December 2013 LSAT jitters? You're not alone

Shitting bricks about the December 2013 LSAT? You shouldn't be, if you've put in the weeks/months of practice time that most students need. And if you haven't put in the time? Well, it's too late anyway. Either way, there's no point in defacating masonry. Here are a couple letters from students lined up to take this Saturday's test, along with my advice.

Hey Nathan. Can I give you a call sometime to talk about the test? I'm having a panic moment about a sudden score drop. I went from 5 straight tests in the 170s to two tests in the low 160s with tons of mistakes. --Jermain

I talked to Jermain today, and listened patiently as he correctly diagnosed his own problem. Paraphrasing, it went something like this:

J: "On the tests I scored well on, I went very slowly through the sections and finished in plenty of time. On the tests I tanked, I felt like I was rushing, barely finished, and made tons of mistakes." Me:  "So what do you need to do?" J:  "Slow down." Me:  "No shit."

I'm happy I could help. (And I'd be happy to help you too!  415-518-0630.) Jermain has been putting in a ton of work, and I know he's going to do great on test day. But it's critical that he not forget this simple lesson.

It's such an important concept that I made it #1 in my list of Ten LSAT Commandments: Thou Shalt Not Rush. If you'd just slow down you will find that the questions seem easier. Slow down, and the answers will start jumping off the page at you. Your accuracy will be higher, and because the questions seem easy, you'll reach more of them as well. On the other hand, if you rush, the questions will seem a lot harder. Your accuracy will suffer greatly, and you'll also struggle with time. It might be the most important thing you can do on the LSAT, especially on test day: Take a deep breath, and slow down.

Hi Nathan, I'm emailing you because I feeling somewhat anxious about the test coming up this weekend. That's all I've been able to think about and I'm starting to stress. I don't know if to start studying more, or just to keep doing two sections a day.  Any suggestions? --Christina

Her question is "should I increase my level of studying, or keep it the same." But since Christina is starting to panic, I'd suggest that she actually cut back from her two sections a day. Maybe one's enough. Or even zero. The truth is, at this point, she's not going to learn anything substantive about the test that she hasn't already learned. So managing her mojo is far more important than anything else. We need a happy, rested, positive, focused Christina on test day. I doubt more tests/sections/hours studying are going to help with that. Instead, I'd like to see her do some yoga, take a walk, go to a movie, spend some time with friends and family.

This advice won't work for the Type A plus-plus-plusses out there, and I do acknowledge that there are a lot of you crazy folks who want to be lawyers. (It's the perfect career for people who want to work 80 hours a week.) You guys will probably be doing full-length practice tests right up until 7 a.m. on the day of the test. I do NOT recommend this for normal people, but some of you won't be able to sleep if you don't. So this advice isn't for you. For everyone else, I suggest you try to end on a good one. Little golf analogy here: When I'm warming up on the driving range before a round, I don't hit every ball in the bucket. Instead, when I get down to the last 10 or so, I'll quit as soon as I hit one good one. That way, the last shot in my memory bank is positive. Consider the alternative: I hit every ball in the bucket, many of them right on target, but then I shank the very last one into the clubhouse patio, nearly killing an old lady. Which shot am I going to remember when I'm out on the golf course? All the good ones? Nope. I'll remember that last shitty one, of course. That's why I end on a good one.

Don't screw yourself by overstudying and risking a meltdown over the next few days. Instead, wind down your LSAT practice on your own terms. When you complete a good test, or a good section, or maybe just a single perfect logic game, put the pencil down. Don't do any more practice, and carry the good mojo from your last test/section/game into the day of the test.

Both of the students above have put in plenty of practice for the upcoming test, and they're in perfect position to crush it this Saturday. Hopefully you are too! Whether or not you're ready, I'm here to help. Please call 415-518-0630, or email, and I'll do everything I can to sort you out.


PS: Here are a few more last-minute blog posts you might find useful: It's five days until the LSAT, what do I do? The LSAT is in three days and I don't think I'm ready, help! Oh shit the LSAT is tomorrow!