Dear LSAT taker: if you are hurting, read this

Posted by Preston on 4/17/19 4:43 PM

how to stay determined when studying for the LSAT

One morning in November 2016, I sat on a 36 Broadway bus heading southbound towards the downtown loop. It was a cold morning in Chicago, sometime around 4:45 a.m. The bus was empty, save the bus driver and me. I was three months into LSAT preparation, a process (for reasons unknown to God and Man) I took on while working a full-time job at a law firm. I was listening to the same “Motivational” playlist that I created when I started taking a full LSAT practice test every morning before work, but that morning, I had already heard the tracks too many times for them to do any “motivating.” The tracks were tired. So was I. And as I sat there in my work clothes, pouring over my PT from the prior morning to fill myself with some inspired thought that would push me through the scoring plateau I was in, I started to cry.

The LSAT is a uniquely stressful exam. I experienced that stress firsthand, and I have seen it play out in my students through their neuroticism, despondency, and yes, tears. So if you are hurting, tired, without hope, afraid I have a message for you:

You are exactly where you are supposed to be.

You would not be in this place if you did not care. If you were one of the students that take the LSAT “cold” and allow that score to determine their next steps in life, you certainly would not feel this emotional low. Here’s something else: even as you read about those students who are carefree and take the LSAT cold, you still would choose to be where you are than to be acting as if the LSAT is not important. That’s how much this test matters to you. Own that, and acknowledge the virtue of it. You show me someone with enough grit to push beyond the limits of their psyche for what matters to them; I’ll show you someone who will make one hell of an attorney.

You are hitting a moment that many, many students who came before you (and ultimately achieved their LSAT dreams) have hit. Often, things turn around more quickly than you might think. About two months after that morning on the bus, I received my LSAT score: 177. It would have meant so much to me to know what was just around the corner on that morning bus ride. I imagine how quickly my despair would have turned to ecstasy. But it didn’t, because wasn’t sure how things would turn out.

Neither are you. But I can tell you that the more you hurt, the more I would bet on your success. You have found something that matters to you! My God, hold onto that. You are in a tough spot, but you will find your way through. Don’t give up. Learn from this place, this time. Love yourself, and realize that it is human to struggle, especially when the stakes *feel* this high. Accept yourself as you are today.

And remember this moment. Though it may sound as crazy to you as it would have sounded to me two and a half years ago

You might have to write an article about it one day.

Preston is originally from Atlanta, and he really won't shut up about it. Nevertheless, he completed the first two years of his undergraduate degree at Wake Forest University in North Carolina and the final two years at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. After one year of working at a law firm in Chicago post-graduation, Preston moved to Boston where he is currently a second-year student at Harvard Law School.       

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