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Big Test Stress (LSAT)

A BearA Bear Registered User regular
edited October 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
In less than a week I take what is rightfully the single biggest test of my life (to date) and figure it might be prudent to ask around and see if anyone has some good test de-stressing tips to share. I'm generally a fine test taker, and have taken a good deal of practice LSATs, yet as the big day looms I can't help but worry a bit. At this point its not really a matter of right and wrong answers, but time management and mental fatigue--two features where stress has a huge role to play. My practice scores are pretty consistent, and are numbers I'm pretty satisfied with, but at the same time I can't shake the feeling I could be doing more to prepare or something. It seems like people go off the deep end to get ready for something this huge, and while I've done my share of prep work, how do I convince myself I'm ready?

[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
A Bear on

Posts

  • kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Well, if you've taken a bunch of tests, you've prepared. Two other things i'd recommend doing are a) checking out the test site before the day you take it (are you doing it oct 2 or whatever?), and b) arriving an hour or so early, so you can wake up and if anything happens you have a time cushion.

    You could have taken more prep books - if there's a particular area you're weak in, you can buy the kaplan section-specific book. i found a diminishing return on test prep via book, though...once i figured out games, i got a high-160s score and stayed there. I think anyone can get to that range with the right prep methods - if you're not, i'd suggest waiting a bit and trying something like testmasters (i wish i did) and going for a higher score.

    If you're doing better, that's awesome and kick butt!

    kaliyama on
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  • RUNN1NGMANRUNN1NGMAN Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Definitely do a test run of your route to the testing site, and definitely get their early.

    Eat a light breakfast and don't drink a lot of coffee or whatever. You have to wait at least three hours before you can go to the bathroom and halfway through the third section I thought I was going to pee my pants.

    RUNN1NGMAN on
  • ScrubletScrublet Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Get a good night's sleep for a week before. Don't just rely on that last night...your body doesn't recover from low sleep overnight. And don't do any drugs or drink in the week leading up to it either.

    Scrublet on
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  • A BearA Bear Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Thankfully the test site is the same place I've done all my large standardized tests, and I'm planning to go there on Friday to give it a look around before the real thing on Saturday (I can't earlier because I attend college in another city). I actually think I'm going to get my parents to drive on the day of the test, just to remove another layer of things for me to do.

    I've been slowly shifting my morning routine earlier and earlier so I can be mentally prepared for the 8:30 start time--waking up, eating breakfast (oatmeal and OJ) and running a preptest. My scores are running from the high 160's to low 170's, and have seemed to show a very slow improvement, with a clear weakness in the logic games (I almost always run it to 35min, but get most/all correct). I own the Powerscore section-specific prep books and a bunch of the preptests, and I've found the preptests to be a lot more helpful. I have peers in college who seem to be going crazy about the test (but they also want to go to Ivy league schools) and maybe that has just intimidated me some.

    A Bear on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Your performance is great, and you've gotten the right number of books, it sounds like. I don't think you have anything to worry about. The problem you're facing, and this happens even more in law school, are that -other- people will never feel secure about their performance, and you feel like you're in a race with them, so you have to do more to keep up. I know people in LS, for example, that would read the book twice, use eight colors of highlighter, etc... and do much worse on exams than me.

    In reality, you're not in a race, you're on a treadmill. No matter how hard you run you're going to be in the same spot. As long as you are scoring well you're going to be as OK as you can be. "Running Working harder to look as frazzled as your peers won't get you farther. You don't need to log the same number of hours as the people around you. It seems like you realize this, but it bears reinforcing.

    kaliyama on
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  • Sheep Have WoolSheep Have Wool Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Advice given to all of my prep students, be it for the LSAT/SAT/GRE/GMAT:
    • Know the testing location. You've done this.
    • Have your parents drive you. Do not get a ride from a friend. If you must drive yourself, do not give anyone else a ride. Check.
    • Set out everything the night before. Double check the batteries on your calculator.
    • Sleep.
    • Bring a bottle of water or some such. You typically won't be allowed to keep it at your desk, but it's good to have.
    • Bring a watch with a countdown timer. Make sure it doesn't beep.
    • Leave your cell phone at home.
    • When given a break, get out of your chair, even if you don't have to use the restroom. Walk around.
    • Eat a decent breakfast. Avoid coffee or other caffiene.
    • Don't plan on doing anything else that day after the test unless it's fun.

    Most of all, you need to relax! Yes, the LSAT is a big deal. You've worked practice tests. You know what to expect. Most of the people that freak out about the test are doing so because freaking out is how they handle stress. You're not - this is a good thing. You'll be fine.

    Sheep Have Wool on
  • naporeonnaporeon Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited September 2008
    There's no magic bullet here, I'm afraid. As I'm sure you've figured out, you can't force yourself to relax. My best advice would be to stop taking practice tests; at this point, you're unlikely to improve your score by doing so, but you could very likely cause further anxiety by fixating on the test. I'd suggest trying not to think about the test much, until the morning of...try to just have fun and take it easy this week.

    Advice on this topic is near-impossible, however, as what works for one person not only might not work for another, but could potentially be extremely deleterious.

    Here's a previous post of mine, for example, regarding my approach to the LSAT. It worked very well for me, but is probably not for everyone.
    naporeon wrote: »
    I did not practice or prepare in any way, either of the times I took the test.

    I also intentionally deprived myself of sleep the night before, didn't eat breakfast the morning of the test, and went in loaded to the gills on caffeine.

    If I were going to take it again, I would repeat both of my experiences.

    So really, it's all about what makes you feel comfortable and ready.

    naporeon on
  • A BearA Bear Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Just wrapped up this morning's preptest (made a silly mistake timekeeping, but still--171!), and reading what you all have to say has really been a boon in getting better prepared both within my head and for the day-to-day issues that will arrive with the test. The LSAT is by far the strictest test I've taken in regards to what is/is not permitted, and reading some of these tips has given me some good pointers. I still need to find a watch (they say digital watches are not permitted, so I'm going to have to get creative with a countdown timer). The treadmill/race analogy is a good one--my university does not have a formal pre-law program, yet specific classes (like my currently enrolled "philosophy of law") tends to be populated with law school aspirants. Needless to say the level of LSAT chatter has reached fever pitch, a discussion I generally avoid.

    I figure I'll run a full test every morning, and maybe some stuff in the evenings if I feel up to it--the funny thing is, for a standardized test I actually like the LSAT. I find the questions sort of fun. Granted, it can't be compared to actual enjoyable activities, but still--it might be a sign I've been doing a few too many logic games, eh?

    A Bear on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • CrimsondudeCrimsondude Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    I'd take a break. You're likely to do fine as it is enough that you can give your mind space to wander about life, the universe and things other than that damnable test. I will suggest that you wear something very confortable, but with layering potential in case it gets cold from the A/C or hot, like it did in my case since there were several hundred people taking it in a hotel ballroom when I took the LSAT.

    Crimsondude on
  • A BearA Bear Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Big day is tomorrow--thanks again for all the help guys. Right now I'm actually feeling pretty good about the test. Maybe even excited.

    A Bear on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • LaPuzzaLaPuzza Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    A Bear wrote: »
    Just wrapped up this morning's preptest (made a silly mistake timekeeping, but still--171!)

    Stop worrying. Even if you've got wet-your-pants test taking fear, you'll do fine if you're killing the prep tests.

    If it takes some of the stress off, remember that the LSAT doesn't really matter.

    LaPuzza on
  • A BearA Bear Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Saturday went great. I was a little more jittery than I expected in the first section, but it was logic games (and apparently experimental to boot) and I messed up my time management early. I felt really confident on the rest, people were freaking out posttest--I know a few people who are thinking about canceling even. Three weeks till the (hopefully good) results!

    A Bear on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Congrats! Let us know how you do, and if you want help with your applications, or advice on law school (i'm a 3l).

    kaliyama on
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  • A BearA Bear Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Today should be the day. I cant be the only PAer hopelessly trying to pass the time waiting for the scores to come. That being said, the kids on all the law prep forums are going nuts.

    A Bear on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I like caffeine loading. I get freaked during tests, so having an already elevated heart rate masks the nerves and lets me ignore them more effectively.

    Not for everyone though.

    Edit: That was the best part of the GREs, I got my results instantly.

    durandal4532 on
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  • verpakeyesverpakeyes Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    im waiting for mine too, but I thought I wouldn't get them til Monday, you seem to know something i don't.

    verpakeyes on
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  • A BearA Bear Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I also first assumed I would get my score on Monday, because thats what LSAC officially tells you. But coming from people who have taken previous tests, it seems historically that they release your score the 3rd Friday after. Now because its not for sure, the "people in the know" on these LSAT prep forums (where I got this Friday info on) are freaking out trying to divine the exact minute they should click refresh on their browsers to find their scores.

    A Bear on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • verpakeyesverpakeyes Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Where would I even refresh, I was just gonna wait for an e-mail

    verpakeyes on
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  • DasUberEdwardDasUberEdward Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I'll be you guys in like a year and a half/two years so good luck with the results.

    DasUberEdward on
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  • A BearA Bear Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    verpakeyes wrote: »
    Where would I even refresh, I was just gonna wait for an e-mail

    As far as I can tell, "Account Status" on the LASC webpage. It has a timeout meter, so I'm constantly relogging every hour or so, just to be sure.

    A Bear on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • verpakeyesverpakeyes Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I am now a refreshing machine

    verpakeyes on
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  • rfaliasrfalias Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I'm excited to see results, to be honest.

    rfalias on
  • A BearA Bear Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Still no word over here. People on LSAT boards are going ape. Going to class to get my mind away from it seems like it was a good move. Now its just a nice long evening. Given my busy weekend, I really would prefer the score tonight.

    A Bear on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • A BearA Bear Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Checking on and off all day, and here it is at 8:20 and my results finally sneak up on me. Thanks again for all the pre-test help, and stick around for phase 2: deciding on a good law school!

    A Bear on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • verpakeyesverpakeyes Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Woot 97th percentile

    verpakeyes on
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  • A BearA Bear Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    verpakeyes wrote: »
    Woot 97th percentile

    Congrats dude! I'm hopefully going to write up a law school topic as soon as a narrow down my list. What schools are you looking at?

    A Bear on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
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