Anxiety and the LSAT

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FloridaGirl
Posts: 1417
Joined: Thu Dec 21, 2006 5:44 pm

Anxiety and the LSAT

Postby FloridaGirl » Tue Oct 20, 2009 12:36 am

Test Day Anxiety

Severe Test Anxiety

I have a diagnosed problem with anxiety. I already take anti anxiety medication, but I’m still worried about my anxiety.

First take a practice test as closely approximating test conditions as possible including driving to another location and getting someone to proctor for you. Then talk to your doctor about the possibility of adjusting your medication timing, dosage, or prescription. If you make any changes test it with another practice run. It’s not going to be a perfect representation of test day conditions, and if on test day you have problems think about canceling and check out the tips for re-takers.

I don’t have diagnosed test anxiety, but I feel it’s a severe problem for me.

Consult with a psychiatrist (can prescribe medication) or a psychologist (cannot prescribe medications). A professional opinion is never a bad idea.

I’ve always had problems with standardized tests, and I know the LSAT won’t be an accurate predictor of my law school success.

This is ground for an addendum if you have earlier scores and successes; for example, if you had a high GPA and a relatively low SAT/ACT in high school and you preformed well in college it supports your assertion.

Mild to Moderate Test Anxiety

My anxiety isn’t severe enough for medication, but this test is scaring me. What can I do?

Check out the strategies below, and don’t ignore your anxiety if it persists look for other resources. If you’re an undergrad your school likely offers counseling services or workshops.


Strategies for First Time Takers


1. This one test is not the defining moment of the rest of your life. If you panic you can always cancel. Not doing well on this test will not sink your law school dreams.

2. Change your test vocabulary. It sounds hokey, but turn I can’t into I can. Squash negative thoughts.

3. Be realistic. Not everyone will score a 180. Have goals for your score and the schools you want to attend, but be flexible in re-evaluating them as you prep.

4. Really consider your learning style. Even the idea of prepping can be overwhelming sometimes. You may need the structure of a class to keep you on track, or you may do better with self-preparation. As a tutor myself I don’t think it’s ever a bad idea to get someone to go over your strategies and comprehension with you.

5. Familiarity with all things LSAT related is especially important in alleviating anxiety. Practice under timed test-like conditions including, if possible, driving to your test site and taking it there once a week (example: the library at whatever school you sign up for).

6. Treat test day like an athletic event. Put yourself on a sleep schedule optimum for the time you take the test weeks in advance, eat well, exercise, and give yourself breaks to recharge.

7. Make sure you are consistent before you take this test. If you're not scoring in your desired range consistently over multiple practice tests in the weeks leading up to your test date it is highly unlikely you'll receive your desired score. At that point you re-evaluate and decide if your goal is realistic or if you need more study time.

Strategies for Re-takers

I am taking anti-anxiety medication, but on test day my anxiety was still a problem.

One of my (GRE) students was in this position, and it took her taking the test for her to realize her current medication schedule wasn’t working. She talked to her doctor and they adjusted her medication. Her second test score was within the range she needed.

Strategy Adjustments

1. Schools only have to report the highest score of their accepted students so retaking doesn't have to affect your admissions chances. Some schools average the scores, some consider both, and some will consider your highest score.

2. Take a breather. Don’t jump straight back into studying. Take a few days off and do something relaxing. Don’t visit TLS.

3. Evaluate your test day performance. Was there anything in particular that threw you off? Did you oversleep and arrive rushed? Did you over study in the days before?

4. Make sure you are consistently scoring in your desired range before you retake.

5. Don’t neglect your strengths.


For Everyone:

Day Before the Test:

Relax– no studying.

Stick to your sleeping schedule.

The Morning of the Test:

Arrive a few minutes early and work out a couple of problems before you check in at the test center.

Plan your bathroom breaks and drinking. Hydration is good, but having your bladder stress you is not.

During the Test:

Focus on the problem you are currently working on. Don’t think about any question you’ve already done until you’ve reached the end of the section and then only if you have time left over.

Breathe. If you feel stressed during the test stop, close your eyes, and breathe for about 30 seconds. Remind yourself that you're prepared, you know you can get the score you're aiming for, and if this one day doesn't work out you can do it again.

After the Test

I think anxiety affected my score. Should I cancel?

Don’t cancel on test day. Sleep on it! You have six days to cancel (your cancellation request must be received by LSAC within those six days). Don’t put too much weight on the TLS freaking out threads. TLS poster sayan said, “I was so close to canceling after reading this forum right after my test. Only came back here after receiving my score of 176. Go figure.” Get advice from a couple of people whose opinion you trust. If you used a tutor talk to them, but ultimately it has to be your decision. If you get a score you’re not happy with you can retake. A cancel plus a high score is better than a low score plus a high score, but the latter will not preclude you from law school acceptances.
Last edited by FloridaGirl on Sat Oct 24, 2009 2:14 am, edited 2 times in total.

sivr0323
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2009 8:15 pm

Re: Anxiety and the LSAT

Postby sivr0323 » Tue Oct 20, 2009 8:44 pm

After reading your post, I am considering asking for some medication from my doctor in terms of my anxiety. I really panicked the week before the test, especially the day before the test. I was scoring 155-159 on my PTS. I knew this was still too low but I decided to take it anyway to "test" my anxiety. Come test day, of course I panicked and ended up getting a depressing 146. I knew I did bad on the test but I decided not to cancel. I'm only self-studying using all the Powerscore bibles and doing the Preptests but the anxiety is seriously a big factor in my LSAT preparation and especially during test day. Just a note on how bad it is, I even hyperventilated in high school (abroad) during one of the high school entrance exams and had to be taken to the clinic. That is how bad my anxiety is.

I did really well in college In fact I graduated Magna Cum Laude at UCLA with a 3.87. I am determined to study more to re-take the LSAT in Dec but the anxiety issue is a serious factor. A 146 with that GPA is just very sad. I believe the LSAT is not a true indicator of how well I will do in law school. Well maybe it is...

Any suggestions would be really appreciated.

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FloridaGirl
Posts: 1417
Joined: Thu Dec 21, 2006 5:44 pm

Re: Anxiety and the LSAT

Postby FloridaGirl » Wed Oct 21, 2009 2:56 am

sivr0323 wrote:After reading your post, I am considering asking for some medication from my doctor in terms of my anxiety. I really panicked the week before the test, especially the day before the test. I was scoring 155-159 on my PTS. I knew this was still too low but I decided to take it anyway to "test" my anxiety. Come test day, of course I panicked and ended up getting a depressing 146. I knew I did bad on the test but I decided not to cancel. I'm only self-studying using all the Powerscore bibles and doing the Preptests but the anxiety is seriously a big factor in my LSAT preparation and especially during test day. Just a note on how bad it is, I even hyperventilated in high school (abroad) during one of the high school entrance exams and had to be taken to the clinic. That is how bad my anxiety is.

I did really well in college In fact I graduated Magna Cum Laude at UCLA with a 3.87. I am determined to study more to re-take the LSAT in Dec but the anxiety issue is a serious factor. A 146 with that GPA is just very sad. I believe the LSAT is not a true indicator of how well I will do in law school. Well maybe it is...

Any suggestions would be really appreciated.


Talk to your doctor as soon as possible. It can take a few months for medications to take affect, and it may be even longer before you get something that works for you. I don't necessarily advocate medication, but I do encourage everyone to ask their doctor for advice and options.

You say you're "only self-studying." Does this mean you feel you're not getting enough out of self study? It may be useful to find someone to study with to keep you accountable.

I agree with you that a 146 isn't a true indicator of your law school success, but that's not necessarily going to get you into a school that you are scoring below what they take. You're a great candidate for an addendum, but the school may be concerned that you would have anxiety problems after being admitted. If you score better the second time you can use that as evidence that you now have everything under control.

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IHaveDietMoxie
Posts: 137
Joined: Wed Dec 10, 2008 3:54 am

Re: Anxiety and the LSAT

Postby IHaveDietMoxie » Thu Nov 12, 2009 8:46 am

Thanks for this. Any experience with beta blockers?

User avatar
FloridaGirl
Posts: 1417
Joined: Thu Dec 21, 2006 5:44 pm

Re: Anxiety and the LSAT

Postby FloridaGirl » Fri Nov 13, 2009 2:24 am

IHaveDietMoxie wrote:Thanks for this. Any experience with beta blockers?



You're welcome, and no.

jarofsoup
Posts: 1952
Joined: Tue Jul 01, 2008 2:41 am

Re: Anxiety and the LSAT

Postby jarofsoup » Fri Nov 13, 2009 2:36 am

IHaveDietMoxie wrote:Thanks for this. Any experience with beta blockers?


I had a cardiac event a year or two ago and I was put on beta blockers...later I would find out I shouldn't have been. But I had very strange dreams, sleeping problems, felt tired and weak. Beta blockers are definately something I would aviod unless you have a heart condition that warrents it or have a good tolerance to the medication.

McGillRedManSam
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Sep 29, 2009 4:51 pm

Re: Anxiety and the LSAT

Postby McGillRedManSam » Fri Nov 13, 2009 4:57 am

FloridaGirl wrote:Test Day Anxiety

Severe Test Anxiety

I have a diagnosed problem with anxiety. I already take anti anxiety medication, but I’m still worried about my anxiety.

First take a practice test as closely approximating test conditions as possible including driving to another location and getting someone to proctor for you. Then talk to your doctor about the possibility of adjusting your medication timing, dosage, or prescription. If you make any changes test it with another practice run. It’s not going to be a perfect representation of test day conditions, and if on test day you have problems think about canceling and check out the tips for re-takers.

I don’t have diagnosed test anxiety, but I feel it’s a severe problem for me.

Consult with a psychiatrist (can prescribe medication) or a psychologist (cannot prescribe medications). A professional opinion is never a bad idea.

I’ve always had problems with standardized tests, and I know the LSAT won’t be an accurate predictor of my law school success.

This is ground for an addendum if you have earlier scores and successes; for example, if you had a high GPA and a relatively low SAT/ACT in high school and you preformed well in college it supports your assertion.

Mild to Moderate Test Anxiety

My anxiety isn’t severe enough for medication, but this test is scaring me. What can I do?

Check out the strategies below, and don’t ignore your anxiety if it persists look for other resources. If you’re an undergrad your school likely offers counseling services or workshops.


Strategies for First Time Takers


1. This one test is not the defining moment of the rest of your life. If you panic you can always cancel. Not doing well on this test will not sink your law school dreams.

2. Change your test vocabulary. It sounds hokey, but turn I can’t into I can. Squash negative thoughts.

3. Be realistic. Not everyone will score a 180. Have goals for your score and the schools you want to attend, but be flexible in re-evaluating them as you prep.

4. Really consider your learning style. Even the idea of prepping can be overwhelming sometimes. You may need the structure of a class to keep you on track, or you may do better with self-preparation. As a tutor myself I don’t think it’s ever a bad idea to get someone to go over your strategies and comprehension with you.

5. Familiarity with all things LSAT related is especially important in alleviating anxiety. Practice under timed test-like conditions including, if possible, driving to your test site and taking it there once a week (example: the library at whatever school you sign up for).

6. Treat test day like an athletic event. Put yourself on a sleep schedule optimum for the time you take the test weeks in advance, eat well, exercise, and give yourself breaks to recharge.

7. Make sure you are consistent before you take this test. If you're not scoring in your desired range consistently over multiple practice tests in the weeks leading up to your test date it is highly unlikely you'll receive your desired score. At that point you re-evaluate and decide if your goal is realistic or if you need more study time.

Strategies for Re-takers

I am taking anti-anxiety medication, but on test day my anxiety was still a problem.

One of my (GRE) students was in this position, and it took her taking the test for her to realize her current medication schedule wasn’t working. She talked to her doctor and they adjusted her medication. Her second test score was within the range she needed.

Strategy Adjustments

1. Schools only have to report the highest score of their accepted students so retaking doesn't have to affect your admissions chances. Some schools average the scores, some consider both, and some will consider your highest score.

2. Take a breather. Don’t jump straight back into studying. Take a few days off and do something relaxing. Don’t visit TLS.

3. Evaluate your test day performance. Was there anything in particular that threw you off? Did you oversleep and arrive rushed? Did you over study in the days before?

4. Make sure you are consistently scoring in your desired range before you retake.

5. Don’t neglect your strengths.


For Everyone:

Day Before the Test:

Relax– no studying.

Stick to your sleeping schedule.

The Morning of the Test:

Arrive a few minutes early and work out a couple of problems before you check in at the test center.

Plan your bathroom breaks and drinking. Hydration is good, but having your bladder stress you is not.

During the Test:

Focus on the problem you are currently working on. Don’t think about any question you’ve already done until you’ve reached the end of the section and then only if you have time left over.

Breathe. If you feel stressed during the test stop, close your eyes, and breathe for about 30 seconds. Remind yourself that you're prepared, you know you can get the score you're aiming for, and if this one day doesn't work out you can do it again.

After the Test

I think anxiety affected my score. Should I cancel?

Don’t cancel on test day. Sleep on it! You have six days to cancel (your cancellation request must be received by LSAC within those six days). Don’t put too much weight on the TLS freaking out threads. TLS poster sayan said, “I was so close to canceling after reading this forum right after my test. Only came back here after receiving my score of 176. Go figure.” Get advice from a couple of people whose opinion you trust. If you used a tutor talk to them, but ultimately it has to be your decision. If you get a score you’re not happy with you can retake. A cancel plus a high score is better than a low score plus a high score, but the latter will not preclude you from law school acceptances.




those able to take propanolol (inderal) should do so if they have panic attacks. it is technically meant as a beta blocker and is not psychoactive. It will eliminate the racing heart and fight or flight response through its action on the cardiovascular system not the central nervous system ie: you will still think the same way.... its not a benzodiazepine like xanax. From what I know it is used extensively for ptsd and also for SATs (a good peer review study on this shows its utility for standardized tests). It IS a banned 'performance enhacving substance' in at least one area: musical performances involving string instruments (steadies the hands and such). I have used it and noticed nothing.... except for a lack of any anxiety from a racing heart. The application it was useful in though was indeed ptsd, not test anxiety. It is not a controlled drug (like xanax, valium, dexedrine, adderral etc) and it is strongly considered by many clinicians in administration for people with test anxiety. Just thought id put that out there.

User avatar
IHaveDietMoxie
Posts: 137
Joined: Wed Dec 10, 2008 3:54 am

Re: Anxiety and the LSAT

Postby IHaveDietMoxie » Sat Nov 14, 2009 7:27 am

Thanks to both of you.

User avatar
Moxie
Posts: 665
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2009 3:27 pm

Re: Anxiety and the LSAT

Postby Moxie » Tue Nov 24, 2009 4:38 pm

Just wanted to post to say this is a great article, and is very helpful in making me feel more relaxed for the December LSAT! :D

User avatar
IHaveDietMoxie
Posts: 137
Joined: Wed Dec 10, 2008 3:54 am

Re: Anxiety and the LSAT

Postby IHaveDietMoxie » Sun Dec 06, 2009 12:31 am

To follow up, I was prescribed beta blockers by my doctor(propranolol: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propranolol) , tried them out a couple of times this week, and took them for the test today (Dec. 09) . Basically what it does is stop the adrenaline effect that you get in fight/flight situations.

I am a very nervous person, but usually I'm able to deal with intense stress (I was a conservatory pianist and never took blockers for any performances). However, I have taken the test twice before, scoring a full 10 points below my average despite really extensive prep, largely due to terrible nervousness (like near vomiting, shaking hands, exhaustion, etc.) They were an immense help. My heart did not thump out of my chest at the first section, my palms did not sweat, and my thoughts were unaffected. Propranolol does have some mildly annoying side effects, but since I won't be taking it again until 1L exams, it was the best choice I could have made. I would add a caveat that the beta blockers should definitely not be taken without a doctor's prescription and can be very dangerous for certain people.

geostuck
Posts: 45
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2010 3:39 pm

Re: Anxiety and the LSAT

Postby geostuck » Fri Jan 15, 2010 3:37 pm

IHaveDietMoxie wrote: Propranolol does have some mildly annoying side effects, but since I won't be taking it again until 1L exams, it was the best choice I could have made. I would add a caveat that the beta blockers should definitely not be taken without a doctor's prescription and can be very dangerous for certain people.


If you have a 'real' condition, ask your Dr for Bystolic. It's new and has very few side effects, most importantly; it does not mess with your 'noodle.'

I SERIOUSLY thought I was having a heart attack during the test, and then I got massive anxiety, which I had never had, because I kept thinking I'll probably be the first to drop dead and screw up those at the test center. It’s kind of funny in retrospect. Could you imagine the paramedics showing up during your test.... shit there was over 500 people there.
Oh yea, I'm on BP meds too and another one that is notoriously known (prescribed) for testing;). Anyhow, when I got home couple hours later, my wife who is an ER nurse took my vitals, and I had HR of 120 with a BP of 190/120, which I thought was a lot less than when I was taking the test (oh yea, I did stop for a few beers). The next day I was prescribed the beta-blocker. Amazing how well it works, physically and mentally. Next test I took, I increased 21 points.

User avatar
jdhopeful11
Posts: 481
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2008 3:39 pm

Re: Anxiety and the LSAT

Postby jdhopeful11 » Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:52 pm

cry me a river

spearnreel
Posts: 99
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 9:30 pm

Re: Anxiety and the LSAT

Postby spearnreel » Fri Feb 19, 2010 8:25 pm

tag

User avatar
Ragged
Posts: 1509
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2009 12:39 pm

Re: Anxiety and the LSAT

Postby Ragged » Fri Feb 19, 2010 8:32 pm

tl;dr

You should stick to making funny cat pictures.

Yimbeezy
Posts: 122
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2009 3:55 pm

Re: Anxiety and the LSAT

Postby Yimbeezy » Fri Feb 19, 2010 8:35 pm

andyman wrote:cry me a river

why? it would freeze when i give it to you.




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