Let’s Talk February LSAT

Law School Expert Blog

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:

Rushing to Re-take the LSAT in February?

Taking the February LSAT – pros and cons, tips and strategies.

22 Responses

  1. Welcome Back!! I was waiting patiently to hear what you had to say about the December LSAT. I was more than confident this time around, but I only went up 7pts to a 135. I took the test in Dec 2008 (cancelled score), took in Feb 08 (128), and Dec 09(135). I do not recommend the February test date. I thought it would be enough time to improve, but I ended up scoring 128. The first time I went with Princeton Review, but last Dec I found a private tutor off of craigslist. The private tutoring was awesome. It helped out a bit and I am not freaked out so much about the test. I need to work on games and timing. Question: Since I have already taken the exam 3 times, will I be allowed to take it again? If not, I am considering an mba program or possibly taking it in 2011 if allowed.


    1. Hi KL, You can wait until your first LSAT score “falls off” the 2 year calendar (at the end of this year) and then you can take the February or June LSAT in 2011. I’m glad the tutor was helpful. It’s so important to understand that LSAT prep is not a one-size-fits all approach. I’ll be posting a blog article in the next week or two about How to Find an LSAT Tutor. I finally have time to blog again!

  2. I took the LSAT in 2005 and scored a 135. I decided gain some experience at a law firm as a paralegal. I want to take the June 2010 exam and apply for law school for Fall 2011. I would like to know 1 – has my 2005 score expired and if not, will the schools I apply to look at that score and 2 – will my experience as a paralegal be beneficial when applying to law school?

    1. Hi NA, Thanks for writing. If you’re applying for Fall 2011, schools should not see that score (depending on when you submit applications – call LSAC and ask when the score will fall off your report to be sure).
      The paralegal experience shows you know what you’re getting yourself into when applying to law school, so it’s definitely beneficial in that way. Taking the June LSAT and applying early in the fall sounds like a fantastic plan. I wish you all the best, and let me know if I can help in any way.

  3. Thank you. I will contact LSAC on that subject. If they tell me that score will not expire within the time I send out applications, how will it effect the score for the June 2010 LSAT and the school’s decision? And also would I need to prepare an Addendum to explain the 2005 score? Since I am interested in the part-time division evening program, I will be applying to only three schools that offer that in New York – Fordham, NYLS and Brooklyn Law School.

  4. Hi NA, It won’t affect the score on your June 2010 LSAT, but might require an addendum to explain the first sore. Schools take the highest of multiple scores (generally) so the new score will (hopefully, assuming it’s higher) be the one that counts in the admission process.

  5. Hey Ann,

    I’m reading The Law School Admission Game right now and love it! Here’s my big question: I’m scheduled to take the Feb LSAT and I’m expecting (hoping?) that my UGPA + my LSAT will put me right about at the median for Georgetown. If I apply for 2010 and do not get accepted because it is so late in the process, will I be less likely to get accepted if I apply again in October for 2011? Do admissions departments look unfavorably at a second application? I’m 29, and I’d like to start law school as soon as possible. Should I give Fall 2010 a shot?
    Thanks for your help!

    1. Michael, I’m so glad the book is helpful. If you’re so inclined, I would truly appreciate a review on Amazon.
      There is no harm in applying this year and trying; you would need to update your personal statement, resume, etc. for next year and make sure both this year’s application and next year’s are thorough and well done because schools usually keep the previous application stapled right under the new one. You don’t want to appear lazy by submitting the same things twice and just having an increased LSAT.
      Good luck!

  6. Ann,

    I took the LSAT in October of 2009 with no preparation and got a 155. I’m wanting to get into top tier schools, so I was hoping to wait and improve my score to the upper 160s/lower 170s. I took a prep class, and have been studying- signed up to take the test in October 2010, but decided I wasn’t ready and didn’t go. I’ve been getting the score I want on practice tests, but I just took the December 2010 test a couple days ago, and completely panicked and feel awful about my performance. I am planning to cancel my score today or tomorrow. I want to re-take the test in February, but I am worried about how that will look or if I will be limiting my chances of admittance several. Any tips?

    1. Hi Rachel,
      February is really too late. Are you sure you didn’t beat your 155? Also, are you sure you are eligible to retake the test since you’ve signed up for 3? I am not clear about your no-show in October 2010.

  7. I am fairly positive I did not beat my 155. Logic Games is my highest scoring section. I normally don’t miss any questions in that section, and that happens to be the section where I freaked out and could barely think.

    How would I find out if it is possible to take the test more than 3 times?

  8. Ann,

    I just contacted LSAC and they confirmed that my absence in October would not count as one of the 3 times you are eligible to take the exam.

  9. (cont.)

    Would it be best to take the test in February and apply late in the cycle? Or take the test in June and apply for next fall?

    I don’t want to take another year off, but I want to make the best decision to get into the best school possible.

  10. Rachel, The February test is effectively too late. You may want to consider waiting for June and applying for Fall 2012 since your goal is to set yourself up to have the best possible choices.

  11. Hi Rachel, I am currently applying to law schools with an LSAT score that I’m pretty sure I can improve. I was considering taking the February LSAT as sort of a litmus test. That is, I would apply to my current target schools. If I did well on the Feb exam, I would wait until next year and reapply to top tier schools. If I didn’t, I would consider the target schools that accept me. After reading your post, this strategy seems morally questionable. Do you have any advice?? Thank you!!

    1. Hi Margo, You did confuse me with the Rachel thing. Thanks for your patience – I’ve been on vacation and didn’t see the post.
      I don’t see a moral problem with what you are doing so long as your current schools don’t hold your applications for your February score.

  12. Hi Anne,
    Thank you for your in informative website, time and effort.
    I am considering taking the Feb LSAT for Fall 2012 admissions and graduating this year (2011). I will be working for the year that I am off to increase my experience, as I have read that law schools appreciate work experience and consider it for admissions.
    Do you recommend I take the Feb LSAT in my case? or any other suggestions and/or advice?
    Thank you!

    1. Yusuf, by the time you apply to law school you’ll only have 3 months of work experience so that’s not really the deciding factor for me. If you have time to prepare for the Feb. LSAT then great, however it’s right around the corner and there’s no reason to rush. For many people taking a year off from school, October is the best LSAT because you have all summer to prepare.

  13. Ann,
    I have bought and read your book (wonderful advice on compiling my application materials) I took the December 2010 LSAT and scored a 144. I decided to take a year off and just recently took the December 2011 test. I had a meltdown and cancelled my score during the test (the only standardized tests I have taken are the SAT and the LSAT.) I have already begun to continue preparing for the February 2012 test, but I was wondering if I should apply now to a regional school (I’m in Texas) with my 144 and a 3.4 from a popular state school in order to take advantage of the tail end of rolling admission?. I do NOT want to take another year off but is the February test even worth it for most Texas Law Schools?

    1. Ashlea, I’m so glad the book was helpful! (I always love 5-star reviews on Amazon if you’re so inclined).
      You can try to apply with this score and see what happens, but then don’t take February. Wait and take June so that if you don’t get in this year you can apply early for the next cycle. The February LSAT is a mess in terms of timing for the current admission cycle.

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