Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
;

Author Topic: Prospective Student looking for guidance on whether to retake LSAT or not  (Read 1676 times)

Silver332

  • Guest
Hi everyone,

I have a question that I'm hoping folks can provide some guidance or opinion on.  I'm a post-undergrad living in CT looking to apply for law school in the fall of 2014.  I took the February 2013 LSAT after taking a Kaplan prep course, and scored a 162 (85th percentile).  I also have a 3.71 GPA.

My question  now is, is it worth attempting to retake the test? 

Things to consider: my score was six points higher on the real LSAT than the practice test I took at the beginning of the prep course, and it matched my last practice test score of 162.  On the real test, I had to throw one game and one reading passage and guess each question, so I know there's a timing issue there.  I finished every logical reasoning section with at least a minute to spare to review a question or two, but because its the February test, I can't see what each section's scoring broke down as.  During the few weeks running up to the test, I slackened on studying habits, and came into the test knowing I didn't prepare as much as I could have (due to a lot of outside issues affecting my studying), and yet I managed to score well.  My score is by no means terrible, but it doesn't put me in the middle of the pack for schools like UVA or Georgetown (both of which I am interested in applying too, but both of which are possibly prohibitively expensive).  Other schools, like BC, George Mason, William and Mary, and UW are all within my range somewhere, mostly around their LSAT/GPA medians, but I don't top their scores by any means.

If anyone has any thoughts, could you offer some insight?

livinglegend

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 343
    • View Profile
    • legalmatch
First off realize that anyone posting on this board or others is nothing more than an anonymous internet poster that knows nothing about you, your situation, or what is best for you. Furthermore, there is no qualification for posting on this board and for all you know I am a crackhead in a public library so I strongly encourage you to take advice from anonymous internet posters with a grain of salt.

With that said I am a lawyer and have gone through law school etc. In regards to your question I think you have to be realistic a 162 is a solid score as you mentioned it is in the 85th percentile that means you did better than 85% of college graduates who were motivated enough to actually take the LSAT. You may also have gotten lucky there is a number of guesses most people make on the LSAT and it is kind of a crap shoot. I am sure having gone through it the REAL LSAT is a little different than a practice.

In my opinion I think you should apply you will have a number of options with a 3.71 and 162 will you get into Harvard no, but neither will 99% of law school applicants. In regards to your legal career your school makes some difference, but not as much as people say. When you graduate and pass the bar you are a lawyer no matter what law school you attended.

I really think 0L's put far to much stock into the U.S. News Rankings and don't think about the location of the school they are attending or the cost. For example with your numbers you could get a free ride at a substantial number of schools or incur 200,000 in debt at UVA. Also remember if you attend UW you will be in Washington State and will be working on the West Coast not the East Coast.

One final point if you really want to go to law school then just apply with the numbers you have and see what happens. If you put it off the next time around some tragedy may occur you may meet a girl/boy that distracts you, get a job, on and on so just apply with what you have as you can get into a number of schools. Also most schools do not average your score check with the schools you are interested in to confirm that, but you can simply apply with the numbers you have and retake the LSAT while your waiting for your applications to be processed. If during the study period you think it is not going to go well rely on your 162 you will have plenty of options.

Good luck.

Silver332

  • Guest
Livinglegend,

Thank you for your reply sir, I appreciate your response.  You make some excellent observations, and after due consideration I am strongly considering just running with the numbers I have and seeing what happens.   The point about luck you make (guesses and so forth) makes a lot of sense.  I found my test to be very much in my favor (only 1 RC and LG section(s) and an essay question that I feel I wrote an excellent response for).  I certainly could take it again, but the possibilities of more challenging sections, combined with other unpredictable and unforeseen circumstances make it a difficult decision.

I am curious though about the impact that the LSAT score would have for my financial aid.  I'm intending to apply to a diverse group of schools (including possibly UW, which you're right, is on the West Coast, for a scenery change from East Coast life), but the schools I'd like to get into for their programs tend to have median LSAT scores above mine.  Does that diminish my chances for good financial aid?  And does it make aiming for a higher score more worthwhile if it can secure more scholarships/financial aid, or does the score have only a minimal effect when, like mine, it's very close to the medians and within the 25th/75th range?

I guess my question would be, how much do you and others find the LSAT score to weigh on financial aid when the score is very close to what a school accepts?  And is it worth it to try to score above their range for the sake of improving chances for financial support?

livinglegend

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 343
    • View Profile
    • legalmatch
It depends what you mean financial aid if you simply talking about obtaining students loans then as long as you fill out your FAFSA and have no drug convictions etc you will be granted sufficient student loans for tuition and living expenses for any law school you are accepted to regardless of LSAT, GPA, ETC , BUT it will be a loan and you will need to pay it back.

If instead you are discussing scholarships then your LSAT & GPA will matter. As I stated in my prior post with a 162 and 3.71 there are numerous ABA schools that would grant you a substantial scholarship, but usually these scholarships are accompanied by conditions that require you to maintain a certain GPA to keep it for years 2 & 3. and many students lose them, but each school has their own policy. If you want to get out of law school with less debt there are some schools that may worth be considering.


HYSHopeful

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 181
    • View Profile
    • LawSchooli.com
    • Email
You've definitely got a tough decision to make.

On the one hand, students who retake a 162 LSAT score only earn an average of a 2.1 point increase in their LSAT score (see historical LSAT repeater data here: http://www.lsac.org/lsacresources/data/pdfs/repeaterdata.pdf). The scary thing is that 168 out of the 663 individuals who retook the LSAT after getting a score of 162 went on to earn a lower score on their retake... so you've got to really think about the risk/reward tradeoff there. You should definitely do some research on your target schools to see how they treat multiple LSAT scores. Some schools only take the top score, but many others will take all LSAT scores into account in their admission decision process.

On the other hand, assuming that you have plenty of LSAT preptests that you haven't worked on yet, I'd imagine that you have room to improve your LSAT score. If you haven't done so already, you should pick up a copy of the Logic Games Bible, the Logical Reasoning Bible, and the Reading Comprehension Bible . I tried Princeton Review and Kaplan materials for a while, but I wasn't able to consistently break into the 165+ range until I studied with those books. Thankfully I found the bibles in time to break out of the "Kaplan Plateau" and into the 170s, earning a 177 on exam day.

Good Luck!

Here are a couple of related resources I wrote a while back and just posted today when I saw your question because I thought that they might be helpful to you:
http://lawschooli.com/should-i-retake-the-lsat/
http://lawschooli.com/with-a-156-lsat-score-and-3-75-gpa-do-i-need-to-retake-the-lsat-to-get-into-temple-law/

Silver332

  • Guest
Livinglegend and HYSHopeful,

Thank you both for your responses.  Again, Livinglegend, you make great points about financing; I am indeed thinking of scholarships and since I am aiming to attend a law school that (potentially) will cost a substantial amount, I'm weighing the possible gains in scholarships that would come with a higher LSAT against the odds that a higher score of only a few points wouldn't make as much of a difference for funding as I think it will.

HYSHopeful, you summarize my dilemma with the score quite succinctly: there's always the chance of doing worse on the test rather than improving.  I feel that my study habits in the months before the test were somewhat unfocused and sporadic, due largely to other events in my life.  At the same time though, I don't know if they made as much of a difference as I think such that would have netted me a score four or five points higher.

As for the schools I'm looking at, most of them place their median LSAT at 164.  Such schools include George Mason, BC, BU, UWashington - Seattle, UNC, W&M, UCONN, and University of Colorado.  There are a lot of factors that go into these choices, obviously, but in all cases my score falls in their range.  As with all law schools, they'll see all my scores, so a one-and-done 162 would likely look better than a 162 followed by a lower score.  On the other hand, a retake and a higher score of only 3 points would move me above the median for many of these schools (some into their top 75th percentile).  Decisions decisions.

I will definitely look into the resources you have mentioned, and give the studying a solid chance the next few weeks to observe improvement.  I can always back away from the test if I feel like progress hasn't been satisfactory.

Thank you both for your advice.  I'll gladly listen to any counsel you and others have to offer.

HYSHopeful

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 181
    • View Profile
    • LawSchooli.com
    • Email
I will definitely look into the resources you have mentioned, and give the studying a solid chance the next few weeks to observe improvement.  I can always back away from the test if I feel like progress hasn't been satisfactory.

I think you are on the right track. It is probably premature for you to make a decision whether or not to retake the LSAT at this point. You won't know how much more you can increase your LSAT preptest scores or how consistant your scores are until you renew your LSAT preparation efforts.

If I were you, I'd dedicate as much time as possible to LSAT prep over the next several weeks. Treat it like a full-time job. Work your ass off for a month or so, then reevaluate. If you still aren't consistently scoring in the 165+ range by that point, you'll have another tough decision to make.

I will say this though... you've got something like 7 weeks until the June LSAT. It seems like you already have a fairly strong grasp of the basics, and you are just having a difficult time getting to that next level. YOU CAN GET THERE in time. If you really focus on your LSAT prep, and spend alot of time between now and the June LSAT not only working on problems but also reviewing & analyzing your LSAT preptest performance to figure out what your weaknesses are and why you are losing points... if you really take these next 7 weeks seriously then I have little doubt that you will crush it in June.

Proceed over the coming weeks as if you were DEFINITELY taking the June LSAT. If you go into this in a wishy-washy manner then it is much easier to make excuses and convince yourself that it is ok to put off the serious LSAT prep work that you need to do. I'd try switching up your study methods ASAP... I hit a plateau somewhere in the low- to mid-160 range that I wasn't able to break out of until I started working with the powerscore bibles, and I suspect that you might have a similar experience as well. I'd especially recommend the Logic Games Bible, given your performance on the LG section of your LSAT. If you work through that book and really focus on Logic Games for a couple of weeks, that section should be much more manageable. I went from missing something like 5-8 questions per LG section to consistently missing 0-2 questions after working with the bible for a couple of weeks. I wrote a lengthy post a couple of years ago about how I used the LGB which you can find here: http://bestlsatbooks.blogspot.com/2011/06/lsat-logic-games-bible-book-review.html

It also seems like you are struggling with timing, at least on LG and RC... How many full, timed LSAT preptests have you taken? If you are the type of person who struggles with timing on the LSAT but is already scoring fairly well, seems to have a solid understanding of the material and answers a high percentage of the questions correctly if they dont run out of time... then you might want to consider spending the last 3 weeks (or so) before the LSAT taking around 6 or 7 full-length, timed preptests per week. If you already have a solid foundation and good understanding of the material, you should really be able to get a much better feel for the rhythm of the LSAT. I honestly cannot explain the sort of zen-like state that I began to feel in the final couple of weeks before the LSAT, but I only got that feeling after a couple of weeks of taking at least 6 or 7 preptests per week for a couple of weeks straight... at some point things just started to click, and click, and click, until I was hitting in the 175+ range on every preptest during the week before my exam.

Let me know how things go and what you decide to do... and if you find my advice to be helpful, I've got a bunch of posts that I'm continuing to release on http://www.lawschooli.com that might be useful to you.

Good Luck!!