For an LSAT test-taker, the only thing more frustrating than a disappointing score is to retake the test and score even lower. Many feel tempted to panic, doubt their own abilities and throw in the towel.
Here is some advice to help you bounce back and break a losing streak.
- Take a break to reflect.
- Consider canceling the score.
- Decide whether to retake the test.
- Create a game plan to rebound.
Take a Break to Reflect
It is understandable to feel angry or disappointed about a lower LSAT score, particularly if you were eager to toss your prep books and move on. Give yourself time to work through those emotions so that they don’t worsen any test anxiety.
Remember that many prospective law school students have been in this position before, and that didn’t stop them from submitting successful law school applications. The LSAT is important, but there are ways to make up for low test scores.
Consider Canceling the Score
Did you purchase the Score Preview option before or after you took the test? If so, good move! You can cancel your score guilt-free. A string of canceled scores may look awry, but there is no reason to worry about one or two.
If you did not know about LSAT Score Preview, it allows test-takers to see their score before deciding whether to cancel it. Without this option, score cancellation is only possible within six days after the test, before the score is released. The current cost is $45 if purchased before the first session of a test administration, or $75 for a limited time after.
Decide Whether to Retake the Test
It’s common to take the LSAT multiple times, and there is generally little penalty for doing so. If you have not taken the LSAT three times within one testing year, five times within five years, or seven times overall, there are many reasons to consider retaking the test.
One major reason not to retake the LSAT would be if it is already late in the cycle in which you plan to apply. Law admissions are rolling, and a pending test on your record would delay your application’s review.
The December LSAT may still be worth it, but if you are applying to highly selective schools and plan to take the test in January or later, you are likely better off waiting to apply the next cycle.
Another reason not to retake the test after a score drop would be if you already have a decent score. Admissions officers understand that everyone has off days, but your original score may look shakier if followed by multiple lower or canceled scores.
Give yourself a gut check after taking the LSAT a couple of times with disappointing results. Have you consistently scored better on practice tests? Were there any extenuating circumstances, like a bad night’s sleep or a section you only finished halfway? Is it time to dig in or to cut your losses?
Create a Game Plan to Rebound
If your LSAT score is stuck or dropping, it can feel tempting to respond by punishing yourself with more practice. Not all practice is helpful, however. If you mindlessly churn through practice tests one after another, you will soon run out of new questions without meaningful gains.
Instead, practice must be focused and methodical. Put your time and energy into reviewing your performance, looking for points of improvement and targeting those weak points until they turn into strengths.
Whichever study method you used, go back and review fundamental skills to make sure you are approaching every question type correctly. Use both timed and untimed practice tests to uncover blind spots and experiment with different approaches.
Don’t assume that practicing the same way you did before is going to change your results. Indeed, it may reinforce bad test habits. Consider working with a tutor or new prep book to learn different methods.
Setbacks are a test of faith, but a well-managed recovery can build self-confidence that will prove crucial to a long and successful legal career. After all, the life of an attorney has plenty of low points as well, from unfavorable verdicts to collapsed deals.
Whatever you choose to do after an LSAT score drop, keep a cool head and try not to let your emotions about the test drive your next move.