Tips for Your LSAT Test Day
The night before: get good rest, to the extent
possible. Most pre-law advisors and law school admissions personnel
suggest that you stop practicing the night before the exam to give
yourself a break.
The day of: do not drink too much coffee or
anything else that might cause you to have to go to the bathroom a
lot during the exam. You might, however, want to eat something to
get your energy level up. DO NOT BE LATE. If you are late, you will
not be permitted to take the exam. When you arrive at the test site,
be prepared to fill out paperwork, present two forms of photo i.d.
(student i.d. or driver’s license or passport are the most common
forms), and get fingerprinted before you begin the examination. This
process can take awhile, depending on how many students are taking
the test at your test center.
For the test itself:
- Bring a reliable watch. Turn off its sound. Make sure your
watch is a basic one—i.e., that it keeps time only. If you must
bring a cell phone, be aware that it will be confiscated during
- Dress comfortably in layers. Testing centers can be warm or
chilly at any time of the year.
- Try to relax. If you start to panic, take very deep breaths
and exhale slowly.
- Remember, you can skip questions that appear too difficult.
If you skip a question, be sure to darken the proper numbered
oval as you continue the test.
- If time is about to expire, fill in all the remaining ovals,
as there is no penalty for guessing. Some people prefer to fill
in all of the same ovals (all "Bs" or all "Cs") on the theory
that they are likely to pick up at least some points. When time
is called, stop. Obey all instructions from the exam proctors.
- If you need special accommodations, request them well before
you plan to take the test. Most accommodations are based on
religion and disability, and the LSAC is required by law to make
reasonable accommodations for these reasons.
- Don't cancel your score at the end of the test. Almost
everyone feels lousy after leaving the LSAT. Sleep on it and
- Bring a candy bar or something energizing to eat or drink
for a power boost during the break. You can only eat during the
break. Trips to the bathroom are allowed only with the proctor’s
permission, and you will have to turn in your materials to the
proctor while you are gone. Only one person can be gone at a
time from the room.
- Take the writing sample seriously. Write legibly. Don't be
overly creative or try to impress with fancy words or arguments.
Be straightforward in your writing and argumentation. Follow the
instructions. Make sure your essay has a brief introduction and
- If something weird happens during the test (like the power
goes out), you must ignore it and keep working. Interruptions
during testing do happen—if it happens to you, be sure to report
it to the proctor and the LSAC. However, the remedies are
limited. The LSAC may offer you the chance to take another test
for free, but it certainly will NOT adjust your score. You need
to do your best on the test no matter what happens. This rule
also applies to proctors. While the LSAC tries its best to give
the test proctors every last rule to follow, there is still some
room for discretion and interpretation—particularly in judging
potential misconduct. You need to cooperate with the proctors
and follow their instructions. If you think you have been
treated unfairly, you can lodge a complaint after the exam.
After the test is over: relax. IT'S OVER. RELAX.
Forget about it. The test is important, but it is only one component
of your application. You have many other areas to prove your worth
to law schools. Remember, the LSAT does not predict whether you will
get into law school, or whether you will become a successful lawyer.
Keep it in perspective.
A final note: In 10 years of advising, I have
NEVER had a student come back to me and say “Hey, I did a lot better
than I thought I would.” The typical response I hear when students
get their scores is “Geez, I didn’t do as well as I did on my
practice tests.” Why is this? The LSAT is a stressful,
time-intensive exam. Even if you take a lot of practice tests, it is
still impossible to exactly mimic the emotional stress and stake of
the real thing. Also, you are now being judged against the other
tens of thousands of test takers across the country. Over 100,000
people per year take the LSAT test, and it’s a new group every time.
Even though scores are adjusted so that one administration of the
test is not harder than the other, you are competing with a
different group from those who took the practice tests that you used
for your LSAT preparation. My best advice is to EXPECT TO SCORE 2-3
POINTS LOWER than your practice tests. If you do not like this
lowered score, keep studying. If you think about the test results in
this way, it might help you to be in a better frame of mind when
your actual score comes back. And if you end up scoring better than
you expect—lucky you!