Congratulations, you’re finally taking the LSAT! While this day should be somewhat exciting, it is also inevitably a very high-stress day. There can be a lot of pressure put on this one exam, and because of that, exam day can feel anxiety-ridden. While there can be a lot of stress to manage, there are a few things you should consider doing to make exam day slightly less stressful.
Make Sure you’re Wide Awake
It goes without saying that you should make sure you get a good night’s sleep before you take the LSAT. Typically, the LSAT starts either around 9 a.m. or around noon, depending on your test date. Regardless of your start time, be sure that you’re fully awake before the test begins! Wake up nice and early, and go for a walk if that will help. If you typically drink coffee, make sure you have it early enough to wake yourself up, but not too close to exam time so that you have to use the restroom during the exam (I made this mistake, it was not a fun time). Whatever you do, be sure that your brain is awake, alert and ready to go when the test begins!
Avoid Cramming, but Consider a “Warm-Up”
This advice will vary somewhat based on personal preferences, but in general it is probably not wise to try to cram right before the exam. The LSAT is not a test that is based on how well you can memorize, so attempts to cram will likely be fruitless and only serve to stress you out more. However, some people may want to consider working through a couple (just a couple!) questions as a “warm-up.” Whether or not you do this will be up to you, but if you feel like you’re the type who could benefit from waking your brain up to the type of problem solving required on the LSAT, I highly recommend it. I started doing this before math and science exams during undergrad, and it really helped me to go into exams with the right mindset (just don’t choose particularly difficult problems at this point – your goal is just to get your brain moving, not learn new information). As always, be sure to consider which option will work best for you.
Be Sure to Know What you can bring with you
LSAC delineates exactly what you can bring to the exam. Typically, you are allowed to bring a clear Ziploc bag that contains something along the lines of a few pencils, a pencil sharpener, erasers, tissues, a non-digital watch, wallet, an ID, admission ticket and keys. You can also usually bring a drink and snack with you, to be consumed during the break only. Notice that cell phones and other electronics are not on that list! You will not be allowed to bring them to the test center, so plan accordingly. The last thing you want is to get turned away because you need to return something to your car, so be sure to check on this well in advance. In addition, consider bringing a sweater or jacket with you in case the test room is cold.
Arrive Early, and Know Where to Go
When I took the LSAT, I arrived plenty early to the school where I was taking my exam, only to realize that I had no idea where to actually go on the campus. It was a huge campus, where virtually every building looked the same. I only figured out where the classroom was because of a fortuitous encounter with a current student there – and I barely checked in for the exam on time! This added unnecessary stress to my morning, causing me to be anxious before the exam even began. Don’t make the same mistake! Even if you think you know where you’re going ahead of time, double check the exact room location. You likely won’t be able to bring your cell phone in with you, so it will be a good idea to either find the room ahead of time, or bring a map with you.
Utilize your Time Effectively
By now you’ve probably (hopefully) done many, many practice exams. You’ve probably timed yourself on many of these practice exams, and should have a decent understanding and feel for how much time you should be spending on each question. Of course, it can feel like you have less time when you’re taking the real thing – but it is important to do your best to stay on track. Now is the time to put all the test taking skills you’ve honed into practice – don’t get hung up on a single question for too long, or move so quickly that you miss an important detail in a question. Also, keep in mind that the instructions to the LSAT sections rarely change, so being familiar with those ahead of time will save you the time of having to read them on test day.
Remember to Trust Yourself
At this point, there isn’t a whole lot you can do to change the outcome of the test besides using the test-taking strategies you’ve practiced. You’ve probably done a whole lot of preparation in the preceding months, so remember to breathe and to trust yourself to handle the exam well. Also, remember that it’s not the end of the world if you don’t do perfectly – there are plenty of opportunities to continue to improve!
While exam day can be a high stress experience, keeping these things in mind can help to manage that stress while allowing you to perform your best!
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