So you re-took the LSAT and did worse the second time. Maybe it was your third time. Regardless-don’t worry! This is a super common situation. When I applied to law school, I took the LSAT 3 different times. The second time I took the test, I scored a 170.
That was a pretty good score, I thought, until I saw that most top law school median LSATs went up that year, AND they decided to change the rules to accept the highest score. (In the past, they averaged ALL of your scores so there was a significant downside to re-taking.)
I can’t even begin to describe the amount of stress I went through when I scored lower that third time. I thought I really screwed myself over by taking the risk of sitting for the LSAT after I’d scored a 170.
But in the end it didn’t matter. Here’s why:
Law Schools Only Care About Your Highest Score
If you examine the self-interest of law school admissions departments, you’ll find that maximizing their LSAT medians (and quartiles) is a huge priority. As long as they can report your highest score, they’re not really going to care that much about your second highest score. Now maybe–maybe, if there’s a gigantic drop of say, 8+ points, they’ll have second thoughts. But even then they might just defer your decision until later.
It Says Nothing About Your Ability
Most applicants believe that the LSAT somehow suggests how ready they are for law school, or how smart they are. In reality, the LSAT is an imperfect measure of legal aptitude–and law schools know this. If you score a 165, for example, your “true” score is probably anywhere from 162 to 168. That’s a huge range! So if your score drops by a few points, that’s just your standard measurement error. Law schools know this.
An Otherwise Solid Application Will Make Up For It
If you’ve got great grades (or even just OK grades) this probably won’t be a huge issue. Schools will look at the totality of your application, and won’t reject you outright. If you’ve got a long record of academic success, your total record will carry the day. However, if you’ve got bad grades, AND a big score drop, you’ve got a little bit more of a concern. But that’s where putting together a strong, coherent applicant with recommendations that mitigate your weaknesses, artfully deployed addenda, and a strong personal statement comes in.
Take the LSAT a Third Time!
If you did worse your second time, absolutely go for it again. Don’t just let that second score sit there. If you take it a third time, and that ends up being your highest score, law schools will–out of self interest–consider that the only LSAT score that really matters. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of the LSAT to the admissions committee. Admissions Deans have lost their jobs due to plummeting law school rankings due to falling LSAT medians. You better believe they’re looking out for themselves.
So keep your head up. Re-take that LSAT. Double down on your preparation, and make sure you’re preparing the right way. If you’re not sure if you need to take a course or self-study, take a look at my post Should You Take a LSAT Prep Course? Five Questions to Ask Yourself First.