If you’ve been studying for the December LSAT, you are hopefully feeling ready and steady for Saturday’s test. But some of you are probably feeling less prepared than you’d like to be. What are your options? Should you hold off until February? Should you plan on taking the test in December and in February? Should you apply to law school this year as planned, or wait until Fall 2016?
It’s a tough position to be in, and there are arguments to be made on all sides. My own instinct would be to apply next year and wait to take the LSAT until I felt really ready. It sucks to know that the score you report is less than what you’re capable of. And, of course, it sucks even more if this keeps you out a school that you really want to attend and where you’d thrive.
Sure, you can take the test in December and, if it doesn’t go well, take it again in February. But some schools consider your average LSAT score if you take the test more than once. So if you bomb the test this Saturday because you’re not ready, you’ll be digging yourself into a hole that you’ll have to climb out of two months from now. Granted, these days, many if not most schools only consider students’ best LSAT scores, so this is not always an issue (for more on this, see Trent’s post on how schools view students with multiple LSAT scores). Research the programs you plan on applying to. If some of them are going to average your scores, there’s considerable risk in taking the test before you’re ready.
And sure, you can also wait to take the LSAT in February and still apply this cycle. There’s no real harm in that. But by applying late, you’ll be putting yourself at a major disadvantage. Why not wait to take the 2016 test that you have the most time to prepare for? Take it in February, June, or September, and then get your application in super early. And don’t despair about having to take a year off – there’s so much to do! We have so little time on this planet! Be like this jerk and backpack around the world with your super hot significant other! Or learn a new language, or take up bird watching, or do more research to figure out exactly what you want to do after law school so you can hit the ground running. Or, I don’t know, sit on your ass for a year and watch some golden-era television. These are all things that you probably won’t have much time for once your legal career gets started.
Of course, pushing your career back a year is not always an option. You have student debt, obligations, ambitions; maybe you can’t wait. Or maybe you just don’t want to. It’s case-by-case. I’m only telling you what I would do. If you absolutely want to apply this year, and you feel like you’re close to your potential, if not all the way there, go ahead and take the test on Saturday. You can retake it in February if (and only if) you feel sufficiently prepared at that point. But if you don’t feel like you know the test even pretty well at this point, and if some the schools you want to go to average students’ LSAT scores, wait until February, and send your application in late.
And hey, good luck.