Should You Retake the LSAT?

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Retaking the LSAT in December or February simply because you are disappointed with your initial score or are convinced that you will do better on another attempt might not be your best option. 

Did something affect truly your score?

Be reflective and be honest with yourself.

Were you ill on the day of the test or in the midst of some other serious, unexpected event like a family crisis, car breakdown on the way to the exam or severe test anxiety (full-blown panic attack vs. typical high stress)?  

If you answered no to these questions, considering not retaking the LSAT.

Did you adequately prepare?

Did you use a study method that works best for you? 

Did you devote a significant amount of your time to preparation (in addition to everything else going on in your life)? 

Did you practice the different sections, take several full-length practice tests under timed conditions?

If yes, you did prepare adequately. 

        *Your time constraints are not going to change if you are still in school, still working, still taking care of a family, still involved in activities, etc.  Do you really have MORE time to devote to studying even MORE than you already did?

        *The December LSAT coincides with final exams, papers, and projects. If you are still in college or graduate school, can you realistically prepare more?

        *Can you change how you will prepare if you do decide to retake the LSAT?

If you answered no to these questions, consider not retaking the exam.

But what about the February exam?

You won’t get your scores back until early March.  Your chances of getting in are lower at many schools with deadlines in April, even for those with deadlines in May. The application season opened up at the start of September. Your chances of getting financial aid (merit or need based) are also far lower.  You can still apply for 2017 with a February score and possibly get some money, but you are very late in the application process.

Won’t my score go up if I retake the LSAT because I will be familiar with the format?

 The reality is that in the absence of obviously inadequate preparation, an unforeseeable disaster, or unexpected serious test anxiety, you are unlikely to increase your score by more than the 2-3 points on a second test. There is also a very real possibility that your score will go down.  See the repeater data from LSAC LSAC repeater data.

Law schools see all your scores. Therefore, the best approach to strengthening your application – rather than a retake of the LSAT – often is to dedicate that time and effort to ensuring that all the other elements of your application are strong.

Your LSAT score report also includes your average LSAT score and your score band.  Score bands represent a range of scores that has a certain probability of containing your actual proficiency level and are designed to include your actual proficiency level in approximately 68 percent of cases. The standard error of measurement holds steady at 2.6.  In other words, if you got a 165, your score band is going to be roughly 162 – 168.  Retaker data indicates that you will most likely get a score that falls within that range anyway. 

What if I do decide to retake it and want to go ahead and submit my application?

You can request a review hold on your completed application after submitting it if you are intending to retake the LSAT. However, it is your responsibility to tell the law schools this. Some require you submit an addendum to your application; others have a checkbox on the application. You have to find out what each school requires. LSAC will not let the law schools know on your behalf that you want a review hold.


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    Kayleigh Haskin
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