If you'd been consistently practicing at 166-168 and a 162 put you out of contention at schools that you wanted to be able to apply to, you'd be bummed out too.
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How are you risking penalizing yourself at all?
If you have a 170, retake it and get a 169, retake that and get a 171...well, law schools are going to think you are either an ass or someone with very poor judgement. Neither of these outcomes bodes well. Yeah, you technically have a higher score, but it's likely to count against you on the whole. Human factors count also.
If you can show them you can pull off a 5+ point increase in one go -- well, in that case they are more likely to think that you just had a bad day the first time around, and that you were justified in taking it a second time around.
Also, realize that your entire argument rests on law schools being soulless rankings seeking machines. Clearly law schools are looking out for their own rankings, but T14's have tons of applicants who are pulling in 170-eqsue scores -- they can very easily pass on the person who might have mildly improved scores but absolutely no gauge of their own ability.
"if you feel you're not competitive at your #1 choice school, AND you didn't feel 100% on June, then retake. Otherwise you're just risking penalizing yourself more for marginal improvements."
"Second, the rules are more rigidly enforced at the actual test than most people enforce them for themselves when they are prepping."
No, I think most people pretty rigidly enforce the rules (which really just amounts to adhering to the time limits) when they practice. Otherwise, what's the point?
There's also the matter of taking only one break and not having scratch paper, two rules which I've heard of some people not enforcing when they take preptests.
You could still do worse. But more to the point, I don't think that if you'd gotten that 175 instead of 173, it would make a real difference at those schools, CCN or probably even HYS.
in addition to the LGB, i did 30 LG sections from the real lsat test prep books, then i went back and did them again several times.
I don't know if I should retake because I never had a chance at Harvard or Yale anyway, and at Columbia, NYU, and Chicago, a 173 and a 175 are probably considered to be virtually the same score. If I find out that there's a significant difference between a 173 and a 175, and a lower score on my second try really won't hurt me, I'll be retaking. A little disappointing, but I'm glad I decided not to cancel.
So my biggest fear-- and I know this is totally silly-- is that I'll get a 168. I'm afraid of it because it's within my range of practice test scores but I'll be disappointed because I know I could have done better. Worse, it might be just a few questions shy of some T14 schools and big scholarships.
Just because I said that, I'm probably going to end up with a 120.
What about you?