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How do you stop yourself from panicking during the LSAT?

btownsqueebtownsquee Alum Member
edited October 2018 in General 1207 karma

Anxiety and worry are getting in the way of my reaching my full LSAT potential. How do I stop this? Or deal with it so that it's not affecting me during the timed LSAT sections I do?

This hasn't been a problem lately until this past weekend when the proximity of the November LSAT hit me.

I just reread this and will be following the tips:

If you have any other suggestions, please share!


  • mjmonte17mjmonte17 Alum Member
    757 karma

    I still have this issue to a degree, but I found that daily mediation - especially right before I take a full PT - helps tremendously. I also started thinking of sections in terms of "disaster management". For example, If I feel like I bombed an LR section, I try to remind myself between sections to mentally detach from whatever happened in the previous section. Also, knowing that I can (and probably will) end up taking the actual test more than once seems to help. I'm still far from my goal score, but found those tricks to prevent some anxiety during a section or full PT.

  • studyingandrestudyingstudyingandrestudying Core Member
    5254 karma

    Oprah: "Luck is preparation meeting opportunity." Hoping for a webinar and/or podcast on this soon.

  • studyingandrestudyingstudyingandrestudying Core Member
    5254 karma

    Also, there's an archived webinar on LSAT Stress that's a good resource.

  • keets993keets993 Alum Member 🍌
    6045 karma

    So @Bamboosprout made a wonderful post about this and I think in your case it's most likely a case of expectations.

    You've made stellar progress in your studies and I'm sure the panic right now stems from "what if I can't perform on test day?" Well, what if? Say you have to retake in January. That's okay. You know what you're doing.

    @BinghamtonDave made a wonderful post about how to approach test day. It's just another PT, you've got your fundamentals down. At this time, all you can do is trust that everything you've done is sufficient. Let go of your expectations of getting 'x' score. Just go on autopilot and perform. Just be careful that 'autopilot' does not mean lapsing into bad habits. Remember all the things that have made you successful in PTs so far. Maybe make a checklist or float chart of what good habits/process looks like for you in each section.

    You've got this girl <3 <3

  • OhnoeshalpmeOhnoeshalpme Alum Member
    2531 karma

    Build a stable morning routine; do the same thing every morning from now until test day. Eat a large breakfast with high protein and fat, do some cardio, take a cold shower and meditate. These things help regulate mood, suppress anxiety and improve concentration. Usually I would recommend starting this process months before the exam because it's hard to incorporate all of them at once, but you're just going to have to be as disciplined as possible and do as many of them as you can.

    Also, you can try doing warm up exercises in the morning. Try doing 12 LR questions, 1 logic game, and 1 RC passage. This is an easy way to begin your drilling for the day and it will help your mind get in the LSAT frame on test day.

  • BamboosproutBamboosprout Alum Member
    1694 karma

    Right before, and during the test, meditating and taking deep breaths will definitely help you. But that's just a bandaid for a bigger injury that can't be solved quickly, and needs to be addressed beforehand.
    Yeah, to reiterate some of what @keets993 is saying, I believe, in some sense, anxiety can be a choice. Anxiety comes from thinking about things that, at certain times can light a fire behind your back to make your run faster, but at most other times, have no positive impact on your situation. Theses thoughts include: what if I don't get x score; or what if I underperform?
    We've all studied the LSAT for a while now, and so we should be able to treat this as an "eval" type question, with the stimulus being something along the lines of: "What I am currently doing is going to help me perform my best on the test day". So what if your under perform? Does knowing or not knowing that help you prepare? It becomes quickly understandable that such questions about scores or underperformance have no relevance to preparing for the test itself, or really any other aspect that is in your control. So why think them? Every time you think them, reflect on whether the thought has any benefit, and curtail them if they don't. Instead, questions like: "Am I studying hard enough"; or "is my current method of studying efficient?" are much more meaningful, and actionable. So in my mind, thoughts about score and underperformance are either irrelevant, or out of my control, both of which are characteristics of thoughts that I do not allow to enter my brain.
    Let's dive into a specific question: So what if you don't get x? There are only two possible scenarios: one, in which you averaged at or above x; two, in which you averaged below x. If the former, then take the punch like a (wo)man, and then get back up and keep trying. If you tried your best and did everything you could, and still failed, then, that's unfortunate, but don't stop believing in yourself (This happened to me. My Sept score was 10 points below my average, despite me having slept at 9, exercised, not drunk alcohol or coffee, and studied as intelligently as I could, every day). Luck and variance is a fact of reality, and we simply have to deal with it... or else what? Blame god, or fate? You can try, but it won't get you anywhere. LSAT is a test of persistence and endurance, in addition to intellect, so if you want to succeed, then persist. If the latter scenario, then why are you even thinking about getting x?! Were you hoping to get a miracle, and suddenly over-perform on the highest stress situation possible? I mean, it's possible. Some guy recently posted about getting a 171 on his first try when he was averaging below that, but I wouldn't bet on the chances of that occurring. Putting hopes in a low probability outcome is a fool's errand, and expecting a low probability outcome is insanity.

    Be savagely realistic, maybe even pessimistic, with yourself, and control your expectations. I believe only then can you recognize any wishful thinking, unnecessary thoughts, or some other issue, and only by recognizing them can you overcome them. Please let me know if this helps?

  • acsimonacsimon Alum Member
    1269 karma

    Hmm... I have a tip which doesn’t apply here, but can be useful to someone in the future.—Sign up for two tests during a cycle that you can use, without issue, for applications in the relevant cycle. Then, make sure that you have enough time before the first schedule test to master the test—at least six months of dedicated studying. On the lead up to the first test, you’ll naturally be a bit less stressed because—like it or not—in the back of your mind, you know you’ll have another crack at it if things don’t go well the first time around. This has a major calming effect on the two week lead up to the test, and also on test day itself (although, that’s not to say that your jitters will be totally allayed). The lead up is important since if it’s stressful, you can develop bad habits in replacement of the good habits you’ve been cultivating. This is one thing that can help ppl, anyways. Unfortunately, it’s not as helpful for you now. Still, you’ve got this—you’ve been studying hard (trust yourself). Also, remember that it would be a bit of narcissism to place too much emotional investment into this test. In the grand scheme of things, it has temporary importance. Thinking as much (after studying hard, of course) is helpful for your anxiety. At least, knowing that there are things that I care about far more than the test helped me put the task into proper perspective going in. In any case, I wish you much more than luck!

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