Should you retake the LSAT?

Definition: the words “LSAT Happiness” mean that an LSAT test taker has:

“achieved a score that is high enough that he or she will not be rejected from law school.”

The February LSAT scores are out. There are four groups of score recipients:

1. Those who have “LSAT Happiness” and will  not take the LSAT again. If you are in this group – congratulations, be happy, move on with life. Adopt a new interest, but you can still be a friend of LSAT.

2. Those who have “LSAT Happiness”, but think that they might be able to do better and are considering taking the LSAT again. My advice. Don’t take the LSAT again – develop a new interest in life.  If  you are obsessed  with test taking – take the GMAT or the GRE. (I predict that the GRE will become a substitute for the LSAT). Do NOT – I repeat – do not take the LSAT again.

3. Those who are do not have “LSAT Happiness”and will not take the LSAT again. If you are not  planning to take the LSAT again – put it behind you. Find a  new interest that is NOT related  to test taking.  For example,  you could become an LSAT therapist (I am sure that there  must be  a market for this).

4. Those who do not have “LSAT Happiness” and are trying to decide  whether to take the LSAT again. This LSAT blog post  is to help you achieve “LSAT Happiness”.

My advice:

Bearing in mind that:

1. The law schools will see all of your LSAT scores;
2. Your LSAT score could increase or even decrease (yes it is possible) on a retake; and that
3. A subsequent score that is not a significant improvement will reinforce  the first score

“Retake the LSAT only if you have more to  gain than to lose.”

I. Making The Decision To Retake the LSAT

How does one determine whether one has more  to gain than to lose? There are four sets of circumstances

A. An LSAT Score Below The Minimum Requirement For The School Of Your Choice

If the law school has a requirement of a minimum LSAT score (whether this is determined by taking the average score  or taking the highest), and you are below the minimum you must take the LSAT again.

B. An LSAT Score That is Generally Low  (below average)

There is good news and there is bad  news.

The good news – your LSAT score is low  meaning that you don’t have much to lose by a retake. There is likely much  more upside  than downside.

The bad news – you have a low LSAT score.

You must take the LSAT again. Prep Smarter! Prep Better! Apply to law schools that don’t require high LSAT test scores.

C. An LSAT Score  That Is In The Average Range

This  is where the decision gets difficult. If you have an average LSAT score, you have cleared the hurdle in the sense that you can get into some law schools  but will be barred from the schools that are most attractive to you. It is essential  that your retake result  in a significant improvement. Without a demonstrated improvement, your subsequent LSAT score  will  reinforce your first score. This will NOT be helpful to you.

D. An Above Average LSAT Score

With an above average score you have “cleared the LSAT score hurdle”. An above average LSAT score proves that you have the ability to do LSAT  questions. You must  do a better job with your time management. I suggest that you do lots and lots  of LSAT practice testing – every Saturday morning – until you are sure that you will improve.

If you have an “above average” LSAT  score, you should  retake the LSAT only if  you have clear evidence  (based  on scores from practicing with real LSATs) that will improve.

II. How To Go About Improving Your LSAT Score

Prepping for a second LSAT involves a different mindset than preparing for your first LSAT. If  you are  taking the LSAT a second time, you are approaching the LSAT with the knowledge that it didn’t go will the first time. This is not helpful.

It’s Not Practice That Makes  Perfect,  It’s  Perfect  Practice That Makes Perfect!

You need  lots of practice under timed conditions. But, practice means more  than just answering questions. You must determine what are the aspects of the LSAT that are creating barriers and problems.

That is to say – what should you practice and how should you practice it?

It is important that you work  on both the things the questions you are strong on (you  want to remain strong) and the questions you are weak (you can improve).

Here is how you can do your detective work. Take a recent LSAT (say the June 2007 LSAT because it is a free download at Download two copies.

First, take  the test  under  timed  conditions. Do NOT check your answers. Do NOT total  your right answers or do a  score projection. Put the test away for day.

Second, take a clean copy of the test. Put  aside a full day. Answer  the questions without worrying about the time constraints.

Once you have completed  the test  twice you are ready to check your answers and do a score  projection. Here are some possible conclusions:

If you answered almost  all of the questions correctly on the second day,  it is clear  that your problems are timing. Find an LSAT course  or LSAT tutor that will help you learn how to work more quickly.

If you made many mistakes on the second day:

– see what kinds  of questions they are. Did you really understand what you were being asked? Was  your problem getting it down to two choices and then selecting the wrong answer?

A good LSAT course or LSAT tutor should be able to help you proceed from this point.

John Richardson –  Mastering The LSAT Prep– Toronto, Canada