Do's and Don'ts to Keep You Focused on LSAT Test Day

Shawn P. O'Connor

Taking a standardized test is a nerve-racking experience for many people. This is especially true with a test like the LSAT, which plays such a significant role in law school admissions.

Follow these do's and don'ts during the upcoming February LSAT to ensure you are relaxed and fully able to concentrate on Saturday (or next Monday, if you are taking the Sabbath observer exam).

-- DO eat a hearty breakfast. Even if you feel nervous, try to eat a healthy, well-balanced meal the morning of the LSAT. A mix of fresh fruit, whole grains (e.g. cereal or toast), and protein (e.g. eggs or sausage) will keep you energized and alert throughout the exam.

-- DON'T consume too much caffeine. If you are a regular coffee drinker, there is no harm in having one cup before the LSAT.

However, do not drink extra coffee in hopes of staying alert for the entire test. Too much caffeine can make you restless, irritable, nervous, and actually impede your concentration. Also avoid sugary, caffeine-rich energy drinks, especially if you do not regularly consume them.

[Highlight these traits in your law school applications.]

-- DO bring a snack. Your breakfast will keep you going for the first three sections of the exam, but you should bring a snack to eat during the break to give you that extra push for the last couple of sections and the writing sample.

Students almost always report to me that they find themselves far hungrier than they would have imagined at the break. Remember that your snack needs to fit in the reclosable, gallon plastic bag you bring to the test center, so plan accordingly.

-- DON'T have an unhealthy, low-protein snack. Avoid sugary snacks like candy, which will only make you more tired and lethargic after about 30 minutes, or salty snacks, like chips, which will make you too thirsty. High-protein snacks, like granola bars or energy bars, as well as heartier fruits, like bananas, are all good options.

[Learn which law schools get the most applications.]

-- DO leave extra time for your commute. You should have mapped out and timed your route to the testing center before test day, so you know how long the trip takes under normal conditions.

Plan to arrive at the test site 45 minutes before the report time, which is when the doors will close. Don't confuse this with the test time, when you are expected to be on the first section. Then leave an additional 15 minutes early in case of unexpected detours, traffic, or public transportation delays. Rushing on the way to the testing center will dramatically increase your stress level.

-- DON'T arrive too early. While you want to leave yourself plenty of time, you also should not arrive so early that you are waiting around for hours. Sitting in anticipation for too long will make you more anxious, so if you do find yourself with extra time once you are at the testing site, take a quick walk, if possible.

[Take these steps before applying to law school.]

-- DO talk to fellow test-takers. Having conversations with your peers before the test can be a good way to calm down after you arrive. Joking around with a friend or making small talk with a new acquaintance can be a nice distraction before you begin the test.

-- DON'T chat about the test or compare yourself to other test-takers. Try to keep conversations away from the LSAT. You may be intimidated by hearing fellow test-takers talking about how high they have been scoring or how long they have been preparing.

Ignore these comments, and stay focused on yourself. Remember that everyone prepares slightly differently, and you are as ready as you can be. Be confident that you will do your very best.

How are you planning to stay focused during the February LSAT? Let me know in the comments, E-mail me at, or contact me via Twitter at @StratusPrep.