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Delaying a Cycle: Reflections from the Other Side

Cant Get RightCant Get Right Yearly Member Sage 🍌
edited December 2016 in Sage Advice 25579 karma
This time last year, I was nervously awaiting the posting of December test scores. It could be any day now (Actually, it will almost certainly be 1-3 days before the official release date, so chill y'all!) and since I was committed to applying to that cycle, it would be time to send my applications--like my score or not. I wasn't sure how I'd done, but I felt that if just a couple of things went my way I had a very real chance. I'm writing this post because I feel like while there is a lot of anxiety around every score release, the end of year release carries the additional weight of feeling like a last chance. It certainly felt that way for me. When I got the notification on my phone that my scores were in, I went to a nearby park and I did a few laps around the track before I worked up to opening it. When I did, I was crushed. Not only did I fall short of my target score, I actually fell a point from my October score. I was prepared for less improvement than hoped for, but dropping a point was devastating.

Amidst this emotional shock, I also had an important decision to make. Now that I had fallen so short, I'd have to decide whether to stick to the plan or change course and delay. Obviously, I ended up delaying and, as many of you know, that delay really payed off. But at the time I was making this decision, I did not have that information. I didn't know I'd score a 170, so the choice was not between a 170 a year from now or decent Tier 2 numbers now. It's tempting to conclude that, based on my results, I made the correct decision. That's just not right though. Because I didn't have that information, the correctness of my decision was independent of the outcome. That's a difficult concept, but that's the situation.

So what did I know? What was the information that informed my decision?

While I had fallen far short of my goal score, I had a score that would leave me with some excellent options. I wouldn't be going to any T14 schools, but I could have gone Tier 2 on scholarship. By no means was it a terrible situation. There are lots of schools outside the T14 that lack in prestige but that offer great programs and opportunities. Ultimately, I was in pretty good shape.

On the other hand, I felt like the LSAT had beaten me. And that really was the biggest hold up. If I applied then, it'd mean that I'd accepted that result while I still had one more chance to change it. Of course, I knew what a better score could mean, but I was content with my options. It was just really difficult for me to concede defeat.

And essentially, that was my debate. I think that before committing to a delay, it was important for me to identify how I was going to improve. For anyone contemplating a delay, I think this point is crucial. You need to be able to answer, in concrete terms, how you're planning to do better. For me, that meant signing up at the website with the guy from the LG videos, and it meant living off of my savings for as long as I could so that I could study full time. That was how I'd be able to prepare to a higher level. That was how I was able to answer that question.

Again, it all payed off for me, but there were no guarantees of that happenening. It was possible I could have delayed a year only to find myself in the same situation. I had to be aware of and at peace with that contingency. And so do you if you decide to delay. If you find yourself struggling with the decision to delay or apply, I hope my experience can serve as an example. It is anecdotal, and I'm sure for every success story that gets shared, there are numerous counter examples of things going the other way that people are less eager to talk about. I may have lost a year, but I gained the opportunity to achieve my potential. And that's how you have look at it. By delaying a year you only create an opportunity--one more shot, with zero guarantees, to make it happen.

As an additional bonus, I also benefitted from being able to apply with a much greater knowledge of the application process rather than as an end of cycle noob.

The main takeaway is that if you consider delaying, realize that the correctness of that decision is independent of the results. Even if things hadn't turned out the way they did for me, delaying would still have been the right call. And whatever you decide for yourself will be right or wrong too no matter how it turns out. It's a hard decision, so take some time, think it through, make the call, and don't look back.

Comments

  • StopLawyingStopLawying Alum Member
    821 karma
    Really great post, this is something a lot of people go through, and unfortunately many make poor decisions. I know a guy who was capable of scoring a 170+. He studied for only 2 months, took the Dec test, and got a 163. He said he had to apply that cycle, couldn't wait another year. He's at a T25 school, but this is someone who could've easily gotten into a t-14 with a nice scholarship. One year isn't really a long time, and it's almost always worth it to delay. You wanna know that at the end of the day you gave it your best shot.
  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    23929 karma
    Great post @"Cant Get Right" Reading this makes me so happy for you and your decision and my own to not rush into taking any tests until I am PT'ing where I want. I hope everyone thinking of applying with a score they are not happy with reads this! It is literally a life changing post for someone who is exactly where you were.

  • SprinklesSprinkles Alum Member
    11536 karma
    @"Cant Get Right" said:
    . I may have lost a year, but I gained the opportunity to achieve my potential. And that's how you have look at it. By delaying a year you only create an opportunity--one more shot, with zero guarantees, to make it happen.
    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/be/f6/9c/bef69c03e67162eb936d80d7f43f90ae.gif
  • SprinklesSprinkles Alum Member
    11536 karma
    Thank you for sharing page 1 of your autobiography Josh! ;)
  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    23929 karma
    @montaha.rizeq said:
    Thank you for sharing page 1 of your autobiography Josh! ;)
    I could see Josh writing a great autobiography one day actually, haha. :)
  • twssmithtwssmith Alum
    5120 karma
    Love the post! So special for all of us to be a part of your journey:)

    Looking forward to all that your future will bring you - it will be great!
  • dennisgerrarddennisgerrard Alum Member
    edited December 2016 1639 karma
    I like the story. However, not everyone has the resource or time to afford the delay application, especially for international students. I still wanna take Feb test and see how it goes.
  • SamiSami Yearly Member Sage 7Sage Tutor
    edited December 2016 10700 karma
    @"Cant Get Right" said:
    the correctness of my decision was independent of the outcome.
    This. <3

    Honestly, whether you delay your cycle after you get a score or before you even take the test - the whole process of just delaying the application another year requires utmost courage. The courage to face yourself if despite best efforts the LSAT ends up winning.

    I have always been confident in my ability to learn things quickly and It has definitely throughout my life shaped how I see myself. But LSAT has been a real challenge and it has tested this idea of what I like about myself. Do I like myself because I learn things fast and have been able to achieve the goals I have set for myself or do I value myself because I give something my best shot, no matter what the outcome? There is definitely ego involved here but thankfully I realized that it didn't matter to me if that particular aspect of my ego shatters. I rather take a low score than give up on understanding the problems and challenges the LSAT has presented to me. That's more like me. <3

    Just like @Cant Get right when he made that decision to delay, I have no way of knowing that by just delaying this application cycle I will get that high score; I have no way of knowing if next June I will be saying what he is saying- that the wait paid off. But I do know that if I am to have any chance at all - I have to delay. So it may not be sufficient but its definitely necessary and that's what makes it the right decision for me.

    This isn't a competition, its a journey of learning and its definitely not about the outcome. I know it doesn't seem that way. :( But life has many dimensions to it and failure in one area may teach us how to be successful in another area. So we can never predict how things will come together. All we can do is keep the focus on learning and the process.

    Someone once told me success is personal and knowing that- is the real key to success. I think they were one-hundred percent correct.
  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Yearly Member Sage 🍌
    25579 karma
    Thank you for sharing page 1 of your autobiography Josh! ;)
    If only it were page 110, I'd have my GTown optional essay done, lol!
    not everyone has the resource or time to afford the delay application, especially for international students.
    Yeah, having those resources was a huge aspect to my decision. When I was in my early/mid twenties, there's no way I could have swung it. By the time I needed to make that decision though, I'd been working and saving for over a decade. I was never sure what I was saving for, but I figured I'd know it when I saw it. Without my savings to fall back on, the calculus would have been very different for me.
  • TheLSATTheLSAT Legacy Member
    301 karma
    @"Cant Get Right"
    I am very happy for you. It really is discouraging to walk into that testing room multiple times. I took in September and cancelled. I am convinced that I under performed to a substantial degree in December. I have one more shot. I am thinking June, and it's no guarantee. I just wanted to congratulate you. Only if you don't mind me asking: what was your major of study and undergraduate GPA?
  • I really appreciate posts like these because, although I know that delaying is the optimal choice if your score isn't where you want it, it's nevertheless slightly embarrassing when you have to tell your attorney coworkers or judgmental family members that you're postponing until next year (and possibly might have to do that again and again until I get the score I want). So, having reminders and success stories like these help to keep my perspective and chug along.
  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Yearly Member Sage 🍌
    25579 karma
    @"Lauren L" , yeah that's something that comes up a lot throughout this process. People who aren't on the inside of it really just don't understand. It seems crazy to them that a test could take over a year to prepare for. That's the situation though, so can't let those perceptions dictate your course of action.

    @"A. Mathews" no problem. BA in English Literature, 2008, 3.75 CGPA.
  • danielznelsondanielznelson Alum Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    4181 karma
    Trying to find the words to express how great I think this is, but I can only communicate through GIFs now... and I can't find the right GIF!!

    http://c86og3avv551mqtcy2adcf845a.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/what-have-you-done-to-me.gif
  • Sarah889Sarah889 Alum Member
    edited December 2016 877 karma
    @"Cant Get Right" said:
    It was just really difficult for me to concede defeat.
    This is fantastic. Thank you for sharing.

    My cousin gave me a hand-engraved bracelet for my birthday and on the inside it says "She believed she could so she did." I've never been one for cheesy, motivational quotes, but every time I study, I am motivated by the drive to not let the LSAT defeat me. No matter what score I get, high or lower than initially planned, it's going to be because I chose to accept a score in that range. Not because I couldn't beat the LSAT. So thank you for your motivational success story.
  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Yearly Member Sage 🍌
    25579 karma
    Yeah @bswise2 , by the end, my official score didn't matter as much to me. Obviously, the official score is all that matters to admissions, but I think this test becomes personal to a lot of us in a way that extends way beyond that. Regardless of how my score turned out, I'd proven to myself that I have what it takes. In a lot of important ways, that matters more.
  • TheLoftGuyTheLoftGuy Alum Member
    690 karma
    Wow. Thanks for sharing.
  • SprinklesSprinkles Alum Member
    11536 karma
    That's so darn cute @bswise2
  • keets993keets993 Alum Member 🍌
    6045 karma
    This gave me the courage to officially decide to delay! Thanks for sharing.
  • zkchrumzzkchrumz Member
    164 karma
    I am now officially a double-delayer, which is very tough. It is really only in my plans for revenge against the LSAT (173+ sounds like revenge to me) that I find solace. Hopefully I will be able to write a story like this one at that time... thanks for sharing.
  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Yearly Member Sage 🍌
    25579 karma
    Good luck @keets993 and @zkchrumz . It's a tough call and it means a lot of hard work ahead, but if you work hard to make the most out of the opportunity that delaying creates, it's a small price to pay.
  • draj0623draj0623 Alum Member
    916 karma
    This is beautiful and encouraging, Josh! Thank you for sharing your story and being an inspiration to us all! You speak truth, my friend. <3
  • pasu1223pasu1223 Alum Member
    109 karma

    @"Cant Get Right" I loved the post and although Dec is still 4 weeks away I feel like I'm going to have to delay as well. My scores are ok... got 3 162s on the last three tests I've taken (PT 70+)

    I have the means to study until June full time. My question for you though is given that much time how did you structure your study schedule, do you have any tips?

    Also did you save any tests for use after Dec? If so how many? I was thinking 4 recent tests for prep leading into June.

    Thanks for the story and encouragement!

  • tylerdschreur10tylerdschreur10 Alum Member
    1465 karma

    @"Lauren L" said:
    I really appreciate posts like these because, although I know that delaying is the optimal choice if your score isn't where you want it, it's nevertheless slightly embarrassing when you have to tell your attorney coworkers or judgmental family members that you're postponing until next year (and possibly might have to do that again and again until I get the score I want). So, having reminders and success stories like these help to keep my perspective and chug along.

    Amen! I just told my family that I'm going to retest in December and they were dumbfounded. They think I should accept my score and focus on applications, which is understandable, but I know I can improve.
    Mom - "Is it worth a month of Studying tonimlrove by 2 or 3 points?" Yes mom. A thousand times yes

  • keepcalmandneuronkeepcalmandneuron Alum Member
    470 karma

    Needed to read this post today as I am deciding whether it is a good idea to delay a cycle or not. BUMP.

  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Yearly Member Sage 🍌
    25579 karma

    @keepcalmandneuron said:
    Needed to read this post today as I am deciding whether it is a good idea to delay a cycle or not. BUMP.

    Wow, I’d forgotten about this post, but reading it back, it’s a pretty good one. A lot has happened for me since I wrote this, but I wouldn’t change a thing other than a couple things that aren’t very coherent, lol. The main thing I’d reemphasize is identifying how you’re going to study better. The extra time is unlikely to be enough. That’s a quantitative improvement, but qualitative improvements to how we study are necessary. If you’re using 150 study habits, all the time in the world won’t break you any higher. How are you going to change things?

    Remember there’s not just one right decision: it’s only about determining what is right for you. I’d only make exceptions for this if it means committing to a school with very bad employment outcomes. If your score puts you in that range of schools, delay. Otherwise, hard to go wrong; just do what feels right.

  • salonpapassalonpapas Legacy Member
    138 karma

    thank you for this post. this is just what i needed.

  • _oshun1__oshun1_ Alum Member
    3652 karma

    Good stuff. My decision to delay was based on rude TLS comments telling me no school would accept me with my previous score. although they were wrong, I needed that kick in the ass to motivate me to retake. I think nice posts like this are more motivating though.

  • AudaciousRedAudaciousRed Alum Member
    2689 karma

    I think if you can improve enough in another year to offset tens or a hundred thousand dollars or more... it does you more than if you worked for a whole year and scrimped and saved every penny. Financially, it makes sense to fight for those scholarships!
    Delaying after a disappointing score hurts like the dickens, tho. I know it.

    Thank you for sharing your perspectives with us now that you're on the other side of things! It really is inspirational!!

  • AttJazz08AttJazz08 Alum Member
    63 karma

    I sat down, took it last June, canceled the score, I knew there was no way I was getting the score I needed. I am supposed to be sitting down for it in a couple of weeks and just delayed it by a couple of months. I am thinking about pushing it a whole other cycle. All I can do is tear up at these thoughts.

    However, this post and the thoughtful comments are encouraging ... and grounding. I am feeling grateful to everyone who has shared. Cannot thank y'all enough.

  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Yearly Member Sage 🍌
    25579 karma

    You're very welcome @AttJazz08 .

    So many of us discover that this is a far more difficult process than we anticipated. Though waiting another year is daunting all by itself, there is also a challenge to our egos and intellects that is often implicated. Looking back, I think that may have been the hardest part for me. I felt that the need to delay meant that I wasn't smart, that I had failed. But those doubts were based on erroneous conceptions of what intelligence even is. I thought that being smart was supposed to mean that intellectual challenges should be resolved easily--the smarter one is, the less challenge these things present. I thought that struggling was thus indicative of a lacking of intelligence. Consequently, I avoided the things I was struggling with and, therefore, could not improve. I was, of course, completely wrong. Intelligence is not the ability to succeed without struggle. It is the tool that activates when we choose to confront the struggle. Even then, it doesn't take most of us very far without discipline, creativity, industriousness, and determination.

    So don't view a need to delay as a failure. If delaying is what you decide to do, view it as an opportunity--and opportunity to reflect and to grow as a student and as a person. Achieve that and a great LSAT score and law school admission will be a natural byproduct.

  • Chris NguyenChris Nguyen Alum Member Sage 7Sage Tutor
    4101 karma

    Amazing post!

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