With the June LSAT approaching, the question arises (as it does in the last few weeks before every LSAT administration): Should I postpone my LSAT test date?
I can’t answer the question for you, but I can tell you what you’ll need to consider in order to make the right decision.
How are you scoring on practice tests? It may seem like a no-brainer that your recent practice test scores are a good indicator of your readiness to take the LSAT. But, it’s not quite as simple as having achieved your target score. To be confident, you should have scored within a couple of points of your target score on three consecutive full-length practice tests, taken under strict time conditions and at one sitting (except for one break as you’ll get during the actual LSAT).
How much time do you have to invest between now and test day? If your test is three weeks out and you’ll be able to invest a couple of hours most days between now and then, you have the opportunity to significantly raise your score. But, if you’re not in your comfort zone a week before the LSAT or you know that the few remaining weeks are going to be hectic and your studies inconsistent, you probably won’t see much improvement between now and then.
How important is it that you achieve your target score? Obviously, you set your goal for a reason…or, maybe you didn’t. While some LSAT test takers are shooting for very specific numbers based on careful research and strong school preferences, many seem to have simply chosen a number that seems like a good score. This seems especially common among students whose goal is “at least a 170”. If you haven’t achieved your target score and your test date is approaching, step back and consider the score you actually need to be competitive at your top choice schools.
How will postponing impact your timeline? For most students, postponing from June to October won’t seriously impact the admissions timeline, but that depends on a variety of other factors. Consider your other commitments during the months you’ll gain and how much study time is realistic, as well as how pushing back LSAT preparation will impact available time for other aspects of your application. These questions increase in importance if you’re considering postponing from October to December.
How much effort have you invested? Be brutally honest with yourself here. If you haven’t done all that you could have, then postponing may help you increase your score—if you’re ready to get serious. But, if the next few months are going to be more half-assed effort, chances are that you won’t see much improvement (and could even see a decline). And, if you’ve really given it your all already, stop and think about what you’ll do differently in the next several weeks to give you that boost you’re looking for. If you can’t identify a clear answer to that question, postponing may not be beneficial.
Postponing your test date can boost your score, but it’s not the right answer for everyone. Think carefully about the benefits of postponing, the costs of postponing and how other aspects of your application might be impacted. Above all, don’t postpone out of fear. If you’re starting to panic a little as your test date draws near, you’re in good company. But, fear makes a lousy foundation for decision-making. Step back and weigh the factors as objectively as you can.
Photo credit: Dafne Cholet