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How to Reduce Test Day Penalty?

DontPay4LawSchoolDontPay4LawSchool Alum Member
in General 566 karma

I have taken the LSAT twice: June 2021 and August 2021. Both were 163. I was scoring well above (low 170s) before the most recent one. Obviously, the test day penalty is severe. But how can I overcome this? I recently hit a -0 LR, which I am ecstatic at accomplishing, especially given I have not dipped below -0 on LG in a long time on PTs.

Studies show that maintaining meditation is helpful, but I haven't been doing that consistently. Is there any internal motivation I could possibly engender in myself before test day in an effective way?


  • Burt ReynoldsBurt Reynolds Alum Member Sage
    957 karma

    Hey @DontPay4LawSchool - for me, personally, my test day penalty was driven by a sense of panic. I'd have this thought like "it's the actual test, holy cow" but something more explicit than "holy cow".

    I did have a test day penalty on my last take, but it was much smaller than my previous penalty. I think what caused the penalty to decrease to something reasonable boils down to two things:

    1) I felt like I had so much to do before answering each question. For example, in LR I needed to break down the argument into parts, predict a right AC, potentially skip the question, etc. In RC, I needed to predict the MP, highlight details, review low res, etc. So instead of thinking "what's the right answer?" I was focused on the actual content. Standardizing my approach stopped my mind from wandering to those panic thoughts.

    2) I accepted what was outside of my control. Sometimes you're going to get a section that's tough for you personally. Other times you might get a RC passage that plays perfectly to your interests. Accepting that there's an element of luck is important to calm nerves, in my opinion. It led me to recognize that all I could control was my approach to each game, passage, stimulus, and ACs. The rest was up to LSAC.

    I'm just one opinion here, I'm sure other folks have different viewpoints. Either way, best of luck with your studies. You've got this :smile:

  • WinningHereWinningHere Alum Member
    417 karma

    Great reminders, thank you and congratulations on your score!

  • lsatplaylistlsatplaylist Alum Member
    5244 karma

    Maybe thinking about the fact that you're overcoming an obstacle by writing the test and knowing that you have solid scores on the book.

  • zoomzoomzoomzoom Alum Member
    462 karma

    Great points but one more thing I want to mention that I think would GREATLY diminish test day penalty - Aim to do EXACTLY what you would do on your real thing as you would on a PT.

    That probably seems easier said than done but I think it's worth noting still. Most people who struggle with test anxiety feel a need to do something DIFFERENT on test-day. It could be as simple as hesitating on an easy question that you would normally just move on from, just because it's the real thing.

    For me, I once suffered a test-day penalty because I felt the need to SPEED things up for some darn reason and it cost me. My process is always to go slow as slow = accuracy and accuracy = speed. But nope, I just sped up for some reason out of anxiety and I paid the price.

    Try to strive to do your absolute best to do EXACTLY what you would do on a PT and aim only for that.

  • WhatIsLifeWhatIsLife Member
    810 karma

    This might not be for everyone but about 30 minutes before any big exam in college that would cause my anxiety I would take an absolute freezing cold shower and stay in it until I was able to normalize my breathing (when you first hop in you hyperventilate like a bitch due to the cold). Afterwards I'd sit down and try to focus on my breath for like 10 minutes. It always helped me feel calm and zoned in.

    Also if you have experience with green tea (as in you can substitute it in for coffee without altering your performance) I'd go with that source of caffeination. Green Tea gives me the benefits of caffeine but takes away any jitteriness.

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