June and September are the most popular LSAT administrations for Illinois students and alums. What should you do if you are feeling anxious as we approach the June LSAT?
First, it’s important to acknowledge that some anxiety is normal. The LSAT is a difficult test, and it’s perfectly natural to feel some anxiety about performing well on it. Of the thousands of students and alumni I’ve worked with over the past 10 years, I can probably count on one hand how many weren’t nervous about this exam.
If you are getting concerned that you will not be ready for the June exam: Know that you have options. Let’s take a look at each.
Option 1: Withdraw from the June LSAT now. This might be a good option if you know you didn’t spend enough time on your LSAT prep this spring, and/or you are not going to be able to focus on LSAT prep for the next few weeks. This option can take the pressure off, allowing you to refocus your game plan for September. You can withdraw and register for the September LSAT now (click here to do so). Advice for those who make this choice: DO NOT PROCRASTINATE. Once the pressure of the June LSAT is off, you will be very tempted to put your LSAT materials away all summer. DO NOT DO THIS, or you will find yourself in the exact same state of panic in August when you realize you are not ready for the September exam either. I have seen this countless times! Use this summer wisely, and take the time you need to be fully prepared for September.
Option 2: Keep going, and make a game time decision. This is more for the students who have been LSAT prepping consistently this spring but still feel they are pretty far from their LSAT goals. Crank up your LSAT prep–you still have 3.5 weeks, and that’s enough time to make some significant gains.Clear your schedule as much as possible and give it your all. Take a final timed practice test around June 9. Then, you can make a game time decision: You can withdraw from the LSAT as late as the day before the test (June 11). Withdrawals are not seen by law schools–you will only lose your test registration fee. In the long run, this is a small price to pay to avoid having a low LSAT score. Advice for those who choose this option: Really clear your schedule for the next few weeks and study as much as possible. If you truly want to see results, you will need to take this seriously and put in the time and effort. On the plus side, it’s only for a few weeks–you can still go to the pool later this summer.
Option 3: Know that you can cancel your LSAT score after the exam. This option is more appealing to those students who have serious test anxiety or whose LSAT prep shows inconsistent results–some days you do great, others are deeply disappointing. How will you feel on test day? It’s very hard to say. Keep in mind that if test day does not go well, you can go home and immediately cancel your score. You won’t know what score you received, which means you’ll need to retake, but there is some benefit to gaining the experience of taking an actual LSAT to make you feel more confident the next time around. Advice to those who choose this option: Follow the LSAC instructions carefully, as you only have 6 calendar days to cancel. (Click here for instructions.) Since you know you will be retaking, get back to your LSAT study prep right away–the September test is only 8 weeks after the June one, so you will need all of that time to prepare.
Option 4: Hope for the best. Continue your LSAT prep diligently, take the June LSAT, see what happens, and let this dictate whether you retake. This is a perfectly valid plan if you’ve been taking your LSAT prep seriously and you just have some general anxiety about test day performance. Advice for those who choose this option: June LSAT scores are projected to be released July 6. Given that the September exam is Sept. 16, you will not have much time to prep for a retake after getting your June score. Please keep an open mind about this suggestion: You may want to keep LSAT prepping after the June LSAT until you receive your score. Why? So that you can continue to make gains for the September exam. If you set aside your LSAT books from June 12 to July 6, you’re probably going to lose some ground that you’ll have to make up for. Another option: Be ready to make a decision almost immediately when you receive your score about whether to retake. Consider: Under what circumstances would you retake? For example, If my score isn’t _____ then I will definitely retake. Or, If my score isn’t within 2 points of where I was practice testing or If my score isn’t at the median of Dream Law School. The point is to consider this now so that you can prepare yourself for this decision, instead of waiting until the score comes out to even think about it. You won’t have weeks to bounce around the idea of retaking once your score is released–you’ll need to get on with it. Quickly.
Overall: Keep the big picture in mind. Do your absolute best to prepare and perform on this test. But don’t get sucked into tunnel vision about the LSAT and what it means. What the LSAT does is predict first-year law school performance. The LSAT does not measure intelligence, or your ability to make an impact on the world, or how successful you’ll be as a lawyer. A high LSAT score doesn’t mean you’ll be the best lawyer in the courtroom, just as a low LSAT score doesn’t mean that you can’t graduate at the top of your class and become a very successful lawyer. Being an effective lawyer requires many other skills beyond performing well on one test! Keep your chin up, give it your absolute best effort, and keep moving forward.