student stressed out over exam results

Most students experience ups and downs in their scores throughout their LSAT prep journey, so you’re not alone if your score on a practice test drops from one test to another. The Princeton Review can help you overcome an LSAT Score Drop.

1. Don’t panic if your LSAT score went down

The LSAT is a test of what you do, not a test of what you know. In other words, it’s a test of skills, not a test of factual knowledge. As with any other skill—like playing a sport or a musical instrument—you can have good days and bad days.

If a professional golfer shoots 66 on Thursday but 70 on Friday on the same course, is that golfer’s ability deteriorating? Should they fire their swing coach and overhaul their own game? Of course not! It’s a reasonable fluctuation within their skill level: hit one less fairway, make one less sand save or par putt, put a ball in the water, and 66 becomes 70 fairly easily. Similarly, it’s likely that your score drop is within what LSAC calls your score band, a seven-point range that represents your actual proficiency on the skills tested.

Stay confident and trust that your higher scores were not flukes: if you hit them once, you can hit them again. LSAT prep is a marathon, not a sprint, so don’t let any one result define your ability.

2. Diagnose the cause

Consider the circumstances surrounding the lower test score: were you ill, tired, stressed, or otherwise distracted? The LSAT demands a high degree of focus, so if you’re not mentally sharp, your performance can suffer. Essentially, life happens, and you’re not always able to take the LSAT under ideal conditions. Try to mitigate these external factors by scheduling your practice tests at a time when you’re more likely to feel refreshed and ready for the challenge. Although it is preferred to take your practice tests under exam quiet exam conditions, be prepared for distractions and any other type of deterrent you may face during test day, such as sirens, noises from people surrounding you, and other external factors. When you are prepared for anything that you may face, you will feel more comfortable during the actual exam.

Of course, even if you do feel mentally sharp, you might still make errors in pacing or difficulty assessment. Maybe you got bogged down by a particularly difficult game, or maybe the test had a higher proportion of question tasks you haven’t yet mastered. Stay positive and try to identify both strengths and areas for improvement.

Finally, consider whether you could be experiencing burnout, particularly if it’s a big score drop or part of a downward trend. Preparing for the LSAT is like working out: you need to do it consistently in order to build and maintain your ability, but you also need recovery days. If you’ve been practicing intensely and putting a lot of pressure on yourself to excel in a short time, take a break. You won’t forget how to set up a game or analyze an argument or passage if you take a few days or even a week off, so be kind to yourself and take a step back when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

3 Analyze your test

Allow yourself to feel frustrated, but don’t let that frustration convince you that you’re incompetent or hopeless: the LSAT is not a measure of your intelligence or worth as a person. Be resilient and understand that improvement on the LSAT takes time, focused practice, and continual fine-tuning. View each test as an opportunity to discover ways to refine your approach going forward.

Detailed score reports and explanations from The Princeton Review can help you to identify trends in question tasks and determine where you went wrong. Prioritize reviewing those questions you attempted and felt confident on but missed. Take notes about patterns in your errors so that you can review them before your next test: actually, writing them down (either in a notebook or in a digital format) will help you to remember and gives you something concrete to work with.

4. Stay positive

If you view the test as an arbitrary, nearly impossible challenge, you risk making that a self-fulfilling prophecy. Reframe your relationship with the test to a positive one (even if you must fake it for a while): for example, instead of seeing it as a test that punishes you for missing one word, see it as a test that rewards those who read carefully. A change in mindset can lead to a change in approach that ultimately yields your desired results. Again, allow yourself to feel frustration and disappointment if you see an LSAT score drop, but also make the choice to harness those feelings towards the productive end of honing your skills. With the proper preparation and practice, you can get to your target score. And if you truly feel as if you need more support, LSAT tutoring would be a great option to keep you accountable and push you to success. It takes patience, focus, and resilience to succeed on the LSAT, but you can do it!