Your Secret Standardized Test

August 12, 2013

A recent Q&A on Above the Law included the following nugget of wisdom: if you’re applying somewhere that has rolling admissions, apply early UNLESS you think you can get a better LSAT score if you retake the test; if that’s the case, take the test, and apply by December/early January.

This reminded me of advice I used to give to students I worked with for SAT and LSAT prep: don’t rush the application process; retake a test if you think you can do better. However, there’s a trick that Above the Law missed entirely: taking a secret standardized test. I call it secret because schools don’t have to find out about it. I think this works with all schools/standardized tests, but let’s refer to the LSAT for the sake of consistency. 

Imagine you took the LSAT in June and you scored a 168—it’s a great score, but you know you need to break 170 (out of a potential 180) to get into your dream school. If your applications are ready to go in September, shoot them off as soon as schools will accept them, and include your 168 score; hold off on releasing your letters of recommendation in, so your application remains incomplete. Retake the test in October, but don’t fill out the section that lets you automatically send your scores to schools your applying to. Check your score in November—if your score goes up, send it to the school and release the letters of recommendation.  If it doesn’t go up, only send in the letters of recommendation. That way, if your score went down, it won’t hurt you. 

This method of taking a secret standardized test can also help you get off the waitlist at a school. One of my old SAT prep students applied Early Decision to Duke, but was deferred to regular admissions. He retook the SAT in January, sent in a much improved score, and was accepted! Another friend was waitlisted at business school and retook the GMAT in the spring to get off the waitlist. In both cases, they didn’t have to send their scores if they went down—they could instead send in improved grades/resumes to help their case. Retaking a test after you’ve sent in your application can only help you.

Let us know if this worked for you!



Browse Successful Application Files

MichaelR
Columbia ‘20


Accepted to Columbia, Dartmouth, Cornell, UC Berkeley, JHU, Vanderbilt, Rice, UMich, UCLA, UNC, UT Austin, Washington, Ohio State, UCSD

Midwestern kid who loves molecular biology and electronic dance music. Let me help you edit your essays!
dorszy
MIT ‘20


Accepted to MIT, Princeton, Duke, Stanford, UGA, GA Tech, UNC

I'm a current sophomore at MIT who loves all sorts of things: from engineering and biology to music and dance.
StanfordBaeAre…
Stanford ‘20


Accepted to Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCSD, UCLA, UC Davis

I am a Frosh at Stanford studying studying engineering (computer science or other types) with a (possible) minor in the humanities. Go Trees!!!
Jwhitty32
UChicago ‘20


Accepted to UChicago, UVA, Purdue, GA Tech

If you're looking for that ray of hope that someone unspectactular might get lucky, you came to the right place.

New Posts

Undecided Major? 3 Reasons Why You Should Own It
Undecided Major? 3 Reasons Why You Should Own It
June 20, 2018

“What do you plan on majoring in?” How much do you dread that question coming up at the dinner table? Thanks to Aunt Sally, this conversation is back on the table. You don’t want...

Student Insight: Transition to College
Student Insight: Transition to College
June 18, 2018

All college-bound students have some jitters about going to college for the first time. Let’s try to help you settle in more easily with these tips from current college students. There are a lot...

Emory University: Essay Topics & Personal Statement Examples
Emory University: Essay Topics & Personal Statement Examples
June 13, 2018

Applying to Emory University this fall? If you are just getting started on your application essays, get some inspiration from these successful essay excerpts:1. Overcoming Personal StruggleEssay Excerpt from DooleypeanutsEmory University ‘22 Neuroscience and Neurobiology “The...

5 Tips to Help You Look for Scholarships this Summer
5 Tips to Help You Look for Scholarships this Summer
June 11, 2018

Summer after junior year in high school is a great time for you to start looking and applying for scholarships. Why? You’ll get more for your efforts. It’s not something most applicants are...

Load More Posts