffling – maybe your feeble performance was better than most people’s. Give yourself the time to think things through after the LSAT – you have several days to cancel.
After test day:
8. Remember your application. Ann knows a lot more about this topic, but is everything else ready to roll? Better to focus on that then hitting refresh on Gmail, waiting for your score report.
9. Geek out. We’ll review this LSAT on Wed. October 26th – so if you’d like to use the LSAT as an opportunity to learn something for the December LSAT. Join us <http://www.manhattanlsat.com/EventShow.cfm?EID=3&eventID=634> .
THANKS SO MUCH, Noah!!!! I always love to share your tips with my readers. Below is advice from some of my Facebook friends, who have been where you are and are now very LSAT-wise:
Cat Don’t drink 9 million cups of coffee – it will only wind you up. know that there will be someone doing something annoying in your test – practice so it doesn’t phase you. breathe – in about a year you likely wont remember your score anyway.
Nick A great way to train for taking a test in a slightly noisy environment (there is always SOME sort of mumbling, fidgeting, etc. going on) when you are at home is to do practice tests with talk radio quietly on in the background. You learn/get used to tuning out background sounds.
Eva I actually completely agree with the coffee comment. If you’re the type of person who gets excessively nervous, I would actually not drink coffee at all. It makes your heart rate go up and that makes you feel more nervous than you already are. Also remember that a bad LSAT score is not the end of the world – it’s just a test.
Rebecca Play upbeat music that you like to sing along with on the way to the test. If you’re singing then you aren’t obsessing about the test or winding yourself up.
Jeff 1) take two days off of studying before the test. you don’t want to burn yourself out. 2) only study for maybe 4 or 5 hours a day MAX. after that you’ll start to lose focus… which leads to you feeling like you don’t get it… which leads to a decline in attitude… which leads to a worse score. 3) the day before the test be SURE not to sleep in. you need to be sure that you’ll be able to fall asleep the night before the test (that was my mistake the first time…) 4) read the newspaper the morning before the test to a) take your mind off the test and b) get your brain into reading mode.
Eli Remember this important thing: It’s not even close to as bad as the CA bar exam. Just keep telling yourself “hey, I can do this, at least it’s not something crazy like the bar” and then when you actually get to that time, you are allowed to freak out… just a bit.
thanks for your great blog.
Here is my issue: I have spent all summer prepping for the Oct LSAT while taking a TestMasters prep course. Throughout my prepping I have done well but when I take practice exams I do much poorly (in the 150s). I am an ESL student and been in the US for 5 years. At this point I do not know if waiting for the Dec LSAT will make much of a change in my score. Other than that my app is strong (as far as I heard from other knowledgeable people). I am an older undergrad student (30yo), finishing my double BA in 3 years rather than 4 with dept honors with a 3.4 GPA overall and 3.6 in major and have a “diversity card”. My goal is a T14 school, Duke being my first choice.
What I am worried about is the fact that even though I have many things going for me, the LSAT will always push me down. How much of the fact that I am an ESL immigrant play to my favor in reviewing my app? And – would you recommend taking the LSAT in Dec with the risk of getting in late in the cycle? What I am debating on weather to apply early (Duke binding early decision for exemple) with a modest LSAT score but a strong app, steller recs and a good ‘life experience’ resume and hope that the binding early at Duke and and early apps to all the rest will get me in, or wait for december and risk getting in later in the cycle.
What are your thoughts?
sorry for the length as I am terribly worried at this point.