February LSAT scores came out Sunday. Some of you are happy with how you did, so you’ll be applying to law school. Others got a low LSAT score, and have some tough choices to make.
What’s A Low LSAT Score?
It’s hard to say what an objectively low LSAT score is, but let’s give it a shot: A low LSAT score is an LSAT score that will force you into a few hundred thousand dollars of debt and leave you with poor job prospects.
You first need to figure out the schools for which your LSAT score qualifies. Law School Predictor will give you a pretty good idea.
Then, you need to check out Law School Transparency (LST). There you’ll find each law school’s job score, which is the portion of a school’s graduates that get long-term, fulltime jobs as lawyers. This is a good proxy for the kind of jobs you’ll have to land to service your debt.
LST will also show you how big of a loan you’ll have to take out if you attend a given law school at its sticker price. Your actual cost will depend on how much money you make during law school, how much you get in scholarships, how much you get from your family, and the interest rates on your loans. But, if you suspect you have a low LSAT score, and your family won’t foot the bill, then LST’s loan figures should be pretty accurate for you.
You can also have a look at the average indebtedness of the graduates at the law schools you’re in range for, but calculating your own indebtedness based on your personal circumstances is the smarter approach.
Something like $250,000 might not be a figure you can relate to intuitively. I know I can’t. So, you should use this handy debt calculator from the University of Michigan Law School to figure out your monthly payments, and the salary you’ll need to make them.
There might be a lot of bad news in the data you just gathered. So, what can you do about it?
Retake The LSAT
If you have not taken three LSATs in the last two years, then you can retake the LSAT. If the numbers you saw above have you scared about your future as a law student, you need to retake the LSAT, or you need to forget about going to law school.
Studying for the LSAT is difficult, but it is the kind of test you can study for. It’s a lot more like a math test than anything else. You start with the fundamentals, you learn some procedures (in math they call these formulas) and then you practice applying those procedures. Most people who do poorly on the LSAT have lousy fundamentals, and don’t know the procedures.
It’ll take a lot of careful and correct practice, but you can improve your LSAT score.
Alternatives To Retaking The LSAT
If you’ve got a low LSAT score, there really aren’t any good alternatives to retaking the LSAT. Getting another graduate degree won’t make up for a low LSAT score; it’ll just pile on the debt. Getting more work experience is a small plus, but likewise, it will not make up for a low LSAT score. Finally, you shouldn’t expect to just outperform everyone and emerge as a special superstar form a third tier law school. This is a highly unlikely event, no matter how much “networking” or studying you do.
Law School Might Not Be For You
There are over 200 law schools in the U.S. Getting into one of them isn’t hard. But, just because they’ll have you, it doesn’t mean you should go. If you’re out of LSAT retakes, and you still have a low LSAT score, you can either wait out the two years for a retake, or forget about going to law school.
Giving up on a goal is tough, but trying to service hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt without a job or a very poor one is impossible.
The moral of this post is: retake the LSAT. If becoming a lawyer is something you truly want, you should not accept a low LSAT score. There’s plenty of time until June to recharge and properly prepare for the LSAT.
If you think your situation is more nuanced than what I’ve covered, feel free to post about it in the comments and I’ll do my best to help you out.