Taking the LSAT twice is not always the original game plan. But it’s not a bad thing, necessarily. It’s all about how you look at it (that’s the secret). In fact, there are some advantages to taking the test twice.
The first and most significant advantage is psychological. If you know in the back of your mind that you can always take the test a second time, nerves and test anxiety will be less likely to get the better of you. I advise students with severe test anxiety to actually plan on taking it twice. It’s like serving in tennis. If you know you’ll have a second shot, you can be confident and lose on your first serve. Ideally, it goes in, and you never have to bother with your second serve. But just knowing there is a Take 2 option, can free you up. So, if you plan on taking the test twice, you may be able to relax and focus on your first try. In the end, you might only end up having to take it once.
Meanwhile, if you find yourself taking the test a second time, you’ll benefit from the experience of having done it all already. There is a lot to distract you as you sign and settle in to the test. Did you remember to bring your ticket? What’s your social security number again? Why does that dude in line keep telling you about his deadlifting routine? Does he think you care? Do you give off the vibe of someone who wants to hear that 5×5 dead-lifting sets strengthen both muscles and ligaments and can help you rebuild leg and lower back strength in just a few months?
The second time around, everything will be more familiar and you’ll be able to relax. You’ll expect the TSA-style security and it won’t even phase you. You’ll have your SSN down pat. And you’ll be able to avoid the awkward chitchat during the break and get in and out in a quick, painless, 4.5 hours. Familiarity can help you fulfill your potential on your second try.
Another big advantage of taking the test twice is statistical. Some people’s practice scores are stable. They’re tightly clustered around a four or five point spread. Other people have greater deviation. The difference between their good days and bad days might be ten or fifteen points. If you fall into the latter group, taking the test twice might be very much to your advantage. It can double your chance of having a good day and scoring near the high end of your range.
The final advantage, which is obvious, is that when you re-take the test, you will have had more time to prepare than the first time around. Between your first and second tries, you can keep working on your timing and endurance and fix the deficits that were holding you back the first time.
So taking the test twice has some advantages. That said it has disadvantages, too. Most schools take the average of your scores, so if you take the test once and score well below your target, you’ll have more ground on your second try. There are lots of pros and cons to consider when it comes to the Take It And See What Happens vs. Wait Until You’re More Ready question. Ultimately, it’s case-by-case.
But whether it’s by design or you have no other choice, taking the test twice is not necessarily a bad thing. According to most estimates out there, people score between two and three points higher on their second try, which is by no means insignificant.