June LSAT scores were released a week ago, and since then we've been asked repeatedly about retakes. And that's understandable. Some will receive their scores and know immediately that they need another shot, and others will be fortunate enough to have nailed the test and be done with it forever. But a large segment of students will be in the middle—posting solid-but-not-slam-dunk scores that give them a chance at their target schools but do not guarantee admission. That often leads to a difficult decision period wherein these students struggle to decide if they are going to retake the test or not.
Well I'm here to help clarify that difficult decision with a simple bit of advice: retake it!
Now, that might seem like some glib and self-serving advice from a company that teaches the LSAT. But, it certainly wouldn't be in our best long-term interest to dole out bad counsel, and admissions experts I trust also give out that same or similar advice. As our friends over at Spivey Consulting said in a recent blog post on our site: "no matter what anyone says, the reality is that only the high score is submitted to the ABA...Thus, the high score means everything and the only thing to a school's median LSAT and rankings, and all other scores/takes are meaningless for reporting purposes. Put in practical terms, it behooves an applicant to retake the LSAT if they feel like they haven’t reached their potential." Prelaw Guru Peg Cheng says that, "Law schools will look at each of your LSAT scores, but in most cases, they will use the higher one in their evaluation of your candidacy." And Ann Levine over at Law School Expert states that, "The highest score matters - that's the one that gets reported to the ABA for rankings purposes." The Admissions Sherpa notes that, "Unless you are absolutely convinced you cannot score any higher, it would be wise to consider a retake. There is almost no risk, but tremendous potential for reward (better admissions and scholarships)."
In other words, law schools focus on your highest score when considering your application, and this makes sense because that's the only one they have to report to the American Bar Association, so you should strongly consider taking the LSAT again if you can improve at all.
Sometimes there is confusion over the multiple score situation, and that is because in the not-too-distant past law schools were required to report average LSAT scores to the ABA. Thus, taking the LSAT multiple times could be dangerous, and a lower second (or third) score could be catastrophic. However, almost a decade ago those requirements were changed, and now only the highest score must be reported. Consequently, the highest score is now really all that matters. Sure, if you scored 10 points lower on your second LSAT you would probably want to explain that in a brief addendum, but schools would still focus on the higher score because that's the one that's used for all official reports and thus that's the one used for the US News rankings (and those rankings have a big effect on the decisions that law school admission committees make). So, if you get your results back in the next week and find yourself facing that moment of indecision as to whether you should retake the exam, don't overly worry about score averages or any detrimental effect from having multiple LSAT scores. If you think you can do a bit better, it's by far in your interest to take the exam again and make that increase happen. Every point counts on this test, and a few extra points could be enough to take your application over the top, and maybe get some scholarship money as well.
Have any questions or comments? Please post them below!