Conventional wisdom on these boards seems to suggest that there is no downside to retaking the LSAT, as schools will take your highest score regardless. Even if someone says they averaged a 164 on PTs and completely lucked out and got a 168 on test day, they're told to retake, because it can't hurt.
I know many of the schools outside the T-20 or so openly admit they will take highest score regardless, but the T-14 (especially some of the higher-ranked T6 like Harvard and NYU) stress that they average scores, or take into account all scores. The information we have about who they've admitted occasionally belies this--in recent years a 161/170 often performs just like a 170, from the limited amount of information I've seen.
I'd just like to get peoples' thoughts--I know no one can know for certain. Is there really no difference between a 165/165/171 and a 171? Will a school automatically prefer the 161/170 to a 169, even though they say they are holistic about LSAT scores? If that truly is the case then I guess there is no harm in retaking the test as much as possible (besides the aggravation). But if someone really feels they came close to maxing out their potential, and they could hurt themselves by scoring lower a second time, I don't know if we're doing them favors by encouraging more retakes. (I am probably one of these people right now, and I am definitely not retaking--I got about a point lower than I was practicing at, which is pretty standard.)
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ahnhub wrote: Even if someone says they averaged a 164 on PTs and completely lucked out and got a 168 on test day, they're told to retake, because it can't hurt.
This isn't true. The command to retake is more in line with how much someone studied than anything. If you studied for two weeks and took three PTs with a 163, 164, and 165 and got a 168 on the real test, you would be told to retake, but not for the reason you seem to be implying.
To everything else, for most schools, 163/170 will beat 169, especially if the school's median is 170.