Got a 174 on the LSAT? Should You Retake it?

George Margas

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Got a 174 on the LSAT? Should You Retake it?

Scoring a 174 on the LSAT places you in the top echelon of test-takers, a feat that deserves a round of applause. But as I ponder the next steps towards law school, I’m faced with a pressing question: should I retake the LSAT? It’s a dilemma that many high-achievers like myself encounter, driven by the pursuit of perfection and the allure of a potentially higher score.

The decision isn’t straightforward. On one hand, a 174 is an exceptional score that can open doors to prestigious law schools. On the other, I wonder if that extra point or two could make a significant difference in my admissions odds or scholarship opportunities. Let’s dive into the factors that could influence whether a retake is worth the effort and how it might impact my law school journey.

Considerations for Retaking the LSAT

Before deciding to retake the LSAT, I’ve had to carefully weigh a number of critical factors. My initial 174 score is undoubtedly strong, but I recognize the potential benefits of an even higher score.

One primary factor is the competition among top-tier law schools. With acceptance rates being incredibly low at prestigious institutions, every single point above the median can significantly enhance my odds of getting in. I’ve researched the median LSAT scores for my dream schools and found that, although a 174 puts me in a good position, a 1-2 point increase could push my application from the “maybe” to the “definitely” pile.

Another consideration is the possible increase in scholarships. Law school is an expensive endeavor, and many scholarships are merit-based, taking LSAT scores into account. I’ve looked at the scholarship brackets for schools I’m interested in and have realized that a higher score could potentially unlock thousands of dollars in financial aid. This is a substantial amount that could reduce student loan debt and relieve financial pressure down the road.

However, I can’t overlook the potential downsides to retaking the LSAT. The stress and time commitment of studying for another LSAT could detract from other valuable parts of my law school applications, such as crafting a compelling personal statement or securing strong letters of recommendation.

Moreover, there’s the risk of not achieving a higher score. Even if I’ve mastered most sections, unpredictable variables like test-day nerves or a particularly difficult set of questions can make improvements uncertain. LSAC data indicates that repeat test takers with scores in the 170-174 range often see minimal gains or sometimes even score lower on subsequent attempts. Here are some statistics:

Initial ScoreAverage Gain/LossPercentage who Scored Higher

The ideal outcome would be to improve on my 174, but I’ve had to be realistic about the chances of that happening and whether it’s worth potentially impacting other areas of my application. I know my academic and professional experiences also play a considerable role in admissions decisions, so balancing my efforts has been crucial.

Assessing Your Overall Law School Application

As I dive deeper into the decision-making process, it’s crucial that I assess my entire law school application. Sure, the LSAT score is a significant player, but it’s only part of the whole picture law schools look at when deciding whom to admit. I need to consider other components like my undergraduate GPA, personal statement, letters of recommendation, and any legal or extracurricular experiences that might set my application apart.

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My GPA, for instance, can be just as telling as my LSAT score. A strong GPA, particularly when coupled with a rigorous course load, can demonstrate sustained effort and intellectual curiosity. It’s worth reflecting on whether my academic record already makes a compelling case for my potential success in law school.

The personal statement offers a chance to show my unique voice and explain why I’m pursuing a legal career. It’s an opportunity to articulate not just what I’ll bring to the table, but also what aspects of the law school’s program resonate with my aspirations. I’ll have to ensure it’s crafted to leave an indelible impression.

Letters of recommendation also carry weight. They provide third-party validation of my skills and potential. If I’ve forged strong professional or academic relationships that can result in glowing recommendations, these letters could tip the scales in my favor.

Extracurricular and legal experiences may not be mandatory, but they certainly can enrich my application. Being able to discuss an internship, a volunteer project, or leadership roles can show admissions committees that I have a genuine interest in the law beyond academics. It demonstrates initiative and gives context to my LSAT score, whatever it may be.

As I ponder these aspects of my application, the decision to retake the LSAT hangs in balance with how well-rounded the rest of my materials appear. An already strong application might suggest that the risks and efforts of a retake are unnecessary. On the other hand, if there are areas that could be perceived as weaknesses, a higher LSAT score might provide the additional assurance that law schools seek.

Evaluating Your Target Law Schools

When considering whether my LSAT score of 174 might warrant a retake, I’ll look into the admission standards of my target law schools. Top-tier law schools, such as those within the T14—recognized as the top 14 law schools in the country—have an incredibly competitive selection process. Schools like Harvard, Yale, and Stanford often seek candidates with the highest scores, but a 174 places me well within, or above, the median LSAT score range of even these elite institutions.

It’s essential to research the median LSAT scores for admitted students at the schools I’m aiming for. By comparing my 174 score against these medians—which are often made publicly available on law schools’ admissions pages—I can gauge where I stand. If my score is on the higher end, retaking the exam might not offer much benefit, especially if the rest of my application is strong. Typically, the higher my score relative to the median, the better my chances of not only acceptance but also receiving attractive scholarship offers.

On the other hand, if I’m specifically targeting a law school that prides itself on an exceptionally high median LSAT score or has a scholarship program that favors top percentiles, then consideration for a retake could be warranted. Notwithstanding my current strong score, even a few additional points could make a significant difference in such competitive scenarios.

Here are the median LSAT scores for a few top-tier law schools to illustrate where a 174 might land:

Law SchoolMedian LSAT Score
Yale Law School173
Harvard Law School173
Stanford Law School171

Based on this data, my 174 is competitive, yet I shouldn’t solely rely on numerical benchmarks. I must also evaluate how the score complements my application. It’s crucial to ensure that my LSAT performance aligns with my other academic indicators and the narrative I’ve woven throughout my application, including my personal statement and recommendations. This holistic approach will provide me with a clearer understanding of whether improving my LSAT score is truly necessary to meet the standards of my chosen law schools.

Weighing the Potential Benefits of a Higher Score

Choosing to retake the LSAT, even with a score of 174, hinges on understanding the potential benefits a higher score might offer. One of the most compelling reasons to consider a retake is scholarship opportunities. Many law schools offer substantial financial aid to students with LSAT scores in the highest percentiles, which can significantly reduce debt and financial strain during and after law school.

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In addition to financial incentives, there’s the competitive edge a higher score can provide. Law schools do not just look at raw scores; LSAT percentiles play a crucial role as well. A one or two-point increase, moving from the 99th to the 100th percentile, can make a noticeable difference in the eyes of admissions committees, especially at the most elite institutions.

It’s also worth considering the aspect of geographical mobility. Perhaps my current score aligns well with the median at a top law school in a specific region, but I aspire to practice in a different part of the country where the competition is fiercer. A higher LSAT score could give me more options and flexibility when choosing where to apply, allowing me to cast a wider net and increase my chances of being accepted at a law school closer to my desired location.

Finally, I must think about the possibility of improving my application’s overall narrative. If I can demonstrate dedication and resilience by studying for and achieving a higher LSAT score, it adds another dimension to my application. Admissions officers often look favorably upon applicants who show they’re committed to self-improvement and reaching their full potential. A retake with an improved score can serve as evidence of my willingness to work for my goals.

While pondering these benefits, I also have to keep in mind the law schools’ policies on multiple LSAT scores. Some schools take the highest score, others average them, and a few may even consider the most recent score only. I’ll need to do thorough research on the policies of the schools I’m aiming for before making a final decision.

Potential Drawbacks of Retaking the LSAT

When considering a retake, it’s crucial to ponder the possible downsides. Not every LSAT retake story ends with a triumphant score increase. Sometimes, my score could stagnate or—worse—decrease. Law schools typically take the highest LSAT score, but they’ll still see all of my attempts, which might raise eyebrows if there’s no marked improvement.

The prep time for another LSAT can be grueling and time-consuming. It demands a significant commitment that often means sacrificing other pursuits or opportunities. I’ve seen cases where the intense focus on the LSAT has detracted from applicants’ abilities to gain valuable work experience or engage in extracurricular activities that might also enhance their law school applications.

There’s also the psychological aspect—the stress and anxiety associated with the LSAT can take a toll. If I’m already near the top of the score range, the pressure to perform even better can exacerbate these feelings, possibly leading to a suboptimal performance on exam day. In addition, repeated studying could lead to burnout, which is an important factor to consider, especially since the law school journey itself is a marathon.

Financially, retaking the LSAT isn’t free. I’m looking at the cost of the test itself plus any additional prep materials or courses. These can quickly add up, and there’s no guarantee that the investment will yield a higher score.

ConsiderationImpact of Retaking the LSAT
Score FluctuationsPotential for score decrease or stagnation
Time CommitmentLess time for other opportunities
Stress and AnxietyIncreased pressure and potential burnout
Financial ConsiderationsAdditional costs without guaranteed return

Despite these drawbacks, some candidates might find that the potential upside of a higher score outweighs these concerns. It’s a personal decision, and I need to weigh my circumstances carefully, factoring in my target schools, current score, and personal resilience. It’s also wise to consult with mentors, advisors, and trusted individuals who understand my academic and professional aspirations before deciding whether another round in the LSAT ring is right for me.

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Making an Informed Decision

When it comes to retaking the LSAT, making an informed decision is crucial. I’ll walk you through the key factors to consider, ensuring you make the choice that’s right for your unique situation. Remember, a score of 174 puts you in the top percentile of test-takers, but there may be reasons why you’re contemplating a retake.

First, It’s important to assess your practice test scores prior to your initial LSAT. If they were consistently higher than 174, you might have underperformed on test day. Factors such as test anxiety or unexpected circumstances could have played a role. However, if your score aligns with your practice results, consider that you might have already reached your peak performance.

Another critical element is understanding the admission policies of your target law schools. Some institutions take your highest LSAT score, while others consider an average, or even your most recent score. Researching the policies of the schools you’re aiming for is a step you can’t afford to skip. A 174 might already position you well above their median scores, making a retake unnecessary.

Time investment is also non-negotiable. Preparing for the LSAT requires significant devotion, often at the expense of other activities. Ask yourself if you’re ready and willing to commit to another intense preparation period, and if it could potentially benefit other aspects of your application like work experience or community service.

Finally, there’s the financial aspect to consider. Every retake of the LSAT comes with a price tag. The cost of the exam itself, along with any preparatory courses or materials, can add up. Below is a brief breakdown of potential costs:

Expense TypeEstimated Cost
LSAT Registration$200
Prep Course$300 – $1500
Study Materials$100 – $400
Additional Practice Tests$0 – $100
Total Potential Cost$600 – $2200

Balancing the possibility of a higher score with the time and financial investment is essential. Analyze your goals, resources, and readiness to undergo the test preparation process again. By evaluating these facets, you’re setting yourself up for a decision that respects your personal and academic aspirations.


Deciding whether to retake the LSAT after scoring a 174 is no small feat. I’ve laid out the critical factors that should guide your decision. It’s about weighing your practice test performance against the expectations of your dream law schools and balancing the potential benefits with the time and financial costs. Trust in the process you’ve undertaken to reach this point and let your personal and academic goals steer you toward the right choice. Remember, you’re in a strong position with a 174, and with careful consideration, you’ll determine the path that best suits your future in law.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I consider retaking the LSAT?

You should consider retaking the LSAT if your practice test scores show consistent improvement, or if your score does not reflect your true capability and falls below the median range of your target law schools.

How do I know if my LSAT score is good enough for my target law schools?

Review the admission statistics of your target schools to determine the median LSAT scores of accepted students. If your score is significantly lower, retaking the exam may be beneficial.

What are the financial implications of retaking the LSAT?

Retaking the LSAT requires paying the registration fee again. Additionally, consider the potential costs of new study materials or courses you might need for further preparation.

How much time do I need to invest in preparing to retake the LSAT?

The time required varies for each individual but plan to invest several weeks or months of dedicated study. Assess your previous prep strategies and areas of weakness to determine the amount of time needed.

Should the number of attempts at the LSAT influence my decision to retake?

Yes, while there is no strict limit on the number of times you can take the LSAT, law schools will see all your scores. Therefore, it’s important to prepare thoroughly and only retake when confident you can improve your score.

Author Profile

George Margas
George Margas
Hello, I’m George Margas, the founder of this platform dedicated to exploring the fascinating world of laws and the justice system. While I’m not a lawyer by profession, my passion for the intricacies of legal systems has driven me to create this space as a comprehensive resource for legal enthusiasts, students, and anyone intrigued by the complexities of the law.