LSAT Diary: Managing LSAT Stress (Part 2)

LSAT Blog LSAT Diary Managing LSAT Stress
This installment of LSAT Diaries comes from Caroline, who followed my 5-month day-by-day LSAT study schedule and got some private LSAT tutoring from me. (This is Part 2 of her LSAT Diary. See Part 1 here.)

She ended up scoring a 169 on the June LSAT and got a perfect score on the Logic Games section!

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Thanks to Caroline for sharing her experience and advice!

Caroline's LSAT Diary, Part 2:

After what felt like years of preparation, test day came (a week late, but it came). I didn’t sleep well because I was so nervous, and getting ready that morning I felt nauseous. I forced myself to eat breakfast despite feeling sick, and was basically a nervous wreck all the way to the test center.

A lot of things just didn’t go as planned—I was hoping for a table with some room and ended up with a tiny chair with a fold-over desk that barely allowed any room for my watch. Adjusting to this made me all the more frazzled, and once the test started I was just a complete mess. My watch fell off my desk, I wasn’t finishing my sections on time, and the proctor was giving us no time in between sections, which made adjusting my watch very difficult. All in all, I didn’t feel great leaving that room.

Part of me knew I was going to have to take it over, but I hoped for the best. I was, after all, scoring in the 170s in the weeks leading up to it. I took the time waiting to get my score back to relax and try not to worry. I got a 162, and I was pretty devastated.

I resolved that my anxiety on test day had completely messed me up, and that I had to take the test again. I made a point to have a much more relaxed approach this time around. I mainly focused on full length, timed PrepTests and some extra fringe practice on areas where I noticed that I needed improvement. I also called Steve and asked him to help me with logic games—I figured that since this wasn’t something I was not able to nail on my own, maybe a few hours with Steve would help me.

I met with Steve and his advice was invaluable. He made something I had struggled with for so long look so easy. He showed me a completely different way of approaching games that would have taken me 10 minutes or more and taught me shortcuts that cut that time in half. Steve’s help with logic games combined with my determination to remain calm and collected about the test had me scoring an average of 173-174 leading up to test day.

My retake day was completely different from when I first took the test in February. I was at a nice long desk in a large room with the other test takers. I felt much more confident and calm. I was not shaking and I actually enjoyed my meal before the test. I just felt really good. And I think it was a mix of things—my determination to relax every time I thought about the test and the retake, my meeting with Steve, the test center itself, knowing what to expect. I just felt good.

I finished every section within time—sometimes even with time to spare. I felt really great about my logic games, even thinking they were unusually easy. I felt like there were no surprises and I walked out of that room feeling good.

I ended up getting a 169, a couple of points below what I was scoring. While I could have blown this up into a huge disappointment, I didn’t—I knew that I felt as good as I could have during test day, and a 169 was something that I could be proud of. I ended up doing worse than usual in my best section (logical reasoning), and looking at my answer choices I realized that I made some really stupid mistakes probably due to rushing through some of the questions. That said, I scored perfectly on logic games— and I have no doubt that would not have happened without Steve’s help.

I now have a score that I can get into some pretty great schools with, and I’m happy. Looking back on it all, my advice would be (in this order):

1) RELAX. Dedicate yourself, but don’t fear the test. It’s your friend and if you are prepared, you will do well.

2) Know yourself. Pay attention to patterns in your performance. Detect your weaknesses and target them. Which brings me to...

3) Do as many PrepTests as possible!! This is the best way to see where you are solid and where you need work. And finally...

4) If you are anything like me and are easily frazzled, take your PrepTests in somewhat distracting conditions (i.e. a library, coffee shop, etc.) with other people around. You may be unpleasantly surprised by a random distraction on test day and you want to be prepared so that you don’t need to retake like I did.

Photo by Paul Watson


  1. Caroline, I had a very similar experience during the June 2013 administration, scoring a 165. I'm hoping to re-take in October with more success, and your diary gives me hope! Congrats on your score, and good luck with apps!

  2. Caroline, congrats on your score. Thanks for the advise. I plan on taking the December exam and your diary is of great importance.

    Good Luck
    From Miami

  3. Caroline, thank you for sharing your experience, and congrats on the score!
    Anyone who is reading this blog also taking the October 2013 in Taiwan?
    please contact me! It'll be extremely supportive to know that I'm not the only one struggling for the LSAT in Taiwan.
    I also bought the 3-month day-by-day LSAT study schedule from Steve and have been following it for 2 weeks. Pretty clear and helpful. Thanks.

    good luck to every LSAT crusaders
    From Taiwan

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