Take the LSAT on Saturday or Wait Until December?

That’s the question a Law School Podcaster listener recently posed on our blog.  We turned, of course, to the Manhattan LSAT prep team for the helpful response that follows.

Our listener asks:

I took the June LSAT and had been doing independent study for it the 2-3 months leading up to the test date. I was averaging 155 on my practice tests but a large part of the problem was my living situation. The Monday before the test I had a series of family emergencies and ended up spending all of my time that I wasn’t at work at the hospital. I sat through the test and decided and afterward decided to cancel my score. Now I have taken a prep class and am scoring 160 on my practice tests. I plan to move out to ensure that I can concentrate on law school apps. However the October LSAT is just around the corner and I am not sure whether or not to take the test, postpone it, or take it and again retake in December. I am trying to get into a top 10 school and I know that a 160 doesn’t cut it. I would need a 10 pt. improvement at least. Would law schools consider me a third time test taker if the first scores were never published? I want to make sure I get a 170 but I also feel like I have been studying for this test for the past 6 months now.

 Manhattan LSAT says:

For the most part, Admissions Officers are going to pay very little attention to “cancelled” scores. While it does count against your “3 tests in any two year period” quota, one cancellation will not hurt your chances of getting in to a top tier law school.

The bigger question for you, I think, is whether or not to sit for the Oct test. If you know you need a 170, but are now PT’ing at ~160, I do not think it is wise for you to sit for the exam on Saturday. The best case scenario for you will be a low 160s score, which by your own admission is lower than what you require to get in to the schools you’re aiming for. There are very few advantages to taking this test just to get that score, and many disadvantages. The ONLY advantage would be that you would get the experience, once again, of sitting for a real LSAT. Since you’ve done this once already, I would not recommend taking the test just for the purposes of real-life practice.

The disadvantages, on the other hand, are numerous. First, you will now only be eligible to sit for the test one more time. That adds a tremendous amount of pressure to your December LSAT. I am not sure what your timelines are, but if you are not married to the idea of starting next Fall, wouldn’t it be nice to go in to the December LSAT with a higher PT average AND the knowledge that if you fall short of your target score, you can retake one more time?

Another disadvantage is that while there are mixed opinions on this, I have heard that two cancelled scores may raise some eyebrows. I know that one cancel is no big deal, while two might be something that you need to explain in an addendum.

On the whole, my recommendation would be to put in a solid study effort over the next two months to get that PT average up in the 170 range. That way you can take the December LSAT with a reasonable shot at reaching your target score, and with the comfort of knowing that if something doesn’t go your way on test day, you could always sit for this thing one last time.

I hope this advice is helpful! ˜ Cory Ferreira, Manhattan LSAT