It’s an interesting room I’m in right now.

There are 21 of us here right now, all in the same boat. We’re preparing for the LSAT -the test that accounts for 50% of whether or not we get into law school.

People are civil here. Respectful, even. But not quite friendly.

The problem is that the LSAT is a different beast from most standardized tests. It’s a competitive test. When I wrote the SAT three years ago, I had a magic number in mind: 2100, the score that would give me at least a shot at Harvard/Yale.

With the LSAT, it doesn’t matter how well you do on it. What matters is how many people you beat. Beat 50% of the people taking the test, and you’ve got at least a shot at being accepted somewhere. Beat 80% and you’ve got a shot at Osgoode Hall or Queen’s. 90% is the magic number for giving you a chance at U of T.

Everyone here has their own goals. Some are aiming for 50%, some for 75%, some for 80%, some for 90%. But the ultimate objective remains the same: Beat as many people as possible.

And you can tell that while everyone is smiling outwardly, there are little daggers hidden behind those smiles. Everyone knows how this works. Everyone knows that everyone else is going to actively, albeit inadvertently, try their best to send their hopes and dreams crashing to the ground in about four months. Everyone knows that they would benefit if every other person in this room bombed. People are sizing each other up, trying to see where they stand in comparison to everyone else. Eyes darting all around to see what other people got on question 8.

It’s difficult not to fall victim to the underlying competitive spirit. On the one hand, I know that I’ll get no benefit from worrying about everyone else, and that I’ll get the best result by shutting out everything and focusing on my own paper. At the same time, I can’t help but think that I need to beat 18 out of these 20 people to get where I want to be.

At least it’s still four months away.