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How Retakers Should Approach the December LSAT

Judgment Day is nigh. Depending on your beliefs, that either means the Second Coming and a battle with Satan, Skynet becoming self-aware, or you’re taking the LSAT for the second time. While my personal beliefs tend towards a crazy, conspiracy-laden combination of the first two, I know many of you are facing the third.

How should you be prepping at the last minute for an LSAT retake this weekend? Here are some tips:

1) Don’t let your nerves get the best of you

If you’re retaking, you’re in one of two camps.

One camp took the exam the first time, received a score with which they’re happy, but wants a few more security points/extra scholarship cash points. If you’re in this camp, relaxing should be easy. You’ve already hit your target. The extra is now gravy. Go in, rock the test and enjoy going to law school for a few dollars less. Even if you bomb it, your higher score will still stand, so you should be Cool Hand Luke (apparently this is going to be a movie reference post).

Those in the other camp bombed their first exam and are relying on a higher score to help their chances of admission. If this describes you, relaxing can be hard to do. A lot is riding on this exam. Hopefully, you’ve put in the LSAT prep time and are now practicing at your target LSAT score. If that’s the case, just know that you’re where you want to be, and why should you worry? (If that’s not the case, on to Nos. 2 and 3.)

2) Your LSAT practice tests are pretty good indicators, but a few points lower is normal

Unless you’re much bolder than the average person, you’ve been prepping for your retake. Since you already learned the material for the first LSAT exam, you should have been partaking in a lot of practice tests and practice test reviews.

Your practice test average is the best indicator of how you’re going to do on test day. Throw out the high and the low (since they were due to a Reading Comp passage on your thesis topic and an undigested bit of beef, respectively), and take the average of the remaining exams from the past 2-3 weeks. That should give you a good idea of where you’re at.

Then, take 3 points off. That’s a good indicator of how you’ll do on LSAT test day.

Why? Two reasons. First, you can’t help but be a bit nervous on test day. It’s a natural human response. When you’re about to do something nerve-wracking, your body shoots out adrenaline. Revved up and ready to go is no way to take a logic test, so that can mess with you. Plus, if you undersell your average, you’ll have a better idea as to whether you really will see an improvement.

3) So, what to do if your PT average isn’t where you want it to be?

Don’t count on a test day bump. Few people see the phenomenon, but it’s a little like Nessie: the picture’s always fuzzy and someone’s wearing a watch.

If you’re scoring appreciably below where you want to be (and you fall into the second, need-this-score-to-be-good camp), you should postpone. It’s not worth sitting for the exam if you’re not going to get the score that you want.

Unfortunately, at this point in the year, that probably means taking another year off. However, you can use that year to prep for the June LSAT, get some work experience, and be a much stronger candidate next year. Plus, it won’t hurt to save up some cash. It’s not admitting defeat; it’s more of an, “I’ll be back.”

(In the comments, name all the movie and song references and win my undying affection, or maybe something else. I believe there are 4 and 2, respectively, though there’s some overlap in one of them.)