LSAT Unbound: Cap Removed on Number of LSAT Attempts, Is That a Good Thing?

The Law School Admission Council recently removed the cap on the number of times you can take the LSAT. That reverses a policy of a few years ago. The rationale seems to be to increase the number of test-takers and it may have worked, the June 2017 test showing a sharp increase in test sitters from a year ago.

The LSAC’s policy is good for them—you have to pay each time you take the LSAT—and good for the LSAT prep industry, since a lot of people will pay for multiple prep programs over the course of trying to get the LSAT score they want.

So you can now take the LSAT as many times as you like. But should you? The short answer is, No. With one qualification.

As I’ve written several times on this blog, retaking the LSAT is a decision you should make carefully, not simply because you’re dissatisfied with your score.

There are risks and problems involved in retaking. The most obvious risk is your score can decline (or stay the same) as well as rise, and few retakers (around 10%) actually show a significant jump in their score. You want to carefully consider why you think you will be in that roughly 10%. Statistically, chances are that you won’t be. You need to understand exactly what was wrong with your preparation and/or your test day performance, and be fully confident that you can correct those specific issues while keeping in place what you did well. A general feeling that you could have done better is, I’m sorry to say, not enough. If that’s all you have, you will be in the 90%.

You also need to be confident that the performance you weren’t happy with will not psychologically impair doing better the next time. Clients who come to me after an initially unsatisfying performance often have this issue—we spend a good deal of our time together confronting those barriers and undoing bad habits.

The reason all that matters is because, although most law schools only report the high LSAT score to the ABA, they look at all scores and evaluate your application on the basis of all scores. Taking the test multiple times invites admissions committees to look for markers of suboptimal judgment and other issues in your application. The more times you take the LSAT, the closer they look—you would do that if you were on an admissions committee, too; your question would be, well, why didn’t this applicant do the LSAT the right way the first time?

That means that the optimal number of times to take the LSAT is once. Next best is twice. After that, the utility—both in terms of your likelihood of improved performance and your admissions package—sharply declines.

Now the qualification, which is implied in the reasons why you should carefully consider whether you want to retake the LSAT. If you know that you didn’t get your best LSAT score, and you know why, and you have an effective plan to address those reasons, then sure, take it again. You will want to do an addendum in your application explaining the increased score but that’s a good problem to have.

~ by Kyle Pasewark at Advise-in Solutions on July 26, 2017.

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