Monday, May 31, 2010

LSAT... Eww.

I took the LSAT last June and I would just like to say - "THANK YOU, BABY JESUS" that it's behind me! However, I know that not everyone is as fortunate as I am to have kicked the LSAT's ass with only minor psychological trauma and one teeny, weeny anxiety attack.

I remember scouring every law blog on the web last year searching for LSAT advice from those who had triumphed before me. And since the June exam is only days away, I figured I would add some of my own advice for the benefit of any law school hopeful who happens to stumble across my page. :)

(1) For the love of God, TAKE A PREP CLASS.
I know they are expensive. You should of seen the look on my husband's face when I told him I needed $1,500 so that I could take an 8 week course - on top of my full-time school load and job.

"By the way, honey, youre going to need to be cooking dinner for yourself and JV three nights a week while I'm in LSAT class til 10pm. You might want to start figuring that out now."

Justify the expense with reminding yourself that law school is a financial investment (hellooo, crippling student loans), and that the very first step you take towards your law career is one of the most important.

I took a Test Masters class and I picked them based on their local reputation. I had a couple friends in law school who took their course and swore by it. Other people I knew who took Kaplan or Princeton Review werent as happy with their experiences, plus Test Masters was cheaper. The end result? My score went up 14 points from the diagnostic exam!
(2) Undergrads: If your school offers courses in Logic, TAKE THEM.

Lucky for me - I was a philosophy major. Majoring in philosophy will NOT get you a job, but it WILL help you with reading comprehension and analytical skills. For my degree, I was required to take Logic 2. Hardest...class...ever. It was horrible. However, being the introspective philosopher that I am, I realized how much it could help me with the LSAT later on. So, after my required logic class was over, I signed up for Logic 1 as an elective. I know, I'm a nerd. But a nerd with extensive logic training. And a great LSAT score. :)
(3) You only get what you give.

Time yourself doing sections. Take practice tests. Study on the weekends and late into the night. Dream about Logic Game strategies. Immerse yourself in the painful world that is your life pre-LSAT and embrace it.
Learn it. Live it. Love it. Well, you don't have to love it -but my point is that you actually have to STUDY for this exam (even if you're one of those people who never study and still pull As). I studied for a solid six months, mostly emphasizing on the games section. In the two months before my exam, I was a total basket case. Mr. asking me what I wanted for dinner had the ability to send me into hysterics, tears, and hyperventilation. Seriously. I lost ten pounds, became mentally unstable, and the bags under my eyes were so bad that it provoked more than one "You look so tired" comment. And I'm not even going to go into my first ever (and hopefully last) anxiety attack, which occured just days before the exam. After it was all said and done though, I can say that I gave the test everything I had... and it was the first time in my life where I felt like hard work really does pay off.
(4) Don't freak yourself out.
Worry about yourself, not anyone else. It doesn't matter what your friends are scoring on their practice tests and it definitely doesn't matter what the kid next to you in prep class is doing to study. Everyone is different with varied strengths and weaknesses. Figure out what you need to do to get the best score you can, and then do it.
That being said, be careful not to let studying for the LSAT take over your life completely. I think I was a little guilty of this and it definitely led to me freaking myself out. Try and remind yourself that this is only a test and while it does dictate whether or not you get accepted to law school next year, your score will not ruin your life. You still have your health, family, friends, and alcoholic beverages. You will live through this, I promise. And if you bomb it, you can always retake it next time! Hopefully you won't have to though.

NOTE: The freak out can continue even after you have taken your test. I went back and forth over cancelling my score until the last possible second. Mr. was the one who took the phone out of my hands as I dialed LSAC, "Let me get this right. You want to cancel your score so you can spend the NEXT six months obsessing over game strategies and logical fallacies? Umm, no." Good thing he talked some sense into me, because I ended up getting my highest score ever!
(5) Take a break.
I solicited advice from every lawyer and law student I knew in the days before my test. When my husband's 3L friend echoed the advice of my Test Master teacher in saying "Make sure to take a break from studying in the days before your test, that way you're not burnt out from the material", I took a mental note to disregard it. After all, I live my life burnt out and I had soo much I still wanted to go over before I took the most important test of my life so far.

But when my aunt (who is a successful attorney) called to wish me luck the week of my LSAT, she said the same thing. I told her that I had heard that advice before, but I just couldnt bring myself to neglect studying the test material so close to the exam when I had spent the last six months living and breathing it. She told me to shut up and listen to her because she was the succesful attorney and I was the lowly pre-law student. Yes maam. So I willed myself to spend the day before my test blackberry picking with my husband and son, cooking large amounts of comfort food, and watching trashy tv. And you know what? It helped! Clearing my head from the material for a day helped me to calm down and mentally prepare myself for the impending doom. Bonus: I found that I was able to identify question stems easier after giving my brain a day off!


Friday, May 21, 2010