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How to stay calm during the Real LSAT?

LogicbaeeeLogicbaeee Monthly Member
edited November 2020 in General 92 karma

Hi all,

I recently sat for the Nov LSAT. I put in my ear buds, took a deep breath even did some meditation right before the test. But when I started I feel like I could hear my heart pounding through my earbuds. In the beginning of the LR the first question felt like a blurr but I was able to come back after and I felt okay and got the correct AC because I calmed down. But then 3-4 questions my brain just couldn't focus on the content because of the nerves.

Typically, after drilling so many games. I've gotten to the point where I get -0 --2 on games on PTs but this time I just couldn't figure out the second game completely and I think I might have underperformed in games because of it.

To everyone that can stay calm and relaxed during the real LSAT, how did you get to this point and what are some of your tips?


  • clamoris.1997clamoris.1997 Member
    29 karma

    I suggest taking practice tests as the real one every day and do that for a month. That'll probably help.

  • LogicbaeeeLogicbaeee Monthly Member
    92 karma

    Thank you! I was doing that for a while, I will keep doing that for the Jan LSAT.

  • HelloMotoHelloMoto Member
    400 karma

    Hey was in a similar position as I would be wayyy more nervous during the real LSAT vs practice tests. One thing I would recommend is taking practice tests in the same place/time/with the same routines before hand (obviously to the best of your abilities) so when you actually take the test, your brain says ok i've done this before nothing new here. Also I read a book called "Performing Under Pressure" by Hendrie Weisinger and J. P. Pawliw-Fry which gives you some good tips about how not to choke under pressure (parts 2/3 provide the tips part 1 is more explaining why it happens). That book has def helped a lot and i've incorporated some of the strategies to ease my mind during tests!

  • KHansenAnneKHansenAnne Alum Member
    52 karma

    My first time taking the LSAT I was defiantly crying in my boss’s office the week leading up to it I was so nervous I couldn’t focus and subsequently bombed the real deal. The second time I was much calmer because I knew what I was getting into but still did not score great. I sat for November too and felt so much more peace with it. I think more experience with the test the better you can control these things. Last Wednesday-Tuesday I did one PT a day and that helped my stamina and learn how to control some of that anxiousness.

    I’m also a big advocate for some good yoga flow to help control anxious feelings about the world. Ojai breaths are much better for calming my nerves personally.

  • LogicbaeeeLogicbaeee Monthly Member
    92 karma

    Thank you everyone, definitely will try to implement these into my routine. :)

  • Daniel SimonettiDaniel Simonetti Monthly Member
    74 karma

    I had a similar experience with the heart pounding due to ear plugs. During my first section, like you, all I could hear/focus on was the pounding sound of my heartbeat. My first section was RC, during the middle of my first passage I took my ear plugs out and that helped a lot - hearing your heart thumping only makes it worse. I was flipping out and debated on walking away in that moment. Im really glad I stuck with it because I think i scored well (only time will tell 😬). There was also a lawnmower going off outside but it didn’t produce a fraction of the noise of my heart rate. After RC, i got a hold of my nerves a bit so I then put my earplugs back in to finish the test. I would advise you to hold off on the earplugs until you complete your first section! If I were to take the test again, I would take this approach.

  • LogicbaeeeLogicbaeee Monthly Member
    92 karma

    Thanks Daniel, I definitely didn't consider removing them but maybe it would have been a good call. I hope you did great on your exam!

  • mellomelmellomel Alum Member
    292 karma

    Thank you so much for this thread. I have a lot to share on this and I apologize in advance for the length of my comment :smile: I had a very similar experience when I took the August Flex - did not realize my heart pounding but I got so anxious that I just could not focus at all on my first section, which was LR. It was pretty bad because I let my anxiety build up and I was pretty much panicking through the whole thing and I could not understand what I was reading. I decided I could skip a question if I cannot understand the stimulus at all on my first read. The idea was that returning to the question with fresh eyes on round 2 would help. This tactic helped with time management in practice PT's as I would just skip a few questions with complex wording/concepts. But I never got so nervous when practicing, so in the real thing I ended up skipping soo many questions until I could calm myself a little bit. The other sections were slightly better but I seriously underperformed and ran out of time in LR because of my nerves.

    In retrospect, I think pausing for a few seconds and taking deep breaths before moving on would've been better than skipping and hoping I'd do better on the next question.

    Another thing that I want to improve on is letting go of the previous question/section when moving on. I remember that even after I managed to calm down a bit, I had the idea in my head that I was bombing the test, which probably made the situation worse. I feel like being mindful of such negative thought patterns might just help one overcome that, so I've started to incorporate a daily meditation practice into my routine (I had tried Headspace before which I think is great for beginners, now I'm using Headspace and it's a little more philosophical, which I enjoy). Haven't yet taken a timed PT since then so I cannot comment on test-specific aspects of the practice but so far it's promising.

    Actually looking back at your post, seems like you managed to calm yourself a lot earlier than I was able to! So I gotta ask back, do you have any tips on how to calm down during the test?

  • LogicbaeeeLogicbaeee Monthly Member
    92 karma

    Thanks for the post @mellomel ! I think I am going to incorporate breathing strategies while doing my PTs and practice taking breaths to simulate the real exam.

    For the remaining of my PTs, I am going to take them at the same time I am scheduling my Jan Flex. So that my body + mind are even more used to the time and setting.

    One thing that I think could help when everything gets blurry esp in LR is IDENTIFY THE CONCLUSION as a sense of grounding. This skill should be quick at this point and even when everything gets fuzzy, we know we can rely on it. This can help us be calm down and realize that we know how to do this exam. We've done it plenty of times.

  • oneanddoneoneanddone Monthly Member
    24 karma

    I usually drink a glass of wine during each practice test... I plan on drinking a glass right before the real exam just to loosen up. Everyone has what works for them but try it out! it might just help!

  • RavinderRavinder Alum Member
    edited February 2021 784 karma

    I am an ER doctor and I found using medicines that block adrenaline (in very low doses) can be very effective in managing test day anxiety and letting you focus. I tried this recently on two students that I tutored in the past who contacted me after they experienced big drops from their average PTs on test day. One student had dropped from 179 on PT taken at home (the week before July test) to 168 on test day (he said he had severe anxiety during the test). On the next test, just a few months later, he took the medication and scored a 176 (with very little anxiety experienced). This type of medication is often prescribed for stage fright for actors and is safe.

    Admin Note: Do not take medical advice from users on this Forum. Consult your own doctors.

  • harbertkharbertk Alum Member
    24 karma

    Ravinder, would Propranolol do the trick? How low of a dose? I am prescribed 10mg but I don't think testing at that dose would be ideal. I can be too relaxed and not work fast enough.

  • w.klemtw.klemt Alum Member
    67 karma

    I get a lot of test anxiety, and found that I was getting anxious even sitting down to do practice tests. I started to do a few anxiety-reducing meditation/ breathing exercises throughout the day leading up to sitting down to take a test (the night before, the morning of, a few hours before and then right before). I found that doing this often, and making it a habit, really helped! I like to use the Headspace app - they have a lot of good targeted meditations :)

  • zoomzoomzoomzoom Alum Member
    462 karma

    I always recommend the following - do 2-3 deep breathing drills whenever you feel anxious. Close your eyes and take a deep breath, pause, and then let it out. Just doing the above will surprisingly lower your anxiety and reorient your focus.

    Do it before each section and whenever you feel overwhelmed/anxious. People might object that you are wasting valuable time doing these drills, but are they really a waste if it helps you calm down and recenter your focus?

  • Juliet --Student Service--Juliet --Student Service-- Member Administrator Student Services
    5277 karma

    Do not give medical advice to or take medical advice from users on this Forum. For any medical advice, including medication on anxiety or any other mental health issues, please consult your own doctors.

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