The days immediately following an LSAT are always attended by an unrelenting stew of emotions for students: relief to be through it, anxiety about how they performed, and sleepless nights waiting on their results.
For many people—and fingers crossed you’re among them—the LSAT is a memory, and prep books and course materials can be happily discarded. For others, it didn’t go as well as they’d hoped and they’re going to have to retake without question.
But what about those on the fence? What should you do if your retake is score-dependent and you’ve got another week or more without the information needed to make your decision? Limbo is no fun but it can be productive, so let me give you some advice on how to best spend that time:
If There’s Any Chance You Might Retake, Keep Preparing
Even if the LSAT is the final piece of your admissions puzzle—your personal statement is done, letters of recommendation collected, transcript and resume and essays and addenda all in order—the truth is the LSAT is the biggest piece of that puzzle and you may still need to improve it.
Every day counts, and it’s far better to spend some time staying sharp these next few days/weeks only to find you didn’t need to (i.e. your score is acceptable), than to realize too late that you could’ve used the extra time to study and failed to. If you think a repeat may be in your future keep prepping!
Of course, you should still be smart about how you do so: really weigh the likelihood of a repeat, and base your efforts on that. That is, if you feel it’s quite likely you’ve reached your goal and the odds of a retake are remote, take it easy. Chill.
A few hours a day (or less!), a practice test a week (if at all!), a chapter or lesson here and there…the idea isn’t to maintain the intensity you’re hopefully accustomed to—although as soon as you know you’re on for the next LSAT get back to it!—but rather to ensure that you don’t lose your edge or allow your skills to fade too much.
You should know at this point what it was about the LSAT that’s left you uncertain; make those concepts and issues your focus until you have your score, taking steps to continue chipping away at them.
Use the Time to Finish the Rest of Your Application
If your application is not completed and ready to go once your scores are in, then it means you’ve got more than just this test on your plate. In which case you should also be using the coming weeks to get the other pieces of your apps in order.
Write and rewrite that personal statement until it’s perfect. Go find professors or colleagues who can give you killer recommendations. Check off every requirement box for law schools like transcripts, additional essays, resumes, etc. so that you’ve got every facet neatly tucked away, ready for submission as soon as your score is in-hand.
Don’t ignore your continued test prep, but do complement it with steady forays into non-LSAT admissions efforts.
If Your Score Comes in Even a Little Low, Consider Retaking
Let me wrap this up with a point to consider after you’ve received your score. After you’ve received a desired score, in fact. The last thing anyone wants to think about is taking the test again once they’ve hit their target—that’s the whole point of this process, right?—but here’s the truth: you probably still have room to improve. You’ve probably left some points, some readily-attainable points, on the table. And the next LSAT represents your chance to go get them.
Look, it used to be the case that rolling admissions was punishing enough that unless you were going to improve at least 2-3 points on each successive LSAT it probably wasn’t worth it, especially the deeper into the cycle your test date, and you should instead try to just get your applications in early. But two things are now in play.
(1) With far fewer law school applicants relative to seven or eight years ago, rolling admissions really doesn’t penalize you to anything like the same extent anymore, or at least not until an LSAT just shy of a school’s app cutoff deadline (some of which extend into the summer, mere months before your fall start!). So even a 1 or 2 point gain can make the retake well worth it.
(2) The odds that you do go up, especially if you keep studying and are diligent in the time remaining to you, are very, very good! Statistically speaking, unless you’re already in the mid-to-high 170s, or you do next to nothing prep-wise, you’ll likely score higher, sometimes significantly so, on a future test. Weigh the pain of more prep against the possibility of more points, and see where you come out.
And if you’ve taken a PowerScore LSAT Course there’s more good news: you’ve still got access to everything from your course—materials, archives and virtual modules, practice tests and scoring, Online Student Center, LSAT Forum, our blog—until the next exam, so as dreadful as it may be to consider, there’s a lot to be said for giving it another shot.
I hope your score is everything you wanted and more, and the only thing left for you to do is wait for the acceptance letters to roll in. But if your journey’s not yet over, or if you realize a little more work might take you further than you imagined you could go, make the most of the days and weeks ahead so that your next attempt exceeds even your wildest expectations!
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