With the February 10 LSAT looming, I receive quite a few messages like this one:
Hi Nathan, I am in a bit of a quandary. [Here are the] the options I have.
Option 1: Take it
I could just sit for the test and take it as I've been doing; I will just go for a double rather than a home run. I am realistic about my expectations and I will probably get somewhere within the range of 160-163 plus/minus 3 points.
This is far from my 168+ target score.
1. Score on record
2. Experience of test day
3. The possibility of some kind of Slumdog scenario and I perform better
1. Shit score
Option 2: Withdraw
1. No shitty score on record
1. No experience
Does this sound familiar? Your practice test scores have improved from where you started, but you're still 5 or more points away from your goal? If so, you're probably feeling quite a bit of anxiety as you decide whether or not to sit for the upcoming exam. Not to worry, because it doesn't much matter one way or the other.
On the one hand, you have very little to lose by sitting for the exam. Schools see every score on your record, but they only care about the highest score you achieve. By taking the test, at least you'll have something on record, and maybe you'll get lucky and do better than you think. You'll have the experience of sitting for the official exam, which might be a concern if you're subject to test anxiety. You've already paid the $180, and you're not getting that back at this point. Essentially, you have the option to take the test for free. If you're within 5-10 points of your goal, it's hard to see the downside.
On the other hand, it's also hard to see the upside of taking it. You're far enough away from your goal that you're pretty unlikely to luck out and reach your target right now. Even if you match your best recent performances, you'll always suspect you could have done better—and you probably can. Even if you do take the test, you're going to need to retake. If you withdraw, you can spend the day drinking beers with your friends instead of grinding out a test that isn't going to be your final score. Maybe that makes more sense.
Who gives a shit?
Nobody, to be perfectly honest. If you take it, you're not going to achieve your true potential but you're also not going to cause any permanent damage. Flip a coin! Heads you take it, tails you withdraw. As the coin is falling, you might find yourself leaning one way or the other. Let that voice make the decision for you. If you're within 5-10 points of your goal, it truly doesn't matter either way.