For the last week or so we have been posting articles about mentally and physically preparing for the upcoming LSAT. Now the day of the test is almost here, and I wanted to add a final thought about the stress that everyone faces when taking the LSAT. As you walk into the test, keep this in mind:
Stress will not hurt your performance, and it can help you do better.
That’s right, stress isn’t the test-killer that many people expect it to be. In a study of GRE students by Harvard psychologist Jeremy Jamieson, students read a statement prior to taking the exam that told them not to worry about anxiety during the test. What was the result? Those student scored about 65 points better on the GRE (that’s the equivalent of 6.5 points on the LSAT).
What was the magical statement that students read that helped increase their score? Here it is, modified for the LSAT:
‘‘People think that feeling anxious while taking a standardized test will make them do poorly on the test. However, recent research suggests that arousal doesn’t hurt performance on these tests and can even help performance…people who feel anxious during a test might actually do better. This means that you shouldn’t feel concerned if you do feel anxious while taking today’s LSAT test. If you find yourself feeling anxious, simply remind yourself that your arousal could be helping you do well.”
In this context, “arousal” simply refers to the heightened sensory awareness brought on by stress. In other words, the stress makes your sense sharper, and that can be used to your advantage during the exam. So, don’t worry about being worried, read that statement to yourself before Monday’s test, and use that stress to your advantage. Then go destroy the LSAT!
Photo: “Sea turtle” courtesy of Daniel Chodusov