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I know what you’re thinking: aren’t all LSATs a pain in the neck? Touchè—you got me there—but the February LSAT can be a particularly baffling proposition for law school hopefuls. There are several reasons for this…
Reason #1 – It’s an ‘Undisclosed’ Test
The main reason the February LSAT is a bit more frustrating than its June, October, and December brethren is that it is the only LSAT given that is completely ‘undisclosed’. When an LSAT is ‘undisclosed’, it means that the only thing you’ll get back in terms of results from LSAC is your score out of 180, and your percentile. You will not know how many questions you got wrong, or which questions you got wrong. For obvious reasons, this is super annoying!
So why would LSAC do this to you? According to LSAC, they need to keep some of their content under lock and key in case they ever need to administer an emergency LSAT due to any number of unforeseen circumstances (i.e. inclement weather). Keeping the February LSAT undisclosed allows them to have a ‘reserve’ stash of LSAT content that could be used in a pinch.
Reason #2 – Lousy Timing
Another knock against the February LSAT is the timing of it; Since law schools use a rolling admissions process that begins in January and typically wraps up early in the new year, February LSAT scores are too late to use to gain admission in fall of that same year. In other words, February 2012 LSAT takers are unlikely to be permitted to use those scores to gain entry to law school in September of 2012. I say ‘generally’ because there are some rare exceptions to this; however, they are just that: exceptions. You should strive to have your applications completed by the end of the calendar year.
Reason #3 – It Has a Horrid Reputation
There is a general attitude of contempt for the February LSAT, which I’m betting has just about everything to do with reasons 1 and 2 above. I’ve even heard people take the besmirching of the February LSAT so far as to claim that it is the “hardest” of all the LSATs given in a calendar year. Let’s be perfectly clear about this: the February LSAT IS NOT HARDER than any other LSAT given.
Certainly the fact that it is undisclosed makes it less appealing; however, there is absolutely no data to suggest that it is in any way more difficult than any other LSAT test.
I could repeat those last two sentences until I’m blue in the face, and folks would still start vicious internet rumors about how the February LSAT is 100x more difficult than the others. This is plainly false, although I’m sure the inability of individuals to see which questions they slipped up on adds to the mystique of the vicious “February LSAT is harder than others” rumor. In the interest of painstaking, mind-numbing clarity: it is NOT harder than any other implementation of the LSAT.
So, why would anyone in their right mind actually take the February LSAT?
Glad you asked! There are many good reasons to take the February LSAT, particularly if you’ve planned ahead and are taking your LSAT well ahead of your application deadline. If your best opportunity to study was over the fall/early winter, the February LSAT likely makes sense for you.
At the end of the day, “when” you should take your LSAT comes down to this: when can you do your very best on it? The answer to that question, unsurprisingly, will correlate to when you have the most time to prepare. Happy studying! ?
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Matt Shinners is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in New York City. After receiving a degree in Biochemistry from Boston College, Matt scored a 180 on his LSAT and enrolled in Harvard Law School. There’s nothing that makes him happier than seeing his students receive the scores they want to get into the schools of their choice. Check out Matt’s upcoming LSAT courses here!