Preparing for an LSAT Retake: LSAT Diaries

LSAT Blog Preparing LSAT Retake LSAT Diaries
This installment of LSAT Diaries comes from Hilda A., who improved from 142 on her initial diagnostic to 157 on the October 2011 LSAT, then to a 161 on the February 2012 LSAT.

In her diary, she talks about learning from her mistakes and preparing for her LSAT retake.

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Please thank Hilda for sharing her story below in the comments!

Hilda's LSAT Diary:

I was enrolled as a full-time student at California State University, Northridge when I scored a 142 on my first LSAT diagnostic (pre-studying) in April 2011. However, I wasn't discouraged because I never expected to score well without any prior training. At that time, I had no idea what the LSAT even consisted of.  At first, logic games were very difficult for me but by the October 2011 LSAT, they were my strongest point even though I would still miss a few questions.  I would also miss a few questions in Logical Reasoning as well, but Reading Comprehension was my toughest section.

In the beginning, I would miss about a dozen questions from the Reading Comp section, about 3-4 in logic games, and maybe 7-8 combined in Logical Reasoning.  This was pretty consistent and I was not improving past 159 no matter what I did. I was stuck. By the end of August, the fall semester began at CSUN and I was taking five classes and still working.

The days became hectic but I used every free minute I had on practice tests.  I took every test ever released from 1992 to 2011 at least twice and my highest score was a 164.  Aside from that one outlier, I consistently scored 159s.  So it wasn't a surprise when I scored a 157 on the October 2011 LSAT. It was quite representative of how I was scoring.

While it wasn't shocking, I was disappointed in my performance.  Still, I applied to Loyola, University of San Diego, Chapman, UC Hastings, Southwestern, Santa Clara, University of San Francisco, and UC Irvine.  As time went on, I received a seat in the Fall 2012 entering class at Southwestern.  I became nervous as January approached and spontaneously signed up for the February 2012 LSAT on the last day to register.  With about three weeks left until the LSAT, I became a wreck.  I called Loyola, USD, Santa Clara, UC Hastings, and UCI and put my applications on hold.

The second time around, I changed my approach. I focused a lot on perfecting my stronger points instead of stressing out over reading comprehension.  I think this is what really helped me start scoring so well.  I perfected my logic games until I would miss none.  With logical reasoning, I began noticing patterns in the questions because I had done so many already.  It became easier to pick out wrong answers instead of searching for right ones, since there's always at least two choices that are appealing.  By recognizing common factors that make a choice incorrect, I became better at eliminating the right contender.  I began missing about 3-4 combined from both logical reasoning sections.

I never became skilled at the reading comprehension section.  This was ironic to me because I'm an English major, so I've become quick at analyzing, reading, and understanding main points.  For some reason, I just wasn't able to conquer that section but when I accepted that and focused on perfecting my strong points, that's when I started scoring in the high 160s-low 170s.  I went from missing about a dozen questions in that section to missing about 7-8.  I spent more time on reading the passages and annotating better and read through the questions quicker.

Before, I did the opposite. I would quickly read the passage and spend more time on the questions, but I would be ill-equipped to answer them because I hadn't given the passage enough time to fully understand.  By giving the passage more of my time, I at least began to answer each Main Point question correctly and a few corresponding questions.

Also, I did a few practice problems to get my mind going in the right direction ever morning when I woke up, and I reviewed old tests each night.  Aside from that, I retook a few practice tests a week before the test.

This time around, I was shocked because I scored a 165 on my first practice test since taking the actual LSAT.  My score began increasing with each test until I scored a 172 on the last practice test before the real one.  Although there were retakes, my morale had completely changed, and I was ready to go.

The morning before the LSAT, I received a letter from Chapman with my acceptance along with a 40% merit scholarship and a spot on USF's waitlist.  I went into the February LSAT with much more confidence and ease.


In her next LSAT Diary, Hilda shares how she did on the February LSAT, as well as some advice on the law school admission process.

Photo by bdorfman


  1. Thank you so much for this inspiration. I took the LSAT last year and scored a 158. I was consistently scoring 158-159 with a random high of 164, very much like you. I've decided to retake the LSAT this year with an improved smarter plan of attack... but I've been pessimistic because so many people say that the LSAT is like an IQ test and once you land on a consistent score repeatedly, that is just where you belong and you'll never really get out of that score in the same way you will never change your IQ. Your story has given me some very much needed optimism. Thank you so much.

  2. Hi,

    Is there any way you can talk a little further about these 'patterns' you saw in logical reasoning?

  3. Encouraging to hear. I am studying for the Oct test, which is a retake for me.

  4. This is helpful. LG is my best section, RC isnt so bad, but I'm horrible at LR. I'm hoping my improvement in LG and RC will balance my LR. I hope to finally see the patterns in LR, but that hasnt happened yet.