How Law Schools Evaluate Multiple LSAT Scores

This was originally published as an expert guest post on the Manhattan Prep Blog
You’ve just received your LSAT scores. Perhaps you’re happy with your results after having taken the test multiple times, or you are not thrilled with your initial score and are considering a retake. How law schools assess multiple LSAT scores varies. Here are three things to consider when contemplating a retake.
1. Multiple LSAT Scores
  • Not all law schools are created equal. In the past, the American Bar Association (ABA) required law schools to report their students’ average LSAT scores. In 2006, the ABA changed its policy to require law schools to report only each student’s highest score. As a result, many law schools transitioned to other methods of evaluation:

o Northwestern University School of Law only weighs the applicant’s highest score.

o University of Chicago Law School places the most emphasis on the highest score.

o New York University School of Law averages multiple LSAT scores.

o Yale Law School uses a more vague standard of reviewing all LSAT scores in a holistic approach.

  • You cannot choose which scores are shared. Law schools will see every single one of your LSAT scores, which means you won’t be able to completely hide a poor first-time score behind subsequent, better scores.
  • Timing matters. A four-year-old low score is typically perceived as less indicative of an applicant’s ability than a very recent score.
2. Canceled Scores
  • There are no free passes. Canceling an LSAT score will prevent a law school admissions committee (AdCom) from seeing that specific score. However, it won’t hide the fact that the applicant canceled the score, which could factor in an AdCom’s evaluation of the candidate.
  • The fewer scores, the better. AdCom members understand that we all have bad days, so most are unlikely to let one canceled score impact their view of an applicant. Nevertheless, multiple canceled scores may indicate that that you cannot handle the pressure of the LSAT, law school, the Bar exam, or life as an attorney.
3. Retaking the LSAT
  • Don’t automatically retake the LSAT. If your lowest score is well below your ability, and your second score is significantly higher, consider retaking the LSAT.

o Another high score will bump your average score and show schools that use a holistic approach that the high score is a better reflection of your abilities.

o Marginal increases of a point or two are rarely worth the time and effort.

o Applying early has its advantages, so there could be some drawbacks in delaying your application until the next exam results come in.

  • Include an addendum. Most law schools allow candidates to include addenda in their applications, in which they can explain any part of their submission. This is your opportunity to explain why there is a discrepancy between multiple LSAT scores or why you’ve canceled your score on several occasions.
  • Do your research! Research the LSAT evaluation policies of the law schools to which you are thinking of applying. Knowing how a school approaches multiple LSAT scores might change the tone of your personal statement and/or addendum, or whether you believe that school remains a viable option.

There are many moving parts to your LSAT score and how it comes into play on your application. The good news is that a bad score is not the end of the world, and some schools will only partially consider it (or ignore it altogether). Are you unsure how your scores will impact your application and how to address them if the need arises? We’re here to help!


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