When You Need an LSAT Addendum and When You Don’t

Today on the LSAT blog: a guest post by Law School Expert Ann Levine, the former director of admissions for two ABA-approved law schools and the author of The Law School Admission Game: Play Like an Expert and The Law School Decision Game: A Playbook for Prospective Lawyers.

Have multiple LSAT scores? Wondering how to explain this in an addendum to your law school applications?

First, take a step back and decide whether it’s something that really needs to be explained.

Here are 3 situations where you do not need an LSAT addendum:

1. A cancelled or absent LSAT test date. Just get over it. Ignore it. No big deal. Why write something that might make you look indecisive, unprepared or nervous? Just let your actual LSAT score speak for itself.

2. Two or more LSAT scores that are within 3 points of each other. We call that a “score band” – it just shows that the LSAT scores are the right range for your aptitude on the LSAT.

3. Wishing you’d done better on the LSAT. So, you got 3-5 points higher on LSAT practice tests? So what? It’s what you do under the same timed, high-stress environment that everyone else has to face that matters. Don’t highlight nerves, lack of sleep, a slight head-cold, or anything else that hinders lawyers every day but they go about and do their jobs just fine anyway.

You do need an LSAT addendum when:

1. You have a history of underperformance on standardized tests. If so, prove it. Don’t just say so; rely on facts. If possible, include your LSAT scores on the ACT/SAT, how they were in comparison to others at your college (low), and that you performed better than your peers in college despite this.

2. Accommodations were denied and you have gotten them throughout college and your LSAT score is ridiculously low. Don’t try this if you scored better than 50% of all LSAT takers. If you have a low-140s LSAT score and high grades, and a history of receiving accommodations, this can be very persuasive.

3. You have a big jump in your LSAT score due to a crazy circumstance on test day, mis-bubbling, a new way of preparing/increasing preparation, additional time to focus on the test, illness, or family situation. You want to show that the higher LSAT score is the right score for you and why.

The key to a persuasive addendum is to stick to facts, and to stay away from emotion. “If only the playing field were level….” “It is terribly unfair that law schools rely on LSAT scores…” Etc. With the right facts, you will lead the reader to the right conclusion.

This is, after all, how lawyers make an argument: by using facts in their favor.

7 Responses

  1. Melly says:

    Receiving accommodations? What sort of accommodations do you mean?

  2. Ann Levine says:

    Hi Melly,
    “Accommodations” refers to test-taking conditions that may be granted to those with documented disabilities.

  3. sarah says:

    Hi Ann,

    Would you recommend writing an addendum for a 5-point score increase, from a 155 to a 160? The June LSAT was my first time back in a test setting in over three years, and my nerves got the best of me. I knew I had to retake because I was consistently scoring in the low to mid 160s. So over the next couple months I worked on specific strategies to stay calm on test day, and as a result I was able to get my October score much closer to my actual potential.

    Is this worth explaining with an addendum? My concerns in doing so are: not wanting to come off as trying to make excuses, not wanting to “explain the obvious” (that my score rose b/c I put in more time and effort), and not wanting to divulge unnecessary information if they really just use the higher LSAT score anyway.

    Any advice you could offer with regards to this would be so appreciated.

    Thank you

  4. Nora says:

    My performance on the LSAT jumped from a 149 in Oct of 2010 to 168 in Dec of 2012. I really should have cancelled my first score because I was ill, but I decided to keep it as a benchmark. This was simply a foolish decision and the enormous jump in points reflects that fact. I am afraid of how this will sound to AdComs, however. Any suggestions on how to deal with this situation?

  5. James Yeo says:

    Hello Ann, I received a 143 on my December LSAT after getting a 137 on my oct one. My concern is will I have a chance at getting into Thomas Jefferson school of law in San diego with the low law school application numbers going on right now? Or should I retake the June exam?

  6. Justine says:


    The last comment is from 2013 so I am hoping this question will not be left in Internet limbo. I took the LSAT twice and got a 161 and a 163 (the 163 put me in the 87th percentile). Without wanting to seem arrogant or pretentious, those were disappointing scores for me. Regardless, I am still going ahead and applying to top law schools with LSAT medians at an average of 169. So I need an addendum to explain why the rest of my application is more representative of my candidacy than my LSAT score?

    • Hi Justine!

      You can always write an addendum, but unless you have a reason as to why your scores are unrepresentative of you as an applicant (like it’s inconsistent with your scores on the ACT/SAT, or you were denied accommodations despite having them throughout college, as mentioned in this post), it will not move the needle very much on your application.

      What would really give you a better shot at getting into a top law school — and might necessitate an addendum — would be increasing your LSAT score to at be in the 25-75th percentile range of your target schools. I hope this helps. Good luck!

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