The LSAT is less than a week away and people are often asking for final tips about test day. Here’s my best of:
← Early Versions of the Reading Comprehension Section of the LSAT
Caveat: if you know you’ll do better with momentum, go right ahead and get momentumming– go crazy the week before the LSAT. Some people like to do a six-section LSAT a week before test day to make 5 sections seem easy.
2. Pack-up the night before. Get all your pencils sharpened, print out the ticket (and make sure your printer doesn’t cut off any part of it), make sure you have a passport-sized picture, and find that analog watch your dad gave you years ago. Make sure you know how to get to your testing center – there’s nothing worse than freaking out on your way to the test. Plan to arrive early and to enjoy a coffee outside while you do a warm-up section, a crossword puzzle, or something that is fun and slightly intellectual.
3. Warm-up mental stretches. Bring some light, warm-up LSAT material with you to the testing center. I suggest bringing some tough questions that you completely mastered. Before you enter the testing center, run through the questions one last time, toss the paper into the recycling bin, and head to your room. Don’t bother checking your work. The reason to do all of this is so the first section of the test isn’t your warm-up. You want your logical thinking already moving when you start section 1. The brain is a muscle, so warm it up just like you would your legs.
4. Visualize consistency. This will be the cheesiest-sounding suggestion, but perhaps one of the most important. Many Olympic athletes spend some time before their event imagining every single step of the process. Studies show that this activates the parts of your brain that you will actually use, and it reinforces the steps you’re going to do. So spend 10 minutes before the LSAT imagining what will happen. Visualize your attitude during the test, visualize how you will deal with a tough question, and visualize staying focused. It works – and what do you have to lose?
5. Eliminate, eliminate, eliminate, eliminate. On all but the easiest problems in LR and RC, you should generally eliminate 4 answers. If you’re going down the answer choice list, and (B) seems to be the answer, act suspicious – assume you’ve been duped – and go on and look at the rest of the answer choices, seeing if you can eliminate them. It’s too easy to “shut down” your brain once you think you’ve found the answer. Unless you’re scoring 180s, face it: the LSAT is fooling you some of the time. So look for the wrong answers, not the right ones. This is probably the most important piece of advice I can give to students who are looking for a way to freshen up their process if it has hit a plateau.
6. Move along. If you are stuck on a question, take comfort in the fact that most everyone around you is probably struggling with that question too! Some of your neighbors will spend 4 minutes on that one question, and others will move on and devote time to questions they can tackle. Those who move on and keep their cool will probably do better. So, make an educated guess, bubble it in, circle the question number, and move on. If you have time, come back to it.
7. Focus! If you find yourself meta-thinking (i.e. “wow, I’m taking the LSAT and it’s really tough, I hope I’m doing well . . . shoot, I really need to focus! I think I bombed that last logic game. Dang, what if I can’t focus . .”) you need to get back to work! One easy way is to read the passage or question to yourself aloud (very quietly obviously). Some people understand better when they hear information. Another way to do it is to start writing on the test – “Conclusion!” “Why?” “Author’s opinion!”
8. Try something. For logic games, if you are into the 2nd or 3rd question and have been struggling the whole way there, you may have not made some important inferences that could “un-lock” the game (and by the way, not every game has important inferences built into the scenario, sometimes they’re all in the conditional questions). Lay out two possible scenarios with
the elements and question yourself along the way: “could E go anywhere? Why not?” This might help focus your thinking. This isn’t usually the most ideal route to unlocking a logic game, but if you’re stuck, you’ve got to do something!
9. Stay limber. You’ve probably spent a lot of time learning diagrams, logic rules, etc. During test day, feel free to abandon ship if something is not working, but don’t abandon everything you’ve learned and go back to your fight-or-flight LSAT brain. The best test-takers are flexible with their methods, but have a steady hand. That being said, don’t throw out your general approach to the test It’s your routine that will see you all the way through section 5.
And I still stand behind my longstanding night-before-the-LSAT recommendation: Watch Legally Blonde, 1 or 2.
- The LSAT: Everything You Need to Know About the Test
- Conquering the LSAT: Tips for Tackling the Test
- Mastering LSAT Logic Games: Tips to Beat the Toughest Part of the Test
- Cancelling or Retaking the LSAT: What To Do When Test Day Doesn’t Go as Planned
Good luck on Test Day!