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Fear of Taking Practice Tests

Waffle23Waffle23 Alum Member
in General 603 karma


I'm not entirely sure why but I seem to come across a mental roadblock when it comes to taking full-length practice tests. I schedule them for Saturday afternoons, but then I find myself pushing them off week after week. I just always feel really under-prepared for them, regardless of how much I actually studied. I also don't really know where I stand right now in terms of my score, although I would guess in the low 160s, based on timed,35-min sections.

I think I might be scared to face my timed score at this point in my studies. I've been studying for over a year and I have a pretty strong grasp of the fundamentals. However, I find myself wanting to give up before even sitting down to take a full practice exam.

How do I get over this fear? Do you guys have tips/tricks for this kind of thing?

Any help would be most appreciated, thank you.


  • galaxygalgalaxygal Alum Member
    edited September 2019 224 karma

    Hi there- just wanted to preface this by saying that what you're feeling is completely normal. The one thing that really forced me to start taking timed, full-length PTs on a regular basis was telling myself that there's honestly no other way to improve my score. It sounds obvious but it's so true. Doing individual questions or even timed individual sections can only get you so far since a significant part of conquering the LSAT involves overcoming test fatigue/having the mental ability to focus for hours at a time, switching from subject to subject, etc., and you can only truly conquer that by taking full PTs followed by intensive blind review. A tip would be to not put so much emphasis on the scores you get when you first start doing full PTs. I realize that's much easier said than done, but it's honestly incredible how much you're capable of improving from your first PT to your last. If you get a score you're not satisfied with, use that as motivation to keep going. Just know that it's the only way that you can improve and soon enough it won't feel so daunting anymore :)

  • jkjohnson1991jkjohnson1991 Alum Member
    766 karma

    I've struggled with this as well so I know exactly where you are coming from. As the poster above me said, it really boils down to the fact that it is almost necessary for improving your score.

  • bananabobananabo Core Member
    1205 karma

    I’ve definitely been there! And what helped me overcome the anxiety was to just shift how I saw PTs. Before, I used to think PTs were so intimidating because I felt so much pressure to get my target score and whenever I didn’t score what I wanted, I started questing myself and my abilities and it was such an unhealthy way of thinking.

    What really helped me was to view PTs more of a way to expose my weakness, rather than taking it to just know my score. When I started viewing PTs as a learning opportunity, that’s when it started getting less intimidating and the pressure of wanting to get a certain score diminished because I knew that with time and practice, my score is going to improve and eventually I’m going to get that score that I want.

    Like JY says in his earlier lessons, the worst thing is to not know what you don’t know. Through doing PTs, you’re becoming more aware of what you don’t know and that’s a GREAT thing because its better to get a bunch of questions wrong on a PT than on the actual test.

    As cheesy as it sounds, you have to just believe in yourself and your capability to tackle the test. Good luck!!

  • Waffle23Waffle23 Alum Member
    603 karma

    @ReginaPhalange : Thank you so much for your response. And you're right, taking PTs really is the only way to improve.
    @jkjohnson1991 : Good to hear I'm not alone in this, it's such a struggle.
    @bananabo : Thank you for your response!! That's exactly it, I don't yet know what I don't know... and I need to find out sooner rather than later.

    I'll do my best to not focus too much on the score, and work on getting as much out of the PT as I can. I think putting so much pressure on getting the best possible score, makes them so much more daunting- especially when you've been studying for so long and don't want to have to face the possible reality of a disappointingly low score. Only onwards and upwards from here.

    Thanks again for the responses, best of luck to you all!

  • Chris NguyenChris Nguyen Alum Member Administrator Sage 7Sage Tutor
    4538 karma

    Every time I feel anxious about taking a PT I always repeat a little mantra to myself - "Everything is going to be okay. Taking this PT can only help me improve my score."

    I know it sounds silly, but it really does help me get into the right mindset I need to be in.

  • salonpapassalonpapas Member
    138 karma

    This is on point of how I feel.

  • MissChanandlerMissChanandler Alum Member Sage
    3256 karma

    I felt the same, even when I was PTing my highest. I’m not sure if this is helpful, but I tried to embrace the fear by telling myself that I would be nervous of test day so I might as well just get used to it

  • winster1winster1 Member
    111 karma

    Positive affirmation helps me the most through studying/ taking PT. Constantly telling your self that you can do it and concurrently feeling that you can do it. Good Luck !

  • tams2018tams2018 Member
    727 karma

    Don't score the test.

    Do the blind review and just check for the answers when complete. If you do the blind review as instructed, you will have found out where your weakness are and what you need to work on.

    Score the exam a week later after you studied and finished your next exam. Repeat as necessary.

  • Waffle23Waffle23 Alum Member
    603 karma

    Thank you guys! I appreciate the input. I'll try it out!

  • Ms NikkiMs Nikki Alum Member
    128 karma

    Great advice on here. I have a few points to add.

    I would add that I love the PT analytics tool. It shows you a breakdown by section, question type, improvement test by test, your averages and improvement first test to last. The only way to get analytics is to take tests (analytics ---> take pts) and each test gives you more to work with. You are feeding the machine, a machine which has the sole purpose of helping you excel at the lsat.

    You also get more material to drill, and 7sage lets you make practice drills off of the practice tests you own. You never want to drill on perfectly good PTs you haven't seen, but if you take one and get certain LRs wrong or need to foolproof a game, you have more material to work with. Even passages can be reused after a few weeks to get in faster habits and practice.

    Another thing about PTs, especially at the beginning, is that blind review is ultimately the most important part of the process in improvement. The process works! If you freeze up in a logic game, do your best, but know that you will have all the time in the world to do it when the test is over. If you spend the time in blind review you can insure that certain weaknesses become your strengths. Spending an hour solidifying that difficult NA question helps on the next pt you take...and the one after that. With the digital test, it also shows you how long each question took you to answer. That helps to understand what is taking too long, what should have been skipped, where more improvement can be made in timing.

    Lastly, PTing forces you to gain endurance, a very important part of the lsat. You can ace one section at a time, but when you have four timed sections, you have to get used to keep it moving. Sometimes you will get a game or passage that destroys you, but you cannot take that frustration into the next section. When you do one section, you get to check it right after. Endurance is easier said than done, but it is a skill only possible through real (no cheating) PTs. You learn that some questions need to be skipped and hoe to maintain pace.

    Looking at PTs as something awesome, the biggest tool in improving scores (when implementing the correct strategies) instead of these anxiety bombs may make it not only easier to take them but also potentially improve your score on them.

  • a. valdeza. valdez Member
    112 karma

    I can't emphasize how much I relate and how much I needed this post. Thank you.

  • Briana 170Briana 170 Core Member
    70 karma

    Ugh! This is so me! I just started doing practice tests today after finishing the core curriculum. I was mortified. I just jumped off and did it. Gotta start somewhere.

  • KeepCalmKeepCalm Alum Member
    edited September 2019 807 karma

    The fear will reduce only when you set precedent for yourself.

    Unequivocally, your first few assimilated exams will be uncomfortable. Do not let that discourage you. Push through. Trust me. For each minute that you sit and continue taking the assimilated exam, you will few less uncomfortable. The second assimilation will still feel uncomfortable but significantly less than the initial. Likewise with the third, fourth... by then you should feel much more at ease.



    reduce fear → set precedent
    do not set precedentnot reduce fear

  • Waffle23Waffle23 Alum Member
    603 karma

    Thank you guys again, for the awesome input and words of encouragement. Truly appreciate it. :)

  • RealLaw612RealLaw612 Member
    edited September 2019 1094 karma

    I started out very nervous doing practice tests also. What helped me most was just grinding through them in spite of the nerves. Guess what? They aren’t the real thing! Also guess what? The pressure of the real test NEEDS to be practiced!
    I’ve now written the LSAT twice and have also completed 45 timed prep tests. Test anxiety was sooooo hard to conquer but I did it by lots and lots of familiarization. Pick a day and commit to doing 2 timed prep tests in a row. There’s really no better answer than to just take a deep breath, relax, and go hard. Next week, do it again. 4 sections, break, 4 more sections. BR and foolproof. After 4 weeks of this, a regular 5 section LSAT is a cakewalk. It takes a lot of time but you will see gains. Personally, I went from 157 to an average of 171.

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