You may have heard many people talk about LSAT burnout and how damaging it can be to your motivation. But what is burnout and how can we avoid it? In this post, we will discuss LSAT burnout and strategies to avoid or recover from it.
What is Burnout?
Burnout can be thought of as extreme mental exhaustion. The LSAT is of course an exam that requires focus and mental clarity. People who suffer from burnout end up underperforming as a result. As an LSAT tutor, I have seen the consequences of burnout from multiple students. If you are suffering from burnout, you may experience some of the following characteristics:
Uncharacteristic lack of motivation
Trouble comprehending or remembering basic statements
LSAT scores trending lower
Burnout can be a self-perpetuating cycle. Someone studies for the LSAT too hard or too much, leading to burnout. As a result, they get anxious and perform worse on practice tests. This in turn leads to more anxiety, and the individual mistakenly concludes the solution is to study for the LSAT more. Rinse and repeat.
I used to think that the more time I put in, the more progress I would see on the LSAT. While this may be true to a certain point, remember that the brain is like a muscle. If you exercise too much, it can do more harm than good. The same applies to the LSAT.
The simple solution to burnout is to take breaks. But this can be easier said than done. Let's discuss some ways to avoid and overcome burnout.
How do I Avoid Burnout?
I used to feel guilty every minute I was away from the LSAT. I felt like every minute spent away was time that I could have utilized for another point or two. As you can imagine, this was an extremely unhealthy mentality to have on the LSAT and did more harm than good. Here are some strategies I utilized to overcome this guilt.
1. Try the Big 3
This is a strategy employed by many high-performers in general, not just on the LSAT. Part of why people feel guilty when they step away from the LSAT is because they feel like there are thousands of things to do and so little time. As a result, their thoughts become sporadic. They will work on a task for 10 minutes and jump around to other concepts. Then, they don't feel like they actually completed anything and they become more and more frantic each day.
The reality is you need to spend a significant amount of time studying each individual concept to see improvement. The way to combat this problem is to focus on a few things each day. Don't let yourself get overwhelmed by the volume of LSAT concepts you need to learn. This will allow you to reduce your study time while seeing even better results!
Just pick 3 things you want to focus on, and focus on one task at a time. Don't move on until you are completely done. You will find that you are able to complete far more in a shorter period of time, and as a result you will feel more accomplished. You should feel like you learned something after every LSAT study session.
As discussed in my post about how to plan out your daily LSAT study schedule, for each task in your Big 3 it is very important that you have a set quantity. You can either set a time limit for each task or have a specific number of questions you want to complete. Otherwise, you won't know when you are done with your task. When this happens, you may end up spending too much time on one task and won't make as much LSAT progress as you would have planned for.
2. Reward Yourself
We MUST get over the notion that studying must involve only suffering. Yes, studying for the LSAT might not be the most pleasant experience, but you need to find ways to maintain your motivation. Do not let the LSAT become your life.
The reality is, if you only see the LSAT as a point of suffering, you will dread every minute of your prep and you won't be as focused. Have something to look forward to, and always reward yourself whenever you are done for the day. Not only will you feel less guilty when you are done studying, you will feel accomplished!
3. Schedule LSAT study breaks in advance
We all know that study breaks are important, but they can be easy to overlook. How many times have you said "I can handle one more day" only to not get any rest?
Believe it or not, taking some time off can do wonders for your LSAT preparation. There are so many times where people saw a boost in their LSAT scores right after taking a brief break.
Have a set day where you will take a break and if possible, plan something with family or friends to have people hold you accountable to take time away from the LSAT.
Of course, you don't want to take too many breaks, either. My general recommendation is two days off per month, but you know yourself more than anyone. Take into consideration your stamina level and use that to plan out your breaks.
4. Don't take too many practice tests
There's no doubt that practice exams are a very important part of your LSAT preparation routine. However, I have seen too many people overdo it. Not only does this lead to burnout, but it also drains the limited number of practice tests you have available. These are the best resource you can possibly use to gauge how you would score on test day, so use practice exams wisely. You might feel more productive taking a test everyday, but in reality this won't help you unless you are constantly reviewing questions.
5. Reconsider your LSAT test date
If you feel like you don't have enough time to learn all the concepts ahead of your set LSAT date, chances are you don't. Don't try to force it--it won't work. Trying to cram all the concepts will only further add to anxiety and consequently burnout.
Honestly ask yourself if you are okay with your current test range. If so, feel free to take the LSAT and get it over with! Otherwise, you may want to consider pushing back your LSAT test date. While there are advantages to having a goal test date, don't feel like it's the end of the world if you don't take it at that day. Thinking a particular LSAT is the end all be all will only lead to you unnecessarily studying too much and burning yourself out.
What if I am already Burned Out?
The best thing anyone can do if they are already burned out is to simply take a break from studying. The time it takes to recover can take days or even weeks. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but if you continue studying your score is likely to decline further. Try to avoid watching shows and instead focus on doing stimulating activities, such as reading a book, hanging out with friends, or picking up a new hobby. Meditation can help with recovering as well. The LSAT will still be there when you get back, so take advantage of this rare opportunity you can use as an excuse to have some fun!
I hope this helps you. If you are interested in private tutoring, email me at email@example.com
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