Most of my students recently took their final in-class practice LSAT before the big exam on June 10th. An important part of the practice experience is running through what will actually happen on Test Day, so you’re prepared not just for the content of the LSAT but also its administration. I’m sure many of you haven’t had the opportunity to take a well-proctored exam, so let’s chat about what you can expect on the big day.
There will be many differences between the real thing and your self-proctored practice LSATs, but the biggest will likely be all the administration. You’re told to arrive at least 30 minutes before the exam begins – I always advise my students to show up 30 minutes earlier than that. You’ll stand in line, get checked in (make sure you have acceptable ID and a proper photograph on your admissions ticket!) and then be escorted to your seat. To avoid any potential problems, make sure you visit www.lsac.org for a list of what you must, can and can’t bring to the test site.
Once seated, you’ll wait… and wait some more… and then wait some more. Decide now how you’re going to use that time – power napping or fully reciting Monty Python and The Holy Grail (with silly accents) are my personal choices. You won’t have any prep material with you inside the room, so use the time to destress and relax as much as possible.
Once everyone is seated and the magical hour has arrived, proctors will hand out the material – don’t break the seal on the test booklet or fill out any information until you’re told to do so! The lead proctor will give you detailed instructions for exactly what to do and when to do it. Expect the pre-test administration to take anywhere from 15-30 minutes (or longer if you get unlucky); everyone moves at the pace of the slowest writer in the room. Don’t allow yourself to get worked up, just keep breathing and do your best to stay focused.
More instructions will follow (with ample opportunity to ask questions, if you have them), then the proctor will give final directions for section 1. Remember, you can only work on the current section (no moving back or forward among sections). The proctor will give a 5 minute verbal warning before the end of each section – other than that, it’s up to you to track time. After sections 1 and 2 the proctor will reread the same pre-section directions then turn you loose on the next one.
After section 3 the proctors will collect all the materials and you’ll get your break (with directions to stay “in the vicinity” of the room). During the break you can access your snack and drink (no eating or drinking during the test!), get up and stretch and so on. Make sure you’re back in the room before the end of the break! When the break is done, the proctors will hand back your materials, review the directions and get you started on section 4.
After section 5 things get exciting! First, the lead proctor will ask if anyone wants to cancel her score. There are only a few reasons why you would ever cancel on test day, since you have 6 days after to make that decision (so at the very least you should sleep on it). Assuming everyone doesn’t cancel, the proctors will then collect your test booklets and scantron sheets and hand out the Writing Sample materials. Directions will be read, merriment will be had and the essay section of the test shall begin.
35 minutes later, the LSAT is over! You’ll have to stay right until the end (even if you write the world’s best essay in only 25 minutes). You’ll be debriefed, the essays will get collected and you’ll have one final opportunity to ask questions. Since everyone is exhausted the discussion is likely to be brief, at which time you’ll go out and celebrate your crushing of the exam.