Should I take the February 2013 LSAT? Or postpone it?

We're in the homestretch for those planning to take the February 2013 LSAT, and I'm getting lots of inquiries from nervous candidates wondering if they should take the test or postpone it. If you're preparing properly, it boils down to a fairly easy decision: Are you happy with your practice test scores, or not?

The emails look basically like this:

After three weeks of studying I haven't been getting the scores I want, and with classes starting this week, I'm skeptical that I can put in the necessary time to improve my scores before the February LSAT. The alternative would be to take the LSAT June or October and giving me more time to study.  On the other hand, taking the test in February would give me a chance to see where I'm at and if I didn't feel good about it I could cancel my score.  Please let me know what you think about this.

In this case, my gut tells me that this student should postpone. He hasn't been prepping for very long, h's far from his goals, and he doesn't think he's going to study much over the next couple weeks. (In any case, a couple weeks is not enough time for most students to make huge improvements, even if they studied all day every day.) This one looks like a fairly easy "postpone" to me.

The suggestion that "taking the test in February would give me a chance to see where I'm at" is a decent idea, and worthy of discussion, but probably not much. This student already knows exactly where he's at, based on the results of all the official LSAT practice tests he's been doing. Official practice test scores are very predictive of actual test scores. Each of these PTs was an actual official LSAT in its day, and the test changes very slowly over time. If you're not happy with your PT scores, you're extremely unlikely to be happy with your actual score.

True, the LSAC lets you take the test three times. And true, most schools these days only care about your highest score. But that's no reason to burn your first attempt while you're unprepared. Sure, many batters will hit a home run on the second or third pitch. But if you're out of shape, haven't taken batting practice, and your shoes are untied, it would be silly to step into the batter's box. We all know that strike one would be a swing and a miss, so what did we really learn from that?

Take the test when you're ready. Last week I had two students (one private tutoring, one classroom) each ask me about postponing the test. Each are already scoring in the high 160s after lengthy preparation processes. I asked them: Would you be happy with a 168? Their answers were yes. My advice: Then take the damn thing! If you've scored 168 on a PT, then you can score 168 on the real test. (And if you haven't, you probably can't.)

If you're signed up for the test, you might as well give it your best shot over the next couple weeks because we're already well past the deadline for changing test dates and getting refunds. Who knows, maybe you'll make a miraculous improvement. But if not, I'd advise withdrawing by 11:59 PM on February 7. If you WD, it doesn't count as an attempt. If you take the test and cancel, that's strike one.

If you're still not sure, why not give me a call? 415-518-0630. I'm always available for quick chats, and enjoy helping students make this type of decision.