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Back to Back Cancels...hurt but not broken (yet). Advice greatly appriciated.

LARamsNationLARamsNation Member
in General 592 karma
Hey everyone,

Could really use your advice. So I took the Dec. 2015 and Feb. 2015 administrations and subsequently cancelled them both after. I know this isn't an ideal situation or move pre se, but it was one I was forced with after bombing both sittings due to what I think is some sort of performance anxiety amongst a couple of other pertinent issues. I PT consistently around the the low to mid 160s.

I had high aspirations of trying to achieve a 170+, but would of been content with scoring around my average. Unfortunately , on both tests I had pretty bad draws with protcor/ test site ambiguities and had trouble moving on from a section that I know I have gone wrong.

To illustrate this scenario clearer, I opened with back to back LGs and got "the real" LG second during this past Saturday's administration. The easy "mirror game" took way longer than it should have (9) min and I even had to leave one or two circled, although I was a little flustered I was then quickly able to move through the second game .. only to become completely "frozen" from the European cities game. I was shocked, because those games are usually my best.. I tanked a bunch of time just trying to interpret the rules and before I could confidently answer two questions I realized I sank another 11 minutes. Needless to say I freaked out. I jumped right over to the 4th game but could confidently answer only about half the questions. All in all, I believe I bombed the section with at least -11. From that point forward I was so livid, I couldn't move forward. I had LR next and had difficulty just parsing out grammar and finding conclusions -- two of my stronger skill sets-- while I was battling the section. LR is my strong point, but it felt like I just pretty much forgot everything. That trend only continued as the test went on. After 7 months of studying I wasn't ready to accept a potential sub - 150 score. A very similar situation happened to me during the December administration. Nevertheless, I plan to retake in June and conquer this beast once and for all.

Having gone through the curriculum in it's entirety and completing the vast majority of PTs 40--70s, how would you recommend studying for my third, and FINAL, re-take in June. Also, any advice on how to combat the psychological battle with questions you feel you might have missed?


  • Mike StoneMike Stone Member
    111 karma
    Hey Mark,

    Take this with a grain of salt because I have never cancelled my score. However, I too took the Dec 15 and Feb 16 LSAT, so I know what you experienced in that respect. Also analogous, I too have PT scores in the low 160s.

    December, bro if you bombed because of the LG there, who can blame you. That offices game was a sick joke. I score -2 on my LG sec consistently, and even when I mess things up, I always get it after JY explains things. That offices game.... with the questions, answers, diagram, and JY's explanation I still dont think I could do it alone in my bedroom, let alone under the timed pressure of the real deal. That RC was also brutally hard, so give yourself a break there. I scored 156; wasn't thrilled.

    February I found to be much easier, and the LG section seemed pretty straightforward. Because of this, I don't think your issue is your ability, but rather your mentality. I strongly recommend you focus on controlling that for June. Especially with your available "new, pristine" materials so limited for the next 4 months of study. I absolutely would recommend seeing someone professionally. The stigma is absolute nonsense. Going to a therapist does not imply psychological damage or anything ridiculous like that. Instead they may be able to give you insight into your personal struggle to perform well (as you can based on your PTs) under pressure. I think that "count to ten when you're stressed" stuff is mostly bullshit, but a therapist can delve deeper. Especially when you speak to your goals, they'll likely have good advice. Just a thought.

    Or, don't spend money on a doctor but definitely address that yourself.

    Most importantly, DO NOT cancel another score. Even if you bomb, just believe in yourself and take pride in your other sections.
  • runiggyrunruniggyrun Alum Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    2481 karma
    The freezing is real, and it's a real pain in the neck. There was a very good post around here a while back about how it's basically a fight of flight response - you get into a panic mode and all your higher cognitive processes evaporate, because that's what thousands of years of evolution taught us - when you see a bear, you either play dead, you run, or you try to kick it with a stone. Solving beautiful arguments in your head while doing the above is not something that would help, so those processes get shut down. The theory goes that taking a few very deep, slow breaths, paying attention to them and nothing else is supposed to snap you out of fight or flight (you tend to take quick and shallow breaths when that happens).
    I believe it works when done properly, but fails in a lot of real life cases because it it's not straightforward to implement under pressure. You are going to be reluctant to stop and breathe because you'll be afraid of falling further behind, and even if you do, your brain is going to say "I don't want to stop and focus on breathing, I want to freak out over that BEEEEEEAR (of a game).
    If you experience the same type of feeling during PT's you can try breathing, but your PT scores suggest that your brain knows that's not "the real deal" and doesn't react the same way, which would make the trial and error method more difficult.
    If you can get yourself to do it, and can find a good professional, a therapist can be very beneficial (and they don't all want to find out everything about your troubled childhood, some are behavioral therapists that focus mostly on the problem at hand). They can also prescribe meds if needed (but I wouldn't suggest using any medicines for the first time on test day).
    On a more practical note, you should try and spend some time focusing on developing an internal clock and knowing when to move on. If a game doesn't click, even if you think it should, move on to the next. Sometimes when you come back you can see where you went wrong and it's smoother. Even if it isn't, you're not missing a bunch of questions just because you couldn't get to them.
    But yeah, back to back LG's to open would pretty much be my nightmare scenario, and I'm sorry you had to go through that!
  • AlejandroAlejandro Member Inactive ⭐
    edited February 2016 2424 karma
    What up man? First off, congrats on taking the test. This thing is not a walk in the park and 7 months of dedication towards the LSAT is a pretty big deal. The good news is that you have already taken the test and you know there will be nothing out of the ordinary when you take it again in June. What I recommend is that you take a couple of weeks off and pat yourself on the back for taking it, then get back at it with renewed strength.

    After that I would suggest to go over the logic fundamental lessons in 7sage and perhaps supplement with Cambridge drill packets. When you're done with that start taking PTs again and do good BR. After a few tests practice on your weaknesses and keep doing the same thing all over again.

    The most important thing for you will be to detach yourself from the outcome when you take the June test. Do not dwell on questions that tripped you off and focus only on what's in front of you. The LSAT does not only test how much you mastered the material; it's also testing how you can perform under pressure. The two are obviously interconnected but many people under perform because they cannot handle pressure very well while others will do better even when they don't know the material as well as you do. When you finally let go, learn how to trust your instincts, and detach yourself from the outcome you will be ready to take the test again and you can certainly achieve that before June. Hope that helps!
  • MrSamIamMrSamIam Inactive ⭐
    2086 karma
    It sounds like anxiety is getting the best of you during the real deal. When you PT, you know your score doesn't mean much. Schools wont see them, heck, no one else will see them unless you show them off. However, schools will see your test score on the real exam. So, you freak out.
    You need to change your mindset going in. I was like this my first year of UG. Freaked out, somehow magically forgot everything that I had studied, then froze.
    During my second year, I changed the way I approached exams. I would remind myself that I did everything I could, and that not doing so well wouldn't be the end of me. It eased my nerves enough to where I always did well.
    Do the same for the LSAT. I believe this is your last take until you have to wait another 2 years for 3 more. So, remind yourself that, worst case scenario, you'll take 2 years off, study and relax during those 2 years, and start law school later. There are plenty of members here who are in their late 20's, early 30's and are just starting law school. That's life.
    More importantly, don't register for your 3rd take until you are ready. For someone whose aiming for a 170+, you shouldn't have registered until you were PTing in that range.
  • LARamsNationLARamsNation Member
    edited February 2016 592 karma
    Thank you all for these helpful comments, I'm definitely gonna take a week or two off to try and regroup. Ill be straight with everyone as i'm trying to find the most accurate plan of attack, I could of done a better job with BR. I got lazy with it more than half the time, so this time around I plan to fully BR every single PT and implement a consistent meditation routine to combat my test anxiety. Either way, I'm now more hell bent than ever on taking this beast down -- once and for all.
  • AlejandroAlejandro Member Inactive ⭐
    2424 karma
    That's what we like to hear!
  • MrSamIamMrSamIam Inactive ⭐
    2086 karma
    @Mark.Vandy Good job! I forgot to mention, make sure you have a steady schedule. Erratic schedules can end up being your Achilles heel. Plan out some breaks, and take them. But commit to studying a certain amount each day. Also, be flexible. If you're sick, don't expect yourself to study for 4 hours that day. Make up for it another day.
  • 7sagelsatstudent1807sagelsatstudent180 Alum Member
    932 karma
    I had two cancels and I don't believe it affected my cycle at all. Just make the rest of your app great and have one awesome score on file
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