Before every test, I like to subtly update my advice for test-takers.
The week before
- Resolve any stresses to the extent that you can early in the week. Pay bills, vow not to go to bed mad, avoid aggravating frenemies
- Drive by your test site. You want to know exactly how to get there, how long it will take, and how you’ll find parking. If you’re on public transportation, figure out your route, and plan to take the bus/train before the absolute last one to get you there on time. If you can, go inside the test center and see what it’s like.
- Take practice tests the weekend before — 5 sections, starting at 8:30. You should have been doing this already, but if not, now is the time to practice early-morning endurance. Here’s how to make the most of a full practice exam.
- If your score goes down slightly, please do not freak out. I’ve seen many students meeting all their score goals, who drop a few points on a practice test the week before, and it totally throws them off. Your actual LSAT score is not likely to match your very highest prep test, but if you’re trending up you should feel prepared.
- Practice waking up at the time you’ll need to be up on test day. Especially if you’re not a morning person, it’s time to start establishing this routine. When you get up, read the paper or some substantive blogs to get your mind going.
The Day Before
- Don’t plan on doing any LSAT prep the day before. It will only add stress, and if you haven’t internalized the right methodologies by now, no amount of cramming will help.
- See if you can take the afternoon off — see a movie, take a walk, etc. The last thing you want is a late night of work stress.
- And, of course, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol.
- Pack your snack — if chocolate will help reduce stress, go for it, but make sure to include something nutritious too.
- Make sure you have everything together before you go to bed. Pencils, highlighters, admissions ticket, snack, and analog watch.
The Day Of
- Important: the #1 thing that surprises students on test day is the wait. Depending on your test center you should expect to wait between 30 minutes and 2 hours from your report time to the start of your first question. It’s not unheard of to wait longer than that. This has really thrown students off of their game in the past. There’s nothing you can do about this – just be ready to wait.
- Dress in layers. Obvious but true — it will likely not be your ideal temperature at the test center and you want to be ready to adjust.
- When you arrive at the test center, have something to do to get your mind going. Many people recommend doing a logic game that you’ve done before — if that works for you, give it a try, but I suspect reading a newspaper or magazine article that will get your brain moving is just as good.
- As you are seated, if there is any problem whatsoever with your location, ask to change. As they say on reality TV, you aren’t there to make friends with the proctors. If you are under a vent, in the sunlight, in a corner that’s too dark, next to someone who smells bad, whatever — now is the time to change your seat.
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