January 11, 2017

Retaking the LSAT

retaking the LSAT | brazenandbrunette.com

A long, long time ago in my very first post I briefly talked about how I retook the LSAT after getting a slightly-below-average first score and wanting to raise my score by 4 measly points. Unfortunately in my case, my second score ended up being 12 points lower than my original so safe to say that plan backfired on me. I haven't really thought much about those two scores until recently I've had a friend ask me for advice on whether or not to retake the LSAT (lol yes I've surrounded myself with generations of future law students). So if you're contemplating retaking the LSAT, here's my insight on that. 


Why you shouldn't retake the LSAT

I'll start off by being frank. I regretted retaking it. Think back to the pressure that you felt as you took it the first time, knowing that your future career came down to this one test. Now imagine that pressure on top of the disappointment and self doubt you're carrying around because of your first score. Add to that the pressure of now you're going to have to wait to submit any of your applications until you get this next score back. It's a lot of pressure so just because you've taken it before doesn't mean that the second time is any easier.

I got my first score back and then only had a week to decide whether to take the leap of faith and apply then with that score or to risk cutting it close to application deadlines in hopes of getting a higher score. Because of this, I really only had what felt like two good weeks to study for the second round. I thought I could be strategic and just work on improving my worst section since I didn't have time to try to improve my better sections. Obviously this plan did not work out for me. 

I studied originally with Kaplan and they have some guarantee about how if you're not satisfied with your score you can get more classes for free when you try to improve it. However, I couldn't find out how to try to get these free classes since I had taken online classes (which I don't recommend) so I didn't even know who to talk to. I tried to go back through my books and re-read and try to get a better grasp on what it was saying but if you don't understand something in the first place it's really hard to try to teach yourself to understand it.

I really thought that retaking it a second time would be easier because in high school I retook the ACT every year and each time I got faster and better on it. The LSAT is not like the ACT in this way. I underestimated how hard it would be to not only be as smart and efficient as I was the first time, but also how to somehow improve more than I was that first time.

Lastly, this test is fucking expensive. I felt like I wasted $200 and definitely did not feel like I got my money's worth. It didn't help that I procrastinated on deciding whether or not to retake it so I ended up having to pay the late fee. 

Why you should retake the LSAT

However, that's not to mean that you shouldn't consider retaking it. For starters, law schools only consider your highest score, so if you do worse it won't hurt you. Not only will a better score increase your chances of getting accepted, it will also increase your chances of getting a scholarship or increase the amount of scholarship that you will get. This means it's a low risk and potentially a high reward so you might as well try, right?

PS - here's data on what people's second scores were when they retook it

Also, it takes 4 years to earn your GPA but only 4 hours to earn your LSAT score so this is the easiest way to bump your chances of getting in because by now your GPA is pretty set in stone. If you truly did have a bad day the first time you took it, then now is the perfect time to try to make up for that and make you a stronger candidate. And even though I personally regretted retaking it, I will admit that it was less intimidating the second time.

If you do decide it's worth the cost to retake it, my advice to you is to decide fast so that you can avoid the late fee and so that you can get started on studying ASAP. Like I said, I focused on trying to improve my weakest section, but if I could go back what I would probably focus on instead is improving my speed. The time crunch seems to be everyone's biggest hurdle when taking the LSAT (sad truth: this is also one of the hardest parts of law school finals). You'll probably only have a couple of weeks to get ready for your next test and that's not a lot of time to master a section that you don't understand. I personally think it's a better strategy to try to get a little faster so that you can quickly get to the questions you do know how to answer so that you don't have to risk guessing on those, and then just give up on the confusing ones and save those for your guessing.

One warning about that though is that after focusing on my weakest sections I had already started to forget little things about my better sections because I didn't spend hardly any time reviewing that. Make sure that you still skim back through your notes and are practicing all of the sections, not just your problem ones. 

Not to call anyone out, but if for your first test you thought oh this isn't too bad, I don't have to crack down on studying, then now is the time for you to crack down studying. Just like with finals, it can be really beneficial for you to go to a quiet library a couple of evenings a week and study for several hours.

What to do if you still have a low score

In the end, if you still find yourself stuck with a not-so-hot score then you might consider writing an addendum about it. A note on this: I don't think you should write an addendum if you made a slightly-less-than-average score. I'm talking about if it's like bad. Don't try to make it a sob story or make excuses because admissions committees are over that. Own up to it and admit that it was bad, but then focus on why they should still seriously consider you and why you're still a strong candidate. 

No matter what, don't give up on your law school dreams just because of a bad LSAT score. Plenty of people haven't gotten in to law school with a meh score. And even if you have meh grades and a meh score, you can still go to whatever law school will take you and then work hard to transfer (they don't really care about your LSAT when you transfer). Don't listen to any of the negative blogs or articles that talk trash on badly ranked law schools. Yes, if you go to these law schools you probably won't be balling like Harvey Specter on Suits, but if you're just in it for the money and don't even like the law or being a lawyer then you might consider other careers. Just because you won't be going to a topped ranked school and having a starting salary of $200k doesn't mean that you won't make a great lawyer. Have faith in yourself!


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