You Bombed the September LSAT… What Now?

We here at Most Strongly Supported hope that all of our readers awaiting a September LSAT score received good news this week. However, sometimes – for whatever reason – a score might fall short of your hopes and expectations. If you are in that unfortunate position, you may be trying to decide what your next steps should be.

This post is for you, my friend.

If your LSAT score wasn’t what you hoped, you may be considering whether to retake the test in December. Here are some factors to keep in mind as you make that decision:

1. When are you applying?

Let’s get one potential objection to retaking out of the way: the December LSAT will still allow you to apply during this admissions cycle. You probably won’t be able to complete your applications as early as you might otherwise, since you’ll have to wait until scores are released to actually apply; however, the general rule of thumb is that it’s preferable to apply late with a high LSAT score than early with a low LSAT score.

If taking the December LSAT is not the cards for you, there’s always February. However, by that point it really is getting pretty late in the admissions cycle for joining the class of Fall 2015 (and some schools don’t even accept February LSAT scores for the next fall’s admissions).

Then, of course, there’s always the possibility of sitting out this admissions cycle and applying next fall. There’s nothing wrong with that, particularly if you think you’ll be able to demonstrably improve your LSAT score. A lot of LSAT students are understandably reluctant to postpone their dreams of law school by a year, but that additional year can give you time to prepare your applications (as well as an opportunity to get some work experience).

So timing-wise, you’ll be fine if you need to retake the LSAT. That doesn’t mean, however, that retaking is the right decision for everyone.

2. Why was your score lower than desired?

If something went wrong on the September LSAT – you misread a rule and bombed a game, or the person next to you was hacking up a lung and it distracted you – and that caused you to score lower than you had been averaging on your practice tests, you might be a good candidate for a retake. However, if your September LSAT score was close to what you had been averaging on your practice tests, but still not as high as you would’ve liked, your decision gets a little tougher. You’ll need to seriously consider whether it’s likely that you’ll be able to improve your score by at least a few points. Which brings me to…

3. How much time will you have to study?

Remember how much of your life the LSAT consumed in the weeks leading up to the September test? If you’re serious about a retake, you’ll need to continue devoting that much time to studying. For some people, that just might not be possible (or the very thought of it might induce spontaneous vomiting). If that’s the case, it’s probably going to be difficult to improve your score by enough to justify the extra time, effort and money you’d be putting toward a retake. This is a big reason for why, according to data released by LSAC, most “repeaters” (people who have taken the LSAT more than once) only improve by about 2 points when starting from an initial score of around 150. So take a hard look at your schedule and make sure that you’ll be able to devote an adequate amount of time to preparing for a retake.

Deciding whether to retake the LSAT is a personal decision that depends on many factors, and there’s no right answer. Make sure you’ve realistically considered whether it’s the best course of action for you – and if you decide to go for it, keep in mind that the deadline to register for the December LSAT is November 4th.

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