A reader left this great (and often-asked) question on my blog last weekend:
“So if I am planning to take both October and December, I should wait to apply until my LSAT score for December is out?”
Here is my problem with this question – it’s not about when you submit applications, it’s about why on earth you would PLAN to take both the October and December LSATs.
We are 5 weeks away from the October LSAT. If, in about 3 weeks, you don’t feel ready for the LSAT, please don’t take the test! Change your test date until December, get your best possible score, and apply in early/mid-January.
If you are ready for the October LSAT, then why are you also taking December? If you get a score that represents your aptitude on the exam in October, it would be silly to throw away the advantage of applying early because you are taking the December LSAT. Only continue on to take the test in December if the October score ends up not being in line with your consistent practice exam scores. If it’s close to your best possible score, then go ahead and apply in early/mid (or even late) November, and do not retake the test in December.
People who plan to take both tests usually suffer from the following fallacies in their logic (which doesn’t bode well for LSAT performance, does it?):
1. I will try the October test for the experience of it. (Really? This doesn’t sound like very good judgment – your score will be on record, and you’re only allowed to take the test 3 times in a 2 year period, and you never know when you might regret wasting a test administration. After all, what if you get a distracting proctor in December and then you have only one more chance?)
2. The back-up plan mentality: “I don’t really have to prepare for October because I’m taking December anyway.” (This is not a mindset that breeds success; it’s hard to be on top of your game when you’ve convinced yourself it’s not really the game.)
3. It doesn’t matter how I do in October because schools take the highest of multiple scores. (Yes, but they will see all of your scores, and a difference of 3 or more points usually merits having an explanation about your multiple scores, and it’s just painful to have to write an addendum about how poor your judgment was in deciding to take the test in the first place. Also, there is no guarantee you really will score higher in December – the average increase is only 2 points – so it might just confirm that it’s the right score for you anyway….)
“But, Ann, I’m being super slick and will be able to apply to my safety schools early, get in, and then be able to apply to my reach schools with my December LSAT score.”
I just love when people think they are outsmarting the law schools. There is a question about LSAT dates on your application. And if you have a pending LSAT score, schools aren’t going to review your application. It will sit there, waiting for your December LSAT score. Even if your first score might be “good enough” for the school you’ve applied to.
“But can’t I pretend I didn’t think to retake the LSAT until after I applied?”
You are under a continuing obligation to update answers to your application.
But if that’s not enough incentive to wait for your December score before applying, here’s more: I’ve seen law schools make mistakes, review applications with a score pending, and reject people, and then their second score never gets to come into the picture (unless you call them and ask for mercy, which some schools will be good about, but others won’t).
If you are scheduled to take the October LSAT, don’t miss my Blog Talk Radio Show “The LSAT: A 30-Day Plan,” airing on Tuesday, September 3 at 12:00 p.m. PST.