The LSAT is one of the most stressful tests that you’ll take in your life as it can dictate the rest of your career. So it’s no wonder it is considered a highly stressful test. What can you do to minimize LSAT-related stress and anxiety so you can perform your best on the big day?
Know the difference between stress and anxiety
Stress is the body’s natural response to any stimuli. It’s what allows our fight or flight response to kick in. And since flight is not an option, confronting the LSAT is naturally causing stress. “Anxiety, on the other hand, tends to be generated internally and has to do with our perception of what will be demanded, and our resources to cope,” details Pepperdine University’s Alicia H. Clark Psy.D. “It encompasses our internal calculation of stress, its potential impact, and importantly our feelings about it.”
In short, it’s natural to be a little anxious sometimes. But if your anxiety about the LSAT is affecting your ability to stay focused, then you need to address it. The more you can be in control of your anxiety, the better you can handle any type of stress.
Sit down and write out your pain points
Unchecked anxiety can significantly reduce the brain’s processing abilities. Anxious feelings are typically fueled by the uncertainty of what the future brings. Defining your pain points by writing out the causes of your anxious rumination can help dispel this uncertainty.
Writing down your law school and career-related anxiety triggers can be difficult. However, doing this will allow you to more closely examine those triggers and have a better idea of how you can realistically prepare for or respond to them. In turn, this can lessen or possibly eliminate the effects of those triggers. Furthermore, this can also help free up some much-needed space in your head, allow you to regain focus and productivity lost to anxious rumination, and study for the LSAT with a renewed perspective.
In an article on managing anxiety by Thrive Global, career counselor Suzanne Rohan writes that people differ in terms of what schedules, activities, or outcomes cause them the most stress and anxiety. “Therefore, setting realistic expectations for the amount of time needed to successfully accomplish work activities when also juggling personal commitments will set the stage for more acceptance and less anxiety,” she explains. Rohan is also an instructor on the online psychology degree program at Maryville University, in which she teaches students the same method for managing anxiety and expectations. Alongside web-based students working on their degrees from home, anyone looking to do well on the LSAT will find that defining pain points is a good way to prepare for anxiety triggers and regain some much-needed focus and productivity.
Appreciate how far you’ve come
Only time will tell whether or not you’ll become a lawyer in the future. What’s certain is that you’ve worked hard enough to be almost ready to take the LSAT. Take a moment to appreciate how far you’ve come in your studies.
Practicing gratitude can be a powerful tool for mitigating stress and anxiety. In a study by the Federal University of Health Sciences of Porto Alegre in Brazil, researchers found that simply writing down daily gratitude lists for 14 days can result in a significant uptake in positive thinking. Doing this for yourself can allow you to achieve and stay in a mindset that’s much more conducive for understanding and retaining complex LSAT-related information. You might be surprised at how simply being grateful for the positive things in your life can improve your motivation, ability to focus, and overall perspective.
However stressed or anxious you are about the LSAT, remember that there are many ways to deal with these feelings. If you feel that speaking to a therapist is necessary, don’t hesitate to seek help. With the help of a therapist – along with the aforementioned tips – you can better keep these factors in check and look forward to doing well in law school.