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Conquer Anxiety on the LSAT with these proven tricks

The LSAT is a difficult test, and for many people there is a lot riding on this exam. As a result, people frequently have a high level of anxiety leading up to the LSAT, and many test takers even experience panic attacks during the test.

Outside of taking medication, here are some habits you can implement that can reduce your anxiety on the LSAT.

Tip #1: Take more practice tests

If you scored a 160 on one practice test, you could be somewhat certain you could score a 160 on the real test. But if you scored a 160 on three consecutive practice tests, you would feel much more confident in the outcome.

The more you expose yourself to a situation, the more familiar and comfortable with it you become. And the more data you have to affirm your score, the more confident you will become and as a result, the less anxious you will become as well.

Remember, some score fluctuation is normal, but you should aim to be scoring consistently within your target test range for several practice tests before going into the actual LSAT.

Tip #2: Prepare for the worst case scenario

Anxiety often comes from obsessing over the scenarios we are uncertain about. For example, if you struggle with Weaken questions, you will be more anxious when you see these types of questions on the day of the test.

While taking practice tests is crucial, drilling these specific weak areas can give you a boost in confidence, or even turn your weaknesses into strengths.

But people often experience anxiety over other factors of the test as well. Maybe they are particularly concerned about having a specific section type as the experimental section because it is mentally exhausting, or perhaps they are worried there will be unexpected distractions on the day of the test.

The same principle applies here--expose yourself to these types of situations. If you prepare for a marathon, a one-mile run will feel tame in comparison. The point here is if you prepare for an even bigger beast than the LSAT, you will feel much more prepared and confident on test day.

Once you are hitting your ideal test score under normal conditions, it's time to step it up a notch. Try taking a longer test by adding an additional section. Make the experimental section your weakest section type. Take the test in places that may have some minor distractions. Take the test without any breaks between sections. Try experimenting taking the test with or without caffeine.

Doing this will feel very uncomfortable in the short term. But you will be glad you prepared for these scenarios on test day, even if something unexpected happens.

Tip #3: Think in terms of 'positives'

Don't think of a tree. Even though I just told you not to, you probably pictured a tree in your head just now, right? That's because our brains can't really comprehend what to not think about.

People often go into the test thinking 'Don't feel anxious today!' As you might have guessed, this only makes things worse and makes them focus on their anxiety even more.

So, what should you do instead?

Instead of focusing on what you should not be thinking about, focus on what you should think about. Instead of thinking "I'm not going to feel anxious" think "I am going to focus on this passage". This is also why I emphasize the importance of having a specific step by step process for every question on the LSAT. This allows you think about the next step along the way instead of adding to your anxiety.

Tip #4: Practice Taking Breaks

The worst situation that all test-takers should avoid is falling into panic mode. This is when our brain completely shuts off and we can't even read what's in front of us. Not only does this slow us down significantly, but it also has a snowball effect, adding more anxiety as time passes.

Don't be afraid to take a breather in the middle of the section. I know it sounds crazy, but this is far better than having a panic attack in the middle of the test. When you start to feel anxious or overwhelmed, stop what you are doing and take a 10 second break. Focus on controlling your breathing. You'll be glad you did!

Tip #5: Seek Accommodations

I am surprised to find that many people who have legitimate reasons to get accommodations are not aware of them. I also understand others don't want to receive accommodations for their own reasons. I of course do not want to push you in either direction, but it is worth noting that you can receive accommodations through extra time, or in some cases you can receive start/stop accommodations, where you are able to pause the section when you begin to feel overwhelmed. You can learn more about accommodations through the LSAC website.

Tip #6: Give yourself enough time

You may simply feel anxious because you are not fully prepared. That is totally fine, but in that case you should strongly consider pushing back your test. If you already feel like you will be unhappy with your score, don't depend on blind luck thinking just maybe you will be given a really easy LSAT.

The way to tell if you are ready is if your practice test scores are consistently within the range of your target.

Stay motivated!

Looking for extra help to feel more prepared on the day of the test? Check out my LSAT private tutoring program.

Get a free book on how to study for the LSAT.

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