How To Prevent LSAT Anxiety
LSAT anxiety is real.
While most test-takers experience some sort of anxiety on test day, experts say, there are strategies you can deploy to ease that anxiety.
Gabriel Kuris, the founder of admissions consultancy Top Law and contributor at US News, recently discussed how test-takers can manage LSAT anxiety and perform to their best on test day.
“Nothing is wrong with feeling performance pressure on test day,” Kuris writes. “It’s out of your control. But you can choose how you respond to it, and you can prepare for it by understanding performance anxiety, anticipating test anxiety and focusing when it’s ‘game time’ on LSAT test day.”
WHY YOU’RE ANXIOUS
It’s important to first understand why test-takers experience anxiety on test day.
Kuris says the anxiety test takers experience from the LSAT is similar to the anxiety athletes face on game day.
“The LSAT is like an extreme sport, a stiff competition to gain admission to law school,” Kuris writes. “The test overloads your brain, which normally consumes about 20% of a normal adult’s body energy, with three and a half hours of fast-paced deductions requiring total focus and mental agility.”
While much of this is in the head, test anxiety is a real condition that, if not treated or prepared for, can lead to real physical symptoms, experts say.
“Headache, nausea, diarrhea, excessive sweating, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, light-headedness and feeling faint can all occur,” according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. “Test anxiety can lead to a panic attack, which is the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort in which individuals may feel like they are unable to breathe or having a heart attack.”
HOW TO PREVENT TEST ANXIETY
Kuris says there are a few steps test takers can take to prevent test anxiety on exam day.
The more familiar you are with test day, Kuris says, the more likely you won’t experience anxiety.
“First, anticipate the experience of the test through visualization,” he writes. “Write down what you will go through, from waking up to acing the test. Game out potential pitfalls, like a late start or distracting environment. To make this rehearsal more vivid than your fears and negative associations, ground the story in real, visceral details: the taste of breakfast, the sounds of the commute. Read your visualization out loud twice daily and mentally rehearse the entire performance. Visit your test center ahead of time.”
Additionally, it’s important for test-takers to build healthy habits leading up to test day.
“Eat nutritious, brain-healthy whole foods rich in protein, flavonoids and healthy fats,” Kuris writes. “Maintain a steady sleep schedule with a nighttime routine that helps you relax. Move your body regularly. There are many options, from walking, jogging and biking to pilates, yoga and weight training.”
On test day, Kuris says, it’s important to focus yourself on the moment.
“Stop fighting your thoughts and take a moment to ground yourself,” he adds. “Focus on something real and physical, like your breath or the feel of the desk. When you feel ready, take one tiny step toward getting a point, like ruling out a wrong answer choice, applying a practiced tactic or highlighting a question and moving on for a fresh start.”