Not hitting your Goal LSAT Score?

Law School Expert Blog

I’m fielding a lot of calls and emails right now from people scheduled to take the LSAT in October who are not seeing the kind of progress with their LSAT practice scores that they would like to be seeing. Here are three thoughts geared toward those individuals:

1. If you set a “goal” score, and you’re stressing over not hitting that score, then that’s not a reason to stress. See this post I wrote last year about why a “goal score” doesn’t work on the LSAT – this is an aptitude test and not a rote memorization test, so working longer or harder doesn’t necessarily translate into a higher LSAT score result.

2. A lot of you take a series of practice tests, only to panic when you get a lower score on one than you did on the previous one. No one sees a perfect upward trend on practice tests – relax! This is part of practicing. Don’t let this get you down.

3. If your month of September has been crazier than you anticipated (you’re back at school, starting a new job, helping with sorority rush, etc.) then consider waiting for the December LSAT. Yes, it means a disadvantage in terms of rolling admissions, but it’s always better to apply with a higher LSAT score than a lower one (unless we’re just talking a 1 or 2 point increase). So if you feel that waiting could raise your score significantly, then it’s a no-brainer.

10 Responses

  1. Hi Ann,

    Thanks for this post. I am scheduled to take the October LSAT (less than 2 weeks away), and have been steadily practicing for the exam since mid-July. I am taking the Testmasters course, and have already taken five full diagnostic exams.

    Since coming back to school in September, however, my schedule has really become “crazier,” as you put it. I have already postponed or cancelled a lot of engagements because of this exam, while trying to balance my senior year somehow without becoming a complete workaholic. Although I am studying as hard as I can, it’s difficult to keep the pace that I was at in July, and I have no doubt this has somehow affected my test-taking ability.

    My main concern right now is that I am not hitting my goal score. I understand you said that this should not be a concern if you feel you’ve prepared for it adequately, but the truth of the matter is, I am determined to get into a top-15 school (my dream schools are NYU and Columbia) and can accept nothing less than a score at least in the mid-160s. My GPA is decent – higher than 3.5. Right now I am steadily scoring in the high-150s, and have yet to break 160 despite my full confidence that I can do it. People have been telling me that two weeks is still enough time to break it, but I am not certain. My instinct is telling me to take it in October, while my reason is saying December would be better. I am at a loss right now, and could really use some advice.

    I can assure you I am working around the clock studying for this exam so it is not a lack of confidence that is causing me to re-think about taking this exam. I feel like I am FULLY prepared, it is just the numbers that are not adding up for me.

    Any advice would really be appreciated. Thanks!



    1. Hannah, two weeks is not enough time to bring your score up 5+ points. My next question is this: Will you have more time to study for the December test? If the answer is “no” then you should consider applying to law school next year instead, and spend the summer studying for the October 2012 LSAT.
      I hope this helps, but if you’re determined to attend law school this year, you’re going to have to make some changes to make that happen if you would not be satisfied with a score in the high 150s.

  2. Hello,

    I just took the October 2011 LSAT. I scored a 145. I have a GPA of 3.39. I scored higher on my practice LSAT exams. Should I retake the LSAT in December? I am applying now to schools for the Fall of 2012.

    Thank you,

  3. Ms. Levine,

    I received my LSAT score yesterday morning and was disappointed to see I received a 147. Throughout my practice exams, 156 was my highest score and 147 was my lowest. I was hoping for a 152 but would have been satisfied with a 150. I assumed a score in the 140’s, even if it was high, does not look well to law schools.

    Therefore, my first question to you is: Does the few points difference really matter that much?

    Also, if the points do help, would it be best for me to apply for the December LSAT? Or will applying early with a low LSAT be more beneficial for me?

    I am applying for this coming fall and would like to get into a decent law school. I would love to attend the University of Colorado in Boulder but I am aware that I would most likely be wasting my time (and money) by applying there. Do you have a suggestion on a few law schools that are in my range? Location makes no differene to me.

    Thank you for any advice you are able to offer. I’m quite at a loss.


    1. Nicole, the question about whether a few points matter depends on what LSAT # a school is looking for, if it would be a big reach at 152, then it’s a huge reach with a 147 (Such as with Colorado). You need to look at the 25th percentiles for each school, and also at those helpful grids that schools provide in the ABA LSAC Official Guide to US Law Schools.
      Only take the test again if you are confident you could improve by a few points. IF you feel a 152 is plausible you should consider applying.

  4. Okay, so if a school’s 25th percentile is around a 154 (Such as Montana or Wyoming-where I would like to apply), I should take the LSAT again in December assuming I feel I may be able to reach a 152?

    The reason I’m having such a tough time deciding is that I know I won’t have the advantage of rolling admissions. I don’t know which option is smarter in this situation?

    Also, if they average my scores I’m assuming it may be best to apply early instead?

    Thank you so much for your advice. This is all so stressful.

  5. Schools take the highest of multiple scores. If they say they average them, they just mean to create the index score. I explain this in The Law School Admission Game. Always better to have higher score in December, even though you’re applying later.

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