Retaking the LSAT: When Should You Do It?

retaking the lsat

So, you took the LSAT once. What do you do now? Should you consider retaking the LSAT? I’ve got some reasons why you should and the scenarios in which you should do so.

Retaking the LSAT: Why Should You Do It?

The LSAT is the most important aspect of your law school applications. Your score, combined with your GPA, will make up the bulk of your argument to convince law schools to admit you into their program and to give you stacks and stacks of scholarship money.

But we’re all human, so we seldom do our best on our first try.

That is why most students often take the test 2 or 3 times to get their best score. In recent years, since the LSAC reversed the rule that restricted the number of times student could take the exam, people are even beginning to take the exam 4, 5, or 6 times.

At this point, you may expect me to talk about situations when you shouldn’t retake the LSAT. And you’d be wrong.

Because, the truth is, if you’re asking if you should retake the LSAT, the answer is probably yes. Law schools, with the exception of a handful of the top 5 schools in the country, literally only care about your highest score. So, the $195 registration fee is all you have to lose if you choose to retake.

Don’t be confused by people who say that law schools average student’s LSAT scores (they don’t) or by law school’s websites who say that they “take all LSAT scores into consideration” (unless it’s Harvard, Yale, or Stanford, they don’t).

So, to answer the question “Should I retake the LSAT?” the answer will almost always be a resounding YES.

Law school hopefuls remain confused on this topic though, so I’ll describe some specific situations in which students should definitely retake the LSAT.

Retaking the LSAT Because You Scored Significantly Lower than Your Practice Test Average

If you get your official LSAT score back and it is significantly lower than your practice test average, you should retake. For example, if your last 3 practice test scores were a 165, 167, and 166, but on test day you scored a 158, you should definitely retake the LSAT.

The reason you should retake is that your practice test scores more accurately reflect your capabilities than your official score does. Law schools want to see the best version of you, not the worst.

The cause of your 158 on test day could’ve been anything from test day jitters to a simple mistake on a logic game. No matter the case, the 158 score wasn’t close to your potential, so why give up?

Retaking the LSAT When Your Practice Test Scores Were Increasing

If you took the official LSAT while your practice test scores were still following an upward trend, you should retake. For example, say you scored a 145 diagnostic. One month later, you score a 150 on a practice test, and the month after that, you score a 155. That same week, you take the official LSAT and get a 154. This student should retake the LSAT.

The upward practice test score trend shows that the students have likely not reached their score potential and would probably continue to see their PT scores increase if they continued to study. This student should do exactly that, then retake the LSAT when they’re fully prepared.

To put this in perspective, consider this analogy: say you’re setting a fitness goal of running 1 mile as fast as you can, and you have as long as you need to prepare. You start off as a total couch potato who takes 30 minutes to walk a mile. You commit yourself to the goal, though, and after a month of running every day, it takes you 15 minutes. A month after that, you’re running a mile in 10 minutes.

So, after 2 months, would it be accurate to say the fastest you’re ever going to run a mile is 10 minutes? Of course not. If you just keep running consistently, you’ll probably be able to run a mile closer to 7 minutes than 10.

The LSAT is just like that. Don’t quit working while you’re still getting better. Don’t turn your back on untapped potential. If you take the LSAT while your practice test scores are still increasing, keep studying and retake the test.

Retaking the LSAT Because You Weren’t Prepared

This may seem obvious, but if you weren’t prepared for the test when you took the LSAT (and you shockingly didn’t do well), you should retake the LSAT.

I encourage students to wait until they are well prepared for the test before paying money to take it, but many people choose to go against this advice. It amazes me how many people think they’ll just naturally perform at an elite level on this test.

But don’t let a bad official score keep you from doing your best. If you weren’t prepared on test day and did badly, get to work and prepare to retake the LSAT.

Retaking the LSAT Because Something Went Horribly Wrong on Test Day

Another seemingly obvious situation that warrants retaking the LSAT is if something went horribly wrong on test day.

If you suffered through explosive diarrhea during the LSAT, you should retake.

Woke up the morning of the test with the flu? You should retake.

When the proctor in your exam room was singing “Thank you, next” the entire time, you should retake.

Basically, if anything happened during test day that would have an obvious and serious negative effect on your score, keep studying and retake.

Retaking the LSAT When You Feel There Is a Chance You Could Do Better

And to sum it all up, if you feel there is a chance that your score could be higher, retake. No matter the cause, don’t leave points on the board.

Raising your LSAT score by just 1 point could mean the difference between rejection and acceptance, or barely getting into a school and getting a significant scholarship.

When in doubt, retake.

And of course, if you’re not yet using an LSAT prep course, start doing that as well.

Finally, to get great information and free advice, sign up for my LSAT newsletter.

Sign up for my LSAT newsletter!

About the Author John Wilson Booth

John Wilson Booth grew up in Alabama and attended the University of Alabama. He moved to Salt Lake City after graduation and began studying for the LSAT. His cold diagnostic score was a 154 and he self-studied to a 171. Now, he works as a writer as he decides which law school to attend.