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Saturday, September 30, 2023
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Standardized Stress

Last night I cheated on the Law School Admissions Test.

While grading each section after finishing my 15th practice exam, I noticed a slew of wrong answers. I quickly scribbled out my wrongdoings and made my corrections.

I felt on top of the world. I had finally scored what I needed to get into law school.

This was the moment when I realized I had officially lost my mind.

When I took the SAT as a junior in high school, I thought that I was finally free from standardized tests. I didn't expect to find myself consumed with studying for the LSAT five years later while I should be enjoying the glory years of my collegiate life.

Nearly 140,000 people take the LSAT each year and roughly half as many will take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

Ranging anywhere from three-and-a-half to five-and-a-half hours in testing length, both rigorous exams test the intellectual capacity, determination and sheer will power of even the brightest law and medical school hopefuls. No matter how smart you may be or how well you do on standardized tests, the process of studying for potentially the most important exam of your life can drive you out of your mind.

To avoid losing my senses, I thought living with my best friend would help me cope with the hardships of hitting the books. But with my eyes glued to the LSAT guides and her nose stuck in the MCAT scripts, we both became creatures of a different kind.

She has over a dozen MCAT prep books, studies until ungodly hours most nights and will randomly blurt out "cool" MCAT facts to me at any given point throughout the day.

I remember one particular incident in which we were both studying for our respective tests in the Health Sciences Library on South Campus. My roommate was furiously making hundreds of flash cards, and I was probably figuring out creative ways to cheat on myself, when she gave me a look of death and started rummaging through my papers.

I couldn't figure out what I had done wrong, until she leaned over and accused me of stealing one of her physical science flash cards and demanded I return it.

This isn't a unique quandary: standardized tests like the MCAT and LSAT can drive everyone nuts. Many students who dream of attending some sort of graduate school have to inevitably cross the standardized test hurdle. Whether it's the GRE, DAT, PMAT, GMAT, these acronyms all stand for the same thing: "I have the potential to determine the rest of your life."

Most students begin studying for their exams three to six months prior to their test date. With the plethora of study guides that "guarantee" higher scores and preparatory courses that oftentimes cost over a thousand dollars to enroll, even deciding how to prepare can be just as nerve-wracking as actually studying.

I've had friends go into hiding for months because of the standardized tests. One friend even started growing an "LSAT beard." It has been my dream to be a lawyer since I was a kid, so I spend roughly six hours a day studying for the LSAT, seven hours a day thinking about the LSAT and eight hours a day dreaming about the LSAT.

Lately, however, I've started to feel a little more hopeful about my chances of being an attorney. I recently went to the Law Library in O'Brien and accidentally printed out over 300 pages of LSAT prep material. As my luck would have it, my little printing error broke the printer while about 20 kids waited anxiously for their homework to print after mine.

The librarian picked up my cover sheet and yelled, "WHO is ASJONAS, and why did he or she decide it was a good idea to print almost 300 pages?"

Of course, I quickly lied, denied my involvement and blamed some poor girl who had just left of being the possible suspect.

Maybe I am one step closer to being a good lawyer than I thought.



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