Let’s Talk February LSAT
I admit it. I’ve been swamped. The last 2 weeks since December LSAT scores came out (yes, a week early just as I’d predicted) meant I received a lot of phone calls, emails, and facebook messages about the benefits, drawbacks, and possibilities and repercussions of taking the February LSAT for those law school applicants applying for Fall 2010 admission. The last day to change a test date is a week away, on January 17th, so I expect many more calls and questions on the topic this week.
In my book, I dedicated a page and a half to the topic “Why the February LSAT is not a good idea.” I know that many schools say they accept a February LSAT score, and that even Yale is among them, but only for Yale does it not put you at a disadvantage because it’s the one school that doesn’t operate on a rolling admission cycle. For other schools, a February LSAT score makes your application the last one read. A lot of my clients try to challenge me on this one, trying to game the system. “Ann, what if I don’t tell the school I’m taking the February LSAT?” Well, then the school won’t consider your (presumably) improved LSAT score, and you might be rejected and you can’t then turn around and say, “But wait!!! I have a new LSAT score!!!!” Some of my clients then try this approach with me, “Ann, what if I only tell the reach schools to hold my application and let the others go ahead and make a decision on my file with my current LSAT score?” Well, great, but then you’re taking advantage of the rolling admission process with schools where you supposedly already have a good shot, and the whole point of applying early is to increase your chances at a reach school….. Then, I sometimes I have to pull the ethical card – you do sign on a dotted line (or electronically sign by pressing ‘submit’) that you have a continuing obligation to update your application and not telling a school about a pending LSAT is in violation of that oath. But forgive me for getting all lawyer-y on you ; )
Here’s the deal: In my mind, if you’re waitlisted at a school there is sometimes a benefit to taking the LSAT and showing an improvement. But most people who know they are on waitlists were June or September LSAT takers who retook the LSAT in December. If you took the December LSAT, it’s too soon for you to have heard back about waitlists. Therefore, a better plan of action might be to let the schools go ahead and evaluate your file and to take the June LSAT if you believe you can improve and you are on the waiting list for a law school where an increased LSAT score would increase the probability of acceptance.
For those of you who didn’t do well on the December LSAT because of lack of preparation or difficulty with standardized testing, the additional 3-4 weeks before the February LSAT isn’t enough time to make a meaningful improvement on the test and it’s probably a much better plan to give the LSAT the time and attention it deserves by taking it in June 2010 and applying early in the Fall 2011 law school application cycle.
It’s absolutely crucial to consider the chances of significantly improving your score on a re-take. There are exceptions to every rule and every statistic, and one of my favorite movies from 2009 talks about what it means to be the exception and the rule (any guesses??). For more on this topic, these previous posts may be helpful:
Taking the February LSAT – pros and cons, tips and strategies.