November 14, 2008

Should You Retake the LSAT? Seven Questions to Consider

Many students contact me after they've taken the LSAT once or twice already, and they ask me if they should retake it. In response, I ask them the following seven questions to determine if retaking the exam is in their best interest.

1. Do the law schools to which you are applying average multiple LSAT scores?

Because most law schools no longer average multiple LSAT scores for applicants, retaking it is more advantageous than it used to be. The highest LSAT score will be the only score that they consider in forming your "admissions index" (a combination of your LSAT score and Grade Point Average which is unique to each law school).

2. Will retaking it delay the review of your application?

Law schools practice rolling admissions. This means that admissions officers review completed applications upon receiving them. This means that the earlier you submit a completed application, the better. Think about whether or not your LSAT score after retaking it will be high enough to counteract the disadvantage of applying later in the admissions cycle.

3. Did something out of the ordinary happen on test day or the few days beforehand?

If you had to deal with an illness, family/personal issue, test center mishap, or another issue that impacted your performance the first time around, retaking it may be in your best interest.

4. How did your performance on practice exams compare to your actual LSAT score?

Think about your performance on practice exams prior to the original score and your overall level of comfort with standardized tests. If your actual LSAT score was at least a few points lower than your practice exam scores, you have the potential to achieve a score that more accurately reflects your abilities.

5. Do you have enough time to study again?

Getting your brain back into "test mode" will require a significant investment of time and effort. Can you study in the morning or evening during the week? Can you study on the weekend? Make a study schedule for yourself between now and your test date to determine if you'll have the time to adequately prepare.

6. How did you study for it the first time?

Take a look at the materials that you used to study the first time around. If you didn't use books containing real LSAT exams, then this may have caused you to get a lower score than you deserved. If you studied from real LSAT exams, but you didn't do enough of them, or you didn't spend enough time reviewing incorrect answers, then you might not have fully understood why you were getting certain questions wrong.

7. Do you believe that you're capable of a higher LSAT score?

Law school is "kind of a big deal." If you believe that you're capable of a higher score, your investment in studying again and retaking the LSAT will pay off when you gain acceptance to a better school, receive scholarship money, and, ultimately, snag a better job when you graduate.

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  1. Thanks for posting this; this is my junior year, but I may have underestimated the LSAT despite taking a free Kaplan class for it. I know I wasn't able to study for it as I should have because of my school schedule.

    Knowing that taking the LSAT a second time won't mean I'm carrying the scarlet letter when I apply makes me breathe easier.

  2. Glad you've decided to throw your hat back into the ring. Let me know if I can help in any way.

  3. Just curious--how do you think law schools look at an applicant who has taken the LSAT twice, and scored lower the second time around?

  4. It depends upon the difference in scores. Any way you look at it, it's not a plus.

    If you haven't taken it a second time yet, make sure you study for it properly the second time around.

    If you have taken it a second time, consider the schools within your range. You can also consider reevaluating your study techniques and take more time to study for it properly.

    See my interview with Ann Levine here and ask her directly.

  5. That was fast--

    I'm not sure what the difference in scores will be or if I'll even score lower, it's just a horrible gut feeling (I took the LSAT for the second time today).

    I took the December LSAT after studying for several months and consistently scoring 170-175 on practice exams. On test day I freaked out and bombed the logic games section missing 7 questions (usually I miss none), for a total of 17 and wound up with a 165.

    I decided to go easy with the prep in January after taking December off and stuck with a practice test every weekend (still scoring the same 171-174) and one or two practice sections during the week.

    I really don't feel confident about the test today (but I frequently don't). I know I didn't bomb the games, but I didn't finish two of the questions in the section. I also felt very unsure of a lot of arguments during and I'm thinking about canceling my score just in case it winds up being lower.

    I hate this anxiety! Any advice would be much appreciated.

  6. Sorry to hear that you didn't feel confident today. However, this feeling is very common.

    According to LSAC, you have some time to think it over. There's no reason to cancel right now. You may feel differently in a few days.



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