Image by Brian Gosline on FlickrOne of my clients just found out his October LSAT score, and it was nine points higher than his previous score.

Woot! Wait…can we still use “woot” in 2012?

Anyway, he asked me whether he should address this in an addendum, and if so, how. First of all, file this under:

Great Problem to Have.

Next, you’ll want to consider whether the school you’re applying to asks you to explain such a score jump, and by “jump,” we’re talking more than three points, usually six or more.

Law school consultant Anna Ivey explains that many schools are increasingly asking for an addendum if there has been more than a certain point increase in your score from one LSAT to the next. Obviously, if a school specifically asks you to explain this phenomenon, you absolutely should do it.

But for schools that don’t discuss this in application instructions, is explaining an LSAT score jump in an addendum a good idea?

I think almost always yes, and it’s mainly because this way the adcomm doesn’t have to guess about the difference in your score. This, of course, assumes that you actually have a solid reason for explaining your score jump. As Ivey notes, if you really don’t know why you scored so much better, don’t do the addendum (unless, I repeat, the school you’re applying to specifically asks for an explanation, in which case you’re going to have to come up with something — but make it *truthful*).

And this brings me to an important point:

In an addendum addressing your score jump, be honest.

My guess is that for many of you, the first time you took the LSAT,  it was without much preparation and/or maybe you didn’t take it as seriously as you should have. That’s OK to say, and in fact, can work to your advantage if you then put in a lot of time an effort to prepare for the exam.

So, in this case, in your addendum,  emphasize that when you got your score, you knew you needed to work harder because you were capable of doing better; explain (in a sentence or two) what you did to prepare, how hard you worked at it (perhaps hours you put in), and that your hard work paid off in your most recent LSAT performance.

The reason this sort of addendum can work in your favor is because you’re showing the adcomm that when faced with adversity, you rise up and meet the challenge and that you’re willing to work hard to overcome setbacks, particularly in an academic setting.

Sound good?

If you have specific questions about addenda, feel free to leave them in the comments or contact me privately.

And remember, if you need help writing your personal statement or other essays for your law school application, I have several service plans available; if you’re not sure which is best for you, you can always contact me before purchase.

Best of luck with your applications!

* Image by Bryan Gosline (Flickr) via CC license.

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2 Comments

  1. John Richardson Nov 3, 2012 at 11:55

    Michelle:

    Congratulations on your new book.

    This is an interesting post. Should applicants talk about LSAT score increases or even LSAT scores in their personal statements? As you point out if the directions require one to do so. then you explain it.

    Otherwise, I would be very careful with this topic and ALMOST NEVER let it become the focal point of a personal statement. As is the case with everything else in a personal statement, the question is:

    What does the increase in the LSAT score say about you as an applicant? The answer to this depends on a combination of things including: the reason for the lower score to begin with, the steps taken to improve the score, what the initial score was and the extent of the improvement.

    Some examples:.

    Example 1: With a very low first score (I have seen a number of these) coupled with a significant improvement, it is quite obvious that the applicant had a bad day the first time. In this case, I would just note, the fact of the bad day and move on.

    Example 2: An average first score coupled with a significant improvement is probably more evidence of the applicant focus and effort in improving the score. In this case, improving the LSAT score may be an example of hard work and motivation on the part of the applicant.

    Example 3: A high first score with an improvement. With a high first score the person is accepted anyway although LSAT scores may be related to scholarship opportunities.

    A final thought/question: What would the following statement tell an admissions officer about an applicant?

    “My first LSAT score was low because I was not prepared for the test.”

    What would an admissions officer infer about an applicant from this statement?

    In summary, when addressing LSAT scores in a personal statement, the question is:

    What does the first score, the second score and the improvement tell the admissions officer about the applicant?

    Reply

    • michelle Nov 3, 2012 at 15:39

      Oh I don’t think an LSAT score increase should *ever* be the focus of a personal statement — I’m talking *solely* as an addendum. Thanks for the additional thoughts on this, John; I do think, however, if an applicant simply didn’t take the LSAT as seriously as s/he should have and wasn’t prepared, it’s fine to say that…obviously s/he has remedied that with the subsequent taking of the test if there is an addendum about a drastic increase in score.

      Reply

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