Considering an LSAT retake but wondering how many times you’re allowed to sit this exam? This article will break down the number of attempts at the LSAT you have, as well as explore the potential impact of these retakes on your law school applications.
From understanding retake policies to weighing the pros and cons of multiple attempts, this guide will equip you with all the information you need to make an informed decision about whether another attempt at the LSAT is the right option for you.
Recommended: Interested in getting started? We recommend Kaplan’s LSAT preparation courses, which come with more than 200 quizzes and practice tests, one-on-one tutoring, and interactive online lessons.
How Many Times Are You Allowed to Take the LSAT?
To gain admission to their target law schools, many candidates consider retakes in order to obtain the best possible score on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). However, there are specific limits placed on the number of times you can take this test.
Starting with the August 2023 test administration, candidates will only be allowed to sit the LSAT:
- Five times within the current reportable score period (i.e., the five past testing years)
- Seven times over their lifetime
Any attempts made at the LSAT before August 2023 will also count towards these limits, even if the test taker decides to purchase Score Preview and cancel their LSAT score.
However, there are a few exceptions to this general rule, including when:
- The candidate was absent or withdrew from an LSAT attempt — these do not count
- The candidate has already obtained a perfect score of 180 in the current reportable period — in this case, they will not be allowed to retake
Note: You can submit an appeal for an exception if you feel these changes will affect you, though The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) estimates that less than 1% of test takers will be impacted.
Does Retaking the LSAT Affect Law School Applications?
Since your target law school will receive all your LSAT results (even those you cancel or are absent for), it’s natural for candidates to wonder if having multiple LSAT attempts on their record will hurt their applications.
The answer to this question is quite nuanced and depends on the applicant’s individual situation. However, it generally won’t hurt to retake the LSAT if you believe you can significantly improve your score, as law schools typically only need to report your highest score.
Following a change to the way law school national rankings were calculated in 2005, law schools are no longer concerned with your average LSAT scores across multiple attempts as it doesn’t affect their rank. Instead, your highest score is the only thing that impacts where they place in these rankings.
While this should mean that multiple re-takes won’t affect your law school application, admissions officers are still humans and this can unfortunately sometimes play a role. For example, having multiple LSAT scores that are low before finally achieving a higher one can raise doubts when compared to a candidate who simply obtained a high score on their first attempt.
To ensure success without the need for retakes, many candidates prefer to follow a structured LSAT prep course so that they’re thoroughly prepared by their first test date.
Interested in getting started? We recommend Kaplan’s LSAT preparation courses, which come with over 200 quizzes and practice tests, one-on-one tutoring, and interactive online lessons.
Should You Retake the LSAT?
Given the time, cost, and effort involved in retaking the LSAT, this decision requires a lot of serious thought. To help make this a little clearer, we’ve explored the key factors you’ll need to consider when making this decision below.
How Prepared You Were
One of the first considerations in your decision to retake the LSAT should be how prepared you were for your first/previous attempt. Generally, a resit is not a good idea if your score was within two or three points of your practice test averages and you felt that you studied to the best of your ability.
However, if you feel your preparation wasn’t thorough or are thinking of adopting a different study approach (such as a structured course or working with a tutor), and you have enough time to adjust before the next test, then you could benefit from a retake.
It’s important to be realistic with yourself when trying to assess how prepared you were for your most recent LSAT attempt. Everyone has their own maximum aptitude in this exam — while you may not be fully satisfied with your LSAT score, there comes a time to accept it and focus on crafting the strongest application possible.
Your Target Schools’ Medians
Even if you feel you could have achieved a better result on the LSAT, if your score is already above the median for your chosen law schools, there’s usually no need to retake the exam. This is because law schools primarily focus on applicants’ median scores because they don’t need to report the 25th or 75th percentiles to the US News & World Report.
However, the importance of each point on the LSAT increases with the rank of the law school you’re applying to. For example, if your dream school’s median is around 160, being close to or above this score is generally sufficient. However, for top-ranked law schools like Harvard, even a couple of points below their median might warrant a retake — it’s all about meeting their median score.
Your Admissions Timeline
While less of a concern than the previous two considerations, it’s still important to bear in mind the impact a retake would have on your application timeline. If retaking the LSAT means you’ll submit applications after December, it’s often a better idea to apply now with your current score (assuming it’s reasonably strong).
This gets the ball rolling for your application and doesn’t leave you waiting on the retake results — if your score goes up later, you can update the law schools you applied to with your improved score. That said, it’s generally not worth worrying about timings this much as a higher LSAT score often makes up for applying later in the admissions cycle.
How Many Times Can You Take the LSAT FAQ
Is taking the LSAT 3 times too many?
Taking the LSAT three times is not necessarily too many. It shows a commitment to improving your score. However, it’s important to demonstrate a significant improvement with each attempt. Law schools understand that test performance can vary, and showing a trend of improvement can be favorable in your application. Interested in learning more? Check out our What is the LSAT article.
How many times do most people take the LSAT?
Most people typically take the LSAT once or twice. While some opt for a third attempt, it’s less common. The decision to retake depends on various factors, including initial scores, target law school requirements, and the confidence to improve on subsequent attempts. Find out more about this topic in our How Many Times Can You Take the LSAT article.
Do law schools see how many times you took the LSAT?
Yes, law schools can see how many times you’ve taken the LSAT — they receive a report that includes all your scores and the dates you took the test, including absences and canceled LSAT scores. However, most schools will only be concerned with your highest score when considering your application.
Is there a penalty for taking the LSAT multiple times?
While there’s no direct penalty for taking the LSAT multiple times, it’s important to consider how law schools can interpret multiple attempts. While schools generally consider your highest LSAT score, a large number of attempts without significant improvement might raise concerns about your test-taking abilities or preparation strategies.