Should you retake the LSAT in December?

Posted by Ann Levine | October 24, 2011

LSAT scores came out. Let the panic begin. Right now you’re exhausted, scouring the Internet for anything, ready to grasp the smallest, least credible piece of advice that tells you that your very low LSAT score WILL get you into the school of your dreams.

What is my advice? Sleep on it. Then, when you wake up, read these posts:

Before You Re-take the LSAT

The Post-LSAT Blues (by me, but on USNews.com)

Should You Re-Take the LSAT in December? (by me)

Should You Re-Take the LSAT in December (by MSS blog)

But to answer the easy questions:

1. NO – December is NOT too late to apply for Fall 2012 admission. Why? Because you will still be able to submit apps in early January. Because you’re better off having a higher LSAT score and applying in January than applying now with a lower LSAT score. Because applications are down 10% and this can only help you.

2. NO – You can’t significantly improve your practice exam scores in 5 weeks. If you suck at standardized tests, you’re not going to be able to teach yourself the test. To get a different result, you need to take different actions.

Happy to take questions! And would love your feedback on the new book, The Law School Decision Game:A Playbook for Prospective Lawyers.

Ann

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Law School Admission Trends, Low LSAT Scores, LSAT Prep, Multiple LSAT Scores/Retaking the LSAT

35 Comments »


35 Responses to “Should you retake the LSAT in December?”

  1. Scott says:

    Hi Ms. Levine!

    I’m one of those LSAT test-takers that got their score today. I received a 159. I’m a bit disappointed with it and am contemplating taking the LSAT again in December.

    That said, I’ve always been interested in schools in the NYC or D.C. area, but I’ve been reading forums and other blogs regarding the quality schools that are within my LSAT/GPA range. I feel like an overwhelming number opinions on some of those blogs and forums are incredibly negative regarding schools outside the top 14 and I was wondering what your take on that was. I was looking at schools like Fordham, CUNY, Brooklyn, Cardozzo, Rutgers – Newark, George Washington, and American University and some of the posts regarding these schools sort of surprised me considering their respectable rankings.

  2. Noah says:

    Ann, interestingly enough, I’ve been reading your book over and over for months- The Law School Admissions Game. You humor and tone make lighter heart of the boringness of all this. A little background: I started off preparing for this LSAT with high hopes- I have a 4.0 GPA (at University of South Carolina, so nothing too amazing), and have always done very well on standardized tests (1490 SAT). I was hoping for Duke, UVA, or Texas but I also have strong reasons to stay here at Carolina (Cheaper, low cost of living, and high possibility of wanting to practice in South Carolina). I just got the hardest slap in the face I have ever experienced in my academic life- 153 LSAT. In fact, I hadn’t even made a plan for what to do if I scored this low. I was like, “Ahh 157 would be disappointing and then, wait- cue stomach falling out, 153.” Ouch. And yes, I really do think I prepared adequately– I went through the 800 pages of practice, explanation, and practice again. I may not have done 2 hours, ever day for 6 weeks before (I don’t function like that), so I started 4 months out- a few hours here and there, but always consistent. 153 stings like a mother$&#($@. So, reevaluation time… December LSAT is 4.5 weeks away, about. I have not touched my books since Oct. 1 and really have no desire of doing so. I could still probably get into Carolina easily enough, maybe not get sweet scholarships as hoped but still get through because it’s not a ridiculously expensive school. Orrrr, second option: try to go for December, slam the books for 4 weeks, go to a NEW test location 36 miles from here, and pray to God that I go up 7 points.

    I was relatively consistent with my practice test paces. Not consistent with the scores–however, I kinda had practice tests all over the place. One day, I might be a 168 and then the next, a 158 (never really lower than that). All I would do between now and the test would be practice test after practice test and trying to correct silly things on analytical reasoning (still my worst). I missed 7 on logic games, 12 and 11 on analytical, and 10 on reading comp. Time could quite possibly be considered an issue for me although this trips me up.

    I suppose I’m looking for some light (like you said) and need a small amount of reasurance besides the padres saying, “We still love youuu!!” I just want someone, ie. expert like you, to point me in a direction. Drop another 200 on gas and test and rock and roll or say #($@ it, roll with a 153, do Carolina and be done. I pretty happy with the latter and I could make it work. Maybe not full potential but this effing 4.0 has taken it out of my over the years and I’m about ready for a break (not that law school is going to provide that). Regardless, if you have time, let me know your thoughts. Thank you so much.
    -Noah

    • Ann Levine says:

      Noah, YOU MUST RETAKE THE LSAT IN DECEMBER. MUST. Something bizarre happened on test day. Register for the test, get your butt in gear, and start back up with prep ASAP. You have tons of potential and I don’t want you to stop yourself from reaching it because you’re exhausted and don’t want to retake the test. You will be much happier if you try again, even if you only get a 157 next time, than always wondering “what if I’d retaken?” Keep me posted on your progress.

  3. MPS says:

    Ann, thanks for posting this. I look forward to grabbing your new book and doing some more research.

    I read through the articles and have a personal question. I took a great LSAT prep course and did every single question and practice tests (all official questions in existence). I was scoring 168 for the 3 practice tests before the actual test. Anxiety really got to me and it was hard to think and I ended up with a 164.

    I’m not happy with it and am afraid it’ll be render me uncompetitive for T14 schools. I have mitigating factors (i.e. 3.47 with double-major at an Academy, MBA grad, 6 years military experience, languages, extracurriculars, great LOR’s/evals/PS), but I’m worried the LSAT will undermine those. To complicate matters, my wife is quitting work and I’m on transition leave. We hope to travel (visit schools/family/friends/Europe) in Nov, Dec, and Jan. I’ll also work overseas for 10 days in Nov.

    Do you think it’s worth adjusting our life plans right now in hopes of gaining the extra 4 points? Will those 4 points offset the disadvantage in waiting until Jan to apply?

    Thank you for your time. I appreciate all of your work!

  4. Noah says:

    Ann, after some serious thought, I’ve come to this conclusion– retake in February. I know this is ridiculous ballsy but I have reason! One, I have a 4.0 and between that and my other qualifications, I can, almost undoubtedly, get into USC Law. I’m quite content with this as I’d rather avoid huge amounts of student debt, I would like to practice here in Columbia, and in the long run, I don’t know if I always want to practice law. So, as of now- I can live.

    I’d like to retake in February in order to up my odds for financial aid. Being in the honors college here, if I can slide up to a 160- I get substantial discounts in tuition at USC. That’ll be big and not too hard of a goal. In addition, I have most of my application done- I’ll go ahead and get everything submitted with an addendum to wait for the February LSAT. I know it’s late in the process but I’m hoping to be one of the few you mentioned that can pull it off. Finally, 2 factors play in to not wanting to take the December LSAT. One, it’s far away and at a location I do not know. Two, it’s only a month out and I already feel stressed if I was going to try and take it then. Also, it’s straight up during finals week- which is already a very stressful time. I think that stress is the primary cause to my ugly score this time. I’d rather not repeat that.

    All that being said, worst case scenario, I downgrade to somewhere like Charlotte Law, get substantial financial aid, and then either finish there or transfer out to a better school. Debatable there.

    Those are my conclusions thus far today. Thoughts?

  5. Ruthie says:

    Hello Ann,

    After studying very very hard for months, I finally got my October LSAT score and I am devastated with a 142. That is MUCH lower than any of my practice tests I have ever taken and I took a lot of them. I have signed up to take it again in December and will continue to study. I am in a difficult situation and need your advice! I graduated from BU with a 3.55 with distinction from my department for writing a thesis. I graduated cum laude and have excellent legal internship experience. I am fluent in 2 other languages. I am applying to reasonable schools that are not top tier/elite such as Seattle University, Suffolk Law, and New ENgland School of Law. I REALLY want to stay in Boston but am applying elsewhere. What are my chances if I improve me score for the DEcember test? I have never EVER been a good test taker but also I had to fly home to deal with a gravely sick family member which weighed on my emotionally in the weeks before the exam. How much would schools understand this? Also, I cannot afford formal LSAT classes or tutors and I do not want to take more than 2 years off school. I feel so distraught! I studied for 7 months and was getting 10-15 points ABOVE my actual result. Please help!

  6. Oski says:

    Hey Ann,

    So i’ve gotten my score back, and it looks like my gut was correct, I received a 156 when my last PE was a 164. Since I am looking to get into top law schools, I feel i should retake it…but then at the same time want to apply now

    should I retake it? I was on an upward trend before the exam…but I did all the PE’s…thanks

  7. Johnny Costa says:

    Hi Anne,

    First I would just like to say your blog has been extremely helpful!

    I am a recent college grad and I just took the oct’ lsat and scored a 153. i was shocked since I was scoring 160 -162 on at least 15 practice l-sats before the actual one. im not a strong test taker but i felt real calm and focused when i was actually taking it.

    With a g.p.a of 3.3 I was really focusing on getting a high lsat score to make me competitive to go to a top 25-50 law school but now with my lsat score I see that as highly unlikely. I also felt like I hit a plateau at the 160 mark because I couldn’t pass it for a month (I’ve been studying 4-8 hrs a day since august) I studied on my own taking plenty of practice tests and using the power score bibles.

    my question to you is do you think i should postpone until June so i have sufficient time to raise my practice lsat hopefully past my plateau to high 160′s and take a course. That way i would be sure to score in the mid to low 160s and apply to law school for fall of 2013 early admissions.

    or retake the december lsat, most likely raise my score to the 160 mark (nerves allowing) and apply then.

    * all my LOR are strong and personal and diversity statements are done.

    Im torn in the sense that i was expecting to do great and the idea of actually working an actual job until fall of 2013 sends chills up my spine lol Im a philosophy major and practicing law was my goal ever since sophomore year.

  8. CAL Grad says:

    Dear Ann,

    I am currently in the process of applying to law school. I graduated from Berkeley with a 3.97 GPA, and just got my LSAT score from October. I got a 153, which I believe is a disaster, esp since I was consistently scoring between 162-166. I took a prep class, studied full time for 3 months, and instead of getting a score that reflects what I normally get (mid 160′s) I ended up dropping more than 10 points on the real thing. Its very discouraging to say the least. I’m born and raised in Norway, and moved to the US after high school to attend college so English is not my first language and the LSAT is anything but forgiving when it comes to non native speakers. Here’s my question, I studied a great deal in order to graduate with a 3.97 from Berkeley so if I retake the LSAT in Dec and still dont get the score that I need to get accepted to a top 25 school should I still even consider law? I have a really hard time picturing myself attending anything ranked significantly lower than my undergraduate instituation and feel really uneasy about attending a tier 3 or tier 4 law school. Thus, if I cant see a significant improvement in my LSAT score would it be wiser for me to get a masters degree in Public Policy from a top ranked university in CA? I understand the risks involved with masters degree, but at least its more affordable and I truly have an interest in policy issues. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

  9. Alex says:

    Hello Ann,

    I took the Oct. LSAT and got a 156. I was scoring between 158-163 (mostly 160). I took a testmasters prepcourse and took nearly all of the recent past LSAT’s (nearly 30 of them) so I am a bit weary about taking the Dec. LSAT since I don’t have that much more material to go on. My plan was to apply to law schools now and get applications in early. I have a 3.2 GPA at Berkeley and am an URM (hoping it gives me a boost since some of my fellow URM’s who are now 1L’s are at t-40 schools with similar scores). I was hoping on applying to Wisconsin, SMU, American, and schools around that range. My question is, A) should I apply to some of these schools now and still retake the December LSAT and if I get a sufficiently higher score I would send in my apps to higher-ranked schools. B) apply to some of these schools now and if I’m not satisfied with the offers retake the LSAT in Feb or June since I would be done with school by then and with presumably a bit higher GPA and apply for the 2013 cycle. C) Hold off everything and retake the Dec. LSAT hoping to get a 160+ and then send in my apps?

    Thanks for the insight!
    -Alex

    • Ann Levine says:

      Alex, your score came back in range based on your practice tests. I think you should not retake the LSAT but apply to law school and if you’re not happy with your results, take the LSAT next June or October and apply in 2013.

  10. Beth says:

    Hi Ann,

    I just got a 164 on my exam and am not exactly overly thrilled with my score. I was scoring between a 167-170 on all of my practice tests 2 weeks before the exam. On the actual test I messed up on the logic games section (the section I usually only get 0-3 points wrong on.) I ended up getting 8 wrong on that section. I knew as soon as the test was over that it wasn’t my best. But now I don’t know if I should retake it in December. I have a 3.8 gpa and am in an honors track at a top 15 undergraduate institution. I’m worried that my 164 wont get me into the schools that I was previously thinking about (even some of the non t-14s like UCLA, GW or Boston.) I’m also worried that if I retake the exam I will only score 2 or 3 points higher, or maybe not higher at all. Should I retake the exam? Any insight would be helpful!

  11. Annabelle says:

    Hello, Ann:

    I posted it this morning but disappeared. I guess I will post again.

    I was very disappointed with my score 150, considering the fact that I spent 3 months studying. I was very nervous at the begining, and I scored between 160 and 170 for my pretests, so I thought I should retake it. The only problem is, a year ago, I took it and got a very bad score. At that time I thought I would have a job and it was too late to cancel, so I just took it for fun.

    I don’t know if I should retake it, since it will be my third time; on the other hand, I think I can do much better this time.

    Would you please give me some advise? I have been told that I made a pretty strong application with my work experience and letter of recommendation.

    Thank you in advance!

  12. Alex says:

    Hey Ann,
    I think I’m going to follow your advice and finish up my applications and not retake the LSAT in Dec. One last question, I’m really hoping to getting into Wisconsin so I’m trying to get this app in ASAP. I’m pretty much done but waiting on a third letter of recommendation, which should be my strongest. Should I just send in two so they can start reviewing my app right away, or should I wait for the third LOR. He should be done this week and LSAC should have it by next week. Thoughts?

  13. Nikki says:

    Hey Ann,

    I got my LSAT score back and was not very happy with it. I have a 3.95 GPA and I am considering writing an addendum, but don’t want to sound like I am whining. I am a college softball athlete and the only time I could take it where Saturday was open was the October LSAT. However, it was still in the middle of a fall season. I took the LSAT the morning after we had a double header late Friday night, and then again Saturday night. My head wasn’t in the right place Saturday morning and I was not able to prepare very well the weeks before the LSAT because of all of our games. Would this be a reasonable addendum? I already sent an addendum to two schools, so I want to make sure it’s ok before I send it to more schools. Thank you!

  14. Nikki says:

    Also, did I completely ruin my chances to the schools I already sent the addendum to if it wasn’t necessary? I am a little worried, because I thought you always wanted to write an addendum for an LSAT that doesn’t represent your academic promise, and I sent it to the top two laws schools of my choice. I would really hate it if I ruined all my chances. Sorry for all the questions, I just hope I didn’t ruin all my hard work because of an addendum!

  15. Annabelle says:

    Thanks for the advice! I am going to work hard and beat the LSAT again! Just finish you book and make me rethink about my determined mind of going to top14. I had made great connections with lawyers, judges and other people here. It would be a big waste if I give up all of these.

    Anyways, thank you and great book!

  16. Ann Levine says:

    Nikki, Without reviewing your addendum I really can’t tell…..

    Annabelle, So happy you learned from the book. If you’re so inclined, I’d love a 5-star review on Amazon!

  17. Ann Levine says:

    Alex, you don’t lose anything by waiting a week for the best letter.

    • Kensuke says:

      Hi Ali,LSAC can take a while to make changes in your file, but there will be an abecsne in there relatively soon.As for your 2008 score, T3 and T4 schools generally won’t hold it against you. In fact, some schools will come right out and say that they don’t care about anything other than your highest score. There may be a few that take it into consideration, but it shouldn’t weigh too heavily at most schools in that range. So you can just focus on getting the highest score possible this June!

  18. Mo says:

    Hi Ann, Im signed up to take the December lsat and its my third attempt. I suck at the lsat and im just trying to get into Cooley. I already filled out my application and the school is just waiting for my score. My law school friends told me not to sign up for the lsat till i score 150 but im scoring in the 140s in my practice test. i can withdraw and take the test feb or june. i DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO.

  19. Risa says:

    Hi Ann,
    Your blog has been very helpful to me over the last few days as I’ve been anxiously reading whatever I can find online!

    I’m debating whether to cancel my December score or keep it. Either way, I plan to retake in February. (I wasn’t planning this before but after getting my confidence shaken on Saturday, I’ve realized I was rushing the application process and don’t have time to put my all into applications and will be getting them in on the late side.) I got lost and was late on test day (I know, I’m an idiot!) so I was really flustered and shaken up when I arrived. Fortunately, I’ve heard my first section was the experimental, but I don’t feel like I ever fully recovered. I was more distracted by my loudly-chewing, hovering-over-your-shoulder-reading-what-you-write-proctor than I ever got during practice tests and I didn’t get as far through the games or feel as confident on LR as I usually do. That said, I was getting 166-174′s on my practice tests but always felt bad after those too (but not this bad!). Anyways, I’m very curious about my score and it couldn’t have been THAT bad since before I ever started studying, I got a 158 on my first diagnostic. So would it look really bad to a law school if I had, say, a 160 in December and then get a 170 in February? Would that look any better or worse than a December cancellation and a February 170? Other than the LSAT X factor, I think I have a pretty strong application – 3.83 GPA at a good undergrad school and 5+ years of paralegal experience in the field I want to go into.
    Thank you for your advice!

    • Ann Levine says:

      Risa,
      I’m glad you realized you were rushing and that you are taking the time to slow down in time to do damage control. Keep the score. It’s ok. A cancellation doesn’t look bad (I don’t know who on the Internet started that rumor) but there’s also not a lot of incentive to cancel unless you’re sure you blew it. Keep me posted on how you did!

      • Risa says:

        A very belated thank you for the advice. As you suggested, I kept the December score, which turned out to be a 169. I actually dropped three points when I retook in February, but I am honestly still glad I retook because I felt so much more confident and in control that time around, which was an accomplishment in and of itself (and an experience I think will help heading into the bar). Based on my admissions results, I think schools must have been using my 169, not averaging. I’m very thankful that I didn’t cancel my December score! Thank you again.

  20. Billa says:

    Dear Colin,I was registered for the Feb 2011 and I ended up not going I wasn’t ready and I deicedd to take it in June instead. When will my file show an absence ? I looked at my LSAC file on Monday and haven’t seen anything yet.Next question for you I previously took the LSAT in June 2008 and I bombed it pretty bad 3 years have now passed do you think law schools will hold this score against me? I will be applying to mainly T-3 s and T-4 s. Thanks Colin!

    • Ann Levine says:

      Billa, the absence shouldn’t show but call LSAC and ask if you have questions about this.
      Schools will probably see a score from four years ago but may not “count” it in their index calculation. You can always submit an LSAT score to explain the difference.

  21. Annabelle says:

    Hi Ann! Just bought your book an Amazon. Very useful, two thumbs up!

    I got a terrible score the first time I took the LSAT two years ago (upper 140s), but I am set to take the December test and I am PTing at 170 or so. Will top schools be willing to “overlook” such a bad score, since there will (hopefully!) be such a huge gap between that and my highest score? Also, since I am applying so late in the game, I want to send all the materials to schools in advance of the December test date, but I don’t want them to throw out my application immediately when they see my bad LSAT score from two years ago. Do you have any thoughts on how to handle this?

    • Ann Levine says:

      Hi Annabelle,
      Wait for your new score, then apply. That way your application will have an addendum explaining the first score and juxtaposing it with reasons why the second score is really the score that represents your abilities. It would be a really huge jump, but it’s a jump in the right direction!
      I’m so glad the book was helpful – I love collecting 5-star reviews if you are so inclined!

      • Ariane says:

        I’m sorry about the news… you seem to have a very good attitude about it, and I bevleie you can succeed no matter where you end up. Best of luck on the LSAT. They don’t average the scores anymore, right? My friend bumped her LSAT from 165 to 168, and those 3 points made all the difference in her getting accepted to her #1 school.

  22. CarOlina says:

    Nope, no scores today. LSAC’s wesbite estimates they will be out March 7, so tomorrow’s still a possibility. If they waited until Wednesday, I’m not sure if it would be the first time in HISTORY that scores came out on the estimated date, but it sure would be the first in a long time.

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