Advice for fourth LSAT retake

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mr.matt
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Advice for fourth LSAT retake

Postby mr.matt » Thu Dec 01, 2011 4:33 pm

What's up everyone,

I am seeking advice in regards to my law school endeavors. I have perused TLS anonymously, recently created an account, and am now posting for the first time. I want to paint a holistic picture of my circumstances to guide your comments.

About me:
-22-year old Vietnamese-American.
-Currently holding a managerial position at a financial services boutique making $50k.
-Graduated from UC Berkeley in Dec. 2010.
-CHSPE out of high school at age 16 (HS sophomore year); transferred at age 19.
-Continuously employed since 16 to support single-parent household.

Law School Preparation:
-LSAC Cum. GPA: 3.47
-LSAC Degree GPA: 3.6
-Three LSAT administrations: 142/Oct. 2010, 152/June 2011, 155/Oct. 2011.
-Softs: Collegiate policy debate, numerous volunteer and internship positions, and work (obviously).
-I have already submitted my applications to most schools. I prefer not to disclose further details.
-Preferred geographical market: California (Bay Area) or Texas (Dallas, Austin, Houston)--ties to both.

Issue:
Law school has always been "the plan" since I left high school to earn undergraduate transfer credits. In addition to my past involvement with legal matters, I currently volunteer with human rights cases pertaining to Vietnam's arbitrary detention of political prisoners. My interests in these cases informs my interest in attending law school next year to study int'l law. However, I aspire only to attend a top school, and yet my LSAT history may not warrant such an achievement. I know I can do better on the LSAT. Prior to my last LSAT administration, my PT average has been in the upper 160s, but I received a migraine that affected my performance during the test.

Even though I submitted my applications for this current cycle, I am willing to entertain the idea of forgoing law school next year, continue working until I qualify for another LSAT administration, and reapply when I am in a better position for admissions to a t20. Another reason why I'd consider waiting on law school is to spend the duration of that time brushing up on my Vietnamese and to learn Mandarin.

My research on this forum indicates that most of you would suggest to avoid the debt and joblessness associated with a TTT school (where I am most likely going to be admitted). I do not disagree with this statement, and the fact of the matter is that post-TTT job prospects look bleak. However, I have already established a solid network of legal professionals in both of my preferred legal markets, namely, CA and TX. Even if I attend a TTT, job prospects may not be so grim for me as I may serve as an in-house attorney at my current employer.

I'd like to hear your input on my circumstances and any suggestions you might have. If you'd like this information in narrative form, I would be willing to send you my personal statement upon request. Also, feel free to suggest improvements to my writing style and grammar--I appreciate constructive criticism.

Auto-biographical experience is preferred; funny GIFs and memes are also welcomed.

daydreamer
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Re: Advice for fourth LSAT retake

Postby daydreamer » Thu Dec 01, 2011 4:41 pm

I think you can only take the LSAT 3 times in 5 years...so you might be out of luck, unless you're willing to wait it out.

hooma
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Re: Advice for fourth LSAT retake

Postby hooma » Thu Dec 01, 2011 4:47 pm

daydreamer wrote:I think you can only take the LSAT 3 times in 5 years...so you might be out of luck, unless you're willing to wait it out.


3 times in 2 years is the rule, but an LSAT score is only good for 5 years, I believe.

I'm also planning on taking the LSAT for a 4th time and have decided that, after trying self-study 3 times and not seeing improvement, I'm not taking it again without taking a class.

mr.matt
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Re: Advice for fourth LSAT retake

Postby mr.matt » Thu Dec 01, 2011 5:31 pm

hooma wrote:
daydreamer wrote:I think you can only take the LSAT 3 times in 5 years...so you might be out of luck, unless you're willing to wait it out.


3 times in 2 years is the rule, but an LSAT score is only good for 5 years, I believe.

I'm also planning on taking the LSAT for a 4th time and have decided that, after trying self-study 3 times and not seeing improvement, I'm not taking it again without taking a class.


For the first two administrations, I self-studied and bombed. The second time I was eating and exercising properly, but I still had little understanding of approaching standardized tests. The third time around, I took a class, but I only increased my score by a few points. Due to the stress of moving across the country for my job, I was not exercising as often as before, which perhaps prompted my horrid migraine during the test. I am confident, however, that I can reach my desired score now that I am settled in my new environment.

clarified_butter
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Re: Advice for fourth LSAT retake

Postby clarified_butter » Thu Dec 01, 2011 6:32 pm

Here is my advice:

Number one, you can play up all that URM stuff in your essays and personal statement. But it's not going to help you get in if you're numbers aren't up. That said, this leads me to my number two point: RETAKE YOUR LSAT! Your LSAC GPA is okay...but you need to get that LSAT score up. You went from a 142, 152, 155...I think you have the capability (with some hard work) to get into the mid-160's...maybe around 165 or so.

Good luck.

mr.matt wrote:Law School Preparation:
-LSAC Cum. GPA: 3.47
-LSAC Degree GPA: 3.6
-Three LSAT administrations: 142/Oct. 2010, 152/June 2011, 155/Oct. 2011.

swoozie
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Re: Advice for fourth LSAT retake

Postby swoozie » Thu Dec 01, 2011 6:35 pm

How did you self-study? What materials did you use?

clarified_butter
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Re: Advice for fourth LSAT retake

Postby clarified_butter » Thu Dec 01, 2011 6:42 pm

This is a good point. I hope the OP buys the PS Bibles--if he already doesn't own them.

swoozie wrote:How did you self-study? What materials did you use?

mr.matt
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Re: Advice for fourth LSAT retake

Postby mr.matt » Thu Dec 01, 2011 7:10 pm

swoozie wrote:How did you self-study? What materials did you use?


First LSAT, I used my sister's old prep books (I was straight broke at the time because I took time off from working), about 4-5 or so, and spent a month and a half taking practice sections and tests, albeit in an unstructured environment. This was my first major standardized test ever (I did not take the SATs), and I was simply unprepared.

Second LSAT, I read the LR and LG bibles and took four section practice tests every other day leading up to the test, mostly timed but occasionally untimed.

Third LSAT, I took the PowerScore course, and for a month I would take one five section and one four section practice test every weekend .


clarified_butter wrote:Here is my advice:

Number one, you can play up all that URM stuff in your essays and personal statement. But it's not going to help you get in if you're numbers aren't up. That said, this leads me to my number two point: RETAKE YOUR LSAT! Your LSAC GPA is okay...but you need to get that LSAT score up. You went from a 142, 152, 155...I think you have the capability (with some hard work) to get into the mid-160's...maybe around 165 or so.

Good luck.

[/quote]

Thanks for the advice. Just to be clear, I already submitted my applications and included a diversity statement where applicable.

clarified_butter
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Re: Advice for fourth LSAT retake

Postby clarified_butter » Thu Dec 01, 2011 7:17 pm

When are you taking the LSAT again ?

mr.matt wrote:I already submitted my applications

mr.matt
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Re: Advice for fourth LSAT retake

Postby mr.matt » Thu Dec 01, 2011 7:30 pm

clarified_butter wrote:When are you taking the LSAT again ?


I believe Oct/Dec 2012 would be the next test LSAT that I qualify for. I could be wrong.

clarified_butter
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Re: Advice for fourth LSAT retake

Postby clarified_butter » Thu Dec 01, 2011 8:26 pm

Wow...that is a very long time from now! If was you, I would call LSAC tomorrow morning and ask them when you can take your next LSAT...and start studying for your re-take once you get answer from them.

Again...see where you get in this cycle and then decide after that. Good luck.

mr.matt wrote:
clarified_butter wrote:When are you taking the LSAT again ?


I believe Oct/Dec 2012 would be the next test LSAT that I qualify for. I could be wrong.

mr.matt
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Re: Advice for fourth LSAT retake

Postby mr.matt » Fri Dec 02, 2011 12:32 am

clarified_butter wrote:Wow...that is a very long time from now! If was you, I would call LSAC tomorrow morning and ask them when you can take your next LSAT...and start studying for your re-take once you get answer from them.

Again...see where you get in this cycle and then decide after that. Good luck.

mr.matt wrote:
clarified_butter wrote:When are you taking the LSAT again ?


I believe Oct/Dec 2012 would be the next test LSAT that I qualify for. I could be wrong.


Indeed. Perhaps I jumped the gun a little bit by posting a question that I already knew the answer to. Whether or not I will move forward with retaking the LSAT depends on my admissions results. In any case, I would still like to hear from people who have taken the LSAT four times and their admissions stories.
Last edited by mr.matt on Fri Dec 02, 2011 1:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

clarified_butter
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Re: Advice for fourth LSAT retake

Postby clarified_butter » Fri Dec 02, 2011 1:31 am

I definitely agree with you on that.

mr.matt wrote:Whether or not I will move forward with retaking the LSAT depends on my admissions results.

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cutecarmel
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Re: Advice for fourth LSAT retake

Postby cutecarmel » Fri Dec 02, 2011 1:45 pm

I think retaking 4 times is really pushing it. If you had a bad day or didn't study enough the first time, taking it again is ok, but I almost positive that law schools would look down on you if you had to take the LSAT 4 times to get a decent score. Also, many schools the scores, so even if you retook and scored really well, your average score wouldn't be great.

Honestly, it seems like top law schools are out of your reach. You can get into lower ranked law schools with your scores and work experience, but t14 schoools seem to be all about numbers, so softs won't really help you.

clarified_butter
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Re: Advice for fourth LSAT retake

Postby clarified_butter » Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:34 pm

This is so true. I absolutely love when T14 schools act like they look at the "whole" person...I just laugh...It's all about your numbers and the rankings. Don't kid yourself for a second.

cutecarmel wrote:t14 schoools seem to be all about numbers

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crumpetsandtea
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Re: Advice for fourth LSAT retake

Postby crumpetsandtea » Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:48 pm

cutecarmel wrote:I think retaking 4 times is really pushing it. If you had a bad day or didn't study enough the first time, taking it again is ok, but I almost positive that law schools would look down on you if you had to take the LSAT 4 times to get a decent score. Also, many schools the scores, so even if you retook and scored really well, your average score wouldn't be great.

Honestly, it seems like top law schools are out of your reach. You can get into lower ranked law schools with your scores and work experience, but t14 schoools seem to be all about numbers, so softs won't really help you.

lol, please don't listen to this. Hardly any schools average scores now, and those that do don't REALLY care if your last score is an amazing score. Why? Because USNWR doesn't average scores, which means it has no effect on their rankings. Schools are ALL ABOUT RANKINGS. Even if you go 142/152/155/170, the 170 will have the biggest weight. Retaking 4 times does have a slight stigma still, but IMO if you think you can improve significantly, it is more than worth the effort.

With that said, please don't take the test until you think you can get a upper-160s or 17X on it. HYS is probably out of the question (and AFAIK they are the only ones who average) unless you get like REALLY high 170s and have a great story. As it is, if you land in the upper 160s, you should ED to Michigan (people this year are getting in with 3.2-3.4/168-169 with an ED app) for a chance at being T10 secure. If you're in the lower 170s, you're looking at a T14 school for sure, probably T6 if you ED somewhere. Lower 160s will be harder though...you should shoot for California or Texas regional schools as you might get shut out of the T14. Think Davis/Hastings or maybe even UCLA with a good app (not sure about that one). I don't know anything about Texas schools so I won't comment on those.

Because you have ties to the markets you want, you should be shooting for the best school possible, regardless of where it is (assuming you have STRONG ties).

clarified_butter
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Re: Advice for fourth LSAT retake

Postby clarified_butter » Fri Dec 02, 2011 4:40 pm

This is so very, very true.

crumpetsandtea wrote:Hardly any schools average scores now, and those that do don't REALLY care if your last score is an amazing score. Why? Because USNWR doesn't average scores, which means it has no effect on their rankings. Schools are ALL ABOUT RANKINGS

mr.matt
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Re: Advice for fourth LSAT retake

Postby mr.matt » Fri Dec 02, 2011 4:54 pm

crumpetsandtea wrote:
cutecarmel wrote:I think retaking 4 times is really pushing it. If you had a bad day or didn't study enough the first time, taking it again is ok, but I almost positive that law schools would look down on you if you had to take the LSAT 4 times to get a decent score. Also, many schools the scores, so even if you retook and scored really well, your average score wouldn't be great.

Honestly, it seems like top law schools are out of your reach. You can get into lower ranked law schools with your scores and work experience, but t14 schoools seem to be all about numbers, so softs won't really help you.

lol, please don't listen to this. Hardly any schools average scores now, and those that do don't REALLY care if your last score is an amazing score. Why? Because USNWR doesn't average scores, which means it has no effect on their rankings. Schools are ALL ABOUT RANKINGS. Even if you go 142/152/155/170, the 170 will have the biggest weight. Retaking 4 times does have a slight stigma still, but IMO if you think you can improve significantly, it is more than worth the effort.

With that said, please don't take the test until you think you can get a upper-160s or 17X on it. HYS is probably out of the question (and AFAIK they are the only ones who average) unless you get like REALLY high 170s and have a great story. As it is, if you land in the upper 160s, you should ED to Michigan (people this year are getting in with 3.2-3.4/168-169 with an ED app) for a chance at being T10 secure. If you're in the lower 170s, you're looking at a T14 school for sure, probably T6 if you ED somewhere. Lower 160s will be harder though...you should shoot for California or Texas regional schools as you might get shut out of the T14. Think Davis/Hastings or maybe even UCLA with a good app (not sure about that one). I don't know anything about Texas schools so I won't comment on those.

Because you have ties to the markets you want, you should be shooting for the best school possible, regardless of where it is (assuming you have STRONG ties).


Thank you for the advice.

When I read cutecarmel's post, I had the same reaction. Ultimately, a 170, no matter how many times you previously took the test, will be better than a 155. Reminds me of ~2:04 in this clip: http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/805c5a ... -night-out. A 170 is a 170.

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cutecarmel
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Re: Advice for fourth LSAT retake

Postby cutecarmel » Fri Dec 02, 2011 5:25 pm

Whether or not the schools are going to average scores, you chances of getting in to a t14 are slim. It took you 3 tries to get 155. Honestly, what makes you think you can boost your scores by 15 points on the 4th try. Going from 150s to 170s is very difficult. Many people in T14 schools are naturally very intelligent. You had to study for 2 years to get scores that are comparable to future T14 students; its going to be difficult for you to keep up with that pace in law school.

You should shoot for your goals, but to be completely honest, your goals are unrealistic and you should start looking for quality schools that match up better with your numbers


mr.matt wrote:
crumpetsandtea wrote:
cutecarmel wrote:I think retaking 4 times is really pushing it. If you had a bad day or didn't study enough the first time, taking it again is ok, but I almost positive that law schools would look down on you if you had to take the LSAT 4 times to get a decent score. Also, many schools the scores, so even if you retook and scored really well, your average score wouldn't be great.

Honestly, it seems like top law schools are out of your reach. You can get into lower ranked law schools with your scores and work experience, but t14 schoools seem to be all about numbers, so softs won't really help you.

lol, please don't listen to this. Hardly any schools average scores now, and those that do don't REALLY care if your last score is an amazing score. Why? Because USNWR doesn't average scores, which means it has no effect on their rankings. Schools are ALL ABOUT RANKINGS. Even if you go 142/152/155/170, the 170 will have the biggest weight. Retaking 4 times does have a slight stigma still, but IMO if you think you can improve significantly, it is more than worth the effort.

With that said, please don't take the test until you think you can get a upper-160s or 17X on it. HYS is probably out of the question (and AFAIK they are the only ones who average) unless you get like REALLY high 170s and have a great story. As it is, if you land in the upper 160s, you should ED to Michigan (people this year are getting in with 3.2-3.4/168-169 with an ED app) for a chance at being T10 secure. If you're in the lower 170s, you're looking at a T14 school for sure, probably T6 if you ED somewhere. Lower 160s will be harder though...you should shoot for California or Texas regional schools as you might get shut out of the T14. Think Davis/Hastings or maybe even UCLA with a good app (not sure about that one). I don't know anything about Texas schools so I won't comment on those.

Because you have ties to the markets you want, you should be shooting for the best school possible, regardless of where it is (assuming you have STRONG ties).


Thank you for the advice.

When I read cutecarmel's post, I had the same reaction. Ultimately, a 170, no matter how many times you previously took the test, will be better than a 155. Reminds me of ~2:04 in this clip: http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/805c5a ... -night-out. A 170 is a 170.

clarified_butter
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Re: Advice for fourth LSAT retake

Postby clarified_butter » Fri Dec 02, 2011 7:34 pm

This is very true.

cutecarmel wrote:Many people in T14 schools are naturally very intelligent.
Last edited by clarified_butter on Fri Dec 02, 2011 9:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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crumpetsandtea
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Re: Advice for fourth LSAT retake

Postby crumpetsandtea » Fri Dec 02, 2011 7:50 pm

A thread started by someone who went from a 154 to a 172:

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=140092

While I disagree with the 'give it up now you newb' posts of the people above me, I do think you're going to have to work VERY HARD to get to a 172. What have you done in terms of studying so far? As I have said before, it would be a HUGE mistake to retake unless you are SURE you can score in the 167-173 bracket, which usually means PT-ing on average in the 170s. The two posters above me may be correct in their statements IF you have already worked your ass off and the most you can do is mid-150s. If you're just rash as hell and took 3 LSATs without studying properly (which is, if I may be frank, quite stupid in and of itself), then you may still have hope.

To reiterate: DO NOT TAKE AGAIN UNTIL YOU ARE SCORING CONSISTENTLY IN THE 170S. Almost everyone has a test-day drop from their PT average, and retaking is not worth it for you if you're going to score in the upper 150s or lower 160s. You MUST be ready to score in the high 160s range even if you suffer a test day drop.

And please let us know more about your previous study schedules so we can better advise you.

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cutecarmel
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Re: Advice for fourth LSAT retake

Postby cutecarmel » Fri Dec 02, 2011 10:19 pm

Great advice

crumpetsandtea wrote:A thread started by someone who went from a 154 to a 172:

http://top-law-schools.com/forums/viewt ... 6&t=140092

While I disagree with the 'give it up now you newb' posts of the people above me, I do think you're going to have to work VERY HARD to get to a 172. What have you done in terms of studying so far? As I have said before, it would be a HUGE mistake to retake unless you are SURE you can score in the 167-173 bracket, which usually means PT-ing on average in the 170s. The two posters above me may be correct in their statements IF you have already worked your ass off and the most you can do is mid-150s. If you're just rash as hell and took 3 LSATs without studying properly (which is, if I may be frank, quite stupid in and of itself), then you may still have hope.

To reiterate: DO NOT TAKE AGAIN UNTIL YOU ARE SCORING CONSISTENTLY IN THE 170S. Almost everyone has a test-day drop from their PT average, and retaking is not worth it for you if you're going to score in the upper 150s or lower 160s. You MUST be ready to score in the high 160s range even if you suffer a test day drop.

And please let us know more about your previous study schedules so we can better advise you.

mr.matt
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Re: Advice for fourth LSAT retake

Postby mr.matt » Sun Dec 04, 2011 2:57 am

crumpetsandtea wrote:A thread started by someone who went from a 154 to a 172:

http://top-law-schools.com/forums/viewt ... 6&t=140092

While I disagree with the 'give it up now you newb' posts of the people above me, I do think you're going to have to work VERY HARD to get to a 172. What have you done in terms of studying so far? As I have said before, it would be a HUGE mistake to retake unless you are SURE you can score in the 167-173 bracket, which usually means PT-ing on average in the 170s. The two posters above me may be correct in their statements IF you have already worked your ass off and the most you can do is mid-150s. If you're just rash as hell and took 3 LSATs without studying properly (which is, if I may be frank, quite stupid in and of itself), then you may still have hope.

To reiterate: DO NOT TAKE AGAIN UNTIL YOU ARE SCORING CONSISTENTLY IN THE 170S. Almost everyone has a test-day drop from their PT average, and retaking is not worth it for you if you're going to score in the upper 150s or lower 160s. You MUST be ready to score in the high 160s range even if you suffer a test day drop.

And please let us know more about your previous study schedules so we can better advise you.


I'm going to focus on my preparation for the Oct. 2011 LSAT since my strategies here reflect the accumulation of all my LSAT knowledge leading up to that point. I would like to note that on my first practice test ever in April 2010, I scored a 163 with no preparation. My test taking skills deteriorated from there, culminating in the test scores you see in my original post.

For my last LSAT administration, I took the PowerScore full-length course starting August 4 and ending September 29, just two days before the actual test. After three weeks into the course, I began taking practice tests on the weekend: one full-length test (three sections, 15 minute break, two sections) and a four section no-break test. I also maintained heavy work-commitments, including the responsibilities of managing the company's relocation efforts. All in all, it was quite a stressful time.

The difference between my previous LSAT preparation and my preparation this time around was the structured study course, my healthy habits, and my stress levels. Aside from the course, I attribute the other differences to my job, which relocated me halfway across the country. And although the company relocated to Texas, we were still operating off of Pacific time due to business reasons, which meant that I was forced to adjust my work hours to 10:30am-7:30pm (this does not include overtime). In any case, I felt more exhausted than before I relocated, even though I was working the same amount of hours. Moreover, I neglected my exercise habits (a big mistake since I believe exercise contributed to my relaxed mindset during my second LSAT).

The course was excellent, and I learned more through the course than studying on my own. I was PTing in the mid 160s, and my highest score was a 171. However, it didn't "click" for me until a week and a half before test day when I actually became comfortable with balancing time and accuracy. My LG and LR were decent, missing two and five problems on average, respectively. Reading comprehension was my worst, but I gradually became better with practice and was missing two questions on average. Honestly, I don't think I did that great of a job reviewing my incorrect answers on PTs. After marking the incorrect answers on my answer sheet, I would return to the questions that I missed, reason out the correct answer, and explain why I choose a particular wrong answer choice. If I didn't understand a correct answer, I would go to Manhattan's forum and read through posted answers.

To your point, my study schedule followed the suggested schedule of the prep course. I believe spacing out the time between the prep course and actual test day would have benefited me a lot. I honestly didn't think that rescheduling the exam for December was an option, and I realize now that taking the December test would have been a more prudent decision. Also, I should have started preparing for the exam immediately after I took the June exam. All of my decisions point to a lack of foresight on my part, but I understand now what I need to do in order to get the score I deserve.

Any advice would be appreciated and feel free to ask more questions.

clarified_butter
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Re: Advice for fourth LSAT retake

Postby clarified_butter » Sun Dec 04, 2011 11:25 am

Maybe you should try a Blueprint LSAT course: http://blueprintprep.com/

mr.matt wrote:I took the PowerScore full-length course

bp shinners
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Re: Advice for fourth LSAT retake

Postby bp shinners » Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:03 pm

clarified_butter wrote:Maybe you should try a Blueprint LSAT course: http://blueprintprep.com/

mr.matt wrote:I took the PowerScore full-length course


If I didn't know better, I'd think cb was a shill account ;-)

Anyway, just wanted to chime in with general advice, as I think you're on the right path with the retake.

It's great to have professional contacts, and they'll definitely give you a leg up. However, you shouldn't go to a law school that's significantly lower-ranked than you're capable of being admitted to and assume you'll be fine because of those contacts. If you were PTing in the 160s, I would retake when you can to get that score on the real thing. Then, reapply with the higher numbers. Contacts are great, and they're usually very helpful, but they're also more fickle than a degree from a solid law school. People leave companies, positions get filled, and you never know what's going to happen in the future. However, if you have a degree from a T14 law school, you'll always have that degree.




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