Around this time of year, some law school applicants ponder the question — do I wait to complete my application and re-take the February LSAT or do I go ahead and submit a weaker score and get my application read earlier in the process?
On the one hand, if you take the LSAT multiple times, many law schools weigh most heavily your highest score and there are schools that will still consider your application with a February LSAT score. Rob Schwartz, Assistant Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at UCLA Law tells us “many schools today will put a lot of emphasis on the high LSAT and we do that here at UCLA — meaning if somebody takes it multiple times, we’ll put a lot of weight on the higher score. Many schools will accept the December administration of the LSAT and some schools will even accept the February administration of the LSAT, even in the year in which you are applying — and we’re one of those schools.”
On the other hand, we’ve also heard over and over again that the best strategy is to get the earliest possible consideration of your application. Andy Cornblatt, Dean of Admissions at Georgetown University Law Center, explains that “most law schools have rolling admissions and that means the sooner you apply, the better your chances are of being admitted.” He tells us that “when” you apply is critical and communicates an important message to the admissions committee. “Someone who is on top of their game and who is applying early and who is in the mix sooner rather than later. That communicates to us someone who is organized and someone who is really interested.”
In weighing your best option, keep in mind that, while some schools do “accept” February LSAT scores, this means your application necessarily will be considered later in the rolling admissions cycle — most likely in March. By then, law schools will have already accepted many applicants and will have placed lots of others on the waiting list. Your February score will have to be good — really good — to earn you a spot in that school’s class. In short, your application will have to show qualifications above and beyond those already on the waiting list. So, while some schools do accept the February LSAT, only the most qualified applicants are likely to get in at that point.
Bottom line? Unless you think you’re going to have time to really prepare and nail that February exam, it might be better to complete your application and submit it with your current score(s). If you do elect to re-take, make sure you prepare and have a reasonable degree of confidence your score will improve enough to make it worth risking the delay in completing your application.
For more tips on the best application strategies, tune in to hear our podcast “Law School Application Strategy: What You Can Do Now To Get Accepted.”