Reply To: Last Minute Advice

June 3, 2016 at 7:30 am #1953
Mike Kim

Thanks Bryce — that’s useful to know — and always happy to try and help — appreciate you putting your faith in me and in the Trainer — also, I know your score isn’t quite where you want it to be, but congrats on all the hard work and improvement — I think it’s awfully impressive.

I have a million thoughts on the matter of test-day performance, and if we had more time I’d be more than happy to share them with you, but at stage I think it’s important, in all respects, to focus in on what is most important, so, I’ll do my best to stick to the points that I think can be most helpful for you (if you do want more advice, please check out my post with tips for your final PT’s — — much of that applies to the optimum mindset/strategies for your actual test day as well) — as I always say, you know yourself best, and so please don’t hesitate to ignore or adapt any of my advice as you see fit —

1) At this stage, beating yourself up about not getting to your goal score/wanting a higher average score doesn’t do you any good, and it’s a very bad idea to try to drastically change things up last minute in order to suddenly gain more points — to me, that’s the equivalent of throwing your hard work down the toilet. I’m sure you know that but figured I’d mention it. Trust in and value all the strong skills and habits you’ve worked so hard to develop.

2) Focus on your positives and try to get the most our of your abilities — you aren’t perfect at the LSAT, but you are, objectively speaking, really, really good at it — and your goal should be to try and maximize those strengths so that you can score at the top end of your score range.

3) And here’s a bold claim on my part, and a challenge to you — I’ve never met a student at the 163 level that couldn’t gain a couple of points by utilizing more effective test-taking strategies, specifically having to do with mindset and timing allocation.

4) So, if you want to set a goal for the day, my suggestion would be to go in with the goal of trying to maximize your abilities/perform well enough on test day to come out with at least a 165. And, if you have a good day, you might pleasantly surprise yourself and come out even higher than that.

5) In terms of mindset, you really want to try to do what you can to be as aggressive as you possibly can, while still being smart about it/not letting yourself get out of control.

Having an aggressive mindset makes it markedly easier to focus on what you want to focus on (fear / defensiveness have a tendency to do the opposite of helping you focus — making you scatter-brained and making you nervous that you have to think about everything/too much).

Having an aggressive mindset is also helpful for not allowing yourself to cycle through and stress about q’s you’ve already finished, not over-worrying about your timing, and so on —

A nerdy little tip I have is to try to get yourself a little bit angry before the test. This is part of my routine before I take pt’s and such — thinking about someone who messed w/me, listening to music that gets me all riled up, etc. helps give me a little edge — again, not advice that’s useful for everyone, but figured I’d mention it.

6) In terms of timing / allocation of mind-space —

At your score level, roughly speaking, there are
-probably about 70 q’s that are fairly straightforward for you and that you should get right with the right skills/habits and not too much struggle.
– probably about 20 q’s that require more from you, and that can go either way — how many of these 20 you get right/wrong will have the greatest impact on whether you score at the top or low end of your range.
– probably about 10 q’s that are either too hard, or not worth it because getting them right would take far more time than it’s worth.

We are habitually wired to focus more time and energy on the hardest of q’s — but on test day, the smartest of strategies is —
a) being assertive and aggressive about getting the 70 you should get right as efficiently and accurately as possible.
b) recognizing when q’s are too hard/not worth it and letting go of them
c) spending the most time/energy on the 20 q’s that will have the greatest influence on your score.

Obviously all that is easier said than done, and during the test you aren’t going to be able to tell which category a q goes in and so on, but you can adopt a mentality of

a) not being overly cautious on earlier/easier q’s — not rushed, but trusting in the skills and habits you’ve developed, and not overthinking/not trying to do things that aren’t helpful.
b) not being stressed about running into challenging q’s or games or passages — this will happen — you will run into problems and situations that seem confusing or difficult — knowing you can have some misses and still get a strong score, and knowing that smart test taking is about grabbing as many points as you can without overinvesting — can help you not waste unnecessary time and energy.
c) and this will hopefully put you in a position where you can really focus most on those 20 q’s that will end up most determining your outcome.

Those are the key thoughts that come to mind — a bit longer than I hoped, and as I said some of it may not apply to you, but I hope that at the least it helped give you some perspective and some ideas —

Best of luck to you, Carmen, and everyone else taking on Monday — MK