Preparing for LSAT test day is a marathon, not a sprint. And unless you sprint marathons, your studies will likely last at least a few months, especially if you’re trying to maximize your score.
You’ll formulate a conceptual basis of logic to approach the exam, learn the different types of logic games, and read through hours of boring reading comprehension. Then you’ll drill through timed practice tests, timed sections, and panic as test day continues to get closer and closer until, finally, it’s upon you.
The entirety of your effort, hard work, and sacrifices will either be in vain or pay off, all depending on how you perform during this one, 6-section exam on a Saturday morning. No pressure, right?
Of course, there’s the weight of the world on your shoulders, and reading me talking about it right now is probably sending a trickle of cold sweat down your spine. The pressure is immense, and it must be minimized or it could ruin your score.
So, the best thing that you can do to avoid the soul-crushing stress and anxiety of test day is to adequately prepare for the test through your studies. The second best thing you can do is to know what to expect. So, without further ado, here is what to expect on test day.
One week before the hellish Saturday morning that you’ll spend locked away in the torture chamber of your LSAT test room (I’ll stop being dramatic now), you will begin to mentally prepare for the exam.
This entire week is focused on RELAXING before the test. What I recommend students do is study as they have been like normal through Wednesday of test week. On Thursday, do about half as much studying as usual. On Friday, either don’t study at all or do light review. REST your mind.
At some point during this week, try to make time to drive to the testing center and find exactly where you’re supposed to be. If you can, scope out the room you’ll be in. Is it hot, or cold? Dress accordingly. Does it smell like butt? Too bad, you’ll be sniffing it for 5 hours.
Also, every day during this week, wake up 30-minutes before the time you plan on waking up on Test Day. This will help mentally and physically prepare you for waking up at that time.
And finally, make sure you have your LSAT Admissions Ticket printed off and that it fits the criteria. I have almost been denied entrance into the exam room because my photo was taken from too far away. If you’re taking the test with accommodations, make sure you know where the testing center is.
The night before the exam is what most people dread. They’re terrified of laying in bed, unable to sleep while they’re forced into terrifying thoughts of the atrocities that come in the morning.
But not you.
You’re prepared, and you realize that you’ve done everything you could to prepare for this exam. And even if you do poorly, you can just take it again! Except for very rare situations, this one test does not define your future. It will be ok.
Before you go to bed that night, you’re going to pack your supplies: #2 pencils, erasers, water, snack, admissions ticket, a photo ID, and a 1-gallon ziplock bag.
I used to tell students to pack at least 10 pencils. But with the LSAT’s new digital format, LSAC now provides a pen and paper for scratch work. So, you aren’t allowed to bring pencils with you.
Your water bottle must be purchased and sealed. You can’t take in your lucky hydro-flask or Nalgene. Grab a Dasani or some Deer Park, or if you’re really going for good luck, a Smartwater.
For your snack, pack something that will get you full but not too full. Don’t experiment with anything crazy that may cause bowel issues. People have crapped their pants before during the LSAT, and you don’t want that to happen.
After you’ve packed your supplies, treat this night just like a normal night. Go to bed at the same time you have been all week (while you’ve been waking up 30 minutes before test time), drink a glass of wine before bed if you usually do, watch a movie. Do whatever.
And if you get in bed and can’t sleep, DO NOT PANIC. It will be ok. Just try to relax, watch another episode of your favorite show, or do some reading. Don’t go and chug a bottle of Nyquil or steal your roommate’s Xanax.
Even if you don’t get a good night sleep, you’ll be ok in the morning when the adrenaline starts pumping.
On test day, I like to get up a 6 o’clock. You don’t have to be at the testing center until 8:30 a.m., but I prefer to give my mind some time to wake up.
I get out of bed, take a shower, and make myself look presentable. Then I double-check my supplies so that I know without a doubt that I have everything I need. Then I eat my normal breakfast and try to make sure I get enough protein.
I DON’T: drink too much coffee, experiment with new prescription medication, or try to cram in any studying.
Sometimes, people find it helpful to do a quick logic game, an RC passage, and a few logical reasoning questions to warm up. They do this either at home before they leave or in their cars at the testing center. You won’t be able to bring supplies into the testing room.
If you have spare time, relax. Do some meditation, watch some stupid TV, or read a book. Then, when the time comes, hit the road. Be sure to leave yourself extra time. If the testing center is 45 minutes away, leave at 7:30 a.m. If it’s 20 minutes away, leave at 8 a.m.
Once you get to the testing center, make sure you leave your phone in your car. You are NOT allowed to bring it in under any circumstances. Once you get inside the testing building, you’ll probably have to wait a few minutes before they begin checking in. Once checked in, you will be placed in your testing room.
This is where the fun starts. Once everyone is inside your testing room, your proctor will hand out the test booklets. You will break the seal, fill out all the boring crap, and then copy a long paragraph stating that you won’t expose LSAC as the evil team of lizard people that they are by revealing the LSAT’s mysterious test secrets.
After that, you’ll take the first 3 45-minute long multiple-choice sections. If during this time, you must go to the bathroom, just raise your hand and the proctor will escort you. Just hurry, and don’t worry too much about it.
Following the third section, you will have a 15-minute bathroom/snack break. Clear out your pipes, empty the tank, and have a little snack to keep your stomach from growling. Do NOT drink too much water: it has to go somewhere.
And after the break, you’ll have 2 more 45-minute long multiple-choice sections. No big deal, you’re ready for them. Then, boom: you’re done! You’ve completed your task, finished your race, and made the LSAT call you the boss.
So, yes. The LSAT is extremely stressful, and test day can be daunting. But, if you’ve used the best LSAT prep course for you, studied like you know you should, and know what’s coming, you’ll be fine. Just try to relax, and don’t do anything stupid.
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John Wilson Booth grew up in Alabama and attended the University of Alabama. He moved to Salt Lake City after graduation and began studying for the LSAT. His cold diagnostic score was a 154 and he self-studied to a 171. Now, he works as a writer as he decides which law school to attend.
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