Happy Memorial Day! Now, if you’re taking the June LSAT, you would be forgiven if you forgot that this is Memorial Day. Especially given that the June test is — checks calendar — yikes, one week away. Instead of remembering those who served, you’re trying to remember all the common fallacies and whether the word “always” introduces a sufficient or necessary condition. Rather than spending the day, carefree, with your less-ambitious friends are spending their Memorial Day at beaches and barbecues, you’re here, looking at a screen. Trying to make sense of how to make that last score jump before the exam.
Luckily, we can help you out with that. Below are a few last-minute tips to help make that last week of studying as productively as possible.
1. Take Some Practice Exams (But Don’t Just Take Practice Exams)
You’re preparing to take a test, so you should probably take some practice tests this week. Shocking, I know! They should also be recent exams, ideally, since those are the exams most likely to resemble the June test. Folks, you really can’t get this kind of unique, out-of-the-box advice elsewhere.
Yuks aside, there is a misconception about taking practice tests in the week leading up to the exam that we should address. Many think these practice exams will help you increase your score. That’s misguided. Practice exams are great at a lot of things — measuring your progress, getting timed practice, experimenting with your strategic approach to these sections. But practice exams do not, in and of themselves, increase your score. In fact, if you work exclusively under the extreme duress of 35-minute timed intervals, your score may decrease a little bit, as your accuracy wanes.
For this reason, what happens after the exam is really the most important part of this week. This is when you increase your score.
To that end, after taking and scoring an exam, it’s helpful to do “blind review” of the LR questions you missed and the games and passages you didn’t do super well on. So later in the day after taking an exam, or even the next day, do those questions, games, and passages again, without seeing the right answer or the answer you selected. Do them untimed.
If you’re able to answer a question correctly on the second try, and you were able to anticipate the correct answer and explain why all the incorrect answer choices were wrong, that’s a great sign. It means that you know how to do that particular question. You, in all likelihood, missed that question on the test because the timing pressure got the best of you, leading you to make a small mistake. Getting more timed practice — either by taking another full exam or by doing a single, timed, 35-minute section — will help you minimize these mistakes on the real exam.
On the other hand, if you’re able to answer a question correctly on the second try, but you had trouble anticipating the right answer, or if you couldn’t articulate why certain incorrect answer choices were wrong, that just means you haven’t mastered that type of LR question, or passage, or logic game quite yet. You should try to find really hard versions of that particular Logical Reasoning question type, passage type, or game type, and do some untimed practice.
Or on the other (I guess third?) hand, if you miss that question again, you should probably review the approach to that particular LR question type, passage type, or game type. Go back to your notes and review the approach and any attendant concepts that are frequently tested on those questions (like diagramming or causation or the common fallacies). Then, get lots of untimed practice with that question, passage, or game type.
2. Remember to Tend to Your (Mental/Physical/Metaphysical) Health
It’s important to work hard this last week, but don’t overdo it. Be reasonable with how hard you’re pushing yourself. Don’t do anything crazy like taking a practice exam at midnight after a day of studying. Studying for longer than six hours a day is kind of pushing it. You want to be well-rested and sharp, both for the practice exams you take and for the actual exam. Make sure you’re eating well, getting plenty of sleep, and keeping active.
Also, if you take a practice exam the Wednesday or Thursday before the exam and it goes really well and you felt really good while taking it, there’s nothing wrong with making that your last practice exam. End on a high note. And definitely don’t do anything on the Sunday before the exam. Just relax and recharge on that day. Engage in some self-care, exercise, meditation, power poses, daily affirmations, time with your in-all-likelihood-neglected-over-the-last-few-months friends, or just eat something tasty.
3. Handle the Logistics
Before the exam, be sure to review the (sometimes ridiculous) rules regarding the day of the test, which can be found here. Make sure to get your Ziplock gallon bag together with No. 2 wooden pencils, erasers, your admission ticket, a valid form of ID, a snack, a beverage, you non-digital wristwatch*, and anything else you might need that LSAC allows in a test center. It’s also a good idea to do a practice run to your testing center before the day of the exam, just so you know how to get there, where to park, where to check in, and all that stuff.
*A note on watches: If you want to be especially cool and stylish and about-that-LSAT-life, there are a few popular LSAT-specific watches on the market that you can buy. They typically have a rotating “diver’s bezel” to help you keep track of time, or they have an altered face that only includes 35 of the full 60 minutes normally displayed. Both of these features comply with LSAC rules. However, some of these watches have a button that automatically resets the minute hand. That feature does not comply with LSAC’s rules. If you get a watch that does that, you’ll have an LSAT-specific watch that’s not even allowed for the LSAT. I can imagine no sadder purchase. If you need to get an analog wristwatch but don’t want to go full-LSAT nerd, any analog watch with a diver’s bezel works well for the exam.
4. Find Some Warm-Up Questions
Get ready for a lot of bureaucratic time-wasting the day of the exam. You should anticipate spending at least four hours at the test center, even with the writing section removed from the test day. For most test centers, you’ll check in and wait around while the proctors check everyone else in. It’ll be a minute before they take everyone to the test room. You can use this time to your advantage — you can do a few easy LR questions and maybe an easy logic game to warm up and build confidence before the exam. So find a few easy questions, and compile them into a packet to bring to the test center. Of course, they won’t allow these questions into the test room, so you’ll have to chuck them before entering the room in which they’ll hold the exam. Ideally, this packet should include only questions you’ve seen before — the last thing you want to do is to panic before the actual test by missing an allegedly “easy” question.
There is just a week left, but a lot of progress can still be made. Follow these guidelines, get some practice exams and untimed review in, handle the logistics, and — before you know it — you’ll be making up for a lost Memorial Day with some very well-deserved celebrating next week.