Should I Retake the LSAT in February?

Tiffany Sanders, J.D. LSAT Test Prep 2 Comments

thinkingThat’s a common question this week, after LSAC either blindsided you or gave you cause to celebrate with the New Year’s Day release of December LSAT scores. 

The registration deadline for the February LSAT is on Wednesday, so there isn’t much time to weigh your options and assess how much improvement you think you can make between now and February 7. 

Of course, I don’t know your situation, so I can’t give you a simple “yes” or “no”. But, here are the core issues you should consider when making your decision:

  • Why are you considering a retake? “I’d like a better score” is not a good answer. If you’re going to make the investment of time and money, possibly delay your law school applications and take the risk of repeating the LSAT, you should have a clear goal in mind. Some possible good reasons include:
    • You’re below the score your research has told you will give you a solid chance at your top choice school(s).
    • You’ve already been admitted or are confident of admission, but believe that an increased score could open up scholarship opportunities.\
  • How will retaking impact your application timeline? Before making a decision about the February LSAT, educate yourself about the schools you’re most interested in. Make sure that you know:
    • Whether the school accepts the February LSAT for fall admission.
    • Whether scheduling a retake will delay the school’s consideration of your application—an incomplete file can mean being shifted to the bottom of the pile, which may impact your chances of admission.
  • Do you have reason to believe that you can improve your score? As you undoubtedly learned in your first round of LSAT practice (if you prepared for your first try), just trying again doesn’t generally improve things. If you’re going to retake the LSAT, you want to be confident that you’re bringing something new to the table this time around. Some factors to consider:
    • Was your LSAT score consistent with what you’d done in practice? If so, chances are that you won’t do better the next time around unless you change something.
    • Was there some kind of anomaly? If you were sick on test day, you made a gridding error or something else happened to throw off your performance, you may have good reason to believe that your score will improve next time around.
    • Did you give it your all the first time around? If you allowed adequate time to prepare the first time around, made a regular effort and feel like you did all you could to raise your score, think seriously about whether it’s realistic to believe you’re going to be able to change things in the few weeks remaining before the February LSAT.
    • Do you have a plan? If you’re expecting to improve your score in the month that remains between the release of December LSAT scores and the February test, you’ll need a clear strategy. Understand where you stand to gain the most points and target your preparation accordingly to maximize short-term gains.

Of course, retaking the LSAT in February isn’t your only option. Although it may seem like an extreme measure, some law school applicants choose to sit out a cycle in order to improve the numbers. It’s not a decision to make lightly, but if you have your heart set on a particular school and your numbers are out of line, you may want to consider whether taking the additional time to prepare and re-testing in June or September would significantly improve your odds.

Image courtesy the Italian voice

Comments 2

  1. Post

    That depends on a few factors. I’m assuming since you’re asking the question that you’re not planning to apply to law school until fall of 2015, for a 2016 start.

    If that’s the case and delaying won’t throw off your application timeline and start date, then take a look at the work that you’ve already done. Is there significant prep material (untouched released tests, in particular) available for you to use during that time? Will you have the opportunity to practice on a regular basis right up until June? (A gap, either between prep cycles or between finishing your preparation and the test date, will set you back.) Are you able to identify areas in which you believe additional time and practice will help, versus having really made the investment in preparation already and just hit a wall?

    If so, it makes sense to delay. The June test still provides you with a comfortable buffer for applying in the fall, and the cost of rescheduling is negligible compared with the larger investment you’re making. Just be sure that you’re prepared to invest some regular prep time across the months between now and June if you make that choice.

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