Understand Lower-Than-Expected June LSAT Scores

Test anxiety and insufficient preparation time may contribute to a low June LSAT score.

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One common cause of lower-than-expected LSAT scores is test anxiety.
One common cause of lower-than-expected LSAT scores is test anxiety.

June LSAT test-takers will soon know their results on the law school entrance exam. The Law School Admission Council sends the scores out via email approximately three weeks after the test date, usually a few days ahead of the promised delivery date, so test-takers will either have just gotten scores or will get them very soon.

Not surprisingly, some prospective law students will be ecstatic with their performance, others will be satisfied that they scored in the range that they had anticipated and still others may be disappointed that they scored significantly lower than they had on practice tests prior to taking the real exam.

As the June exam is the first time many students take the LSAT, it can be both frustrating and surprising not to see results align perfectly with practice test scores. However, don't despair, I have witnessed hundreds of students dramatically improve their scores in October and December.

If you are stumped by the discrepancy between your scores on practice tests and your score on the June LSAT, you are not alone. Over the last decade, I have seen this issue frustrate a good number of students.

[See where law students have the highest median LSAT scores.]

The heartening news is that many of these students went on to continue their studies, retake the exam, improve their scores substantially and get into the law school of their dreams. The key to achieving this is understanding what caused you to perform lower than your abilities and creating a study plan before the October or December LSAT, when you can retake the exam.

This study plan should be focused on the types of questions in each of the sections with which you struggled on the actual exam as well as the number of questions you left blank or guessed on, which is an indication of challenges with the timing of the test. Before you can address these errors, you must first identify them.

The most common cause of lower-than-expected LSAT scores is test anxiety. When students take practice tests, they are more comfortable and therefore think more clearly than when they are sitting in the real exam.

[Stay focused on LSAT test day with these tips.]

It is particularly telling when a student misses substantial points on the first section. Those who suffer from test anxiety often struggle on the first section because they are nervous but eventually settle down and perform more consistently on the following sections.

If you believe that you experienced test anxiety during the June LSAT, keep in mind that your practice tests were or should have been real LSATs from previous years. Because those are actual tests, they are accurate measures of your ability, and therefore you are capable of attaining those higher scores on the real exam.

If you wish to retake the LSAT in October or December, make a study plan, continue taking real LSAT practice tests, and look for ways to manage your test anxiety.

There are, of course, other factors that could affect your performance on test day. If you had insufficient time to prepare – at least four to six months – you almost certainly did not reach your full potential.

One way to tell if you were not adequately prepared is to review the questions you got wrong and see if you can quickly identify your mistakes. If you are kicking yourself for making silly errors, then nerves probably got the best of you. If you have trouble understanding the correct answer, then you likely need more prep time to more fully grasp the material.

If you were ill before or during the exam, you likely did not score as well as when you were feeling your best. Being distracted by a recent family emergency or personal issue would also have a negative impact on your score.

If any of these is the case, you should retake the LSAT after you have resolved any matters that would cause you to lose focus. Continue to take three to four Real LSATs per week. I had a Stratus Prep student who undertook this strategy and increased by 15 points on her second attempt.

[Get tips on October LSAT success.]

Regardless of the cause of your drop in points, to ensure you do not repeat this experience, I advise you seek professional assistance leading up to your retake date. Enlist the help of a private tutor who can partner with you to address weaknesses in your performance and create a customized study plan to maximize your LSAT score.

At the same time, during the rest of the summer, start working on your applications by drafting essays and reaching out to recommenders so that your new score will be the final piece of your completed application when it comes time to submit.

You should submit as soon as you receive your October LSAT score – despite myths to the contrary, you do not want to apply until you have your score. It could dramatically affect your final school selection.

Are you considering retaking the LSAT? Let me know in the comments, email me at shawn.oconnor@stratusprep.com, or contact me via Twitter at @StratusPrep.