As an initial disclaimer, it should be stated that everyone handles stress and reduces stress in different ways. So this writing will be somewhat subjective based on my take on stress. However, this blog will also be partially objective based on the nature of the LSAT itself and understanding what the LSAT actually tests.
Let’s go deeper into the objective, and then come back to how to deal with the stress of the test. So what does the LSAT actually test? Is it a knowledge based test or is it a skill based test?
To answer the first question, using a macro-based approach, the LSAT tests a person’s ability to think logically, make deductions, and bridge gaps in arguments. These skills are tested in the different sections: Logical Reasoning; Logic Games (Analytical Reasoning); Reading Comprehension. So, are these elements of the LSAT knowledge or skill-based? This is the important question when considering how to reduce the stress of test day.
The answer, put simply, is that the entire LSAT is a skill based exam. There is no knowledge coming into the exam that will put one test-taker ahead of another. No undergrad degree or area of study will put one test-taker ahead of another with regards to the knowledge taught within a particular major.
So, the LSAT is a skill-based exam. The subject matter and details of the test are absolutely irrelevant. Whether the subjects are Pre-World War I artists or choosing which cars have which options, the subject matter is always non-material. What does matter, however, is the logic and deductions necessary to answer the questions. That never changes regardless of the details of the question! Let me say this again. That never changes!! If you take anything away from this blog, let this be it, learn the skills, not the facts.
So, if you look at the LSAT like a musician would an instrument, or an athlete does a sport, then you may have a better understanding of how to approach the LSAT. How do great players and artists reach the top? Sure, the great ones do have skill. However, they great ones also practice and play the instrument/game consistently. By practicing (i.e. preparing) the skills necessary to take the LSAT, the test-taker becomes more prepared for test day. With that said, the more one practices the better prepared one becomes. With thorough preparation, a test-taker can feel confident going into the exam. So, the first step to relaxing prior to the exam is to be prepared. Then, and only then, a person can spend a weekend away from the books and enjoy the simple pleasures in life. Go see a movie, hand out with friends, call your mom, or read a book. Whatever takes your mind entirely away from the LSAT, therefore when the next week comes you can resume your study schedule of perfecting your skills necessary to reach your personal best score on the LSAT. Remember, as in a game you are not trying to beat the game itself, you are just trying to beat your opponent. It is the same in the LSAT, you are not trying to beat the LSAT, you are just trying to beat the person next to you.