The “Best” Month To Take The LSAT

Prelaw students often believe that one LSAT administration is “easier” than another. For example, they may believe that better test-takers sit for the LSAT in the summer months than at other times.  Whether or not that is true, it is irrelevant. To appreciate the reason why there is not a “best” month to take the LSAT, consider how the LSAT is graded:
  • Your raw score on the LSAT (total number of questions answered correctly) is converted into an LSAT score, using the LSAC’s 120-180 scale.
  • The real meaning of your 120-180 LSAT score is its corresponding “percentile rank” – i.e., the percentage of students who you did better than on the exam. For example, a 160 on the LSAT generally has a percentile rank of around 80 – meaning you did better than approximately 80 percent of other LSAT-takers, and 20 percent did equal to or better than you.
  • Essentially, the LSAT uses a worldwide curve to calculate your LSAT score and corresponding percentile rank.
  • However – and this is the key point – the “curve” is NOT a comparison of you against other students taking the exam at the same time as you. Instead, the LSAC uses a process called “equating” (essentially, a complex variation of a curve) based on student scores on the LSAT over a three-year period.
  • In other words, you are being compared to students who took the LSAT (in all sorts of different months) over a three-year period, and you are NOT being compared to the students taking the LSAT at the same time as you.
  • In addition, if one LSAT exam is a little easier or harder than another (which does happen to some degree), it is made up for in the equating process.
So, your LSAT score is not going to be impacted by which month you take the exam! That being said, there are some factors to consider when choosing which month to take your official LSAT – but that has to do with the timing of the submission of your law school application, not because one LSAT exam is easier than another. Here are some factors to consider when determining your LSAT test date(s):
  • Although exceptions sometimes occur, the deadline for submitting your application to most law schools will be between February 1st and April 1st – be sure to check with the specific law schools you are applying to, because these deadlines do vary.
  • Ideally, applying early may somewhat benefit your law school application and/or request for a merit-based scholarship. The early application deadline for most law schools is going to be around November 1st – once again, check with the law schools in question, but that is a good general rule of thumb.
  • Because of the importance of the LSAT, very few law schools will review your application without an LSAT score.
  • Law schools typically focus on your highest LSAT score. Although they will consider all of your LSAT scores, their focus will be on your highest one…and they generally will not average your scores. Because of that, consider taking the LSAT twice, if necessary – and in some cases, possibly even three times.
  • You generally will get your LSAT score within three weeks of taking the exam.

Putting all of the factors listed above together, you should try having all of your LSAT scores received by November 1st, if possible. If you plan on taking the LSAT twice, you should take your final LSAT no later than early October (if possible). Therefore, one possibility, would be to take the LSAT in July or August and take it again (if necessary) in September, depending upon the LSAT dates for that year. Finally, plan to begin your LSAT Prep work at least 2-6 months (or more) before the first time you take the official LSAT.

One final comment: the recommendations above assume you have total flexibility to do things in the ideal manner. It will NOT be the end of the world if you don’t get your applications in by November 1st. If you want to retake the LSAT, or feel your LSAT score will benefit from taking some extra time to prepare, it usually is right to postpone your LSAT date even if it causes a delay in submitting your application. As I often tell my LSAT Prep students, “a good LSAT score is much more important than an early LSAT score.”

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach me at Good luck!