For many students, the February LSAT has the mystique of an urban legend. Rumors abound about the test: it’s harder, it’s easier, it’s experimental, schools don’t accept it, schools accept it but hold it against you that you took the test so late…
With the February LSAT next up and the registration deadline just two weeks away, it seemed a good time to demythologize the February LSAT.
The February LSAT and the Application Cycle
You may have heard that most schools don’t accept the February LSAT for the current year admissions cycle. Once upon a time, that was good information, but times have changed—temporarily, at least. The combination of the efficiencies of digital reporting and the decline in the applicant pool over the past few years has nudged many schools toward accepting February LSAT scores for August starts.
That doesn’t mean that the February test is the right answer. If you’re considering the February LSAT for a same-calendar-year start, here are a few things to consider:
- There are still many schools that don’t accept the February test: do your homework before making a decision;
- Even among schools that do accept February LSAT scores, treatment varies: you may be at a disadvantage late in the cycle;
- At some schools, you may miss the window for scholarships by submitting scores so late in the cycle; and
- The application process is time-consuming. If you haven’t started researching law schools, requesting letters of recommendation, drafting your personal statement and putting together other application materials at this stage, you may be scrambling to put together a strong application package by the end of February.
February LSAT Content
Many students seem to believe that the February LSAT is harder. A smaller number have heard that it’s easier. The truth is that if one administration were significantly more or less difficult than the others, it wouldn’t be standardized.
That said, the perception that something is different isn’t entirely without foundation.
Mean February LSAT Scores are Lower
A 2012 LSAT report revealed that mean February scores were lower than June/Fall administration mean scores by as much as 3-4 points. December mean scores were very slightly lower than the June/Fall means. However, there are many factors in play that make it difficult to conclude that a harder test is the reason for the discrepancy. For example, the February administration has by far the largest percentage of third, fourth and fifth-time test takers.
February Tests are Not Released
The fact that the February test is not released means that any discussion as to how difficult it may have been is purely subjective and reliant on perceptions that were formed under pressure. But, there is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that new twists may be introduced during this administration. For example, the February 2014 administration was reported to have the first “unusual” logic game that had appeared in several years.
The Bottom Line on the February LSAT
Of course, the important question on the table is “Should you take the February LSAT?” There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to that question. If you’re considering the February administration, here are some things to consider:
- The impact of testing late in the cycle will vary depending upon your preferred schools: be sure to research their requirements and preferences before making a decision;
- There’s more to applying to law school than taking the LSAT: if you’re just getting started, seriously consider whether you have time to put together a strong application in the next two months;
- February may not be the right time for a practice run: since the February LSAT is unreleased, you won’t learn as much from a first run in February as you would during any of the other administrations.
If you’re reading this post while it’s fresh, there’s one more objective factor to consider: do you have time to prepare for the February LSAT? The answer to that question depends on how far you are from your target score today. If you’re not sure, our free assessment can help you make the decision.
When deciding whether to take the February exam, weigh the objective factors. But, be honest with yourself about your February test suspicions, if they linger. Walking into the LSAT calm and confident will have an impact on your score—a more significant impact than most students imagine. So, if you have February test anxiety, be sure you’re ready to buy in to the facts and let go of the fear before you walk into the testing room.