Contrary to popular belief, each LSAT-taking location is not alike. Obviously it’s important to try and get a location that is very close to you and not in routes with heavy traffic congestion.
It’s also important to lockdown your LSAT-taking location as soon as possible so let’s discuss your options. The best places are universities in your area. I took the LSAT twice: the first time I took it at California State University of Northridge (CSUN) and the second time I took it at University of Southern California (USC). From my own experience and from what I’ve since heard from my students, if you live close(ish) to USC, you should try locking that spot down. At USC, you get an entire rectangular desk to yourself. Room to roam when taking the LSAT is a huge plus. I’m a pretty fidgety test taker so I know that it is not only good news for me to have more space but also good news for those who are taking the exam around me because they won’t have to have my twitchy self in their line of sight to distract them. Also, at USC, the test taking rooms are very large making it is easier to un-focus on everyone around you, and just concentrate at the test in front of you.
CSUN was not that bad either but you have a small personal desk, the kind that wraps in front of you. I really dislike those tiny desks because I feel like nothing can actually fit on the desk itself and they remind me of high school (let’s just say my witty quips were not well received in the welcoming high school setting, hah!).
Anyway, my point being, when choosing your LSAT-taking location, if you can find a close university or school to take it at, then I really recommend it. Why? Because a university gives you an unconscious study feel, and a lot of times you can actually go to the university and study in the rooms the test will be administered in. I’m ALL about mimicking testing conditions during LSAT prep and I think being able to take practice exams in the actual rooms or at least similar rooms in the exact environment is really quite helpful. Also, when the actual test is being administered, your environment is filled mostly with educators and students who understand that it is important to stay quiet near the testing location. It is more likely that these passerbyers will respect the situation and keep the environment as quiet as they can for you.
Locations you need to please, please stay away from are the various hotels and motels where the test is offered. I’ve heard horror stories of the testing rooms at these locations being very close to the lobby or not having actual doors to keep the noise out. The proctors administering this test have no interest in your score, let alone making sure you have the best test experience. That’s why the closer you can be to an educational environment, the more likely it is that the proctors will take the whole experience seriously. Patrons at the hotel and motel really don’t give a rat’s hoot about you and your non-existent social life for the past few months. Don’t let the so-and-so family visiting Disneyland for the first time kill your Reading Comprehension section! Don’t allow it!
So, what must you do? Find the list of the testing locations close to you. If your campus is a testing location CHOOSE THAT ONE! Don’t leave this to the last minute when you will have no choice but to take your test at the Best Western that will also be hosting little Susie-so-and-so’s pre-Mickey Mouse land sleepover.