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2nd Time Around and Anxiety..Any Advice!?

kicurtiskicurtis Alum Member
edited May 2015 in June 2015 LSAT 71 karma
So I'm signed up for the June 2015 test and this is my second time taking the test. I took the Oct 2013 and scored in the low 150s which was heartbreaking considering my diagnostic was a 157. I've been studying for about 9 months, took the 7sage course and have done 20 PTs under test conditions. My last five scores are as follows: PT 65--- 163, PT 66-- 169, PT 71-- 165, PT 72-- 165, PT 73-- 168. My goal score is a 167-169 so I think I'm scoring where I want to be. The problem is I have anxiety and my confidence really took a hit the first time I took the test. Anyone have some advice on how to get through these next two weeks both mentally and study-wise? I feel like I'm ready and will do better on this test but at the same time I have this creeping fear that somehow I'll freak out and mess it up again. Any advice is greatly appreciated.


  • blah170blahblah170blah Alum Inactive ⭐
    3545 karma
    I think maintaining your anxiety requires a two-pronged approach. The first is to ensure good habits that help you become more centered. This includes good sleep hygiene, minimal stress outside of LSAT (if that means avoiding pesky family members, then do so), healthy diet, meditation, exercise, etc.

    The second is to practice testing with the anxiety and learning how to control it. I'm trying to do this by imaging everything that could possibly go wrong on test day and training my brain to respond a certain way. Oh crap, there's traffic on the free way? I'm mentally imagining myself taking deep breaths, putting on a good playlist, and driving as calmly as I can. There are certain things we can do to practice these moments (for instance, taking a PT at a coffee shop to get used to irritating noises).

    The fact that you're within your PT range shows you have the chops to get the score that you want. The rest comes with mental discipline and applying what you know on test day. The second approach (in my opinion) is by far the most important. Did you know Michael Phelps managed to get a world record in Beijing even though he got water in his goggles and couldn't see? (I didn't know this so I'm still amazed). When asked how he did it, he said that his coach had him practice in unfavorable conditions. That meant during the race, instead of panicking at the fact that he couldn't see, he knew exactly how to react because he had rehearsed this scenario before -- he calmly thought to himself how many strokes he needed to finish his last lap and counted until he was 1 stroke off his estimate -- I think it ended up being 21 strokes and he estimated 20. The truth of the matter is that most of us study in our most favorable conditions -- when we're most alert, when we've had the most cups of coffee, when we have the perfect ambient noise, the perfect temperature, and the perfect tests in the order that we want. What we don't rehearse (or at least what I didn't rehearse the first time around) was taking into account the fact that there are plenty of things on test day that won't go my way that I have no control over. All I can do is take control over the things that I can, prepare for what I can prepare for, and let what I've learned shine on test day.

    OP, we've got this. We know what it takes to do well on this test and test day is all about execution. Until then, get good sleep, eat well, be around happy people, and channel some positive psychology by imagining yourself the test on 6/8. :D
  • gqalvi32gqalvi32 Alum Member
    23 karma
    great post above blah170blah , thank you for posting that
  • mes08mes08 Alum Member
    578 karma
    @kicurtis I 100% sympathize with your situation, since I feel the same. I'll be taking the LSAT for the 3rd time in October and I feel a lot of pressure to perform well. Currently I'm PTing in the range I would ultimately be happy with, but I'm worried that some LG or RC passage will throw me off, I'll panic, and lose those crucial points I need to get the score I've been working towards. Besides what blah170blah recommended, what I'm going to start doing when I PT is to give myself only 30 or 33min per section. By doing this I'm trying to simulate the panic I felt the time I took the LSAT in Dec. This way I'll practice this scenario, get control of my emotions, and strategize how to maximize the situation and make the best of the time I have. Maybe that'll mean not getting to all the questions in each section and just trying to correctly answer the easy to medium hard ones and skipping the hardest. I think Mike Kim from the LSAT trainer recommended this, and maybe it's something you want to try out as well. Hope this helps!
  • blah170blahblah170blah Alum Inactive ⭐
    3545 karma
    @mes08 That is exactly what I've been doing for exactly the same reason. Having to take a section you normally could do in 35 minutes but now only have 30 minutes for requires incredible discipline and mental energy to execute perfectly without getting discouraged.
  • nicole.hopkinsnicole.hopkins Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    7965 karma
    @blah170blah said:
    This includes good sleep hygiene, minimal stress outside of LSAT (if that means avoiding pesky family members, then do so), healthy diet, meditation, exercise, etc.
    Yes, mitigating nervous system arousal is key! Physiological arousal systematically escalates from nervous tension in the body and takes shape in the form of thoughts and feelings (behaviors), which all fuel one another until finally the sympathetic nervous system kicks in and calms everybody down. The key is to interrupt nervous escalation with various breathing exercises, mindfulness, etc.

    I have found that my flight anxiety is often a matter of failure to intercept agitation at early phases; then the warped ways of thinking come and it becomes harder to calm myself down once I've convinced myself that THERE REALLY IS SOMETHING ON THE WING AND IT'S LOOKING AT ME. *jk, more like a hole is rupturing in the fuselage because I felt a breeze from the air conditioner, etc. and other forms of statistical anomalies/non-realities.

    But, when I'm able to manage the escalating physiological arousal early on, my thoughts don't escalate to that level, and my mind is free to focus on other things. An extreme example that illustrates the same physiological/cognitive processes at work in any anxiety, especially acute (e.g. test) anxiety.

    Lots of good online tools to teach yourself how to de-escalate those feelings/sensations and uncouple thoughts about reality from actual experience of reality! Check out Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, for one, or mindfulness.
  • kicurtiskicurtis Alum Member
    71 karma
    Thanks all for the comments! I'm definitely going to try cutting down timing for sections this week and see how it goes. I also think I'm going make a list of everything I think could go wrong on test day (get stuck on a game, test room disturbance, etc.) and how to best respond to it. I'll also be working on breathing/de-escalation techniques!
  • LCMama2017LCMama2017 Alum Member
    2134 karma

    First - let me preface by saying that this thread is over 3 years old. But I wanted to post it because of the helpful advice by @blah170blah. In the last few days I've had some major anxiety over the June test (yes, June and its Feb). Dealing with applications, LORs, trying to figure out a strategy for when to apply and studying for this test have really come to a head for me. I really needed some advice about how to handle this anxiety since I rarely suffer from it so I searched and found this thread. I hope this is helpful for anyone going through these feelings.

  • jyarmojyarmo Alum Member
    350 karma

    Thanks for bumping this up @LCMama2017 - super helpful!

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