When LSAT scores come out, many students are faced with the uncomfortable reality of a possible retake. With that in mind, let’s consider two of the most common questions regarding law school admissions. “Should I retake the exam? And if I do, how will law schools interpret my scores?”
In order to help you better understand your options, we have researched the policies of LSAC and top law schools. We’ve also spoken with many admissions counselors regarding these issues and compiled our findings below.
We’ll address some facts about the LSAT and admissions first, then weigh the considerations that factor into a potential retake.
How Many Times Can You Take the LSAT?
In the summer of 2019, LSAC reinstated limits on the number of LSAT attempts you’re allowed. Test takers are subjected to the following rules:
- Test takers can only take the LSAT three times per testing cycle. (A testing cycle used to begin in June and last through the following May. However, starting with the 2021-2022 testing cycle, it runs from August to June the following year.)
- There is a limit of five attempts every five years.
- There is now a lifetime limit of seven attempts, after which students cannot sit for additional tests.
One positive to come out of this is that these rules were not retroactive, meaning you started with a clean slate as of the September 2019 exam. We covered these changes in detail in Episode 17 of our PodCast. Note: the limited-retake policy was briefly suspended with the introduction of the LSAT-Flex in May 2020. It was reintroduced beginning with the October 2020 LSAT-Flex and remains in effect through 2022.
That being said, don’t let the limitation scare you. For one, most schools still seem to prefer applicants with 4-5 or fewer attempts. That is, at five or more attempts, schools may begin to question why it’s taking so long for you to hit your target, and this often warrants an addendum explaining your situation. Secondly, repeat testing pushes you later into each application cycle. Rolling admissions can then begin to work against you and app deadlines could prevent you from applying for the upcoming term. So be sure to consider your planned test dates and intended-school deadlines to ensure you make the cut.
Thus, while there are limits on the number of attempts allowed, unless you find yourself eyeing your fifth (or more) LSAT or considering exam dates late in the admissions cycle, sitting for the test multiple times isn’t automatically problematic.
How Are Multiple LSAT Scores Reported?
There’s some extremely good news for test takers here! Prior to 2006, LSAC policy was as follows:
“LSAC will automatically report the results of all LSATs in your file, including cancellations and absences, since June 1, 2002 [five years’ worth of data]. The scores are averaged and also appear separately. (Note: LSAC rounds up when calculating the average score).”
However, in 2006 the ABA (American Bar Association) changed its policies. It began requiring schools to report only the highest LSAT scores of students, regardless of how many times they had taken the test:
…beginning with the October 2006 Annual Questionnaire, which collects LSAT data on the Fall 2006 entering class, the Questionnaire will seek 75th percentile, median, and 25th percentile LSAT data based on the high score rather than the average score for matriculants who took the test more than once.
What this means is that since schools now report only their students’ highest LSAT scores to the ABA, all law schools now consider only an applicant’s highest LSAT score, and no longer take the averaged score into consideration. Yes, schools will see all of your scores from the past five years. And they do pay attention to scoring trends. If your four attempts show four consecutive declines, for instance, you’ll want to explain that pattern. In the end, it’s the highest number that’s reported so it’s the highest number that matters.
Why is this good news? It means that if you retake the LSAT and improve your score, schools will disregard your lower score(s) in favor of your best performance. The averaging “penalty,” so to speak, of multiple attempts has been entirely removed.
Now that we’ve addressed the test-taking and score-reporting policy, let’s consider some of the questions you should ask before committing to another LSAT.
How Can You Tell if a Retake is Worth It?
First, you need to examine where you stand right now. Ask yourself the following:
How accurately does your score reflect your ability?
You probably have a good sense of how well you expected to do on the LSAT based on your practice test scores and your experience as you prepared. If your official score is far below your results on practice tests, or if you performed significantly worse in a particular area than is typical, you have good reason to believe you could improve your LSAT score on a retest.
On the other hand, if your real score was within a few points of your last several practice tests, and remains representative of your PT performance close to the date of the next administration, the chances of it miraculously improving on test day are minimal at best. Simply put: how you perform as you practice is likely to reflect how you’ll perform on the real thing. So if your practice results are unsatisfactory, a retake is almost certainly going to be as well.
How did you feel the day of the test?
This is similar to the question above, in that you need to ascertain whether the score you received was representative, or whether certain factors likely absent during a retake could have negatively affected your performance.
Were you sick or upset about something? Was there an issue during the test (a tech glitch, for example) that caused problems or affected you? How much did test anxiety play a role in your performance? If a distraction made you feel that you were performing worse than you usually do on a test, it would probably be worth taking the LSAT again when you’re feeling well enough to do your best, and when disruptions are less likely to impact your final score.
How does your score measure up?
Consider the LSAT averages or ranges of students the schools you’re applying to admit to their program, and see how your score compares. If you’re already above (or towards the 75th percentile of) the qualifications your schools look for, there’s probably no need to bother with a retest just to gain admission. Similarly, if you’re near or just below the average acceptance score, spending your time and effort improving other parts of your application—personal statement, supplementary essays, letters of recommendation—may prove more valuable than another point or two on the test. Obviously, if you’re well below your target schools’ averages, the need to retake the LSAT becomes extremely clear.
Similarly, don’t underestimate the monetary value of a higher LSAT score. Scholarship offers are often predicated on credentials, so a higher score may not be necessary to get in. But it could still be worth tens of thousands of dollars in financial aid!
You’re Testing Again…Now What?
If you do decide that a retake would potentially be beneficial, there are still two questions to ask yourself.
How will the next time be different?
Let’s face it: you’re considering a retake because, so far, you aren’t where you want to be. For that to change on your next attempt, you need to change the way that you approach the exam. Whether that means you invest in a course or a private tutor, or simply dedicate more time to your studies and diligently work to analyze and correct your shortcomings, without a different understanding of the LSAT there’s no reason to expect a different score. So be honest with yourself about how you intend to prepare for the next attempt. Only commit to it if you know there’s a significant chance that you’ll be a different, better test taker on the coming exam.
Are significant score improvements possible, given the right preparation?
I routinely (daily, in fact) hear this sort of question regarding potential score increases. And my response is generally this: the LSAT is not an I.Q. test! That is, it tests only how well you understand the LSAT. It’s not testing your innate intelligence, the depths of your vocabulary, or your subject knowledge in Science or the Law. Conquering the LSAT is solely dependent on recognizing the common elements used by the test makers—from reasoning types, to Logic Games setups and scenarios, to answer choice traps—and then having powerful strategies with which to respond to those elements. That’s it.
The takeaway is that dramatic score increases are possible, often in a fairly short period of time, provided you receive proper training and practice with the right approach. We routinely see students achieve 15-20+ point score increases after studying the proven techniques taught in our courses. The use of real LSAT questions, examined and deconstructed by world-class instructors with top percentile scores, allows people of all abilities to break down the LSAT and unlock their true potential.
So, Should You Retake the LSAT?
Retaking the LSAT isn’t a decision to make lightly. It requires time for continued prep and further testing. Undoubtedly, it will cause extra stress as you work to get the rest of your application in order. But if you know that your current best score isn’t sufficient to get you into the school(s) of your choice, and certainly if you think you can do significantly better, it’s worth the time and effort to give the LSAT another shot.
Considering a retake but wondering if it’s the right decision? Let us know in the comments section below and we’ll happily assist you further!
Hello Jon & Dave,
A month or so ago, I took the April 2022 LSAT and I ended up scoring a 161. I was pretty happy with this as most of my PTs leading up to the test, I was scoring in the 155-157 range. However, now, I am trying to decide if I should retake the test in August?
Leading up to the test I had been studying for somewhere around 6ish months and by the time the test came around I was starting to feel pretty burnt out between that and working a full time job. Given that I had not broken into the 160s in my PTs, I’m wondering if it is worth trying to increase my score or to just take what I got and start to think about focusing on other aspects of my application? I’m not sure if it would even be possible for me to increase, but I’m also not sure it’s worth the stress of trying only to have to pull out in the end.
Also, my UGPA was a 3.5. My goal starting out was (and to some small degree still would be) one of the T14 schools, but it’s not the end all be all for me. What do you all think?
Dave Killoran says
Thanks for the question. The reason to retake is because you have a strong belief you can do better. Since that’s not the case here but you still want to explore it, I’d keep studying but not sign up for the LSAT until you see yourself consistently scoring above your current recorded score. If you never reach that point, don’t retake. But this way you can study and see how it goes but also not commit any more money by registering for the test. However, if it all feels like too much, I’d walk away.
I began self-studying for the LSAT with the LSAT Bible Trilogy in May 2021, and my Aug 2021 score was 161. I hired a tutor afterward, and my Oct 2021 score was 162. I was incredibly stressed and exhausted throughout the 6 months, so I paused and passively studied for several months before I began actively practicing and reviewing at the beginning of 2022. Prior to the exam, my PT scores were approximately 166-170 (With an outlier 161). My Apr 2022 score was 166. I’m somewhat disappointed because I was amazingly concentrated and completed every section within 35 mins (Which hasn’t occurred before), causing me to be rather confident and to anticipate a high score.
I would like to apply to Allard School of Law (BC, Canada) in Sep 2022. Their LSAT median is 166, and their CGPA median is 83%. My CGPA is approximately 80.7%. I’m considering whether to register for the Aug 2022 LSAT to increase my score, but I’ve already completed every PT from 2000 onward, and I’m not confident I can significantly improve my score. I’m struggling like a fish…what would be your advice?
Dave Killoran says
Thanks for the question! There are some elements in your question that suggest that taking August might be fruitful for you:
1. You talk about being “incredibly stressed and exhausted” through the first six months of studying. That would obviously impact your score, but equally important it likely impacted the nature of your learning and how you view that time. Essentially, the early days of learning the LSAT fundamentals are forever associated with a bad period, which makes me wonder how well “cemented in” those ideas are now.
2. With your 166, you mention that was the first time you completed all sections in 35 minutes, which tells me there’s still room for speed improvement if you retook the test.
3. Your 166 was at the low end of your PT range.
4. You still have clean LSATs to do, even if they are older. As I’ve said elsewhere, older LSATs have a ton of value, and we are specifically seeing elements from those early tests that are being repeated on current Experimental sections, meaning they will reappear. And remember, this is all logic, which hasn’t changed in thousands of years, so the idea that older LSATs are useless is dead wrong. I even wrote about that too: https://blog.powerscore.com/lsat/bid-282922-Should-You-Avoid-Older-LSATs/
All the above suggest to me that a retake might actually yield a higher score, especially if you spent some time with the basics and focused more on speed testing.
I hope that helps, and please let me know your thoughts. Thanks!
I’ve taken the LSAT 3 times, with a 168, 165, and most recently a 166. I’m feeling very disheartened because I took almost a year off between my second and third score and studied very diligently for my recent test. I was consistently PTing at 170-175 for a month leading up to my 166. I walked out of the test feeling poorly and in hindsight, I wish that I had canceled this score. I fumbled logic games and did not complete the section, where usually I would expect a perfect score on the section.
I would really like to go to a low-T14 school like Northwestern, Cornell, or Georgetown. My undergrad GPA is a 3.5, and I will have 2 years legal work experience. I would only be able to retake in June or August, and I hope to apply this upcoming cycle (for Fall 2023 admission). I work full time and take a class on the side, but when I am motivated I can really put in the study hours around those obligations. Do you think its worth the retake?
Thank you for all of your help!
Dave Killoran says
Thanks for the message. Yes, it’s definitely worth a retake here! You already know you can score in the 170-175 range due to your practice performance, but you just haven’t done it on the real thing yet. And, with your T14 goals and current numbers, you absolutely need to get into the 170s for a legit chance there. So I’d not target June–too soon–and instead target August. It gives you study time as well as is right at the start of the cycle, which allows for an early app.
If we can help at all with the prep, please let us know. Thanks!
Kellie Rock says
Hello! I took the November LSAT (first test) and scored a 167. That was actually about 5 points higher than any PT I had ever done, which I know is pretty uncommon. I took a break and started studying again in February. I’ve been slowly improving, but my highest PT has only been 164. I’m considering re-taking in April to try to get a 3-5 point increase. Is that a bad idea since my PT isn’t higher, or should I just buckle down and go for it? (I have a lot of big family events happening in May/June so I know that taking the June test isn’t realistic, and I don’t think I have the stamina to keep studying into the summer because I’ve already been studying for over a year and it has been tough to balance study with a full time legal job.)
Dave Killoran says
Thanks for the message! This is a tough one. My normal advice is to not retest until your PT average is where you want to score (or higher). But then again you had an unusual live test performance where you scored better than normal./ So, is that something that has happened to you historically? Are you frequently a better test day performer than practice performer? If so, then based on that and the fact that your schedule has conflicts in June, I could see taking a shot in April. But, if that LSAT was a one-off quirk, I’d wait it out–people don’t often get lucky like this on the LSAT.
Thanks for all you guys do — really helpful!
Trying to get some insights on my situation. Applying next cycle as a splitter (3.5-3.6 GPA) from top undergrad.
First test was in Jan, hit a 174 after 6 weeks of studying. Been prepping almost daily since Jan test and was already registered for Feb test. My PTS are consistently higher and I feel confident I can do better though recognize that doesn’t mean I WILL do better.
If I weren’t a splitter I would not retake but given my circumstances I feel like every point could help . – Bottom line — do you think trying a second time is worth it? Or is the risk too great?
Dave Killoran says
Thanks for the kind words 🙂
I’d retake in your position. A 174 after 6 weeks in combination with consistently higher PTs tells me your chances of bettering that 174 are strong. And since every point does indeed count in this range, to me it’s worth that second chance. Your attitude towards achieving a better score is strong, and your results show me you can do even better–I’d retake and not think twice about it 🙂
Just got back my January 2022 LSAT results I was not happy with my results but I’m stuck on whether or not to take another test. After reading this I’ve gotten some clarity on whether to take it or not again but I’m unsure if I’m actually allowed to take it for a fourth time. I had taken the June 2021 FLEX which I had canceled afterwards due to not being in the right mental state from experiencing a loss in the family 3 days prior to text. I was going to just take the January 2022 but last minute decided to take November 2021 which I had canceled as well. After the January 2022 test I had felt good But not 100% because I usually do good on logic games but I had more difficulty than usual this time. It completely threw me off my game but I decided to keep it. From reading ‘Should I retake the LSAT’ it seems to clarify that I can only take three in a testing cycle. However LSAC allowed me to sign up for the March 2022 exam? I am confused as to whether if I should ask for a refund before the deadline and not take it and just take my chances with the score I have even though it’s not as strong as I wanted to be. I was wondering if you can clarify if I am able to use my March testing score if I do take it. I realize I will receive the score at the end of March and it will be late in the admission process but I’m willing to take the chance for a better score and submit that score later than with a lower score earlier in the admission process. I have until tomorrow night to get my refund for the March registration if you have any advice or information that can help me please let me know.
Jon Denning says
Hi Viana – I’m so glad you asked about this, as I know the rules are a little (sometimes a lot) confusing and clear answers aren’t always easy to come by!
Here’s the latest: once LSAC reinstated the three attempts in a year limit with the October 2020 Flex test, the rule was that you could only sit for the LSAT (including cancellations) three times between June 1st and May 31st of the following year.
BUT! They have since adjusted that window, and now “the next testing cycle begins with the August 2021 test and goes through the June 2022 test” (per https://www.lsac.org/about/lsac-policies/limits-on-repeating-lsat).
That means your test in June 2021 shouldn’t count towards this current cycle’s three tries, and you’re clear to test one more time between now and June! So that March test you registered for shouldn’t be an issue in terms of retake limits.
What’s a little trickier with March, as you note, is that it is getting fairly late in the cycle and won’t be a great option for every school out there—many T14 ranked schools, for instance, may decide it’s simply too late—so you’ll want to contact your target schools directly and get their feedback on how they’re planning to handle March scores/applications. But assuming you can still make school deadlines (or get exemptions) then the rule of thumb that a higher score is nearly always preferable to an earlier score holds true and I’d say full speed ahead on giving it another shot! Even 3+ additional points in March likely make the later test worthwhile in such a competitive cycle (again, presuming it will be accepted at the schools you’re considering).
I hope that helps!
Bella Hyeon says
This is an international student and I’m planning to apply to law school this year. I took the 2020 January LSAT and scored a 156, which was a predictable score, because my practice score range was from 155 to 160. To be honest, when I received 156, I was relieved, because I thought I could’ve done worse. I took the LSAT for the second time on April, 2020 and I ended up feeling like I bombed the exam and feeling like I couldn’t do any better than my performance on the first exam. So, I cancelled the score for the April exam and decided not to retake the LSAT. One of the schools I’d be interested in going to are Brooklyn Law School, American University, and Syracuse University, which have medians that are close to 156. But now I’m having second thoughts because I’m thinking that I might be disadvantaged because I’m an international applicant and my GPA would only be reported as superior (Even though I’ve received quite a number of academic honors and would prefer law schools to make GPA assessment based on my actual number). How would I fare with an LSAT score of 156 and a Superior GPA as an international applicant? Do you think I should retake the LSAT because I’m an international applicant and schools would make judgments mainly based on my LSAT?
Jon Denning says
Hi Bella – thanks for the great questions! My first piece of advice is to take a real LSAT in its current format—online and with three scored sections plus an experimental—and see what you think. It’s a very different testing experience than what you were dealing with in early 2020 (pre-Flex, presumably) so you may find that the new set up is a serious benefit to you and your score now would likely exceed your previous range, or that you like it far less and don’t see yourself performing at the same level you once did.
Either way, that’ll give you a lot of insight into whether a retake this spring would yield a probable score boost, or whether your official 156 is as good as you’re likely to get! Note: even if this trial PT score isn’t where you’d like it to be, the experience of testing under the new circumstances should at least clue you in on what’s reasonable to expect with a few months of practice and a test date in, say, April (check your international options too if you’re still overseas).
You can access a few free, official online LSATs here: https://www.lsac.org/lsat/prep/lawhub
The other thing I’d do is contact the admissions offices at the schools you mention and ask them directly how they’re going to treat your undergrad grades/GPA. If you get the impression (or just a straightforward answer) that your GPA won’t do you any favors then I’d strongly consider retaking the LSAT to improve your odds during what’s shaping up to be another competitive cycle; if your GPA will be judged the same as a domestic applicant’s, then assuming you’re at/above medians with your current numbers you’ve got a very realistic shot already and a retake becomes less necessary.
I hope that helps, and best of luck with your applications!
Amy Lorde says
Hey guys, thank you so much for all your knowledge! This is perhaps a niche question but regardless:
ProctorU had serious connectivity issues during my Nov test and I’m going to cancel and retake here on the 23rd. Do you all know when my score release will be? I’m assuming later than Dec 1st? Although of course I would LOVE to get my score back ASAP.
Jon Denning says
Hi Amy – thanks so much for posting!
Those 11/23 make up test scores will be released at the exact same time as the other, “regular” test scores from this November administration, so you can expect to get your results the morning of 12/1! Happily LSAC is able to do a quick turnaround on the make ups because it’s typically a fairly small testing group, and they often reuse an older, nondisclosed test that has appeared many times before and thus they have a very clear understanding of the curve/scaling (which speeds things up).
I hope that helps, and best of luck!
Amy Lorde says
Jon, you have a lot of nerve – with your voice and your whole thing – to be responding to me at this time of night!
Ok, god, I kid. I appreciate the answer – thank you baby jeebus, that’s what I was hoping for.
Jon Denning says
Ha! No such thing as clocks during test week 🙂
Happy to help, and happier still that you got the answer you were looking for. Wishing you all the best come 12/1!
I retook the June LSAT-Flex after getting a 165 on the April test and got back a score of 166. I’d been scoring in the low to mid 170s for my practice tests even before my first go-around, and I really want to get into UCLA for its entertainment law program. I’ve been feeling really discouraged about retaking because studying for the LSAT has brought me an immense amount of stress and anxiety and in general I feel really burnt out at this point. I have a 3.98 GPA which I realize can help me a little bit, but it’s looking like this upcoming cycle is going to be really competitive, so I’m a bit at a loss now.
Should I suck it up and retake the test? I originally was looking at getting a 170+ just for scholarship reasons but more and more it’s looking like I need to get that high of a score just to get admitted. I’ve all but given up on getting a scholarship at this point.
Jon Denning says
Hi Mac – thanks for posting, and I’m sorry to hear that your June score didn’t match the results you were seeing on practice tests.
I’m also a bit sorry for the advice I’m about to give, although I suspect you can guess what it’s going to be: you should “suck it up and retake the test.” With a 3.98 GPA and PTs in the 170s there’s every indication that you could potentially write your own ticket to just about any law school on the planet, provided you get your LSAT score in line with your PT results. You’re close! As in, avoiding just two wrong answers per section close. That takes you from a 166 to what would likely be a 173, maybe a 174 (depending on scaling, etc). Two questions per section. You can absolutely make that happen if you keep grinding and commit yourself to another attempt.
What I’d do in your position is register for August before Friday night so as not to miss the deadline, make a study schedule using a calendar and a list of the materials you have available, and dive back in. If you find you simply don’t have the necessary enthusiasm at the moment and despite your best efforts can’t regain it, then dial it back a touch, keep prepping but more lightly, and take the free test deferral from August to September or October, by which time you should hopefully be able to reestablish your former dedication. What I wouldn’t do——besides settle for a score that’s going to hold you back from what you deserve——is step away from studying for too long, since the last thing you want to do is have to rebuild your fundamentals (the natural intuitions you’ve honed) and your momentum down the road. Far easier to just keep plugging away.
As for motivation, you note two critical ideas that have never been more central when it comes to applying: competition and cash. This year was unprecedented when it came to the cut-throat nature of admissions, and while next year (and beyond) should show slight signs of improvement I don’t foresee us getting back to the “normal” days of 2016-2019 any time soon, if ever. So every point truly matters when you’ve got such well-credential neighbors looking to take your seat! And a natural byproduct of that is, of course, scholarships. They’re harder to come by than they have been in ages, possibly ever, so again anything you can do to bump your score up translates quite directly into more money in your pocket. In short, a better score opens both doors and wallets. (If you really need some drive, consider that studying for a couple more months and pulling a score in the low 170s, say a 172, almost certainly means at least $10k+ per year extra in financial aid…could someone not persuade you to continue prepping through September for the very legitimate offer of minimum $30-40k? Because realistically that’s what we’re talking about)
Lastly, I would strongly encourage you to consider a tutor if you find you’re still at risk of coming up a few points short of your PTs by test day. It’s remarkable how big a difference some personal, professional assistance can make down the home stretch, so rather than chance another number in the 160s, look into investing in a final push with a pro.
Like I said at the outset, I doubt this is what you want to hear, although I also imagine it’s what you expected us to say 🙂 The good news is that you’re on the precipice of something truly special here. Don’t give up on that this close to the finish line.
Hi! I am heavily debating retaking the LSAT for the third time in August but just not sure it is worth it. I got a 161 on the April exam and was pretty happy about it, but was going for a 165 to be on the high end of the schools I am looking at. I took the exam in June and I know I bombed LG, which is my best section. I was not surprised to get a lower score (157), but I had been scoring much higher on practice exams. The one I took before the June LSAT, I got a 171 on. I know I can still get into a good number of law schools, but I am not thrilled with these scores. The issue is that I have no motivation remaining for studying at the moment and now I am concerned I would not do any better than the 161. Is it worth it to attempt to take it again or would I just be better off re-evaluating some of the schools I want to go to. For most of the schools, the 161 is within the 25th-75th percentile range and my GPA is close, if not over, the 75th percentile (GPA is 3.72). I also have taken both Honors and Graduate courses at my university and undergraduate courses in the Law School. I just don’t know if I am better off explaining the lower score, which is my plan regardless, and not trying again or attempting the exam for the third time.
Dave Killoran says
Thanks for the message and I’m sorry to hear this June test as a struggle. I have a few thoughts that may help here:
• If you are burned out on the LSAT, you need to take a break. Breaks can be hugely beneficial for your LSAT score, but more importantly you clearly want time away from this test. So, since you have no motivation, take at least a month off and consider things. Maybe that results in you coming back for the October 2021 LSAT, maybe not.
• The reason I’d suggest you consider a future test is what you said about how you were performing prior to June: “The one I took before the June LSAT, I got a 171 on.” If this is the case, then applying with just a 161 will leave tens of thousands of dollars on the table in lost scholarships. You’ve proven you can score in the 170s, so 161 doesn’t seem representative at all. and that money/debt saved could be a powerful motivator for you if you study again 🙂
• Law schools rely on your high score these days, so I’m not sure you need to explain the 157, especially since the explanation is just that LG was not good for you.
All in all, I’d say take time off and then come back for a third shot since you can so clearly do better, but this has to be your choice.
I hope that helps. Thanks!
Hey Jon and Dave,
I’m reeling from my score release yesterday. It was my first attempt and I got a 167 but was averaging 172 on practice tests (Last 10 were 174, 172, 168, 171, 172, 172, 166, 172, 172, 175). So I did have those couple low scores, but I knew I was going to score low on those — either a game or a RC passage threw my timing off (or my kids) and I was guessing the last couple of questions each section. But this 167 was totally unexpected. I felt I had crushed it — it didn’t feel easy, but nothing threw me completely off. I finished each section with a minute or two to check answers and felt confident that I would at least be at 170.
I don’t think I should register for June as I don’t have time to prep, but I hate that I’m missing out on the last 3 section test. I’m a non-traditional applicant (36, full-time mom of 3) and not aiming for a top school, but I am aiming for no debt. Well, my over-achieving self would LOVE to attend a top school, but my husband is in the navy and my school choice will be mostly dependent on our next duty station — although Stanford isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility. UC Irvine and the DC schools would be the most competitive schools I’m looking at based on possible duty stations. Currently stationed in Sicily, so I was an early Tuesday test-taker — definitely got whichever test you guys described on the podcast episode as the first international test. (And posting this at 3am since I can’t stop thinking 167 and fall back asleep). My GPA isn’t a stand-out at 3.55 (ahhh the follies of my youth).
Mostly, just looking for help feeling better about the 167. I can’t retake this summer with kids being out of school, travel, etc. and I need that time to work on all my soft application materials. Is it smart to go ahead and apply with the 167 in the fall and possibly retake in the fall/winter in order to better my chances at scholarships? Should I sit for the June Flex and just hope for the best, even without a lot of time to continue studying? I self-studied, starting in January, and for the amount of time I put in, I probably should be happy with the 167. But when I scored a 175 on the May 2020 flex 2 days before the test, it’s hard to swallow the 167!
Also, I can’t thank you enough for all you make available for self-study. I actually started studying for the LSAT in 2008, bought a $900 at home course and never opened it because right after my husband decided to go to dental school and we found out we were starting a family. I finally opened it a couple years ago and realized I didn’t even own a DVD player anymore lol. But with the LG and LR bibles and the analytics package as my only investment this time around, I’m amazed I was able to get into the 170 range. So thank you!
Dave Killoran says
Thanks for the message! I’m so glad to hear we’ve been able to help you along the way 🙂 I have a few thoughts for you that will hopefully help here:
1. The 167. Based on a 172 average, you are actually fairly close to the standard deviation on a Flex exam (4 points). While that may seem like bad news, what it tells me is this result was not out of the realm of possible outcomes. It also means that you could easily go in there tomorrow and score a 172. Or better. That’s also likely under standard deviation here, so keep in mind that as you consider your next time–some LSATs just don’t pair well with your skills whereas others are much better for you. This one was bad, but the next one good be great, and it may not require months more of studying to make that happen 🙂
2. Expectation vs Reality. The thing about taking the real exam is that it’s hard to simulate the finality of it. there’s an added degree of pressure that many people don’t realize is operating, and so the idea of thinking you got at least a 170 for sure and then not doing so is not at all uncommon. Keep that in mind as well, and when you get a chance read this article where I talk abbot about a technique that can more finely hone your sense of what your feelings tell you vs reality: https://blog.powerscore.com/lsat/bid-327852-how-practice-lsats-can-help-you-decide-to-keep-or-cancel-your-lsat-score.
3. The retake. I see that I did not get to this message prior to the June LSAT (my apologies, we are spending most all of our time recording the new LSAT course these days) but hopefully you signed up for it since based on #1 above I think you could get back into the 170s in fairly short order. I would also wait to apply until you have that new test on record (with some exceptions depending on how long it takes to post that).
4. GPA. That 3.55 isn’t as bad as you think (we’ve all had some follies in our youth!) and so make sure you write an addendum about it, especially focusing on what you’ve learned since 🙂
Please let me know if that helps. Thanks!
I’ve taken the LSAT 3 times this year, my first score at a 167, second a 172, and third 170. Towards the end of my LSAT prep, my practice test scores were consistently in the 176-180 range.
I’m applying to too law schools, and after this admissions cycle, didn’t have much luck. Is it worth it to retake in hopes of more acceptances and scholarship offers? Does having 4 attempts look bad? If I do score higher, will it be seen as just an outlier? And if I take it and end up not scoring higher, how will this reflect on my application?
Dave Killoran says
Thanks for the message! Yes, this has been the roughest admissions cycle in history, and you aren’t alone in not liking your outcomes.
F irst, the 4th take isn’t a concern to me. I saw students with 7 and 9 takes get into T14 schools this cycle, so it’s not a deal-breaker. What I’d look at, however, is the percentage chance of you scoring, say, 175. If you think the chances are very good, then retake. If it’s just a shot in the dark, then I’d shy away. I say that because even though you were showing 176-180 range scoring, I can’t tell the conditions under which those were taken (sometimes people cite blind review scores as their “real” score, for example). If those were legitimate timed tests you had never seen before, then it would sure seem you have a very good shot at replicating that on a real exam, which would suggest to me you should retake.
I hope that helps!
I took the LSAT in October and November and earned a 156 and 157, respectively. (I started with a diagnostic score of 144 in August.) My scores exceed the median for 3 of the 5 schools I applied to.
I submitted my applications mid-November and am now considering taking the LSAT again. I was close to signing up for January but I didn’t want schools to hold my application for review. I was fearful that I ran the risk of their median trending upward (esp since folks are doing well on the LSAT-flex), reducing my chances of admission and scholarship opportunities.
I’m hoping to hear back from all five programs by the first week of January, and have the opportunity to register for the February or March LSAT. I’m hoping I could improve my score and potential be reconsidered for more scholarship support or apply to a couple more competitive programs.
I’m wondering what your thoughts are on this idea, and if you think it is possible to improve by 4-6 points between now and Feb/March.
Thanks in advance for your help!
Dave Killoran says
Thanks for the message! What you are talking about is actually well-known trick among law school professionals. I even talked about using the June LSAT to get in off the wait list and/or improve your financial offers: https://blog.powerscore.com/lsat/the-law-school-wait-list-and-the-june-lsat/. So, using the same strategy but for an earlier test, and focusing on financials will work even better 🙂
By the way, if you have registered for the test and wish the schools to evaluate you now, you should send them a note asking them to do just that. Otherwise they might hold your app for consideration until your January score comes in.
I took the LSAT in august 2020. I applied with my current score. I have been placed on the waiting list for one school, and the other one is still held for further review. I sign up for the April lsat. I would like to know if my pending application will be affected if I withdrawal. Do i have to write the school on these matters
Jon Denning says
Hi line – thanks for posting! Your current apps won’t be affecfted if you withdraw from the April test; schools will simply evaluate you and make decisions based on your August 2020 score. It’s possible both were holding your app in anticipation of those April results, but a withdrawal won’t do anything negative (it may even allow them to make faster decisions since no future test results will show as planned/forthcoming).
As for contacting the schools, they get automatic updates about applicants when any aspects of the application changes, so they’ll know that your August 2020 score is the one to use when they see your April registration disappear. But, you certainly can let them know directly, and since this withdrawal could get things moving for you I think I’d likely reach out and just give them a very brief, very courteous heads up that your April plans have changed but you’re still 100% committed to attending law school and wish to be evaluated on your August score.
I hope that helps!
Chuck and Andy says
We’re having debate about whether to retake the SAT.
Chuck, the applicant, says: I scored a 167 my first time, and I’m aiming for schools that have 168/169 medians. Rather than apply now (early December), I think I should try to score better on a retake in January even though that’s close to the application deadlines.
Andy, the friend, says: But, you’re talking about rolling admissions. The other parts of your application are great. You have a science degree with honors from an Ivy League school, a 3.96 GPA and 2 years of strong work experience. You are probably well above average in those dimensions, so just apply. How could a point or two make that much difference? And Chuck, don’t some of the schools give you a chance to explain that you’ve never been a good test taker?
Chuck: It’s true. I’ve always performed in school better than my scores would indicate. I have run short on time for almost any standardized test. It’s not like I score poorly, but I still feel my scores underestimate my real potential. But, it’s hard to believe that schools care much about this, especially given my decent score.
So, please help us resolve this.
Do a couple of points really matter in this situation?
Would you recommend a retake?
Do the schools who invite explanations regarding test scores really consider them?
Dave Killoran says
Thanks for the excellent message–love the format of this 🙂 First, I’d recommend you guys follow me on Twitter and listen to the PowerScore LSAT Podcast. I’ve talked about applying early vs taking the January LSAT at least three times in the past 10 days, and mentioned factors relevant to this situation. That said, I have some very strong thoughts here, so let’s go to your questions:
1. Yes, without any doubt whatsoever. I’ve heard multiple T14 deans talk about how important it is to hit the 50th percentile LSAT median if at all possible, and specifically point out that a single point can make a difference and is worth the delay. Crazy, but true because these numbers get reported to the ABA and then used in rankings. Medians matter and single points matter when you are close to the median like this. That said, can we know what will happen with his application? No, he might still get in at some of these schools. But a point here would increase his chances and make it less of a lottery, and there’s no doubt it would remove a mild negative from the app.
2. The above aside, the answer here is it depends. And what it depends on is whether the student can, with a high degree of confidence, expect to exceed 167. If it’s just a “maybe” or a “I think so,” then don’t retake. You should only retake at the point you know you can do better and that your highest score on record is not a realistic indication of your ability. So, does Chuck feel that way about the 167 and his chances of outperforming it? If not, yes then retake. If not, don’t retake.
3. Certainly. It gives them perspective and depth on the situation, and can be a useful tool to answer hidden or natural questions that might arise when looking over LSAT results. To make this argument, however, you can’t just claim it. Just saying you underperform on tests is fairly hollow. In this case he’d have to show the following pattern as substantiating the claim:
High high school grades
Low SAT/ACT scores
High college grades
Low LSAT score (or “relatively low” in this case since 167 is certainly not low).
Overall, the emphasis on hard numbers like LSAT and GPA is a bit ridiculous but that doesn’t change the fact that it still exists. And while a lot of people think that applying early is some huge positive, it pales in comparison to the raw black and white data that schools report. Because after all, schools have to report your LSAT score but they don’t report when your app is finalized. And this is why Yale says the following: “Under our review process there is no advantage, in terms of the likelihood of admission, to applying earlier in the application cycle. In other words, your chances of admission remain constant regardless of when you submit your application.” In the final analysis, it’s almost always better to apply later with a higher LSAT score than to apply earlier with a lower one. But that decision to retake has to rest on a foundation of strong belief that a higher score isn’t just achievable, but more or less close to inevitable.
I just got my October LSAT Scores back yesterday, and I got a 156. My goal was 160, but I was averaging around 155-157 for practice tests, so I am content with a 156 for my first time (especially considering I thought I did a lot, lot worse).
I am currently registered for the November LSAT, but here’s the situation I am in: should I apply now and get my applications out within the next two weeks and be on the early end, or should I retake in November and thus be on the latter end? For your information, my GPA is 3.55, and my top schools are St. John’s and Brooklyn, both of which the median LSAT is around 156-157. The rest of my application is in great shape– I have had help with my personal essay, which is done, my resume is done, my letters of recommendation are in, LSAC has my transcript, and I am currently at work on an optional essay talking more about my interests and work experience in criminal law / criminal justice. Writing is a strong-suit of mine, so the optional essay should only help my chances.
What hould do? Is re-taking in November and getting 2-3 points higher is worth it (if I even improve)? Or should I get my applications in a whole month earlier with my 156?
Dave Killoran says
Thanks for the message! One driver in this decision is how you see the possibility of improvement. If you don’t think you can improve, go ahead and apply now. If you think you can realistically add a few points — and I don’t see why you couldn’t on the surface — then I’d almost certainly retake. The extra 2-3 points would undoubtedly be worth the delay in apps, and as I’ve said elsewhere on this thread, “The rule — as we often talk about on our podcast — is that it is better to apply later with a higher LSAT score than earlier with a lower LSAT score. The highest score gets reported to the ABA; your application date does not.” Plus, “Your LSAT score is critically important and probably the most influential factor in your app, so anything you can do to make it as good as possible is key.”
Additionally, to me it’s not just about getting in, although I think at Brooklyn you’re nearly a lock and at St. John’s you are in decent shape for straight-up admission. It’s also about getting the best financial offer, and those extra points are critical there. So, if money is no issue or you don’t think you can improve, go ahead and apply. If money is an issue or if you can improve still, then I’d retake.
Please let me know if that helps, or if you have any additional questions. Thanks!
I am applying for fall 2021 and have taken the LSAT twice – both times I got a 167/168. I am aiming to break into the 170+ range and am considering giving it a third try. I am optimistic but not wholly confident I can improve my score for January. I have used the LSAT Trainer, PowerScore Bibles, and LSATHacks seminars, so I would probably consider taking a course, though also skeptical whether a course will really help as it seems that getting over the 170 hump requires more practice and focusing on your weaknesses. Considering the advantage of applying to the T14 schools in November vs. February, I’m a little torn on whether to take the risk of studying and taking the LSAT in January 2021, or whether to apply now. What would you recommend for someone in my situation? Thank you!
Dave Killoran says
Hi Justine, thanks for the message!
This is pretty clear to me: retake. The rule — as we often talk about on our podcast — is that it is better to apply later with a higher LSAT score than earlier with a lower LSAT score. The highest score gets reported to the ABA; your application date does not. And, as Yale says: “Under our review process there is no advantage, in terms of the likelihood of admission, to applying earlier in the application cycle. In other words, your chances of admission remain constant regardless of when you submit your application.” Your LSAT score is critically important and probably the most influential factor in your app, so anything you can do to make it as good as possible is key.
As far as shifting up those last few points, I have two possible avenues for you. First, there’s a big difference between self-studying and a course — books, while incredibly helpful, are static when it comes to solving your problems. If you can’t determine how to fix them, the book can’t help since it can’t talk back. A course covers far more, and gives you access to instructors who can help solve those problems. Second, in that same vein and given where you are scoring, what about a tutor? A tutor could analyze how you are doing and then directly attack root issues 🙂 It seems like that path might be a real benefit here, and I’d be happy to recommend several tutors who have worked with student sin your position many times before.
All the above aside, if you don’t believe you can improve, then I’d simply go ahead and apply now. You have to believe you can increase your score as a necessary condition for actually doing it! But, if you think you still get better, then the situation in this cycle (more competitive this year) and your goal of a T14 strongly suggest you should take another shot.
I hope that helps, and please let me know if you have any additional questions!
Hello! Thanks so much for going through the factors. I was wondering if it is worth it to retake for a 1-pt increase? I just got my August score back and it was 159, whereas I was PT-ing around 160 every test for the last few months. I am already registered for October, but I don’t know if I will be able to push my score higher looking back at how little I’ve progressed since first studying in June and scoring a 156 in July. I am right at the median for most of my schools and have a 3.96 GPA. Is it worth it to keep pushing at this for the hopes of scholarships, or should I focus on October applications?
Dave Killoran says
Where you are now, it probably would be worth taking October and seeing how you feel. the psychological difference of 159 and 160 to law schools is rather larger than it should be!
Hello! Thanks for the helpful information. I took the June 2020 Flex test and got a 166. My PT scores were very all over the place, anywhere from 162-173. My dream schools medians are in between 167-169, so I am debating whether or not I need to retake the test in November. My GPA is 3.93 and I have strong work experience and letters of recommendation. Do you think its worth it to retake if there is a chance I will do worse than my first score? And if so, would it look bad on my application if my second score is worse than my first, even if only a couple points worse? If I was super confident that I could do better I would definitely retake, but since my PT scores were all over the place and I’m only trying to increase my score by 2-3 points, I just can’t tell if retaking the test would be worth it, especially given that I will also be using this fall to work on my application materials.
Dave Killoran says
Thanks for the question! Given that your upper score range was in the 170s, I’d for sure retake the test. Schools care about only your highest score, so if you were to score lower, it wouldn’t matter at all–they’d still default to using that 166. And given how important it is to hit the medians at the top schools, your 166 will hold you back. that’s the case even with your excellent GPA, because high GPAs are far more common in the law school admissions process than are high LSAT score. So to me, this is a very clear case where you should retake. It would not only increase your general admission chances, but likely earn you tens of thousands in additional financial offers.
Love the podcast and so happy to have come across this article as I am second-guessing my thoughts on retaking. I just took the July LSAT-Flex, and I got a 166. I was very happy with this score as I had PT’d on average between 164-165 very consistently (notably I got a 169 on one PT).
I have a 3.99 UGPA, and I definitely felt like that – and other parts of my application like my personal statement and letters of rec – would carry me where my score felt short. Especially since I was really looking into Georgetown, where the median is a 167, my thought was why retake to get one more point when I have other strong parts of my application? Is this the wrong thought process? The more I start to understand the application process and the way admissions officers review applications, the more nervous I get! Any advice/thoughts?
Dave Killoran says
Thanks for the message! No, there is nothing wrong with that thought process at all. The rest of your app will speak well of you, and your score is very close to the median, which is key. If any other part of your app was weaker, or if you were two points off the median, I’d say for sure retake simply to increase your chances of getting in. But I think you are ok here as far as admissions 🙂 I can’t say what financial offers you will get, but hopefully they will be good enough to make it all work!
Thanks and good luck!
I took the July LSAT flex and recieved a score of 160. I go to the University of Florida and my GPA is a 3.65. While taking my LSAT prep course I was averaging around a 161, with my highest score on a practice test being a 164. I don’t know if I should take the October LSAT as I want to apply to schools as early as possible to increase the likelihood of acceptance. My target schools median LSAT is a 164 (156 for 25% and 166 for 75%), 159 (156 for 25% and 161 for 75%). Do you think it is worth it to wait to apply in October in hopes for a better score?
Dave Killoran says
Thanks for the message! The key question here is: if you take the test again, are you confident you can raise your score? Because if so, then it’s worth it to wait to apply and retake the test. The general rule for applications is: Better to apply later with a higher score than earlier with a lower one. This is especially true when you are below the 50th% median–getting to that number is critical at most every school!
Remember, schools must report your LSAT score to the ABA, which is then used by USNewsto calculate rankings etc. They don’t have to report your application date nor does that figure in rankings, so you can figure from that which is more important 🙂
Please let me know if that helps. Thanks!
I just got my score back from the July test and I scored a 159. I also have a 3.95 GPA from a pretty good school. Before taking the test I was averaging at 155 for preptests with my highest score being a 161. Is it worth it for me to retest in October? I feel like on test day I was a bit too stressed out which might have affected my score and my top school’s median is a 165 which is why I think I should retake. Any suggestions?
Jon Denning says
Hi Grace – thanks for posting!
This is a case where I’d say the answer is quite straightforward: you should absolutely retake the test! Not only will you be less nervous on your next time—experience always helps with anxiety—but you know your 159 is a bit shy of your target school’s median, and you now have two full months to continue improving.
Plus with a GPA like that if you can get your LSAT score up above the median you’re not just looking at a near-certain acceptance, you’re then negotiating scholarships and financial aid…negotiations potentially worth tens of thousands of dollars! So the additional studying and effort is a tremendous investment not just in attendance opportunities, but in financial reward as well.
The key now is to first isolate your strengths and weaknesses based on recent practice tests so you know precisely where to direct your continued attention, and then to make sure whatever program you choose to use to keep prepping—self-study or a course or a private tutor or some combination—is going to give you the best possible shot at reaching your full potential! If you’re extremely self-motivated and feel like you can typically grasp and apply concepts on your own then self-study can be a great option; if you need more structure and guidance and personalized feedback then a course or a tutor are likely your best bet: a course if you want some review of the fundamentals and find that you have improvement opportunities in all three section types; a tutor if your weaknesses are narrower or your schedule is more time-restricted (that is, you only need help in some very specific areas and you know what they are, and/or you only have a few hours here and there to study and need to make the absolute most of them).
Check out some of the various options here and consider what’s going to give you the greatest chance at getting to/above that 165 goal, then pull the trigger and get back to work! https://www.powerscore.com/lsat/
You’re off to a great start—keep grinding and you’ll be at the finish line before you know it! And as always let us know if you have additional questions!
Jackson Guilford says
I got a 169 on my February LSAT. My practice tests were all about 166, so I definitely performed well on test day (I do consider myself a good test taker so that could help). I want to be competitive at upper T14 schools and even qualify for some scholarship money, but I am worried that perhaps I’ve maxed out my LSAT. I have a 3,95 and good softs (Fulbright, AG internship, DOS internship). What would you suggest for deciding to retake or not? Taking more practice tests? Thank you so much!
Dave Killoran says
Thanks for the message! If you feel you’ve maxed your score, don’t retake. If not, however, then consider it. Perhaps look over this article, and see if you feel that any of the steps we outline therein could help you: Retaking the LSAT? What to Do Differently to Raise Your Score
If you read that and think “there’s things in there I could do to improve,” then I’d say give it a shot based on what you seek (because your LSAT score is a big piece at the level you are talking about). However, if it all sounds painful, then hopefully your softs and very solid numbers will carry you in 🙂
So just to recap, granted softs matter a greater deal for HYS, it seems that for HYS, because they are so selective and can afford to be picky and also have a kinda black box admissions process, taking the LSAT 5-6 may perhaps be a negative, but a high LSAT score (175) will at least get you a consideration? But because they have so many qualified applicants, they MAY hold the 5-6 LSAT takes against you as a negative? After all, I’m sure HYS also sees applicants who get 175 on their first takes, and may prefer them over someone who got a 175 after 5 takes.
On the other hand, the other schools in the T-14 outside HYS (from T4-T14), even with 5-6 takes to get a 175, they won’t hold that (the multiple takes) against you as a negative as they will only consider the highest LSAT score. So with a 175, it’s a 175 and they’re happy with that, especially because there aren’t that many 175 scores in existence (it’s like the 99.5%) so even if you get it on a 5th take, they’ll be happy to take it?
Dave Killoran says
As far as HYS, it’s really tough to say. I tried to convey that idea of uncertainty–they are a black box. We do know softs matter because everyone has the numbers. The softs will make or break you, not the 6th take.
As far as the second paragraph, yes, no question about that.
Thanks so much for all you do.
When you say “That is, at five or more attempts, schools may begin to question why it’s taking so long for you to hit your target. Meaning it would be wise to then include an addendum explaining your situation,” would writing an addendum for say, 5 or 6 takes to achieve my target score, be seen as a negative on my application? What would an appropriate addendum sound like?
For example, let’s say last year I took the LSAT 4 times – January 2019, June 2019, July 2019, and September 2019, wanting to apply that upcoming cycle.. With those 4 takes, I underachieved with my highest score of a 162 and decided not to to apply that cycle and prep for a LSAT 1 more year.
Then after a year of LSAT prep, I take the LSAT May and June 2020 and I end up with a 175 with the June 2020 LSAT.
You say I would want to write an addendum for the 6 takes — but would that addendum be bad for my application? I’m also asking from the view of HYS, if adcoms would view that addendum and the 6 takes as bad? Would they still view my 175 as a 175? Would my 175 after 5-6 retakes be better than someone who applied with a 170 on a first take?
Dave Killoran says
Thanks for the message! Let me try to answer all the questions in here, starting in reverse order:
* “Would my 175 after 5-6 retakes be better than someone who applied with a 170 on a first take?” — Yes, your 175 will always be better than a 170. Why? Because only your highest score is reported to the ABA, so the 175 wins, every time 🙂
* “You say I would want to write an addendum for the 6 takes — but would that addendum be bad for my application?” — No, an addendum answers a question not easily answered elsewhere, and clearing up uncertainties is always a good thing. Is an addendum necessary at 6 takes? No, nothing is absolutely necessary here since the final score is a big positive. And, if I’m sitting there looking at your application, I can see why you retook–you knew you could do better. The addendum is helpful in cases like this if you have a compelling reason for the multiple takes and if there’s a narrative that allows the adcomms to say, “Oh of course, I would have done that too.” Good reasons include: problems with the test administration itself or family issues outside of the test that created bad conditions on earlier takes. Bad reasons would be: I took a year off to study (seriously–do not tell them this. They do not consider preparing for the test worth a year of time, despite the obvious fact that the test is the most important thing in your file. Cognitive dissonance at its finest).
* “I’m also asking from the view of HYS, if adcomms would view that addendum and the 6 takes as bad? Would they still view my 175 as a 175?” — As stated above, 175 is always 175. That said, admissions at HYS is a black box to some extent. Those schools have their pick of the applicants and the candidates they take are so qualified that many, many qualified people get left out. Often to me it seems like they use the numbers to see if you even should be looked at, and then from there they search for outstanding personal traits and achievements. Thus, many people who have numbers that appear good enough end up getting rejected because their softs/personality don’t come across as HYS quality. This is, admittedly, hard for me to quantify since we’re talking about non-numeric factors, but the many students I’ve sent to those three schools almost uniformly stand out as being exception beyond their numbers. So, my point is that no one fully knows every factor in play here, but I can say that the 175 will get you looked at, and at these schools that’s the most you can ask for as an applicant.
I hope that cover everything. Thanks!
Thank you so much! That was super helpful. I really appreciate you taking the time to help and the thorough response!
Beth Christiansen says
I took the LSAT Flex in May and got my score back of 154. My full undergrad GPA is 3.34. My major gpa is 3.67. I’m looking at North Carolina and Illinois for school. I personally want to retake it but it’s the idea in my head that even with studying until maybe the August test, i could do worse. I had been testing between 157 and 162 on practice tests. I don’t know what to do.
I’ve read through the thread and I don’t believe I found the answer to my specific question. I took the Sept 2019 LSAT after spending the summer doing self-study and a Kaplan prep course in the month preceding the test. At the time I was working full time and in school full time. I scored a 141 which was about 5 points lower than my practice tests.
Kaplan extended my access to the course and I spent the next 3 1/2 months doing self-study, working with a private tutor 2-3 hours a week, listening to your podcasts, taking practice tests all while working and going to school. I graduated in December and spent a few weeks resting and studying for the LSAT. I took the Jan 2020 test and scored a 146.
I proceeded to submit my applications and have received rejections and waitlist responses. 4 schools are still pending.
I think I am going to take the June 2020 test but I am not sure what I need to do differently. Self-study (while working full time), Kaplan prep course, and a private tutor gained me 5 points but I feel like I need another 9 points to be moved off the waitlist.
Any suggestions for what to do different this time? (Keep in mind I am out of school but still working 50-60 hours a week in my current career. )
Dave Killoran says
Thanks for the message! I’d say in this instance, you need a different approach to the test. Kaplan is a well-known name, but they are not well regarded in the LSAT space. so, one place to start would be switch to a different company because the way each company approaches the test is not the same! Obviously, if you’ve been listening to our podcast, you’ve seen something of our style, so I’d certainly put us forth as a choice whether it via our books, courses, or tutoring.
If you decide to stick with what you are doing, then this article might be of some service to you: https://blog.powerscore.com/lsat/retaking-the-lsat-what-to-do-differently-to-raise-your-score/. However, I’d strongly suggest you need to do more than just reconfigure what you are already doing, and instead need to shake that up much more!
Natalia H says
Hi there! I know it’s been some time since the last response but I’m in a real state of confusion here. Last spring, I scored a 165 then retook in September and got a 157. The score was completely unexpected as I was scoring 170-174 on my PTs. I had found out a day before, though, about a parent’s serious health issue. I still took the test, thinking I’d regret it after all my prep and elected not to cancel the score for the same reason….I’m planning to retake but I guess I’m curious if a score like 157 will hurt my chances? I’ve gotten back to studying and back in the 170s but I’m wondering how much of a difference that’ll make given it’d be my third test and after a 157? Would appreciate any general advice!
Dave Killoran says
Thanks for the message! The good news is that the 157 won’t have an effect–they sue the high score these days 🙂 But, just to alleviate natural human curiosity on the part of the adcomms, go ahead and write and LSAT addendum that explains what happened prior to that 157. That will provide context for the score, and cement the fact that it can be ignored by them 🙂
Hi Dave and Jon –
I have a question about retaking. I scored a 164 on the October exam. I had previously registered for the November exam and continued studying diligently during the intervening time. Before the October test I was averaging around a 162. Between October and November, my lowest PT was a 168, my highest was a 175, and my average was appx. 172. Given this, I was really excited to take the November test. However, come test day, I really didn’t feel like I performed as well as I would have liked. I don’t think that I bombed the test by any means, but I would be surprised if my score is more than a point or two of improvement, and definitely don’t expect it to crack 170 (my goal).
My question for you guys is, since I am targeting the the T14, do I retake in January? I don’t know for sure what I got on November and I won’t until the deadline for January has passed. Do I sign up and just withdraw if I end up being happy with November? If I continue on to take it in January, do I submit applications using my November score and then update them when I get my January score back? Do I hold off on submitting until I have a January score?
Thanks in advance for your guidance. You guys have been tremendously helpful through this whole process.
Dave Killoran says
Thanks for the message and the kind words! Some thoughts for you here:
“My question for you guys is, since I am targeting the the T14, do I retake in January?” A simple answer here: YES.
“I don’t know for sure what I got on November and I won’t until the deadline for January has passed. Do I sign up and just withdraw if I end up being happy with November?” Another simple answer: YES!
“If I continue on to take it in January, do I submit applications using my November score and then update them when I get my January score back? Do I hold off on submitting until I have a January score?” More complex answer here: You can do either. If you submit now, they will see that you have a January score coming and typically schools will wait. But when they do that, they don’t count your app until that January score comes in, which means that if you wait to apply there’s no difference: it ends up being reviewed at the same time.
Please let us know if that helps. Thanks!
Hi Jon and Dave,
I want to first start off by saying that I’m not a traditional law school applicant. I haven’t had much of a head start compared to a lot of applicants when it comes to testing taking and research. I was about to graduate with my bachelors last school year wanting to go into a completely different field. However, my desire to go into law changed after I started doing paralegal work with a non-profit towards the end of my senior year. I now want to become an attorney to work in this field. I’ve done a lot of volunteer work in non-profit while my undergraduate senior project focused in this field as well.
Wanting to apply for the 2020 school year, I self studied since May using a LSAT prep book, and did extensive research on the whole application process. I’m a nervous test taker so I really had to take time practicing to build my confidence while balancing other commitments. I had the chance to take a few practice tests. At first I scored well below the 150 average, while my last score before the exam was a few points under the average 150. My GPA is a 3.4. The school that I’m applying to has a trend of accepting students with my GPA, with LSAT scores in the 150 range, and a handful below that.
I just took the LSAT this month and I did not feel nervous for most of the test. I feel like I was able to read through the LR and RC sections easily and answer the questions with confidence. Better than my practice exams. However I’m not sure about my 1 LG section because it was in the beginning and I was getting into the feel of the test.
With that being said, the problem is that I won’t receive my score until Dec 19 which is after the deadline for the January LSAT registration/refund. That would leave me with only February since the final deadline is in beginning April. I’m very unsure and would like your opinion about registering for both months as to maximize my chances of retaking before the deadline, or to wait until I hear my score, and just focus on the February LSAT. I am considering my finances and rolling admissions.
Dave Killoran says
Thanks for the message! This is a tough one, and the reason why we wished LSAC would release scores prior to the next registration deadline. Maybe they’ll extend this one is our hope.
In the interests of safety, it seems wise to register for January, but I understand that isn’t cheap. But at the moment you don’t have a score on record, so if this one doesn’t come in well, you might want to take the test two more times given the massive impact LSAT scores have on financial aid offers. There’s no “wrong” path here though! It’s really down to how you feel and how the cost impacts you.
Meredith Y says
I just took the September LSAT and don’t feel like I did as good as I normally do. Of course, I don’t have my score yet, but I won’t find out my score until October 14th and the deadline to register for the November LSAT is October 10th. Should I go ahead and sign up for the November LSAT? And then, if I don’t need to take it, withdraw from taking it and get a partial refund?
For context, on practice tests I consistently score at 162. I wanted to get above a 160 on September LSAT and don’t think I did (bc logic games is normally my best section and I didn’t even finish it). I am hoping to get into UNC or Wake whose medians are 161 and 163 respectively. My GPA is a 3.97 so that could make up for a lower than median LSAT? How low should my LSAT be for me to retake it in November and should I go ahead and sign up for November LSAT?
Dave Killoran says
Thanks for the question! Because there is a two month gap after November until the next LSAT, I’d say it would be smart to cover yourself in case you need a retake. It was so great that LSAC set up the score release and registration dates that way, wasn’t it? Thoughtless on their part.
For the schools in your range, with that GPA if you get a 160 you’ll be competitive. But, as one dean told me, getting to the median is critical, and allows schools to ignore the numbers and focus on you. And that’s a huge advantage for you and them!
I took the June 2019 LSAT and just got my score back – a 169. I would be happy with my score if it weren’t for my GPA, which was a 3.15. I went to UC Berkeley, which is of course a hard school, and had some personal struggles that contributed to my lower grades. When I was studying for the LSAT, I consistently practice tested around 173, and was really hoping to break 170 on the actual test. Should I retake it? Also, would it help my chances of getting into top schools if I explain why my grades weren’t higher?
Jon Denning says
Hey Emma – first off, that’s a great score, and something you should be very proud of! So congratulations above all else!
As for a retake, honestly all signs point to yes: you’ve been PTing higher, your GPA needs every possible boost you can give it, and with your ambitions—a “top school,” as you note—even a few more points could make a world of difference. So I’d be looking to September or October to try and crack the 170 mark!
And you can absolutely write an addendum to explain your GPA, but for now I’d focus almost entirely on LSAT prep and getting that number as high as possible. Knock out a 174 or so and suddenly the GPA becomes a lot less conspicuous 🙂