How to Reduce LSAT Test Anxiety

Advice from Law School Students and LSAT Coaches

Your professors, advisers, and even law school officials will tell you that the LSAT is just but one part of your application, and that you shouldn't let studying for the LSAT consume your semester. Nevertheless, many prospective law school students are terrified that their LSAT scores will make or break admission to law school. Unfortunately, this very test anxiety distracts many test takers, causing them to earn lower scores. If you want to achieve a high LSAT score, you must not only master Logical Reasoning, Logic Games, and Reading Comprehension, but you must also gain mastery over your nerves. Here are tips to de-stress before and during the exam.

In the weeks and months before your scheduled exam, be sure to take as many practice LSAT tests as you can--full length tests, including the writing section, under timed conditions. If your practice test scores stabilize in a certain range, say 163-167, you can be confident in (or at least resigned to) your performance on test day. Mara Kincaid, a LSAT tutor in New York, says students who don't get enough practice are nervous because the have no idea of what their scores will be.

JC Patel, a law school student in Massachusetts, advises students to ignore peers who make claims of high LSAT no studying. "They're lying." Patel says. "Students downplay their amount of LSAT preparation because it intimidates the competition." According to Patel, students who earn high LSAT scores spend at least a month taking practice tests, reviewing LSAT question types, and learning what makes a wrong answer wrong and a right answer right. Students shouldn't feel inadequate if it takes months to raise their LSAT scores by 20 or 30 points.

Another tip: develop the habit of going to bed early and waking up early. Most LSAT administrations are scheduled for the morning. Kelly Richards, a law student in Texas, says that getting adjusted to an early bird schedule made her more alert and focused on test day.

Eat a healthy breakfast the day of the LSAT, and bring a healthy snack to eat during the LSAT break. Avoid refined sugar and caffeine if these make you crash. An apple, banana, or small sandwich will replenish your energy.

During the break, tune out the nervous chatter of other test takers. Patel suggests wearing ear plugs and eating your snack in a quiet place to de-stress. People around you will talk about particular LSAT questions, which section they think was experimental, how little or how much studying they did, etc. These conversations just add unnecessary stress.

While you are taking the LSAT, don't wonder about which section is the experimental section. There are no obvious clues as to which section might be the unscored section. Just treat every section as though it counts. Save your speculations for afterward. Also, don't fret over hard questions on previous sections of the LSAT; you can't go back, so just let it go. Keep your focus on the current section.

Remember, if you are dissatisfied with your LSAT score, you can always retake the exam. Kincaid notes that most test takers who repeat the exam get a higher LSAT score the second time around, and law schools often take the average. For example, if you earn a 158 the first time and a 172 the second time, it's like earning a 165.

© Had2Know 2010

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