True Cost of LSAT Exam Preparation – Save $$$


In 2020 and 2021 (probably) the cost to take the LSAT test is $200.00, which covers LSAT exam fees and one free score report. Additionally, many law schools require a subscription to the Credential Assembly Service (CAS). The CAS subscription fee is $195.00 and also includes one free score report. An additional score report costs $45. If you are a low income, you can request an LSAT exam fee waiver.

However, the cost of LSAT includes more expenses that will really add up. The fee for the actual LSAT exam is only a single fee. The cost of LSAT test also includes any LSAT tutoring or LSAT preparation services.


These are hidden costs for LSAT which for some reason are not always taken into account by prospective law school applicants. Cost to take LSAT can add up to thousands of dollars and for a good reason. 


Currently, the LSAT is required by most if not all law schools in the US as part of the admission process. The LSAT score is the single most important factor in admissions, and GPA is the second most important. Some law schools now allow GRE results instead of LSAT, but these are a minority of schools.


As I explained in the previous article about the importance of LSAT – LSAT is very important. It probably weighs 60% or 70% on your application. The rest is your GPA, rank of your undergraduate institution (they will not tell this, but I think this is a major factor too), and difficulty of your major (engineering vs. some easy liberal arts). Plus, your background. 


Therefore, LSAT preparation and very important and is a worthy investment for reasons I also explained in the previous article: LSAT defines the rank of target law school(s) in your application process, and school rank often determines your career and how much money you will make over a lifetime. 


The additional cost to take LSAT may include test date changes, test center changes, and other fees. You can look up those fees on LSAc’s web-site.

So, How Much Does LSAT Really Cost?

How much does it cost to take the LSAT: law school LSAT scores sending will rack up additional fees at $45 per law school. If you apply to 20 law schools, that will be $900.00 dollars. Life is not fair, and the legal industry is even less fair than life.

LSAT exam fee waiver may be available for low-income applicants – you can try to submit the request – see LSAC’s web site link above.

Remember, that you can also request the law school application fee waiver at law schools where you are applying. Rarely works, but does not hurt to try if you can show that you are a low-income individual from a low-income family.

If you are an international applicant from abroad, there is an additional fee of $390+ for your testing center on top of the $200 LSAT test fee.

Therefore, be ready to spend at least $500-$1500 for LSAT test preparation and taking the LSAT test. If you feel lucky and do not care about wasted $300, you can just prepare on your own and take LSAT to see what score you can get. 

You can buy a number of LSAT prep books, guides, sample test questions, and work hard through them. Study regularly, take it seriously, like a good job, because YOU are the final client of this process. It is for YOUR OWN benefit. Make sure you accomplish the best score you are capable of before you commit to law school and its cost. 

Unless you get 170, it is always a good idea to take some LSAT prep course.

You Can Retake the LSAT to Cure Low GPA

You can retake the LSAT exam. The LSAT exam is conducted 7 times per year. And if you are not happy with the score you can retake it. In fact, many test-takers do it every single year to try to obtain a better score. The annual LSAT retake statistics can be also found on LSAC’s web-site here.  


About 26% of test-takers retake the LSAT exam. And, apparently, the majority of them do not achieve much better results. LSAC also says that average score improvement is only about 2-3 points. 


Why is this information important? Because high LSAT score balances out low undergraduate GPA – cures it, so to speak, for a couple of reasons:

  • LSAT weight about 70% and GPA only about 30%.
  • Unlike undergraduate GPA, LSAT can be improved with proper study methods. 
  • Then, this 70% higher LSAT will weight out low GPA, and
  • Applicant can explain low GPA with various reasons like health issues, family problems, etc. 
  • Read my other LSAT articles about this. 


However, I think it has more to do with the fact that most of them do not change their study methods after the first LSAT test, and continue to do the same things they did before.


If they, say, prepared on their own, took LSAT, were not happy with the results, then it makes sense to pay for the LSAT preparation prep course. Many do not. The LSAT retake statistics also show that only about 5% of test-takers take LSAT the third time. Again, they give up because they do not change their flawed study methods. 


In my other LSAT and GPA article, I wrote about an example when someone kept studying and improving the results of the test, and eventually obtained a 170+ score and went to a top law school. He started with a low score in 150s. 


On the other hand, if you do retake LSAT and see that your second score is at least 4-5 points better than the original one, I think it makes sense to work harder and take it the third time in an attempt to add even 3-4 more points. 


Those extra few points may bump your LSAT score to the point where you can apply to a top 50 or even T14 law school. Like I already said, you are about to embark on the career of your life, so do not be cheap or you will lose in that game. 


Think of this as in investment. In fact, think of costs to prepare to take LSAT as a more important investment than tuition for law school itself. In fact, the return of LSAT preparation investment is, in my opinion, much higher than ROI on law school tuition and expenses and large student loan. The better the LSAT – the better the law school rank – the better the chance of a job and future career. 


I was able to transfer from tier 3 law school to tier 2 law school. This made a noticeable difference in job opportunities and even how people and potential employers treated and still treat me. They know the name of my school and this gives them some confidence in my abilities. 


Nothing wrong with tier 3 and 4 – some of my former classmates in that law school are now very successful lawyers and better off than me financially. But, I know what I am talking about – more doors are open with a better sounding degree. People are essentially monkeys. And most lawyers are people. Although not all of them.))


If you retake LSAT, many law schools look at your highest score. I think Harvard does. Columbia School of Law, however, I recall looks at the applicant’s all LSAT scores and averages them. Therefore, improvement of say 2 points on the second attempt is counted as an increase of only 1 point by averaging at law school admission office. 


Research target law school admissions criteria carefully and apply where you think you can get in – the best possible ranking law school based on your personal stats.  


The conclusion is that one should retake the exam if he or she feels confident that he or she can improve study methods and improve the score. 

How long does it take to get LSAT scores?

This is a relevant question for any applicant, especially for the retaker of the exam. Who wants to wait too long to find out the score? No one. According to LSAC, LSAT takers nowadays are receiving their scores by email about three weeks after the test.  It is not bad at all – at least you will know your score quickly enough. 


But if the test-taker is located outside of the US and Canada, he or she will wait much longer to receive a paper version of the score. Therefore, the delay may be a little longer – 1 month or even more. Still not that bad. Once you receive your score you can decide if you will apply to law schools, or will retake the exam or will just forget the idea of going to law school at all. 

How long are LSAT scores good for

LSAT score for law school is valid for about 5 years. Five years is the term for how to log the LSAC keeps your LSAT score on file. So, you can use an old LSAT score for up to that time to apply to law schools. In other words, you can apply to law schools for up to five years after you took the LSAT exam using the old score. After that, the score gets removed and you need to retake the exam. 

Now you should probably see why the true cost of the LSAT exam is much higher than just regular exam fees due to additional paperwork, retaking, more preparation. I am not even going to mention the opportunity fee. For example, you could spend this time learning accounting or coding. Or playing guitar. Or plumbing. Just saying.

How many times can I retake the LSAT?

The cost of LSAT racks up each time you take the exam. And, beginning 2017, LSAC removes the limit on a number of times a test-taker can retake LSAT within certain time people. Previously, only three attempts were allowed within a period of two years. Now, you can retake it every time they administer tests – 7 times a year. Have fun with that. 


Therefore, the real cost of the LSAT exam is a minimum of $500-$550. And it can easily rack up to $1000 and more. I am not even including law school application fees now. 


By the way, I have heard that people retake the LSAT exam after acceptance to law school. I am not sure if this is a good idea unless he or she sees that she or he can make improvements. If you are accepted to law school at scholarship – then maybe it is a possibility to go? Decide for yourself. 


Retake LSAT for transfer? Useless, transfer target law schools will judge you by your original LSAT and by the first year of original law school grades. Do not increase your expenses with unnecessary things. 

LSAT retake success stories

Now, if you score on LSAT in the 75th percentile of your target law schools’ LSAT median, then probably it is not necessary to retake it. But, if you scored low, do not get discouraged. 


Here is a solid success story I found on the internet. It took someone 2 years, 4 LSAT attempts and $3500 in money to increase the score from 149 to 170 (!) while working full time! Granted, that person had a STEM degree and those people are a special breed. But still – this is a HUGE increase.


He used a lot of private tutoring. He also used plenty of 7Sage analytics tools, for example. And it paid off. The engineering mind helps to solve problems. 


Good story. But this is an exception. Jump from 149 to 170 is an incredibly huge leap and 99% will not make it so far. Probably, that person had issues with LSAT in the beginning. Then studied and learned how to take the exam well. 


The score of 170 is extremely high and puts one in the top 14 – T14 – law schools. But even increasing the score from 150 to 160 would be well forth 4 exams and $3500 spent. These 10 points make a huge difference. 


If you took LSAT and got 144 on the first, and 145 on retake exam – then maybe you are doing something really wrong or it is not worth trying again. With such a score I suggest that you do not waste your money and time on law school because you may not be able to pass the bar exam. 

LSAT Fee Waiver

LSAT fee waiver, also called LSAT cost waiver, can be requested by the test taker based on his or her inability to pay the LSAC fee. 


LSAC has a good explanation of LSAT fee waivers on its website:


The LSAT fee waiver requirements include US national or residency, and it requires “extreme need.” That means some exception dire circumstances in terms of financial difficulty. So, one must give LSAC a really compelling reason for the fee waiver. 


I suggest requesting a fee waiver the first time you apply. Because the fee waiver can be requested only for about no more than 2 exams in a two year period and one CAS – Credential Assembly Service – per that period. 


The good thing, that those who receive waivers have waivers for all portions of the overall LSAT exam. You also get free of charge 4 law school score reports and can receive for free official LSAT super prep book (a value for $16+). The cost of LSAT adds up, and each of these waivers reduces your total cost for good overall savings. 


You will need to submit your fee waiver application to waive the cost of LSAT at least 6 weeks before the LSAT registration deadline. You will have to submit your tax return, or a certification form stating that you are not required to file tax returns. You can also find the LSAC fee waiver form on LSAC’s website here.


If the waiver is approved, then it is valid for two years after approval. This way you can reduce the cost of LSAT by taking and possibly retaking exams at least once. It takes several weeks for LSAC to review fee waiver requests, and on a review, your LSAT file is put on hold. It means that you can take the exam but the scores will not be released to law schools until your fee waiver application is either approved or denied and you pay for extra scores to be sent to law schools. 


There is good information here: here and here:


If your request is denied, then you can appeal only one time. Appeals are usually reviewed within several weeks. Just keep in mind that waivers are not easily approved. You can read more here and here


LSAC fee waiver may be conditionally approved – they will wait until you submit your tax return and only then issue final LSAT fee waiver approval. 

LSAT fee waiver for veterans

There is no LSAT fee waiver for veterans. But there is very good news for veterans. Veterans Administration can reimburse veterans costs for a number of standard tests including LSAT.  


They can also reimburse the cost for GRE and GMAT, shall you take those. Veterans Administration may reimburse registration fees, exam-taking fees, some other administrative cost tests. However, they do not reimburse exam preparation courses like Kaplan, Princeton or other LSAT test prep courses.


Still, this is a good deal. I do not know about how many retakes they can reimburse – you need to inquire with this question.


First, you will need to apply for VA benefits and then fill out the form – see the link I posted above. 

LSAT fee waiver income limit

LSAC’s web-site does not list a specific income limit for LSAT fee waiver application and approval except for that vague “extreme need” phrase without defining what it may mean.


However, it makes sense that they will use national poverty guidelines for making a decision. I suggest you look up those on Google before you apply. 


I did not have even half of this information when I applied to law school. Therefore, research carefully every step you have to make in your application, education and graduation process – there is a ton of useful information out there to make your life much easier and save money.  


Make sure you save as much as possible in the overall process – do not give them too much money because they make enough money from all the fees and tuition. 

LSAT Exam Lost Opportunity Cost

I am also an MBA with top grade in my Econ 500 class (a shameless plug), so I try to look at things from economics and money perspective. A couple of my relatives hate me for that telling me that I am a cheap bastard and not human when it comes to money. It is true, I am very calculating when it comes to financial expenses.


The science of economics also teaches us that we need to include in cost the lost opportunity cost. In this case, this cost includes the cost of the time you spend on preparing for the exam, taking it and retaking it. 


Could you use this wiser? Would you rather apply to medical, engineering or some CS program? This is important because solid preparation for LSAT and then preparation for retake exams can consume a humongous amount of time. 


Unless you are a genius, 5 hours per week will not be enough. You need to spend 10-15 hours each week for a few months if you really want to succeed on the exam. 


Are you working? Could you do freelance work at that time that would pay you better? Could you audition for a tv show or something? Could you go to Europe to study for free? 


All these factors may tell you that the real cost of the LSAT exam is much higher or lower for each individual person depending on his or her other opportunities she or he will not pursue because of focus on LSAT exam and then on law school studies. 


Trust me, there is life beyond law school. Law school is prestigious but there are just too many applicants and then graduates. Therefore, you need to put a very solid effort to prepare so you could eventually stand out and get a job. 


To get employed you need a high score on LSAT which will help you enter one of the high -ranking law schools, and then try to get in the top in those law schools. Is it worth the trouble? You can read my other article on this topic. It depends on what you want in your life.


But if you have decided to take on the law school path – make sure you do not waste any time, money and take it very seriously. This is a quite difficult game; I must tell you. 


With half of the effort law students make, one could excel in coding, accounting, for example, and have a decent career. But not medical or engineering – those are more difficult choices, although better ones, in my opinion. 


So, the LSAT cost to take, or cost to take the LSAT is quantifiable and is probably higher than just monetary value of financial expenses. On the other hand, LSAT is really worth the investment in the event you can obtain a solid score of at least 160 or higher – see my other article about what is a good LSAT score. 


What is the cost of LSAT test – money expended, time spent and opportunity forgone? The same with three years of law school. 

LSAT preparation course cost

I will discuss the best, in opinion, LSAT reparation courses and their costs in detail in my next article. However, the brand names charge up to about $1200 dollars. There are less known courses which may also be quite good and they may charge even more than that. 


Privat tutoring by brand name preparation services can cost more than $100 an hour for up to $5000 for a single course. And this is not too much, by way, because you may get excellent tutoring out there. 


Again, think about $100,000+ debt you will incur in law school, and potential extra $1000,000 you can make if you do well on LSAT and go to a much higher ranked school because of that. 


Whatever you decide to do, make sure that if you take any path that will require significant expenses, you make sure that you do the best possible and work as hard and smart as possible. Your money is important. Your time is important. Life is really short and you will find yourself at 30 and then 40 very soon.


Therefore, try to get at the top as early as possible. Good LSAT score puts you at the high-ranking law school right away. Therefore, your care starts from the higher ground already and you reach the top even sooner. 


True, some succeed even from tier 4 law schools. But when they tell you that, oh, it does not matter – I call them on this bs. It DOES matter where and how you start. 


And if you are 35-40 plus – you have to think even harder about your choices. Either go to low tiered law school for cheap or try to get to high-ranking law school so that you will have some paper pedigree to show for your first job or to your clients. Because you will have no law experience to show them at the beginning. And there is age bias in law. 


Good luck, make good choices.