Getting Down to the Heart of the Matter
I guess since the main theme of this blog is supposed to be my law school experience, I better catch up to the present. So ... the beginning ...
It all began last October ...
... well ... before that really, but I wrote the LSAT October 1, 2005, and that's really the starting point of this adventure.
I began thinking about it about a month in advance (less really, since my wedding reception was held that September long weekend ... and it was a bit time consuming). I started going through the various types of questions that one would encounter, but I didn't really get down to hard-core studying until the week before the test.
What did hard-core studying consist of? I printed off as much free material as I could off the net, and I bought the LSAT 2005, Premier Program study guide by Kaplan from Chapters (~$50), and started doing practice exams while timing myself. What was best about this book was the practice tests ... I never used the CD, and didn't read through anything else ... but ... (as per the note at the end of this post) ... I was already extremely comfortable with all of the material.
Exam Day: I remember feeling utterly drained at the end of the morning. It is much more intense than I pictured it, and the timing constraints are very real on test day (much different than sitting in my kitchen watching the microwave timer). My eyes were spazzing from all the reading - remember that because one section is a test run for future LSAT questions? I got an extra reading comprehension section - OUCH ... my eyes ... they burned! While I was writing the test, I remember feeling distracted, and finding it difficult to force myself to focus. I remember having a watch to monitor the time, but I rarely checked it. My approach was to go through the exam once, and answer every question (since there's no penalty for guessing). If a question was too hard, I'd guess and move on, I found I rarely had time to go back over what I had done, so this worked out well for me.
I scored very high on my LSAT, and so feel that I'm in a position to offer tips to people considering taking on the challenge of writing the LSAT.
Make sure that you have a plan of attack. Because there are 3 different types of tasks you'll be approaching, make sure you're comfortable with reading a question, and knowing what you have to do to solve it. I recommend reading as much as you can on the web about it (for free), and purchasing a book that outlines it all for you.
TIME YOURSELF LIKE CRAZY! That's one thing that I wish I had done better in preparation. I timed myself on a section by section basis, which was good ... but at least twice, practice doing an entire exam - ALL IN A ROW - this will give you a good idea of the intensity of the exam, and how tired you'll be after it all. Also, it will help you switch gears between sections - on exam day I remember feeling shocked that after I finished one section, I didn't get to chill before the next one was underway.
On exam day:
Wake up well before you have to, and RELAX on exam day - do something that you'll enjoy. Before the test I met a friend for Starbucks lattes and breakfast - we're talking pancakes, eggs, sausage ... etc. The benefit was that I'd been up for awhile, was fully awake, and had some laughs before I got down to serious work.
Bring what you need, and have it ready to go the night before - don't be a scrambler. Bring everything that you'll need into the exam room - be PREPARED, remember your ID, remember all your paperwork, remember a few pens, hilighters, a watch - WHATEVER.
DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT THIS TEST AGAIN. There is no way to predict how you did, or anything else, even in discussion with other test-takers. Put it out of your mind. I had NO IDEA how I had done, all I knew was that I had put my best effort forward. When I got my mark e-mailed to me on October 21 (that's three weeks for your mark, for anyone that's counting) ... I was CRAZILY SURPRISED by it ... and it wasn't worth fretting about in the meantime!
Something to note: My Undergrad is a BSc in Computer Science ... hence ... logical problem solving is second nature, actually, more like first nature. The logic aspect of this test came quite easily to me, so if you struggle with the logic, you'll need more time to get used to this type of problem solving.
Also - one thing that can throw you off on exam day is looking around your test site and comparing yourself on any level to those that are writing with you. My test date had so many different types of people it was crazy, but when I saw all of the perky young students that were writing with me, so much younger (well ... not THAT much younger, but young enough to be wearing clothes that I couldn't get away with wearing ... that's GOTTA be some kind of categorization factor) ... I almost did a mini freak out. That was UNTIL I noticed that there were a couple of bald dudes that looked like they were dads of pre-teens ... then I felt better. BUT ... the TIP here is: DON'T LET YOUR SURROUNDINGS DISTRACT YOU - FOCUS IS THE KEY!