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Author Topic: Test blunder, score might be decent enough, might need a retake.  (Read 1466 times)

jfreeze

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Test blunder, score might be decent enough, might need a retake.
« on: November 05, 2012, 12:49:24 AM »
I got a 151 on the LSAT and I have a 3.6 undergrad GPA. I want to go to schools in the Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kansas, Missouri area, but the main school I'm looking at is U of Oklahoma, of which I am an alum.

I think I could raise my score, because I'm pretty sure I had a key mistake. I'm a bit ashamed to admit it, but not too ashamed to seek advice.

Overactive bladder runs in my family, and I am no exception. I drank my normal amount of coffee the morning of the LSAT, and by the third section, I really had to go to the bathroom urgently. I was under the impression that I wasn't able to leave the room for any reason until after the third section, so I tried to struggle through and hold it. It became painful, I couldn't think straight, and I was even sweating. Finally I asked the proctor, and they let me go like it was no big deal.

Point is: it took me about 45 secs to use the bathroom and return, whereas I panicked and tried to hold it for a good 15-20 mins of section 3. I really think it had an impact on that section, since I could not think straight during the first half of it. Also the anxiety sort of stuck with me the rest of the test. Plus I also had to go in section 5, but I did not hesitate that time.

Additionally, I just studied on my own with prep books, i.e. no official prep course. I estimate I could do better if I took it again, but I am wondering if it is necessary. Would there be a difference in potential financial aid with a higher score? Also, would I even be able to get in to the decent schools in the region, such as Oklahoma and U of Arkansas? I appreciate any and all advice!


Maintain FL 350

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Re: Test blunder, score might be decent enough, might need a retake.
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2012, 12:14:54 PM »
Ususally, I don't think it makes sense to retake the LSAT unless you can identify a specific reason which you can legitimately link to a low score. Often people simply hope that they'll do better next time, and don't. Your case, however, might be one of those exceptions where retaking is a good idea.

First, you seem to have an identifiable obstacle that may have lowered your score. Although it's very speculative to gauge the impact of such external factors, it stands to reason that it probably had some negative effect.

Additionally, you have a good GPA and even a small score increase (say, to 155) would greatly expand your oppotunities. In other words, there is a potentially big payoff for a rather small investment. In order to have a shot at significant scholarship money, I think you'd probably have to score considerably higher, probably above 160. (I could be totally wrong, BTW. I can't speak for what any individual school might offer.)

You might be able to get into OKCU and Tulsa with your current numbers, but University of OK seems a longshot at best. Some other schools in your region like Loyola-New Orleans, AK-Little Rock, and maybe a few TX schools might take you with a 151.

 If you have the time and money, by all means take a prep course and treat it seriously. Like any other academic endeavor, you will get out of it what you put into it.

jfreeze

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Re: Test blunder, score might be decent enough, might need a retake.
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2012, 09:39:43 PM »
I appreciate your candor. I was hoping I'd be awash in replies telling me that I should get in no problem, but I'm afraid that was wishful thinking on my part.  :)

I will add a few things. I'm an alum of U of Oklahoma, with good extracurriculars (Student Congress, Academic Misconduct Council, etc.) and with what I would consider a relatively impressive resume (Taught overseas with Fullbright, accountant at fortune 500 company for 2 yrs). Will that have much, if any, sway? Could good recommendation letters have an impact? I know they say that admission depends roughly 90% on GPA & LSAT score, but I'm wondering if those extra intangibles could make up, in some part, for the 151?

Moreover, If I applied with my current score, it would be for 2013/14 year. If I retook the test, I would apply for the 2014/15 school year. This is because I want to avoid rushing into a retake and getting a score decrease or zero increase.
Considering this, how would it reflect if I went ahead and applied for 2013/14 with my current 151/3.6, viewed the offers, and if I didn't like what I saw, retook the test and reapplied for 2014/15? Would they take note of that? Would it have any negative impact?

I do have the luxury of a good job and time, but I will be honest; I want to start in 2013 if at all possible, and I know plenty of people around here who made a good living with a law degree from OCU or Tulsa.

Maintain FL 350

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Re: Test blunder, score might be decent enough, might need a retake.
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2012, 12:37:44 PM »
I appreciate your candor. I was hoping I'd be awash in replies telling me that I should get in no problem, but I'm afraid that was wishful thinking on my part.  :)

That depends on which school you're talking about. Take a look at the law school profiles on LSAC's Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools. It will give you a very good idea as to your chances at each school.

According to the LSAC profiles, you have a good shot at both Tulsa and OKCU. At the University of Oklahoma the bottom 25% of admitted students had a an average LSAT of 155. That doesn't mean you can't get in, but you can see the difficulty. According to LSAC, for the numeric range of 3.50-3.75 GPA and 150-154 LSAT, the U of OK had 57 applicants and 12 admits. That's about a 20% acceptance rate. 

I will add a few things. I'm an alum of U of Oklahoma, with good extracurriculars (Student Congress, Academic Misconduct Council, etc.) and with what I would consider a relatively impressive resume (Taught overseas with Fullbright, accountant at fortune 500 company for 2 yrs). Will that have much, if any, sway? Could good recommendation letters have an impact? I know they say that admission depends roughly 90% on GPA & LSAT score, but I'm wondering if those extra intangibles could make up, in some part, for the 151?


Obviously I can't predict what the University of Oklahoma admissions panel will do, but I think that there are general rules which apply to most law school applicants.

First, law school admission is primarily a numbers game. This is clearly evidenced by the admissions profiles on LSAC. Take a look at them closely. At most schools there is an LSAT score below which your chances for admission are very, very low. Soft factors like the ones you've mentioned are good, but are most useful when you're being compared to similarly qualified applicants. In other words, if you're a borderline admit/not admit case, these factors can help. I'm not sure that a 151 is in that borderline territory, however (at U of OK). The fact is, there's very little incentive for law schools to admit students with lower LSAT scores. The schools want to report the highest numbers possible in order to raise their rankings. I think if you could bring that LSAT up to 155-157 you'd stand a much better chance.

Again, I have no knowledge of the inner workings of the U of Oklahoma admissions panel, this is just my opinion. You should do your own research too, and talk to the school.

Considering this, how would it reflect if I went ahead and applied for 2013/14 with my current 151/3.6, viewed the offers, and if I didn't like what I saw, retook the test and reapplied for 2014/15? Would they take note of that? Would it have any negative impact?

I seem to remember that the law school applications I filled out asked if I had applied to that particular school previously. I don't know what impact that has, but they do seem interested.

and I know plenty of people around here who made a good living with a law degree from OCU or Tulsa.

That's an important point to remember. I know lawyers here in CA who didn't even go to ABA schools and could buy and sell a biglaw partner ten times over. A million bucks is spare change to some of these guys. I also know plenty of graduates of small local law schools who may not be millionaires, but make a comfortable living as DAs, family law specialists, etc. The people who tell you that you're doomed if go to anything less than a top tier school are usually lacking in any real world experience. Be realistic about your options, try to avoid debt accumulation, make connections, and you'll likely be alright.

Good Luck!

livinglegend

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Re: Test blunder, score might be decent enough, might need a retake.
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2012, 01:29:24 PM »
Roald offers a lot of good advice and it sounds like your major issue was the bladder, but what will stop the same thing from happening during the next test administration? If you think there is something you can do to prevent that then retake, but nerves/etc foreseen circumstances are simply are part of any high pressure test situation.

A 151 can get you into some schools and Tulsa/OKC are options. OU is highly unlikely to take you with a 151 and the extracurricualrs matter very little to admissions committee unless you are on the fence it is almost a 100% numbers game. You can see this on lawschoolnumbers.com to get a realistic look at admissions into other schools.

APPLYING NEXT YEAR
I don't thin any school would particularly care if you applied one year and then again, but you will just spend 100's if not thousands of dollars on applications. Law school is not going anywhere if you think you can do better on the LSAT then go for it.

Another thing you option is you can apply to law schools with your current apps, but take the February LSAT and the adcoms will likely wait to make any decisions until those results come in. That is probably the best option if you want to start law school as soon as possible.


jfreeze

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Re: Test blunder, score might be decent enough, might need a retake.
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2012, 12:14:46 AM »
Thanks for the advice! Based on what you guys have said, it seems like OU (or anything better) is pretty much a lost cause with the current LSAT score.

 I must now also shamefully admit that I was incorrect to blame my low test score on my bladder. The "crisis" was during the un-scored section of the test. So, other than worrying about it afterwards, the incident did not directly affect my score. I guess I can say that I was lucky to get a 151 after all. This information might change the nature of your advice.

I could retake the test, but there's no guarantee that I would improve my score. Of course, I could take the classes, and I have already taken the test, so I know what to expect, and what studying is most effective. Putting in the extra hours and effort may allow me to raise my score higher, maybe closer to a 156-58 or even better if I'm lucky.

On the other hand, I've never scored high on standardized tests (despite being a good student). I'm also not an undergrad who's in the habit of studying often, and who has copious amounts of free time and semester breaks. I work a lot of hours, and am pretty mentally drained at the end of the day. I studied nightly, and several hours during the weekend for about three months or more before the test, but some of that time was me drudging, droopy eyed through passages and logic games. Not exactly at full mental capacity.

Honestly, I am uncertain how much I could really improve my score. I could do much better, but then again, I could end up wasting a year and a lot of money, time, and energy only to get maybe a 152 or 153, and be in the same situation.

Roald, thanks again for the advice. It has given me a lot to consider. I will be doing more research on the schools. I was not at all opposed to OCU or Tulsa before receiving my score, I guess I was just hoping to do a little better and have command of my options, rather than be a slave to my test score. OCU seems very doable based on the numbers, and Tulsa is a maybe.

Livinglegend, that is a valid point. And in light of the new info, what's to say that I would not have to go during a scored section if I retook it? The issue though, was not nerves, but biology. Knowing that I could just get up and go would remove the anxiety that came from being uncertain of what to do in that situation.

As for the application fees, that's not really a factor. Obviously I don't want to waste money applying to Harvard, but the handful of target schools in the region shouldn't be too costly to apply to. It is good to know that there does not seem to be a penalty for applying twice if I do not like my offers though.  (Would either one of you have any sources where I might be able to research that more?) That is useful to my decision making.

Quote
Another thing you option is you can apply to law schools with your current apps, but take the February LSAT and the adcoms will likely wait to make any decisions until those results come in. That is probably the best option if you want to start law school as soon as possible.

Now this is may be an option. They would actually wait for my Feb. score to come in? If the application deadline was before the scores were released, would they still consider my application? If I scored higher, this could be a great way to have an option of going to OU or a school of similar or higher stature.

On the other hand, this is a bit risky. If my score drops, then I might have an even worse chance of getting into what I would consider an acceptable option like OCU. Plus, I've heard that taking the LSAT a 3rd time is frowned upon by most major ABA schools, and so a lower score would mean being all but forced to accept any remaining admission offers. That would eliminate the option to retake the test (after a much longer period for LSAT prep) and reapply the following year.

Anyway, I appreciate you both reading through this. If you can tell, I'm cautious by nature and like to hedge my bets as possible when facing a huge decision like this. I would appreciate any further advice and insight you all have to offer. Thanks again!

livinglegend

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Re: Test blunder, score might be decent enough, might need a retake.
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2012, 03:02:19 PM »
To be honest I think you got all the internet advice you can.  The best step now is to contact the admissions office of the schools you are interested in. I imagine some schools average scores, some don't, and there are 200 ABA schools with different policies and the only people that know the exact details of an individual school are the admissions workers at each school.

I believe most schools would wait for the February results, but again I am just some guy on the internet contact OU, OKC, TU, and any other schools you are seriously considering to learn their policies. Good luck to you.