This year, unlike in years past, our answer is: Yes, you probably should.
The February LSAT gets a bad rep. It's administered in the dead of winter, the questions are kept secret even after the fact, and you'll be cutting it close with the admissions deadlines for most law schools. But, just because it is the administration of "last resort" doesn't make it a terrible option: on the contrary, the February test may be your last - and best - chance to get the score you need and still apply for admission in the Fall of 2016.
Admittedly, this is a somewhat self-serving advice. After all, we'd love for you to take one of our Winter Full Length or Live Online LSAT classes, purchase a tutoring package, or follow our awesome 2-Month Self-Study Plan. Nevertheless, even if you don't spend another dime on test prep, you should consider the February test to be a viable option if you believe there is any room for improvement. This is especially true if you don't think you performed terribly well in December.
Here's why the February test is worth a second look:
It goes without saying that getting into law school is incredibly competitive, which means that you need to aim for the highest possible score on the LSAT. The thing is, it's not as competitive as it used to be. Last year, law school applications hit a 15-year low, prompting admissions officers to dig deeper into the applicant pool, cut the size of their entering classes, or both. This also changed the rolling admissions nature of the process: schools had every reason to postpone extending offers of admission to all but the most qualified applicants until they had a better idea of who was actually applying. As a result, even schools such as Harvard gave the February LSAT score full consideration. The decline in applications may have bottomed out, but we have every reason to believe that admissions officers will be just as reluctant to "jump the gun" this year as they were last.
Of course, not all schools have the same admissions policy: whereas most would accept the February score without penalty, some still encourage you to take the test earlier (Chicago, Georgetown, and Cornell come to mind). However, even if a February score puts you at a slight disadvantage relative to those who applied earlier, you can easily make up for it by increasing your LSAT score. A 4-point bump can mean the difference between Cornell and Fordham, or Fordham and Cardozo. Crazy, but true.
One more thing to consider: if you're still in college, the February test is perfectly timed for Winter break. Unlike the June or the December administrations, which tend to coincide with the end-of-semester finals at many colleges and universities, a February test is unlikely to compete for your attention with schoolwork. And, if you do end up taking a prep course, you will be thrilled with the size of your class. (It will probably feel like group tutoring, at a fraction of the cost!).
January is a miserable month anyway. You may as well buckle up and give this LSAT thing another shot.
Image courtesy of the author.