This story is about my experience taking the LSAT during my senior year of college and the grander lesson it taught me about making rash decisions.
I walked out of my professor’s office with my head down. I dragged my feet slightly and slumped my shoulders. I found myself in a state of intense contemplation, although to the students who passed me in the hallway, I probably appeared more comical, like a living, breathing caricature of a dejected Charlie Brown. But truly, I was in serious thought. I was in my senior year as an undergrad, and my future lay unmapped. I had not a single idea of what I wanted to do once these quick four years of college came to an end. Should I continue my education? Should I join the work force? Should I take a year off from school? These are the typical questions that more than likely pinball around the heads of all soon-to-be graduates. They affected me, as well. Like a finely placed haymaker, my concern about my options (or lack thereof) staggered me. The uneasiness gripped me, and in a moment of un-clarity, I made a rash decision: I’ll take the LSAT.
I had always considered a career in law because my father is a lawyer and because my mother told me I would make a good attorney. (But motherly approval is often blind, so I took that bit of reasoning with a grain of salt.) Mostly, I decided to take the LSAT because of my scant experience in the field of journalism and my indecision about the importance of graduate school for journalism. Admittedly and unfortunately, the prospect of a career that pays – literally – colored my judgment.
I made up my mind to take the test fairly late in the school year, which didn’t provide me with enough time to prepare adequately. I bought the review books with the practice tests, every one of which proclaimed loudly on the cover with big bold block letters that it was the No. 1 test preparation guide money could buy. I hurriedly signed up for a weekend course, which consisted of two, eight-hour days. Apparently, this short, but intense, mental workout was sold as a satisfactory substitute for the normal multi-week courses. I didn’t buy it. But I attended both sessions, which were held in a cramped conference room at a hotel in Raleigh, N.C., perhaps further confirmation that this weekend LSAT walkthrough wasn’t the best choice. Still, I left each session with a throbbing headache. I was used to the marathon of a semester. Now, I had to acclimate myself to the sprint of a two-day schedule. I made it through the weekend of classes with my bottle of tension headache medication and, more importantly, a better, if not complete, knowledge of what to expect on the LSAT.
Now, I had two weeks until the test. I set aside four-hour chunks of time every day for the next 14 days. I locked myself in a room in the library on Elon’s campus and took practice test after practice test. A passerby probably noticed the excruciating mental pain I endured while in the room. A pencil held firmly in my right hand, sweat just noticeable on my brow, my left hand propping up my head as I read through each question multiple times, my wristwatch ticking silently as it counted down the finite minutes I had to complete a section. Every test I took showed no marked improvement. I was concerned. But soon enough, the day for the test arrived.
I drove to the University of Greensboro in my 1997 Taurus with the music blaring, so as to block out any distractions. I arrived at the campus, parked and walked to the building. I checked in, sat down and felt my heartbeat throbbing in my chest. The anticipation and a feeling of ineptness struck me from every angle. As the tests were distributed, I tried to quell viagra prescription the feelings by thinking about baseball or television or anything else. It hardly worked. I poured over every question in the booklet. Sometimes I read a question so many times, the words lost their meaning.
Seven hours later I had finished the test. I left with a feeling of accomplishment. Not because I thought I preformed well, though. In fact, my confidence was slowly eroding as I made the long walk back to my car. I only found solace in the fact that there was nothing I could do to amend the situation now.
I received my scores three weeks later, and as I suspected, I scored below average. I went into a brief bout of denial. “I never do well on standardized tests,” I told myself. “Had I prepared more, I would’ve done better, I’m sure,” I said. But eventually, I had to deal honestly with myself. I made a mistake. I allowed pre-graduation jitters guide me into a test I was never prepared to take. I let my emotions veto my rationality. And I paid for it. No decent law school would accept me on the strength of my GPA alone.
I don’t regret taking the taking the test. I regret the decision-making process, which led to my poor preparation. I have vowed never to allow myself to rush to judgment. Thoughtful contemplation and meticulous execution will always trump hasty determinations. But like most life-lessons, I had to learn that the hard way.