Original posting date: August 11th, 2011
Things Go Wrong that Are Not within a Student’s Control
As discussed in a recent article about LSAT time warnings and bar exam time warnings, test preparation companies have a commercial incentive to ensure that things go smoothly for students. But this admirable work by test prep companies can be misleading for LSAT students, bar exam students, and other people preparing for standardized tests. Many things can and do go wrong on test day that have nothing to do with the test-takers themselves, and shielding students from these difficulties may give students a false sense of security.
Just as proctors can have issues, the physical testing facilities and the providers of these facilities can also give rise to extra-test problems. Such difficulties include:
- test center is too hot, too cold
- test center has bad desks or chairs (e.g., unstable, too small)
- test center has to change rooms and relocate students at last minute
- test center is very close to an external noise source (e.g., nearby construction, a noisy convention event)
- test center causes other ambient distractions and discomforts (e.g., mildewy)
The Answer: Practice Being Unflappable
Taking the bar exam, LSAT, MPRE, or a law school exam is tough enough without the addition of such external obstacles. Such obstacles are particularly disturbing when they are unique to one test-taker or a small group of test-takers rather than presented to everyone.
But getting upset doesn’t do any good. No one gets extra credit for having had to endure unfortunate testing conditions.
Part of effective preparation is, therefore, developing an unflappable mindset. Resolve that, no matter what surprises come your way on test day, you will waste no mental cycles on or offer any emotional resistance to these difficulties. Treat all such distractions as part of the test itself.