It's four weeks away. I've been getting calls from people who aren't happy with their practice scores. The big question: Is there still time to bring my score up 5 points, or should I study three more months and take the LSAT in December?
To answer this question, I called on three LSAT experts. Here's what they had to say:
It's Not Too Late
"Because a month in LSAT study terms is actually a fairly lengthy amount of time (equivalent to something like 12 dog years or the entire summer you spent at your grandparent's when you were eight), you can't know yet that you'll be ready," offers Trent Teti, founder of Blueprint Test Preparation. "This is because there are still significant gains that can occur in a month of LSAT study as long as you're diligent. What you can know a month out is whether all hope is lost. If you aren't well into a disciplined course of study, you'd probably be rushing things to take the October test."
"You can also know a month before the LSAT whether you're still in the hunt. If you've seen at least incremental improvement in your problem areas, that's a good sign. Additionally, when you begin to see similarities across the test (you note a causal argument in reading comprehension similar to one in logical reasoning for instance), then you're working in the right way," says Teti. "If you're a member of the group where October is possible, it's important that you continue to work hard in the last month before the LSAT. Because while you can't say for sure you'll be ready for the LSAT, if you don't continue to prepare intelligently, you will be able to say you won't be."
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Right Now — Evaluate Yourself
"At this point, you should be comfortable completing a five-section LSAT under realistic timed conditions and scoring within 3-5 points of a score you'd be satisfied with. Ideally you're doing at least a couple per week. Now is the time to start solidifying your approach to the test. What sorts of questions should you take an educated guess on in order to put some extra time in the bank? Which ones can you crack if you use a bit of that extra time?" says Noah Teitelbaum, Managing Director of AtlasLSAT.
"If you've put in at least a few months of prep, built a strong foundation in effective techniques, taken several practice exams, and improved significantly from your starting point, you have a good chance of being ready," suggests Steve Schwartz of the LSAT Blog.
According to Teitlebaum, it's helpful to practice predicting your score. "This can come in handy if you're right on the edge of a score you'd apply with. Some people can unlock a few more points in the logical reasoning and reading comprehension sections by switching from predicting and then searching for answers to seeking out the wrong answers and see which one is left standing."
"If you're over 5 points away from a score you'd be OK with, then you should work to identify specific issues so you can address them. If the issue is stamina, pile on the Preptests. If you're still finding yourself confused by certain question or game types, you'll need to address that ASAP. Simply piling on the Preptests is not enough—or, for all the LSAT geeks out there, the Preptests are necessary but not sufficient. Be sure to review your work and learn from your missteps," says Teitelbaum.
After doing this, Schwartz suggests that, "If your practice test scores aren't at least at the median of the schools you want to attend, you may want to put in a few more months of prep or be willing reconsider the schools to which you have a realistic shot at gaining acceptance."
Should You Postpone?
"You have until September 19, 2010 to decide whether to postpone your test date. The best indication of your ability would be something like the average of the 5 practice tests you've taken most recently. Make sure they're recently administered ones (preferably from the past few years), so they adequately reflect the modern exam," Schwartz says.
What If Your Honest Answer is "I'm Not Ready" ?
December is not (I repeat – NOT) the end of the world. I'd rather see someone with an LSAT score 5 points higher in December than someone who rushed to take it in October. The key, however, will be to use your time wisely so you can submit your applications in EARLY January. (Late January IS the end of the world, and a February LSAT score for fall admission is too late – no matter what schools (that collect application fees) tell you.