Crunch Time—Three Musts for the Week Before the LSAT
As the old saying goes, time is a river. For those studying for the rapidly approaching October 3rd LSAT, that river has recently gone from lazy, bucolic, riverboat-ready waters to roiling, boiling, category-five rapids.
The question is, what’s around the bend in the river? Is it a deadly descent over Niagara Falls? Or is it a languid drift into port on the Mississippi Delta, home to New Orleans, Mardi Gras, and all the crawfish jambalaya you can eat?
The answer, dear law school aspirant, is entirely up to you, but like a particularly handsome and knowledgeable coxswain, Blueprint is here to shout useful directions at you through a bullhorn:
TIP #1: Take stock of your strengths and weaknesses, and craft a targeted study plan.
By now, whether you’ve prepped on your own or with a professional test prep service, you know quite well what the test looks like. Although different companies slice and dice the exam in different ways, each section of the test has a limited universe of substance and question types.
You should review your performance with regard to each of these things, but don’t just say to yourself something like, “Wow, those Must Be True questions are hard, so I need to practice them more.” Look at the numbers. Go back through the exams you’ve taken and the homework you’ve done and calculate your success rate, i.e. your percentage of correct answers. The lower the success rate on a particular facet of the test, the more time it should get in your studies going forward. When you do this, you might find that the question types you dislike aren’t necessarily the ones you often miss.
When you’re crafting your study plan, therefore, you should schedule time by subject, devoting more time to the areas with which you struggle. This is not to say you should stop drilling areas in which you are strong; you should. Just make sure that you’re giving your weaknesses a little extra TLC.
TIP #2: Make sure you’re executing a strategy rather than addressing questions on the fly.
It’s not enough just to know that there are a set number of different question types; you should have a step-by-step method for each. This serves two purposes. First, it gives you a path to the right answer (duh). Second, and just as importantly, it keeps you moving forward through the test. It’s easy to look at a question and think, “OMG I have no idea what’s going on here.” Then you freeze, and, before you know it, you’ve stared at the question for five crucial minutes.
If you have a method to execute, you may get through five answer choices and realize you don’t know which one is the right one. That’s a bummer, but there’s value in limiting the amount of time you dump into a question, especially one that may be out of your reach. If you’ve executed the method completely and eliminated all the wrong answers you can, you can feel confident picking one of the ones that’s left and move on. Circle it and come back if there’s time.
If you have yet to nail down question-specific methods, do this immediately.
TIP #3: Take care of yourself.
Here’s where we get warm and fuzzy or touchy-feely or ooey-gooey or whatever. The LSAT is a monster of a test, and students often get burnt out and/or stressed out well before test day. If you walk into the test an emotional wreck, that’s not going to help you maximize your performance. If you are calm and confident, on the other hand, you’ve got a leg up on the competition.
Different things work for different people, but here’s a non-exhaustive list of things that can help center you in the short time that remains before the big day: exercise, meditate, visualize success on test day, eat healthy, keep a journal of your thoughts and feelings, talk to a trusted friend or family member, or study outdoors. Now, here’s one that terrifies students: take a day off. Burnout is a very real thing, and it prevents you from learning and performing. If you have seven study days left, it’s better to take one day off and have six left for quality studying than to study for seven days at the end of your rope, because that’s just seven wasted days.
Just like you penciled detailed study time into your schedule, pencil in time to take care of yourself in the best way that works for you and stick to it.
Take these things to heart, and you’ll be the captain of the LSAT ship and master/mistress of your law school destiny. Good luck from Blueprint!