I scored a 165 on the LSAT and have a 4.10 GPA. I was consistently scoring 170-171 on my practice tests but completely panicked during the actual exam and scored significantly lower. My top schools are UC Berkeley and UCLA, and I'm wondering if it is worth it to retake the exam in January (hoping that my anxiety won't get in the way again) and apply at the very end of the cycle, or to apply now with the score I have although it is at the lower end of the threshold for these schools?
As for my softs: I'm about a year and a half out of college and am currently working at an elementary school (hoping to go into child advocacy after law school), have been doing some local volunteer work, and held a leadership position on my college's judicial board. I am also technically a URM (I'm 1/4 Mexican, and I've heard 1/4 is the threshold for claiming a race in general but am unsure if that is enough to qualify for checking the box on law school apps).
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You should absolutely identify your Mexican heritage on your application, as well as in your diversity statement, for schools that have one, and potentially in your personal statement if you have something meaningful to say about it.
As far as whether to retake the LSAT, ultimately, you are the one who is in the best position to know whether you are actually likely to score significantly higher than 165 on a retake. It is not worth it to retake for a score improvement of 1 or 2 points, and it is not unheard of to score lower your second time around. Reflect on what it was that went wrong during the first test. Identifying that you had anxiety is not enough. MOST students that I have worked with do less well on the actual test than on practice tests and many identify the problem as text anxiety. Ask yourself: What, specifically, went wrong the first time--was it truly a one-off or is it likely to happen again? What will you do differently the second time around that will result in a higher score? If you don't have very good answers, I would focus on strengthening the other aspects of your application rather than spending all of your time preparing for a retake. If you are able to see clearly what went wrong and how to prevent it, then retaking may be the best plan.
Hey Rach, just to add from my experience test anxiety can be a significant challenge. I suggest getting deeper to understand if it was panic or choking. Sounds like you think panic if thats the case, I suggest practicing some breathing exercises, for example: breathing in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, breathing out for 4 seconds. If on the other hand you think it was choking, some simple mental reminder could help to alleviate that, for example: reminding yourself, "I am focused." The challenging part is being aware of the moment you begin to see signs of panic or choking and then taking the appropriate action to handle that.
When I panic during testing conditions, I notice I stop breathing or my breathing is choppy which has some affect on experiencing some tension and can be a roadblock to understanding the test material, so I have practiced picking up on those signs earlier to stop the path they can take me down.
When I have experienced choking, I would be reading material, would not absorb it, not understand it, and would have to go back and read multiple times and still nothing would make sense, nothing was registering, I was choking, then I started practicing mental reminders, "focused" which can help to regain composure, as it has for me, and its a daily practice of mine.
Sounds like you have the potential to be an upper echelon test taker maybe it was some preparation issues on test day: did you take a dry run to the test center beforehand? Did anything happen the day of the test that was unforeseen, out of the ordinary, or different than usual for a normal day?
Here are some Powerscore blogs about different approaches to help prepare to tackle anxiety:
https://blog.powerscore.com/lsat/the-ul ... ource-list
Sorry, but doesn't this go against the advice that's been given elsewhere on the forum, by Dave and others?
OP is looking at Berkeley and UCLA with a 4.0 GPA, but his/her LSAT is 3 points below the median for both (168). Just three points would bring OP from so-so to not-so-great chances to probably very good chances. Four points would be even better, and a 170+ would make them a near lock. There's no question OP should retake if those schools are his/her target.
I think perhaps you overlooked Claire's point that it would be worth retaking as long as the person is able to determine what can be done that will result in a significant score increase, if there are no solid answers, she suggests focusing attention on strengthening other aspects of the application.
You're right that 3 or 4 points would qualify as a significant score increase
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