Tips for Taking the LSAT Test

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You've heard the advice over and over: get a good night's sleep. Eat breakfast. Wear loose and comfortable clothes and avoid dangling jewelry. Get to the test center early. Try to get a seat that is out of traffic, out of direct sunlight, and not too close to a heating vent.

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All of this is good advice. But if you're a habitual worrier who can't sleep or keep anything down before a test, the advice won't do you any good. By this stage in your life, you probably have a routine for dealing with anxiety. You should follow it. Don't make any sudden changes in your routine. If you habitually wake up with two cups of coffee, do so on the morning of the LSAT. If you never drink coffee, don't let somebody talk you into starting just before you take the test.

There's one exception to this rule: try to avoid drugs that make you sleepy. In that category are many over-the-counter remedies that include antihistamines, as well as most tranquilizers. Ask your physician about prescription medicines.

If you haven't been able to pick a test center close to your home, you'll need to plan for a commute. Don't assume that there won't be traffic on a Saturday morning. Allow plenty of time. And think about what you'll do if your car won't start. Consider carpooling with dependable friends or using public transportation. If the commute must be a long one, consider traveling to the test site the night before and sleeping over. But beware: if this means that you'll have to stay with a friend you haven't seen for months, you'll probably stay up all night talking, and that's not good, either.

The proctors will not admit you to the test center without the ticket that Law Services sent you when you registered. (If you registered late, you will have an "alternative authorization," perhaps a telegram, that is the equivalent of a ticket.) Law Services also requires that you produce one form of identification, preferably with a photo, "positive or descriptive enough so that the test center supervisor has no doubt as to the authenticity of your identification." They suggest a driver's license, student ID, employee ID, or current passport; they will not accept a social security card or credit card.

Bradley's testing center personnel, who administer the LSAT on our campus, tell me that of all the outfits that offer standardized tests Law Services is by far the most security conscious. They have very elaborate rules and may require, among other things, thumbprints and signatures. In fact, they warn that security procedures may double the time you will have to spend at the test site. Don't mess with the security rules! Don't talk back to the proctors, don't argue, and don't make jokes.

Law Services wants you to bring several number-two pencils and a good eraser. The proctors supply special pens for the essay part of the test (perhaps so they can be sure that you actually wrote the essay during the time allowed) but you're not allowed to use these pens for the objective part. You may want to bring candy, gum, antacids, aspirin, and the like with you. Except for a cough drop if you're coughing loudly enough to be annoying, they won't let you eat during the test itself. But there will be a break near the halfway point. Bring a wristwatch or clock, but make sure it's noiseless. Proctors are authorized to exclude beeping and clanging electronic timepieces.

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Avoid bringing anything else, especially items of value. The proctors will probably make you leave any bulky items outside. You don't want to spoil your concentration by worrying about having your property stepped on or stolen.

If you're left-handed, look around when you get to the test room and see where the left-handed seats are. If they're in good locations-out of the sun, out of the traffic-you should request one, even if you can function perfectly well at a right-handed desk.

During the break, get up and move around. Do stretching exercises or climb a few flights of stairs. Sip a little coffee or soda, but don't gulp down barrels of fluids. And take the advice of the late Duke of Windsor and never pass up a chance to use the bathroom.


Law Services will send you a "candidate report" within six weeks, under normal circumstances. If the report is late, it may mean that Law Services has placed a hold on your file, which may mean that you are suspected of cheating. But it probably doesn't; most delays are caused by routine administrative problems.

The candidate report contains a copy of your machine-graded answer sheet, a list of your responses taken from this answer sheet, and a list of the correct (or "credited") answer for each question. Check each of the questions marked wrong to make sure that the answer the machine recorded for you is actually the answer you marked on your answer sheet. Mistakes have been made. If the computer marked one of your answers wrong because it read your answer sheet incorrectly, you need to contact Law Services within 90 days. The address is in the Information Book.

You also have the right to challenge a question that seems to contain an "error or ambiguity. . . that affects your response." Law Services has developed an arbitration procedure to deal with challenged items. You must call the attention of the test supervisor to the challenged item "as soon as you finish the test" and then write immediately to Law Services, Test Development and Research Division, Box 40, 661 Penn Street, Newtown, Pennsylvania, 18940-0040, identifying the question by section and number and explaining in detail why you believe there is an error.

Most challenges are found to be without merit. You shouldn't take the test with a hostile attitude and waste time trying to find ambiguities to challenge. But if you have what you think is a legitimate gripe, don't hesitate to call it to the attention of the test supervisor. Challenges have occasionally been upheld. Law Services excluded one question judged "unsound" and rescored the September, 1989, test. As a result, the scores of about 15 percent of the test takers were raised by one point each. This represents a significant improvement.

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