Completing the LSAT requires both time and money – you must dedicate extra effort to preparing for the test in order to earn as high a score as possible. After you receive your initial LSAT score, you must then decide if it is worth the additional resources necessary to retake the test, aiming for a better score. In coming to this conclusion, there are three factors that you should consider.
How far below your intended school’s ideal score were you?
Schools typically publish the range of LSAT scores for their admitted students, and future admissions decisions are largely based on the candidate’s GPA and LSAT score. Obviously, the higher your LSAT score, the stronger your application will be, but you need to consider how close both your GPA and your LSAT score are. If one, or both, are at the top of the range, then you have less to gain from retaking the test – you are already in a comfortable position for admission. If you are on the low end, however, then you may wish to sit for the exam again in order to increase your score and therefore your odds of acceptance as well.
How many more points do you need for scholarship money?
Some schools will make scholarship decisions based, in part, on LSAT scores. Even if your LSAT score and GPA are comfortably within the school’s required range, an LSAT score above the school’s 75th percentile can often translate to awarded financial aid. The less you pay for school, the less debt you will graduate with, and therefore, it may be worth the extra effort to take the LSAT again.
What was your LSAT score the first time?
Before deciding whether to retest, you need to critically examine what your LSAT score was and why you got that score. Lower scores are, by their nature, easier to improve upon; it is easier to go from a 150 to a 160 than it is to go from a 160 to a 170, and it is harder still to get from a 170 to a 175.
In deciding whether or not you have room to improve, the first thing to consider is what your highest practice scores were – were they better than your test day score, or lower? If your test day score was significantly higher (more than three or four points) than your strongest practice score, then you may want to hold on tight to the score that you have. Try taking another practice test and see if you are able to get a score close to, or higher than, your test day score.
You should also determine why you got the score that you did. Did you run out of time on a section and answer the last five questions incorrectly? Did you struggle with one particular logic game, but get the rest of the section largely correct? In situations like this, retaking the test, especially if you can fix the timing issue or understand how to solve the game that you didn’t comprehend the first time, can improve your score. However, if you answered random questions incorrectly for no discernible reason (and not, for example, all of a certain type of logical reasoning problem, like the assumption questions), then it will be more difficult to increase your score.
Retaking the LSAT, if your score increases, will likely aid you in gaining acceptance into a better school, and may result in more scholarship money. However, retaking the test can also be a gamble and you do risk your score dropping. You need to consider whether the potential reward justifies the time, expense, and uncertainty. If it can ensure your acceptance to your first-choice school, greatly increase your chances of a scholarship, or is an easily correctable mistake from the previous test, then taking the exam again is probably advisable. Otherwise, it might be best to stick with the score that you have.
Justin Meyer is a professional LSAT tutor and contributing writer for Varsity Tutors. He holds a JD from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William & Mary.