Your Retake Options Now That October LSAT Scores Are Out

I’m writing this from Manhattan, and the devastation wrought by Sandy is visible from my window. To those of you who braved the storm with me, we here at Blueprint LSAT Prep wish you the best in recovering.

And for those of you throughout the country who were only affected by the storm because of the first-ever delay in the release of LSAT scores, all I can say is…

Better late than never.

Well, for some of you.

For those of you who looked at their October LSAT score and, in retrospect, would have voted for “never,” just remember: There’s (almost*) always the option to retake the LSAT.

Since LSAT scores were delayed by Sandy, LSAC has generously offered to extend the late registration deadline for the December LSAT. You’ll still have to front the late fee, but LSAC is offering a refund (for now, at least) should you wait to register for the December LSAT.

So what does an LSAT retake mean?

It means applying to law school later in the cycle. If you want the schools to consider a later LSAT score, you’re going to have to hold off on submitting a completed application until December LSAT scores come out (which won’t likely be until 2013). Does this put you at a disadvantage? Yes. Is it worth it?

That’s a trickier question. And it’s completely related to another difficult question: How many points do you think your LSAT score can improve?

If you think you have another 3+ points in you, it’s worth it to wait, retake the LSAT, and apply to law schools later. If you think you’ve peaked, apply with what you’ve got.

Your other option is to wait another year to apply. Now, before you say that you don’t have time to waste another year, remember that I’m not advocating you go into cryogenic storage, or take a Van Winkle-esque nap. You can use that year to prep for a later LSAT (say, next June), get some work experience, and save some money. Law school will be there, waiting for you, when you decide to go back.

*If this is your third LSAT in two years, you’ll have to ride out a few before you can sit for another. Though if you’ve taken this damned thing three times in two years, you could probably use a break.

24 Responses

  1. Monique says:

    Question: Most schools accept the February 2013 LSAT for Fall 2013 admission. Would it be beneficial to submit all my materials in the next few weeks (before Thanksgiving) with an addendum about my February retake LSAT score?

    • Matt Shinners says:

      First, you might want to check with the schools – I don’t think most will take a February score for a February admission (though that might have changed; I know quite a few schools that have a hard Feb. 1 deadline that moved it back last year).

      Second, if you want them to wait until your February score comes out, there’s no reason to submit your applications to schools now. They won’t consider you until that score comes out. You can upload everything to LSAC to have it ready to go, but sending it to the schools before you go complete isn’t beneficial.

      If you want to apply with your current score, and then send in the addendum to state, essentially, “If you don’t like me now, just wait until February before making a final decision!”, it unfortunately doesn’t work that way. You get your application considered once/year – no way around it.

  2. Retaker! says:

    Matt please help! I’m a previous blueprint student and unfortunately bombed the October LSAT I scored almost 10 points less then I was scoring on average during practice tests… Can you please tell me the best plan of attack to study these next 4 weeks before Dec LSAT?

    • Matt Shinners says:

      Hey Retaker!,

      The first thing you have to do is figure out why you bombed it the first time: Bad section? Nerves? Something happen that day/night before that distracted you? If you don’t know why you scored almost 10 points lower than you’re practicing, you won’t do better the next time.

      After that, time to hit the books. It seems like you’d be happy with your PT average, so it’s time to dust that rust off and keep yourself sharp. Don’t settle for that PT average, but certainly focus on bouncing back from your low, test-day score.

      From here until game day, I strongly recommend taking PTs and reviewing them thoroughly. Make sure to spend as much time reviewing as taking the test – that’s where you learn. When you notice any pattern to incorrect answers (question type, trick they use, game type, etc…), go back to your Blueprint books and review those concepts. Also, spend a night every week going over a few chapters of the book. Rip out those flowchart pages and study them. Hone the methods, practice the methods, and you’ll be golden come December.

    • Kyle Anne says:

      Oh man, this applies to me as well. Pleeeaaase offer some words of wisdom.

  3. Tiff says:

    I canceled in june 10 absence in oct 10 and took and got score back in this oct 12. Can I still take LSAT next year june 13 or oct 13 without violating the three times in two years policy?

  4. Eric J. says:

    Due to a timing error my lsat score was greatly hurt, I scored 6 points below all of my practice tests. I could have cancelled and retaken the test for free, yet I couldn’t bring myself to do that after killing myself all summer with studying and preparing for the LSAT. I knew it was going to harm my score, I just had a slight hope that maybe was guessing was good. Sadly the scores came out and I did worse than I thought. I still have a decent score and am using that to apply to two of my top schools, they’re not reach schools (i need $$$). For the rest of my schools I feel like waiting, even though all my applications are done. So, should I submit the applications with the addendum and tell them to hold off on my file until the December LSAT scores come back? Or simply wait until I get the December score and then submit?


    • Matt Shinners says:

      Hey Eric,

      Those two options are essentially the same – the schools won’t look at your application until it’s complete, and if you tell them to wait, then it won’t be complete. I’d probably have it good to go for score release day, but you can certainly get it out of the way by sending them in now!

  5. Susan says:

    A debate in the comments to inside the law school scam has sprung up regarding retaking.

    One side says – only take once, schools only consider average or combined scores.
    The other- schools at the end of the day only care about the highest score, even if they claim to consider all scores. ( only schools that say the average scores actually care)

    Personally, I have never seen anyone harmed by a retake. Schools are happy to go with the highest score that they can report. Even if you get a lower score on a retake, it won’t hurt you .

    Also the difference of a few points can mean an acceptance to the T14 or not.

    What is your expert opinion? Have you ever seen someone hurt in admissions by retaking and getting a higher score? What about lower score?

    • Matt Shinners says:

      The vast majority of the data suggests that almost every school looks solely at the highest score. I’m sure there are fringe cases where multiple scores are taken into account, but, for the most part, I’m in the ‘highest score’ camp.

  6. oscar says:

    Hey Matt, I did decently but below my pt’s on October LSAT and plan on retaking in December but want to apply to most of my schools now. Will they review my application even if they see I’m registered for the December one, or do they definitely wait?thanks in advance!

    • Matt Shinners says:

      If the schools see you have an outstanding score, they’ll wait until it’s reported to review your file. However, you can let them know that you want to be considered without that score. Some apps have a box you can check on them; for others, call up the schools. Even if you do have a box, I would still call the schools up just to confirm.

  7. marian says:

    my daughter took her first lsat in Oct and scored 18 points lower than her pt?? She is devestated

    Now she tells us a fire alarm went off and rang for over 5 minutes coupled with a repeated announcement to “don’t panic, you must evacute the building” and telling everyone where to exit. This also went on for 5 minutes during section 2 of the test. The proctors did nothing, let the test continue.
    Other testers at the break said they were going to cancel or contest the score because of this, but she did not put the complaint in writing within the first 6 days as required. Now what do you suggest she do? I am convinced the alarm short circuited her ability to concentrate on the remaining sections and an 18 point spread seems very unusual, no?
    To further complicate things she has missed the deadline to retake in December. Is there anyway around that given this circumstances? Any advice you can offer?

    • Matt Shinners says:

      An 18 point drop is rather rare on the actual exam, but the distraction of a fire alarm definitely would explain it. I’d be surprised if anyone did well under those conditions.

      Unfortunately, bad events like this do happen. The LSAC has the cancel/complaint process to handle it, but your daughter didn’t avail herself of it.

      So this is going to be bad news, I’m afraid.

      The LSAC is under no obligation to grant her a late registration waiver. I would still call them up to see if something can be done (as they probably have an incident report about the fire alarm), and they might be amenable to allowing her to register for December. But I would be prepared for the worst.

      To be honest, though, the worst isn’t all that bad. ‘Worst’ case scenario is she waits until next June to take it (I’d skip February), and uses the next year to save up some money and get some work experience. Both will help her in law school (and in the interview process afterwards).

      It’s a tough situation, but an 18-point drop from what your daughter can achieve isn’t what she should be applying to law school with. That’s a significant decrease in prestige/earning potential/scholarship money, so she really should retake the exam. If it doesn’t happen in December (which, again, it might – call LSAC up!), it’s not the end of the world, though!

  8. jessica says:

    I took the LSAT in October, but was not satisfied with my score. I am planning on retaking the LSAT in December should I wait in send in my application after I get my December score? Or should I send in my applications now and tell the schools I plan on taking the December test?

    • Matt Shinners says:

      Hey Jessica,

      They’re pretty equivalent, overall. The schools won’t consider your application complete until they have that December score, so you won’t get to ‘cut in line’ by applying now. If you send them in now, it means you won’t have to worry about doing it when scores come out. However, you lose a little control should the December score not be what you were expecting (higher as well as lower!).

  9. Andrew says:

    Hi Matt, thanks for running this website, its a great help! I have a two part question:
    I took the LSAT twice as a college senior in DEC. 07 and Feb. 08, did not take it seriously, was upset with myself for slacking, and abandoned my career path for some wandering in Academia (I earned my MA in ’11 in English lit, and began a PhD in Communication Studies Fall). It’s become clear to me that my fears about the LSAT must be trounced, since the current path is only one I’m capable of, not one I’m interested in really making my life. I’ve had 3 run-ins with the law over the last 8 years (2004 = misdemeanor criminal trespass, 2008 Texting While Driving (also a misdemeanor in the state where it occurred), and misdemeanor Driving Under the Influence w/Reckless Driving in 2011), though, and am equally concerned about those facets of my life preventing me from sitting for the bar, if any school would even consider me. That all being the case, I’m registered for the February LSAT, and wanted to know whether my previous scores will be referenced at all, or whether they just totally disappear, and whether my legal history will keep me out of law school for the foreseeable future–can you help me out with some advice?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Matt Shinners says:

      Hey AGJ,

      First note – giving you advice re: your legal history is legal advice, and I am not allowed to dispense that. You should go talk with a qualified attorney as well as get in touch with your state Bar to see what they have to say.

      I can say that, from experience with, the misdemeanors shouldn’t be a concern for you in law school admissions. The DUI is a bigger deal, but there are plenty of practicing attorneys out there with that in their background, and plenty of students at law schools after the arrest. But that’s just a few anecdotes, not legal advice, and it’s mainly to do with law school admissions. Definitely get in touch with the Bar/an attorney to get your other questions answered.

      As to your previous LSATs. Even if they stay on your record, I wouldn’t worry too much about them. You have a lot of time between them and now, and law schools generally take the highest score anyway (even the ones that say they average, the numbers tend to pan out differently). The December score probably won’t even stay on the report – scores are only good for 5 years. But, again, even if it did, I wouldn’t worry about it. Focus on getting a higher score now, and that should make the schools forget about the earlier ones.

  10. jocelyn says:

    Hi Matt, I have a question for you. I recently took the december lsat, after studying for 4 months, took kplan test prep course. I got my scores back and I’m upset to say the least, I scored 11 points less than what I was scoring on my practice test. My question to you, do I start studying for the next 5 weeks and take it in Feb, in hopes of attending school in the fall still (since the school I’m applying for takes applications to the end of May for the fall semester) or do I hold off and start studying around march and take the June of 2013 test and attend school during the fall semester? I do work full time, but I get off every friday, saturday and sunday, so those will be the days I can study the most. Please help I don’t know what to do…..

    • Matt Shinners says:

      Hi Jocelyn,

      First off, I’m sorry to hear about your score – it sucks to see a decrease of that magnitude (or, really, of any magnitude) from practice tests.

      As far as my recommendation, I wouldn’t recommend retaking in February. I don’t like that test to begin with (it’s not disclosed, so you’ll never know which questions/sections you got wrong). It’s also a month away – while I know you’re re-prepping, it will most likely take more time than that for you to get back to 100%.

      Yes, that means taking another year ‘off’ before law school. But you have a job, and getting more work experience will only help you in both the application process and the law school hiring process. Also, if you can get your score up even higher than your previous PT average, you’re looking at more acceptances to better schools and more scholarship money.

      Good luck!

  11. Karen says:


    I was supposed to take the LSAT last weekend and it was cancelled because of the snow storm. Just two hours ago, I received an e-mail for the make-up to be this weekend. I truly thought they would give a two-week notice for the make-up. I had a huge event this weekend (of course) but if I have to cancel for the LSATS, I will. What my problem is that I have not been using this past week to study and now I am shocked that two days before the make-up test they would tell us the date. There is an option to skip the Feb. and then they will put it towards the June, or take it in two days….What do you think? I know law schools are at their lowest with applicants, and I have been told that It would be okay to take the June test for the Fall admission…what do you think? VERY confused. Thanks for any help!

    • Matt Shinners says:

      Hey Karen,

      Taking the past week off has probably actually helped you. Going in to that final stretch, students tend to overdo it a bit. While 2 days is (extremely) short notice for the retake, you’re probably not nearly as rusty as you think. If you want to get it out of the way, then I wouldn’t worry too much.

      I can’t tell if you plan to start law school this fall, or if you plan to apply. If you plan to start, definitely take February. While a few schools might (might!) accept the June score (depending on how many seats they’ve managed to fill), you’ll be at a huge disadvantage. You also won’t have time to really set up your living situation if you’re applying to a few different locations.

      If, however, you’re planning to apply this fall, then June is fine. The only issue at that point is studying from now until June, which can be a little harrowing after prepping for February!

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