How Many Times Can You Take The LSAT?
Students often wonder whether they should take the LSAT more than once, and like the test itself, there’s a strategy to it.
By Riley Stoltenburg, Masters Degree in Public Health
The short answer is that there are limits to how many times you can sit for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). These rules and regulations are enforced by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), which is the governing body that oversees the LSAT.
Below is a summary that outlines how many times an individual can take the exam within different time periods.
Single Testing Year – three times
Five Year Period – five times
Lifetime – seven times
To be clear, the LSAC defines a single testing year as June 1st through May 31st. It doesn’t follow a typical calendar year so keep that in mind as you schedule your exams.
As you can see above, individuals can indeed sit for the LSAT multiple times. It’s not a one and done type of test. With that said, it could be detrimental to take the test multiple times.
Should You Take The LSAT More Than Once?
Although you are technically allowed to take the LSAT more than once in a given year, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should. There are a couple different reasons as to why. Allow us to explain.
First, we’d just like to acknowledge that you are allowed to cancel test scores. Therefore, if you take the test but you walk out of the exam room feeling you did poorly, you have the option to cancel the score within six days. You’ll never receive the score, nor will the law school that you apply to.
This is where students make a mistake, though. Individuals often think that they’ll just take the LSAT once as a practice run and then immediately cancel their score. That way they can get a feel for what test day is all about.
The only issue with that approach is that law schools can still see that you cancelled the score. Again, the schools won’t be able to see what your score would have been on the cancelled test, but they can see that you didn’t feel positive enough about the test to see it through. As a result, some law schools may see this as a red flag.
Instead, we’d recommend students rely on LSAT practice tests in order to prepare for the exam rather than officially sitting for the real thing. If you truly want to get a feel for what test day is like, make sure to take the practice exams under real conditions. That means taking the same allotted breaks as you would on test day. It’s not realistic to finish one section, take an hour-long break and then complete the next section. You’ll want to mimic actual test day conditions as closely as you can. This will help prepare your mind and body for the pressures of the official exam.
The next reason as to why you might not want to take the exam twice is the fact that some law schools average your LSAT scores. This goes back to the point about taking practice exams rather than using the real test as sort of a mock run-through. If you’re not adequately prepared and you take the test for experience, it may come back to haunt you come application time.
Let’s say you take the test after a couple weeks of studying as a barometer and you score 160. Then you study for another month and take it again, but this time you score 166. Unfortunately, some law schools will only mark you down for a score of 163, rather than 166. To be fair, most law schools these days consider your highest score and that’s it; however, that still doesn’t change the fact that all schools can see all of your scores.
For test takers who felt they were fully prepared but didn’t score nearly as high as they had hoped, the question of whether to sit for the exam again is somewhat complicated. In these situations, it’s best to be honest with yourself and really examine why you scored poorly. Ask yourself a few questions to get to the root of the issue.
Did you genuinely prepare as best as you could? If you feel confident that you did indeed study enough, then it may be unrealistic to expect a major increase if you were to take the exam again.
Did a major event take place around test day that may have affected you personally? We’re referring to events such as a death in the family, a serious illness or a fight with a colleague or boss.
Was test day so overwhelming that it created unusual anxiety or nervousness? In other words, were your hands trembling, legs shaking and mind racing more so than other tests you’ve taken in the past?
These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself to determine whether the score was a fluke or truly representative of what you’d likely score again. If you prepared appropriately, didn’t experience any major adverse events or extreme nervousness, then history tell us that you are unlikely to increase your score by more than 3 points the second time around. In fact, statistics show that around 30% of second time test takers score the same or lower than their first test. Therefore, it’s not a guarantee you’ll increase your score by simply retaking the LSAT.