What To Do With December LSAT Disappointment

The LSAT is a cruel, cruel mistress—it takes your time and money, it makes you stress and worry, and it can leave you depressed and disappointed. If you’ve been left unsatisfied by your December LSAT score or feel as though you’ve been jilted at the altar of law school applications, this post is meant to help you evaluate your options.

First and foremost, you should consider whether or not your score is truly subpar. When I got my LSAT results, I was a little disappointed because I scored lower than I had on several practice tests. I briefly considered retaking. Upon further consideration, I realized that my actual score was the same as my average practice test score (even though it was lower than my highest results). Furthermore, while I was not within the score range for my reach schools, I was squarely within the range for my target schools. I would advise you to take both of these concerns into account—whether your score is within a few points of your average and whether or not your score makes you competitive for your target schools—in considering whether you actually performed poorly.

If your score is well below your average or you are not competitive for your target schools, you might want to consider retaking. Because the application cycle is almost over, your only option if you want to apply this cycle is to retake in February. Unfortunately, it will be too late to apply to a lot of schools by the time you get your February LSAT score. Additionally, applying late in the cycle means that your chances at acceptance or financial aid are diminished (applications are evaluated on a first come, first serve basis).

In light of these facts, I would probably wait to apply until next cycle. Ideally, I would aim to take the test in June—this would give you the opportunity to take a brief break from the LSAT to avoid burnout, and then allow you to spend a few months getting back to peak performance for the test date. You will also get your score in plenty of time to put together a solid set of application materials. Of course, you could still take the test in February if you feel as though your suboptimal performance on the December test was an aberration. Alternatively, you could also wait until September if you think you need more than a few months away from the LSAT.

Finally, many of you may be asking whether it is worth applying this cycle even with a less than ideal score. I would recommend against this. There is no reason to rush into the application process. Law school is an incredibly serious investment of both time and money. For most people, it is worth waiting a year and applying with a better score. All signs point to the pool of LSAT-takers continuing to shrink next year, so law school will probably become even more of a “buyer’s market” going forward.

Relationships take work. If the December LSAT treated you badly and left you broken-hearted, you can work through it. If you put in the time and effort, you can find the fairytale romance that will let you live happily ever after (if going to law school can be considered living happily…).

3 Responses

  1. CT says:

    Looking for some advice – I scored a 170 on the December LSAT after typically scoring between 172-179 on all my practice tests. I failed to pay attention to the time in my best section and lost 3 points I would have gotten, and got 6 points wrong in the reading comp section which had never happened to me before. I’m not planning on applying until fall 2015 so timing isn’t an issue for me. My GPA is 3.82 and I’m really hoping to go to Columbia. I feel like these were avoidable mistakes since I was sick on my test date, but I’m worried about having a second score making my application look weaker if I only go up to a 172 or if I score lower, particularly since Columbia’s retake policy is so vague. What do you think? Thanks!!

    • Greg Nix says:

      Hey CT,

      Have you taken a look at our Law School Compass tool? That’ll give you an idea of your current chances at Columbia, depending on the strength of your application and recommendations. You just need to sign up for a free account to use it.

      That said, I’d guess you’re probably pretty competitive at Columbia with a 170. I’m not familiar with the particulars of their retake policy, but it’s hard for a 172 to look bad, even if it’s only a small improvement from before. A higher score also might help you get more scholarship money.

      I think the key thing to decide is how much more of your life you want to devote to the LSAT. If you’re truly disappointed with your score and are 99% positive you can do better, then take it again. But if you think you need several more months of studying to do so, it might not be worth it.

      It also couldn’t hurt to call Columbia, and ask for clarification on their retake policy. If you outline your situation to an admissions rep, they might be able to give you a better idea of what to do.

  2. Evan Guthrie says:

    Thanks for the words of encouragement for the Dec LSAT results.

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