Should you retake the LSAT in December?
October LSAT scores came out on Friday. If you were happy with the three-digit number that landed in your inbox, congratulations. Get those applications in, and good luck on your cycle.
But this is for those who were less than thrilled with the present LSAC dropped on your doorstep. Should you retake it in December? Possibly. But first, why was your score unsatisfactory? You must figure this out.
First scenario, you just didn’t study very much. If your practice test scores were lackluster, it makes sense that your actual test score would be similar. You can’t just expect a miracle on the LSAT. Should you be in this category, retaking in December would be a good idea. You just have to make sure that you actually study a lot. And by a lot, I mean A LOT. We’re less than 6 weeks away from the December LSAT. This is enough time to see some major improvement, but only if you’re studying for many hours per day, many days per week.
Second scenario, you studied a lot and were happy with your practice test scores, but bombed the real thing. Retaking can be a good idea, and a lot of people who do this end up getting much higher scores the second time around. Oftentimes it’s simply the gravity of fully knowing that you’re taking the real LSAT that causes the pressure to wrack your nerves and lower your score. Having taken the real thing once before should make the second time seem less daunting. But you can’t just bank on that, and retake without doing any further preparation. Keep taking practice tests, and figure out why you missed every single one that you did. Review the concepts for questions that you miss. You should be aiming for 100% mastery. Your average for practice test scores should go up, so that if you DID see another drop on test day, it would be a drop from a higher number. Then, to prevent that drop from happening at all, make sure that the practice tests are done in a realistic testing environment. You can nail this test the second time, but you have to keep preparing.
The other main situation that people often find themselves in is that they scored a few points below their practice test average. This is understandably disappointing, and might make you want to retake. But it’s first worth thinking about just how much of a difference those couple points make. Having had a few more points would have opened the doors to a few more schools, but it’s not like you’re in an entirely different league. If you don’t have the time and energy to study a lot for December, then you probably should apply now, even if your score was a bit lower than desired. This is because if you take the test without doing anything differently, or any additional studying, it’s very likely that your score will be the same (or worse), and that doesn’t look very good.
One other thing – people are often worried about applying “late” with a December score. It’s true that if you were to apply now, you’d have an edge over the people who will be applying a couple months from now with a December score, all other things being equal. But if you do get a significantly higher score in December, that would more than outweigh any forfeited advantage of applying early. If you get the rest of your application in order so that you can apply as soon as you get your score back in early January, you still will be applying earlier than a large proportion of applicants.
Make your decision, and then start acting quickly. If you’re keeping your October LSAT score, you should apply soon to get the early advantage. If you’re going for December, round two of LSAT prep starts now. Good luck.