LSAT prep takes on different level of stress during COVID-19
October 19, 2020
Mikaila Beauchamp, senior in Business, has her sights firmly set on law school. As every pre-law student knows, that means she has spent the end of her junior year and beginning of senior year with her mind focused on the LSAT.
For the first time since the LSAT’s creation, though, pre-law students must do their studying and preparation in the middle of a pandemic.
COVID-19 has shocked the world and altered almost every aspect of daily life, and these standardized admissions tests, including the MCAT and GRE, have not escaped. Through April 2021, all LSAT administrations will be done online. This has added an additional layer of stress for students like Beauchamp.
Beauchamp has taken the exam twice and will be taking it again in November, as she was not satisfied with her original scores. Her preparation for this exam has been extensive over the past several months.
“I was basically going to be teaching myself,” Beauchamp said. “I decided to start studying earlier than most would. I studied probably a total of seven or eight months.”
Initially, Beauchamp thought quarantine could actually be beneficial for her studying. She wanted to study every day, and the internship she had lined up for the summer was canceled. Beauchamp said she was able to study and take a test every other day.
Unfortunately, she said, this ended up being detrimental to her performance in the exam.
“I burnt myself out,” she said. “I got to the point where I absolutely hated the test. I couldn’t imagine studying, I didn’t even want to think about taking the test ever again, so when I was taking it, my mind would just be elsewhere because I was just so burnt out.”
This also came into play when it came down to the amount of time she spent on her laptop. During a normal school year, Beauchamp would be out and about on campus, attending classes and meetings, whereas this semester, she has had to stay inside staring at her screen all day.
When it comes time to study, then, the monotony takes a toll.
“Every day is kind of a struggle of ‘OK, you just had an exhausting day listening to presentations, doing all of this work on your laptop, and now you have to do even more,’” she said. “Sometimes it can be very tempting to just close your laptop and call it a day, which I’ve fallen victim to.”
As the November exam approaches, Beauchamp has taken a step back from the intensive studying. She said she has given herself time to take breaks, knowing she has learned about everything she can at this point.
By reeling back the study sessions and taking time to enjoy her life, Beauchamp has done well on her recent practice exams. She plans on going into the test calm and collected, knowing she has done this before and will have her mind fully present for the exam.
Aside from the stresses of studying for the exam, though, is the additional pressures that come with the new format of the LSAT.
The test normally consists of five sections that take three and a half hours to complete in person. Because of COVID-19, the exam is three sections in a shorter time limit. Test-takers also do not go to a testing site but must find a quite place at home where they can work.
While initially the idea of a shorter exam sounds good for many, Beauchamp warns of the difficulties associated with it.
“At the end of the day, having less sections gives you less room to make mistakes,” she said. “So you have to be fully there from start to finish.”
Another added element of pressure comes from actually submitting applications. Beauchamp said she attended a law school admissions panel that said the competition was far fiercer this year.
More people are applying, so students have to try and submit their applications earlier and make them stronger than ever. The application materials submitted by students this year must go the extra mile to stand out, Beauchamp said.
Throughout the course of this process, Beauchamp said she has learned how to cope with her stress and find ways to succeed that work for her.
“Just make sure to always take care of yourself and carve out time for things just beyond the application process and the LSAT studying and all that so you can stay sane while being in a very stressful time,” she said.