The most important thing to remember when studying for or taking the LSAT is that, eventually, you will not need to study for or take the LSAT ever again. True story, I promise.
This is not to say that the LSAT isn’t important or that you shouldn’t study for it (don’t pay $175 to sit in a room for four hours if you’re not going to study); rather, this post is meant to suggest that keeping the LSAT in perspective is a necessary and often difficult task.
So, in that vein, here’s a list of things I found helpful while studying for/taking the LSAT:
1. Coffee. (Only half-joking.) (And by “half-joking,” I mean not joking at all.)
2. Some of the big study companies (like Kaplan) offer some free events, so sometimes it can be worthwhile to subscribe to their e-mails. I did an exam with them that was proctored online, and then afterwards one of their instructors went over a few of the questions with us.
There are people who will participate in these events and ask questions like, “I got [insert amazing score here] the first time I took the LSAT without studying, and now I can’t improve. What should I do?” If you are that person, way to go for continuing to look for ways to improve. If you are NOT that student (I wasn’t), you do not need to panic. You will get there, you will figure it out. Remember: eventually, you will not need to take the LSAT anymore.
3. Practice tests are the best (and also the worst). I’m the kind of person who likes to be able to see my improvement, so I took a practice test every week so that I could be like, “Look! I didn’t go down! Woooo!” (Seriously, my ego inflated to the size of a small island when my score didn’t go down.) However, up until the week before my actual exam, I skipped the essay section because that doesn’t get graded and no one has time to write 18 essays about whether or not Susie should open a restaurant to achieve her dreams.
If you are also working and/or going to school while studying and you don’t have four hours every week to sit in a completely quiet space and try to figure out what kind of sandwich Bobby is going to serve at his restaurant on Saturday if he serves spaghetti on Wednesday, that is also okay. See #9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 below.
4. Plateau-ing (aka your score stops going up, even though you’re still studying) is a thing that can happen (it happened to me) and also you are brilliant.
You are a whole person with things you believe in and people you care about and friends that love you and the LSAT is nowhere near important enough to change any of those things.
5. The logic games are literally the most frustrating and it is not just you. Sometimes, on particularly bad days, I remind myself that no one is going to ask me to take that section of the LSAT ever again and that thought legitimately makes me feel better. So if the thought of taking that section makes you (literally) cry, you are not alone. (But if one of the other sections is more difficult for you, that is also valid because all of the sections are hard.)
6. Friends are pretty great, too. I asked friends to hang out with me while I took practice tests, to drive me to the LSAT (true story), to text me to make sure I was studying, to let me complain about how awful this test is, etc. (Because seriously: this test is awful.) The LSAT is hard and terrible and you deserve all the support in the world.
7. Advice and talking to people is great, but only up to a point. If someone says something that is not helpful/makes you more stressed, do not listen to them. Even if they are a brilliant lawyer. An example: a few days before I took the LSAT in October, someone who had gone to law school told me that the October exam is harder than the December exam. Two things: first, I still have no idea if that’s true, and second, there is no context in which a comment like that is helpful. I pretended no one had said it, and went home to fume over the existence of logic games some more. (A truly excellent use of my time.)
8. The week before the exam, I went to sleep half an hour earlier each night so that by the night before the test, I was in bed at 9:30. (This worked for me, but would not be a possibility/at all helpful for everyone.)
9. As you can probably tell, I found the logic games section to be the hardest, so I did one question from that section each day for a couple weeks. That way, I didn’t have to set aside hours to study, I could just do a few minutes here and there.
10. I think it is also important to remember that no one goes to law school to take the LSAT. Remember the big picture. Are you going to law school so you can be an advocate for the people and the communities you care about? Are you dreaming about a corner office in Manhattan? Are you excited about being able to go in front of a judge and fight for what you believe in? The LSAT is a necessary (and, in my opinion, awful) part of the process to getting to that goal, but it is not the whole process and it is not the goal.
11. Finally, and most importantly, you are worth infinitely more than the LSAT. You are a whole person with things you believe in and people you care about and friends that love you and the LSAT is nowhere near important enough to change any of those things.
12. Again: You are worth infinitely more than the LSAT.
13. One last time: You are worth infinitely more than the LSAT.