Cramming is a time-honored academic tradition, and the night before the LSAT is no different. You’ve probably spent the night before an exam—possibly even the entire night—studying intensely, trying to stuff as much information in your head as possible. Now you’re getting ready to take the LSAT. Looking for some last-minute LSAT tips and advice on what to study on the night before the test?
Fasten your seatbelts. We’re going to turn some widely-held beliefs upside down.
The Very Best Advice for the Night Before the LSAT
Cramming for an exam has paid off for many people, many times, especially when the exam focuses on facts or processes that are reasonably easy to memorize. However, the LSAT is not that type of exam. Sure, you’ll need to memorize some concepts and processes, but if your goal is to improve your LSAT score, your ability to do so will depend on practice much more than memorization.
The type of practice that you need to improve on the LSAT requires time. Any amount of practice that you can cram in on the day before the test is unlikely to produce a significant increase in your score the next day. Trying to cram for the LSAT is just likely to tire you out and stress you out, which can definitely have a negative effect on your score.
So here is the very best advice we can give about studying on the night before the LSAT:
There are better things to do with your time, activities that actually can have a positive effect on your performance. Let’s look at the most important one first.
The Best Way to Spend the Night Before the LSAT
If cramming isn’t a good way to spend the night before the LSAT, what are some other last-minute LSAT tips? As surprising as it might seem, resting and relaxing are the best ways to spend your time.
You read that correctly. Put down those books, step away from that logic game, and take a break from the LSAT, completely.
This seems to go against a philosophy of hard work and sacrifice that often drives our professional and academic lives. But there is compelling research indicating that adequate rest could improve our ability to learn, remember, and concentrate. If you’ve just spent days, weeks, or months preparing for this test, it’s particularly useful to put the books away on the night before the LSAT.
In a 2013 article for Scientific American, Ferris Jabr writes, “For decades scientists have suspected that when an animal or person is not actively learning something new, the brain consolidates recently accumulated data, memorizing the most salient information, and essentially rehearses recently learned skills, etching them into its tissue.” Jabr’s article summarizes a variety of research indicating that different forms of rest—including naps, exercise, meditation, and days off from work or study—might improve learning, alertness, and performance on tests.
If you came here looking for last-minute LSAT tips and want to know the best way to spend the night before the LSAT, here are some suggestions based on research by psychologists and neuroscientists, suggestions that are also recommended by 170+ LSAT test-takers
- Take a walk, preferably in a natural environment. If you live in the city, visit a park, greenway, or river walk.
- See a movie.
- Take a nap.
- Get a massage.
- Hang out with friends.
- Play video games.
- Go to the gym.
- Go for a run.
- Listen to music.
Even a productive task like doing laundry or organizing your closet might provide the kind of rest your brain needs. As long as what you’re doing is not related to the LSAT and doesn’t require a lot of mental energy, it’s fine to knock a thing or two off your to-do list.
“I Hear You, But What Else Can I Do?”
We know some of you are shaking your heads right now, questioning this advice. You’re thinking that there must be something else that you should do on the night before the LSAT, other than relaxing. We know that some people will feel more nervous if they don’t study at all on the day before the test. We get it. If you’re one of those people, and doing some type of studying will help you feel more relaxed, here are some last-minute LSAT tips to follow.
Don’t take a full practice test on the day before the actual LSAT. Just don’t. In addition to tiring yourself out, it’s easy to place too much emphasis on that one, single score and your performance on that particular practice test. A practice test the day before test day is more likely to add unnecessary stress to your life than it is to help your score on the actual test.
Don’t even do a whole practice section. The disadvantages are similar to those of completing a full practice test, and outweigh any advantages.
It’s best to avoid working on any actual LSAT questions. If you’re going to review, focus on general processes and strategies. These should be automatic and ingrained by this point. Reviewing them will reinforce these existing processes and strategies in your mind.
Here are some specific ideas:
Review your test-day routine. The night before the LSAT is a great time to make sure that you have everything organized for test day. Review the Candidate Information Sheet provided by LSAC. Know what you need to bring with you on test day (a printout of your admission ticket, your ID, etc.) and make sure you have all of it ready to go. Make sure you understand all the policies and procedures detailed on the Candidate Information Sheet. Review any essential tips you want to remember on test day.
Review “big picture” strategies for each section. “Big picture” is the important phrase here. Don’t sit down and start working on a bunch of new questions or new material that you haven’t studied yet. Think about your overall processes and approaches.
For Logical Reasoning, think about your overall approach for different question types. Review the language cues in the question stem that indicate the type of question you’re facing and your task for that question. Think about the steps you’ll follow, from reading the stimulus through selecting the correct answer.
For Reading Comprehension, think about different types of passages you’ve seen and any adjustments you might make when reading different types of passages. Think about the common question types and how you approach them. Think about questions that you’re likely to answer with your general understanding and situations that will require you to look back at the passage.
For Logic Games, think about your general process for analyzing and diagramming a game. Review the features of common game types, and think about how you’ll handle an unusual game if they throw one at you. Think about how you will approach specific question types.
Review your timing strategy for each section. We could write an entire blog post on timing strategy (and we have—several, in fact). But right now we’re talking about last-minute LSAT tips and what you should be doing right before the test. This is the time to think about what has been working for you in practice. Have you been skipping certain questions to save time? Doing questions in a certain order? Your personal timing strategy should align with your goals and your performance in recent practice. Have a plan, and reflect on how you’ll execute that plan on test day.
Review your strengths. This is an exceptionally important strategy that is often overlooked. Maybe you’ve been prepping for months and have completed every assignment and practice test that you planned to do. Or maybe you fell behind and didn’t do a lot of prep work that you planned. Either way, the night before the LSAT is the time to focus on what you do well.
On the night before the LSAT and on test day, you’re not going to serve your goal by focusing on weaknesses. Any time you think about the test, think about doing things correctly. Imagine bringing together everything you’ve learned about the LSAT and executing it perfectly. Be your own coach, reminding yourself of specific goals to focus on while taking the test.
If you’re reading this on the night before the LSAT and are looking for the best of our last-minute LSAT tips, this is it: spend a little bit of time visualizing yourself taking the test perfectly, exactly the way you want to on test day. Then go relax. This is how athletes win championships, people ace job interviews, and LSAT test-takers earn their best scores. Think like a winner, and go be one. ?
Scott Miller is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Raleigh-Durham, NC. Scott has over 20 years of experience as a teacher and trainer and a love for teaching that has led him to some interesting careers, including skydiving instruction, wildlife sanctuary stewardship, and online computer skills training. He worked hard for his 173 LSAT score, and he has as much fun helping people master the challenges of the test as had overcoming those challenges himself. You can learn more from Scott here.