Law School Admissions: Deciding whether to retake the LSAT

Posted by Jimmy B. on 10/19/19, 12:44 PM

LSAT examAh, the LSAT. That dreaded rite of passage. The most important piece in the law school puzzle. And those Logic Games! Who cares if Train C pulled in at 1pm before Train D! But, alas, it is the kicker for securing top law school admissions, so it must be taken seriously. Here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding whether to retake:

1. How does my score compare to my practice tests?

Most people go down a little bit on the actual test compared to their best practice tests. This makes sense – people too often fail to fully simulate actual testing conditions, you are often exposed to practice questions multiple times when studying, and test day anxiety is a real thing.

If you scored considerably lower on your actual exams than on repeated (emphasis on repeated) practice exams, this is a good reason to think about retaking. The more practice exams you’ve taken (with five sections, under completely real testing conditions), the better sense you have of what score you could actually get.

2. Was the test day my best day or worst day?

If you walked into that test and walked out feeling phenomenal, that is a reason not to re-take. You studied, you had a great test day, now work with what you’ve got. If it was your worst day (e.g., I panicked on the first logic game, the experimental section threw me off, I gave up midway through), this is a reason to think about retaking. Talk to your LSAT tutor about strategies for making sure these worst-case test day scenarios don’t happen on round two.

3. What scores do you need for your target schools?

Work with your JD admissions coach to make your school list, and think about the LSAT alongside the rest of your application. How strong is your GPA? Do you have a target set of schools in mind? If your score is competitive for the schools you are interested in, and you really can’t imagine taking the LSAT again, that weighs against a retake.

4. Are you shooting for the tippy top schools (i.e. Top 7ish)?

If you are shooting for the tippy top schools and you didn’t break 173, I almost always suggest retaking, unless your practice exams were decidedly lower. It is a myth that they don’t like to see people having taken it twice – in fact, the opposite is true. They think it shows a commitment to the test (sadistic, I know). If you have the gas mileage to do it again, and don’t think your score will go down, it almost always makes sense to re-take.

5. What kind of bandwidth do you have?

If the LSAT was truly miserable for you, and you dreaded every moment of studying, this is a good reason to call it. You don’t want to make yourself miserable and distract from the other important elements of the application. But if you have it in you, and really believe you could do better, that certainly makes a retake more viable.

6. What is your timeline?

If you took the December test, most schools (Yale being a notable exception) don’t allow you to take the February sitting. If you took the September exam, you might think about sending your application in, and attaching a short supplemental note telling them that you are retaking the LSAT and will be sending that score in when it arrives. This might delay when you hear back, but will put you in the “applied early in the process” pool. Basically, the more distance you have between your first take and the fall you’re applying, the easier it is to retake.

This blog post is part of a series on law school admissions. You can read Jimmy's previous post here: Law School Admissions: Deciding on the diversity statement.

Whether you’re just beginning on this race, or whether you just need a final push to get you over the finish line, your LSAT tutor will design a customized road map that will take you through every aspect of the application process, covering LSAT preparation, recommendations, the personal statement, addenda, and anything else that you need. Applicants who follow our structured approach find that they are less stressed out and more successful.

Learn more about law school admissions coaching

Applying to law school this year? Check out some of our previous blog posts below!

How to maximize your chances of an excellent law school recommendation letter

Don’t forget: the LSAT is a performance-driven test

Is Law School Right for Me?

Tags: LSAT, law school admissions, law school