There are plenty of reasons to stress out about your law school applications. Retaking the LSAT is not one of them.
There is a lot of misinformation about this because policies have changed. Back in the olden days before 2006, law schools reported to the Law School Admissions Council, or LSAC, the average LSAT score of their incoming students, which was a weighty factor in law school rankings. To keep their rankings high, law schools generally averaged each applicant’s LSAT scores in their admissions decisions.
In 2006, reporting changed from average of LSAT scores to the highest LSAT score, and law schools followed suit. With the proliferation of test preparation options, discouraging applicants from retaking the test made little sense.
Now, some law schools commit outright to considering an applicant’s highest score only, while others claim to look at all scores. Effectively, however, law schools take your highest score no matter how many times you take the test.
Is There a Limit on Retaking the LSAT?
With the introduction of the digital LSAT, LSAC expanded its test offerings to nine per year and raised the limit on how many tests applicants can take. LSAC currently allows applicants to take the LSAT up to three times in a single testing year — from June to May — five times within five years or seven times overall.
Right now, few applicants need to worry about those limits, because the remotely proctored LSAT-Flex tests being offered during the COVID-19 pandemic do not count against the total. Moreover, tests taken prior to September 2019 also do not count against the limit. So, for the time being, it is open season on LSATs.
Why Not Take the LSAT Again and Again?
First, registering for the LSAT costs $200 per test. Need-based fee waivers cover only two tests over two years. Applicants looking for practice tests can find much cheaper options, even for proctored practice tests in live settings.
Second, law schools will see each time applicants take the LSAT, even if an applicant cancels the score. Obsessively retaking the LSAT can look a little unprofessional, since law schools value time management, working under pressure and self-motivation. An upwardly trending score shows improvement, but multiple retakes without a change in results looks more like the definition of insanity.
Applicants forced to retake the LSAT several times because of extenuating circumstances can explain their situation in an addendum. However, multiple retakes can usually be avoided with a well-structured study plan.
Finally, retaking the LSAT too late in the admissions cycle, particularly after October or November, risks application delays that reduce odds of admission to law school. To leave room to retake the test, be sure to schedule your first test by August or September.
What About Other Standardized Tests?
Although the LSAT is still the dominant test for law school applicants, it is no longer the only one. According to the Educational Testing Service, more than 60 American and two foreign law schools accept GRE General Test scores as an alternative to the LSAT.
A few law schools also accept the GMAT, like Cornell University Law School and the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. The Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the GMAT, reports that more than two dozen American and foreign law schools accept the GMAT for combined programs like a J.D.-MBA.
The LSAC automatically reports LSAT scores to you and the law schools to which you have applied while the other tests require you to select recipients. Law schools that accept the GRE typically require applicants to report all GRE scores. Presumably, they would look only at applicants’ highest scores for the GRE or GMAT, but policies on this are unclear and depend on the law school.
Furthermore, some law schools no longer require a standardized test score at all, although they still recommend one as evidence of the potential for academic success.
Ultimately, if you are currently applying to law school, do not worry about retaking the LSAT. If you receive a disappointing score that you know you can surpass, schedule another test and build up your skills through diligent and methodical practice.
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How Law Schools Look at Applicants With Multiple LSAT Scores originally appeared on usnews.com