When I was a junior in college, I was riding a pretty high tide. My grades were good; I had a steady girlfriend that I’d been dating for a couple of years; I was thinking that the sky was the limit. Underneath it all, though, all was not quite right. My girlfriend Julie had started making life decisions that were going to require that I make more money than the average computer guy. I was also starting to think that becoming a computer guy was not actually what I wanted. So I started looking at other options. I had a couple friends in law school and they encouraged me to take that route. It sounded good to me.

There was one major roadblock that I could see: The Law School Admissions Test, more commonly known as the LSAT. I was never a good test taker. I had to take remedial reading in junior high because I’d flunked the statewide standardized exam. My teacher was dumbfounded that I was even there because I was ridiculously brighter than all of the other kids in that class, but when I had to take the test again I flunked it again. We were scared to death about the SAT that I needed to take. We were so shocked at how well I did (which wasn’t really all that well, actually) that we assumed that they must have made some sort of mistake. I don’t do well on standardized tests and I am worse with timed tests.

Spungen said that taking a class rose her score five points. If I’d known that, I would have signed up for a course. Instead I simply got some books and studied. Unfortunately, after all the studying I couldn’t get the score that I was aiming for and my score had only gone up two or three points. Still shy of where I wanted to be.

At the time I was working an overnight position that was in a way an ideal college job. I could spend my nights studying, though that was hard because I was so tired. I could also steal naps, but when I fell asleep at the wheel twice over the term of my employment there in retrospect I realize that I was not getting the sleep that I thought I was. The test day was not ideally situation, unfortunately, because it came after a day of hefty coursework wherein any sleep I would get would need to be at work. When I needed sleep, I could arrange it so that I could get some. Usually. But not that night. It was one emergency after another and I got less than an hour’s worth of sleep.

I drove that morning to the University of Colosse Law School in the Capitol District and took the test. Or at least I think I did. I kept falling asleep. My pages were rife with pencil scratches where I’d fallen asleep while trying to illustrate a problem on the scratch paper. The LSAT is difficult enough when all cylinders are firing and my mental car wouldn’t even start. At the end of the test there is a little box you can check if you don’t want to be scored (with the LSAT, unlike the SAT, you couldn’t simply take your best score, so you don’t want a bad score on your record). I checked it and decided to take the test later under circumstances that weren’t quite so unfavorable. In fact, I was actually going to take the night off before so that I could get some legitimate sleep. Fancy that.

A few months later was the next test, which fortunately enough was on the Southern Tech University campus where I lived and was going to school. I took not only the night off before the test, but even the night before that so that I could get on something resembling a schedule that would have me wide awake at 10 in the morning when I was often going to bed. The test was on a Tuesday and I only had one class on Tuesdays, a phys ed course. A week before the LSAT was to occur, the instructor missed a class because of some family emergency. That meant that one of the PE “exams” was now the morning of the law test. Worse, the test in question was running a mile-and-a-half. Worse still, the professor would not let me take the test early or late. So I was going to have to run a mile and a half (in the gawd-awful shape that I was in) and then walk across campus and take the most important test that I’d taken in half a decade. Not ideal.

Running the mile-and-a-half turned out only to be a component of the problem. The problem, it turned out, was the water I had to drink to replenish myself. Or at least the water that I thought that I had to drink. It turned out that I drank way too much because I didn’t sweat it off. Rather, I had to stop twice on the walk over to the annex to take a leak. The LSAT is a pretty heavily timed test, especially for somebody like me where thinking quickly isn’t my strong suit. I’m the sort of guy that always thinks of the perfect comeback to some joke or bum argument some time during the next day. I’m also terrible at saying “I am good enough with that answer to be able to move on.” It was a struggle for me to finish the test to my satisfaction in even ideal circumstances.

There are six or so rounds of testing and there was not a single section of testing that I could get through without at least one required restroom break. In one section I had to go twice. And I don’t mean that I would leave and go just a little. The only thing that surprises me more than how much liquid I expelled was that I’d managed to drink that much in the first place. Of course, I’ve always been a thirsty person and I can rarely make it through a movie without at least one restroom break, but even so it was surprising. Almost as bad as losing 5 minutes (of 35 minutes) on every section to go take care of things was the fact that even when I wasn’t, I was distracted by needing to. I had maybe ten minutes of undistracted test taking in each round of the testing.

Having passed on the test once, I couldn’t really pass on it again without it raising serious eyebrows with admission offices. So I had to take whatever score I got. It was beginning to matter less and less to me psychologically. It was becoming apparent that I was simply destined not to go to law school. Maybe my subconscious had eradicated my bladder to that effect. I was burning out scholastically and my relationship with Julie was falling apart and without that need I was starting to want a break more than I was wanting to be a lawyer. It was possible that I could take the LSAT again to bring up my score or if I’d done too badly if you take it a second time and score more than a certain number of points better than the two law schools I was looking at would discard the first. But by that point God had spoken to me in the john and that was that.

I didn’t do as badly on the test as I had thought I had. I’d scored above average, even, though that’s of small comfort when most law schools (at least in the league that I was looking at) accept only about a third of their applicants. There was one law school I’d looked at that I might have been able to get into even without retaking the test, but I was more than happy to move on. Looking back, I think that it was the right call. So maybe I owe my PE instructor a debt of gratitude.


Category: Ghostland, School

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One Response to Pissing Law School Away

  1. Peter says:

    Hey, at least you didn’t follow the example of Paula Radcliffe in the 2005 London Marathon.

    If you’re not familiar with the story, a Google search will let you know more than you wanted to know …

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