Many students call us for advice about what to do once they’ve received a low LSAT score once or twice.
To be clear about our terms, we’re talking about scores <145. (This post won’t be for students who expected a 170 and ended up with a 165). That cutoff is a good metric because it tends to be the lower quartile of Tier 4 schools. To be clear, that means that some Tier 4 schools will accept at least a few students under that mark, but you’d better have an outstanding GPA (and be willing to pay full price at one of the nation’s lowest-ranked schools).
Retaking the LSAT
Most importantly, you need to think about what you can do to raise your LSAT score. If you scored 3+ points lower than you’d scored in practice, you might be able to raise your score just by working hard between now and the next test and having a better test day performance.
But if you were practicing in the 140 range and scored a 140, you need to think about what else you can do. You can consider professional prep; for example, Next Step has helped hundreds of students with one one-on-one tutoring program make the jump from the low 140’s to the high 140’s or 150’s.
Just know that if you keep doing what you did before, you’re likely to get the same results. Yes, this means that if you took a prep course and it didn’t help, re-taking the class, even for free, will likely not help. (We know this from experience, not just common sense).
If you’ve already taken the LSAT multiple times and did your best to study, it’s time to have a serious discussion with yourself about your future plans. Even if it were possible to sneak into one of the lower-ranked schools, you would be coming in towards the bottom of their class.
Some schools have conditional acceptance programs. Often, this means that you’ll be required to attend some kind of summer institute, from which they will admit some of the students that do well. These programs are a good-faith effort by the law schools to find students that could succeed in school despite poor scores, but you must still be careful.
First, make sure to find out how many students are admitted from these programs. If it’s something like 20% (which we’ve heard from many programs), please, please be honest with yourself that this means that you in particular have a 20% chance. We see far too many students certain that they’ll be the #1 student, only to find out that everyone else has that intention as well.
Waiting a Year
This is an option that too few students seriously consider. In particular, we see many students that rush to take the LSAT because they either did not plan ahead or decided at the last minute to go to law school. (Neither of these are good ideas, by the way). If you did not spend 3-5 months studying intensly for the LSAT (10+ hours per week), you probably did not get the score you might have.
Going to a good school for the right price is incredibly important. You should very seriously take a year off to work and prepare for the test.
However, we’ve seen people take this too far as well. The best way to prepare for the LSAT is to study intensely (10+ hours per week) for 3-5 months. If you don’t get the score you want, work hard for 2 more months and retake. After that, you probably have the score you’re destined to receive. We’ve spoken to students who claim to have been studying for over 4 years — don’t let that be your fate.
Next Step Test Preparation provides complete courses of one-on-one LSAT tutoring for about the price of a crowded lecture-style prep course. Email us or call 888-530-NEXT (6398) for a complimentary consultation.
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