If you, like many people who are taking the February LSAT, plan to matriculate in fall 2014, it is critical to submit your law school applications as soon as possible. The earlier you apply, the better your admissions chances, even at schools with rolling deadlines.
Since your LSAT score will have a part in determining your school selection list, it is key to assess your February performance and estimate your score. Doing so will allow you to narrow down your law school choices, finalize the rest of your application materials and submit them as soon as you get your official score.
[Get answers to common February LSAT concerns.]
To begin, evaluate how many questions you are certain, or almost certain, you answered incorrectly. This includes sections you did not finish due to time constraints, questions you rushed through and potentially guessed at, answer bubbles that were filled out incorrectly and questions that just plain stumped you. You should not include questions that were merely challenging in this count; only include ones you did not answer or ones that can only be correct through a lucky guess.
Additionally, consider environmental factors that could have affected your performance. Were you sick on test day? Were you especially nervous, such that it distracted from the material at hand? Were there any distractions, like a peer's constant cough or the proctor forgetting to issue a five-minute warning?
Now use that number of incorrect answers to calculate your score. If you believe any environmental factors could have affected your concentration, you may wish to deduct another point or two to account for the distraction. Consider this number your highest score possible., Even if you guessed a few correctly, you cannot count on that chance.
If your calculated number is above your target score, great! You are on track to apply to the schools you have been targeting based on your practice LSAT scores. You should compile the remainder of your application materials, like wrapping up essays and following up with recommenders. Once you get your real score, as long as there are no surprises, you will be ready to submit your applications.
[Find additional tips and advice on LSAT prep.]
If your estimated score is on par with your target score, you may wish to add a few more safety schools to your list. This calculation was based on questions you absolutely got wrong, and you could have answered others incorrectly, too.
You will not know for sure until you get the real score back, but aside from ensuring that you have a few safeties on your list, proceed as normal in your application preparation.
If your potential score is far below your target score, you will either need to reevaluate your school selection based on the new score, or, if you do not wish to attend the schools in your LSAT range, consider holding off applying for another year.
If you choose the latter, you should look into cancelling your February LSAT score. You have six days after the exam date to do so. The admissions committee will know that you took the LSAT in February, but they will never know your score, and neither will you.
Regardless of the outcome, once you estimate your LSAT score, you can take concrete steps toward completing the application process. Try not to dwell too much on the score itself, but what actions you will take to maximize acceptance chances at one of your top-choice schools.
This may mean working diligently on your other application components for the next month, or it may mean applying for fall 2015 matriculation so you can retake the LSAT and have more time to submit the best applications possible.