The June 2011 LSAT is history. Scores came out earlier this week and, by now, you’ve had a few days to mull things over. If you’re feeling good about your score, congratulations and welcome to the world of law school applications (yay). If you’re disappointed with your score, don’t worry, you’re in good company. Though the goal is to take the LSAT just once, there are plenty of applicants who retake the test because their initial scores aren’t what they hoped.
But what if your not sure? It’s not always so clear whether you should retake the LSAT. How can you tell if you’ve gotten all you’re going to get from this test?
Maybe you can improve your score, but that’s easier said than done. In our recent podcast, Cancelling or Retaking the LSAT: What to Do When Test Day Doesn’t Go As Planned, we asked our guest experts for some guideposts.
Noah Teitelbaum is the Managing Director of Manhattan LSAT, and he says there aren’t a lot of good reasons to retake the LSAT, unless you prepare differently. “If you realize you didn’t do the preparation you could of and realize you can go a lot further, that’s a good reason. Another issue is maybe you do pretty well. Your applications are going in, but you have a feeling you can do even better, that’s a great reason to retake. But, I will say that statistically, people don’t do that much better on average when they retake. So, unless you just happened to have like a really bad day or like, you know, every single one of your pencils broke, you know, in a freak-pencil catastrophe, chances are you’re going to do the same. So, you’re going to have to dig deep in your preparation to do better. People are often delusional about what happened on test day and they also discredit stress and they think oh, I just got stressed out on that test day. I won’t get stressed out the next time. The act of saying that doesn’t end up making you not stressed out the next time. So, if there’s a medical issue, then you need to go see a doctor and deal with that. You need to learn some relaxation techniques. Whatever it is, you need to put a plan in place that’s going to change the way you take the test if you’ll go in and retake it.”
Even with all the right preparation, things do go wrong on test day. But, it’s important to consider how the law schools you’ll be applying to evaluate multiple test scores. The law schools see all your scores, and while most schools take your highest score, some schools do look at the average of all your scores. Though an ABA policy provides a good incentive for law schools to look at just your highest score, some schools will average your score and Richard Geiger, the Dean of Admissions at Cornell Law School, explains the reason. “Developers of the test, experts in psychometrics will tell you that if you take the test twice, the average score is going to be the best predictor of how you will do in law school. And so, we keep that in mind when we look at multiple scores that, any one score is really just estimation — of what you want to think of it as is an estimation of your true score. So, the more examples that you have of that estimate, the better you can sort of hone in on what the true score might be and it happens that the average of multiple scores tends to be the best predictor.”
How can you tell which approach (highest score or average of scores) is used by the law schools you’re applying to? Go to their websites and look.
Learn more to help you sort out your options by listening to our full podcast!