What to Consider When Deciding Whether to Retake the LSAT

March 16, 2020

For most, the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is the most challenging part of the application process. When you consider the fees and preparation needed to successfully take the exam, it’s ideal to only have to take it once. However, as a large number of law school applicants have come to realize, there can be several advantages to retaking the exam.

Woman studying in a library before retaking the LSAT

Here are some things to consider when deciding whether retaking the LSAT is right for you.

Is a bad LSAT score an indicator that law school isn't right for you? 

If you didn’t get the LSAT score you wanted, we know it can be discouraging. But keep in mind that this test is designed to be very challenging and there are distinct reasons to keep your head up. There are lots of students out there who didn’t get the score they wanted or needed their first time, but were able to improve their score after retaking the test.

Making this decision can be really tough, but you should consider it if any of the following applies to you:

  • Your average practice scores were better than your actual LSAT score.
  • You felt that an outside factor had an impact on your performance. Perhaps you felt sick during the test, didn’t get enough sleep or received bad news beforehand.
  • You honestly feel like you didn’t put 100% effort into preparing for your first LSAT.
  • Your current score is too low to even give you a competitive shot at being accepted into the law school you want to attend.

Set realistic goals

There are many examples of repeat testers improving their scores by five points or more. However, keep in mind that according to data collected by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), most repeat testers who improve their scores only do so within a slight margin. Therefore, be realistic when considering a retake and as you set your LSAT score and admission goals.

Did you make one of these common missteps during your first LSAT?

One of the most common mistakes that people make during their first LSAT is that they try to tackle every question presented, in order, in the logical reasoning section. Unfortunately, this is the worst way to go about answering logical reasoning questions. You’ll end up losing valuable points on your score with this approach. Skip any questions that give you pause and come back to them.

Tackling the logic games in order

Another common mistake many people make during their first LSAT is to not read through each of the logic games before starting on one. We recommend doing this and starting with the game you’re most confident about. Otherwise, you could end up spending too much time on a game that might have you stumped. This approach is also recommended for the reading comprehension portion of the test.

Not using inferences for your logic games

A lot of first time test takers don’t use the inferences after sketching out their diagrams for the logic games section. It can be tough to take a second after creating your diagram to completely analyze the rules of the game. Many test takers simply proceed into answering the questions after their diagram has been completed. We highly recommend taking a few moments to jot down the rules (shorthand) and think through their implications. It’ll actually save you time as you work through the questions.

Evaluate your study methods

As you can expect, one of the challenges of retaking the LSAT is the possibility of a lower score. Thus, an honest evaluation of your previous study methods is key. If you could have significantly prepared better the first time around, such as by taking a prep course instead of self-studying and/or dedicating considerably more time to studying, then a successful retake is possible after you make the needed adjustments. On the other hand, if you’ve already given it your all or are planning to use the same study methods you’ve used before, it’s a strong possibility that you’ll see similar results or even end up with a lower score.

Improve your prospects and scholarship opportunity

In several cases, a slight increase in your LSAT score can make a big difference. If your score is not too far below a school’s median, raising it by a few points can make you more competitive for admission or even result in promotion from a school’s waitlist. It’s also common for applicants to retake the exam for better scholarship opportunities, even when their original score would be considered admissible.

Should you tell the school you’re planning on retaking the LSAT?

If you have an LSAT score on record, we recommend that you notify the school you’re applying to. The preferred way to do this will depend on the law school. Some will provide a section in their application form where you can note you are planning to retake the LSAT. Others may have more specific instructions on how to notify their admissions team of your intentions. The bottom line is that it is in your best interest to let them know! Even if you have been accepted with your current LSAT score, you’ll want them to review your file again if you are successful in improving your score. This could help you qualify for a scholarship or other form of financial aid.

Consult your law schools and confirm timeliness

Determine how your desired schools view multiple scores and make sure the timing of a new score is right. While many schools focus on your highest score and may welcome two or more attempts, some may average your scores and/or limit the number of attempts they will consider. Also, if you’re only retaking the exam for better scholarship eligibility, confirm if a new score would be timely by making note of scholarship deadlines or when funds historically run out at a particular school.

Overall, if you think that retaking the exam is right for you, remember to set realistic goals, adjust your study routine as needed, and consult your desired law schools so that we can help advise you along the way. With continued hard work and perseverance, a successful retake can help get you closer to achieving your goals. Get more insight into how law schools view applicants who take the LSAT exam multiple times.

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Topics: Applying to Law School