How Your October LSAT Score Affects Your Law School Applications

Your reaction to the score should dictate your next steps.

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October LSAT scores came out last week. For many applicants, this score is a deciding factor regarding the next steps in their law school application process this fall.

Your reaction to your score dictates on what you should concentrate in the coming months. Which reaction best describes you?

"I exceeded my target score, and I am thrilled!"

Congratulations! All of your hard work paid off, and you performed even better than you were hoping on test day. Hopefully, you already took some time to celebrate in the last few days.

With your higher-than-expected score, you do not need to retake the LSAT, so now is the time to concentrate solely on your applications. You should submit all of your applications in the next couple of weeks, ideally before Thanksgiving.

By now, your essays should be in the final stages of editing, and you should have most of your recommendations completed.

If your score is significantly higher than you expected, it may be wise to tweak your school list, adding a few new stretch schools and removing a few safety schools. Remember, if you add schools, you will need to personalize your essays for each new school.

[Explore the U.S. News Best Law Schools rankings.]

You are in the home stretch now, so keep working hard on the final touches of your applications and soon you will be able to move on to the next step in the application cycle—waiting to hear back from the schools.

"I scored in the range I was expecting, and I am content."

You are pleased with your score, but you know you could have scored a bit higher. In law school applications, a few points can have a substantial impact on your admissions results and the amount of merit-based aid you receive, if any.

[Find out how to negotiate law school financial aid.]

You do have the option to retake the LSAT in December and still apply to law schools this fall (assuming you have not already taken the LSAT three times in the last two years). Late registration for the December LSAT by telephone or online is available until November 9, and due to power outages from the hurricane, the Law School Admission Council has stated that they will refund all late fees.

Before you decide to retake, ensure you will have enough time to study and practice before the December test. If not, your score will likely stay the same or could even decrease. Also ensure you will be able to dedicate enough time to your essays, as a higher LSAT score will not be beneficial with sub-par essays.

"My score is lower than I hoped, and I am a little bit frustrated."

Maybe you were under the weather on test day or distracted because of a personal matter. Whatever the reason for your disappointing score, try not to be discouraged. You know what you are capable of from your practice tests, and you will likely reach that potential in December.

If you have not done so already, register for the December LSAT today on www.lsac.org. Then review your performance from October.

If you feel that your setback was mostly due to stress, work on relaxation exercises that can calm you down on test day and help you concentrate during the exam. If you decide that your lower score was a result of not understanding specific areas of the test, find a qualified tutor to work with you over the next month on your unique areas of weakness. At Stratus Prep, we have found that for repeat test takers, tutoring is typically the most effective means of preparation.

[Explore other LSAT preparation tips.]

Be sure you complete plenty of practice tests over the coming weeks as well. The best way to apply the new concepts and strategies you are learning and to retain all that you learned previously, as well as to reduce stress, is through proctored practice tests that emulate real testing conditions.

What questions do you have about your October LSAT score? Let me know in the comments, E-mail me at shawn.oconnor@stratusprep.com, or contact me via Twitter at @StratusPrep.