Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Not ready for the December LSAT?

One of my clients raised a good question today - What do I do if I don't feel ready for the December LSAT?

If this is your first time taking the LSAT, and you're planning to apply for Fall 2008 admission, then you need to weigh the pros and cons:

(A) If you don't feel ready to take the LSAT, then your instinct is probably right. You have a few options. You could take it and just see what happens and if it's halfway decent then you can apply. (Not a fantastic strategy and usually it goes worse than you expect and becomes something you have to later explain on your applications; plus, it's a huge ego-deflater).

(B) You could wait and take the February LSAT and apply to schools that offer a January 2009 start date. (This is an interesting option for those of you graduating in December who are preoccupied with everything else going on in your life right now).

Or (C) you can take the LSAT in February for Fall 2009 admission. If it doesn't go as you'd like, you'd still have the option of re-taking it in June. You'll be able to show your grades from your final year of college and submit your law school applications early in the cycle (August/September), thereby taking advantage of rolling admissions. You'd also hear back from a lot of schools pretty quickly.

So, that brings me to the topic of what to do in your year off before law school:
A lot of people go to a law firm, where they are a "paralegal", "legal assistant," or "file clerk." They think they will gain some significant insight into the legal profession this way and get an attorney or two to tell a law school how they brilliantly saved a case for the firm. Yeah, ummm, not going to happen. Really, you're just going to have a boring year typing with long hours. while busy lawyers bark at you. And, you'll be applying to law school while enduring those long hours. And, after all that, you'll have only spent three months at the firm by the time you apply. How outstanding a letter of rec do you think you're going to get?

Better ideas? Yes. Find your passion!!! Find something that will set you apart and help you find a niche. It can be anything from sky-diving instruction to teaching the viola. The key is to explore one of your passions. Plus, it's probably one of the last times in your life where you can spend your day doing something really fun, something you enjoy. And it's also probably the last time you'll be able to get away with only making $25,000/year.

P.S. If I've confused those of you who are relying on schools to accept your February 2008 LSAT score for Fall 2008 admission, let me explain: They may say they accept the February LSAT under their rolling admissions policy, but what they mean to say is: "We'll accept a February LSAT score that is above our 75th percentile, but really by then we'll have given away most of the seats in the class."


  1. Ann,
    I am currently working full-time and working on a masters degree part-time. I had originally planned to take the December LSAT but quickly became overwhelmed with grad school and haven't had time to study. I have instead shifted focus to the taking the February exam.

    Since I don't plan to enroll in law school until at least Fall 2010, does it matter at all when I take the exam? Is it "easier" during some testing times than others?

    Alison M.

  2. Hi Alison,
    February is fine for Fall 2010 admission; in fact, June would be fine if you don't have time to prepare for February.
    You made the right decision not to rush things.
    There are all kind of theories/rumors that the LSAT is easier at certain times of the year, but these things make no sense to me. I've been to LSAC headquarters and met with the people who make that test - they are really smart statisticians. They work really hard to make sure each test is equally hard : )
    Please let me know if I can be of any help to you next year.

  3. Hey Ann,

    I loved your article and it definitely answered some questions for me. I was looking to take the Feb 09 LSAT and apply for Fall 09, however I do not have 75th percentile scores. Like you said, many schools informed me they will take my application and review it, but was worried if applying this late would hurt me. If I have a 3.1 and hope to score around 155, should I take the Feb LSAT and apply for 2009 or should I wait for 2010? All your signs point to waiting, just want to hear it from you :). Thanks much.

  4. Hi Ann,

    I was originally registered June LSAT this year and changed the test to October. Then I canceled the October one. Now I am working on December's test but I still don't feel that I am fully ready. I got scores between 158~164 on my practice tests. But my target is top 14. I really want to have a decent score to apply for these schools.

    I am aware that no more than three lsat are allowed in 2 year period. Since I've already taken October LSAT and I will take December exam, does that mean that I only have one more chance taking LSAT until June 2010?

    I really need your advice. Should I apply for Fall 2009 using December score and see what will happen, or should I just give up Fall 2009 then take another LSAT next year and apply for Fall 2010? Will re-apply effect the chance of my admission?

    I forgot to mention that I am an Asian (a little bit worry this is a negative sign:() and my native language is not English. I didn't spent a lot of time on my LSAT preparation since the Grad school kept me very busy. But I have the confidence that my LSAT score can be greatly improved given more time with much harder work. Being a lawyer is my dream. Please help me, Ann!

    Thank you :)

  5. Addison,
    I am not a big believer in taking the February LSAT for that fall's admission. I think it's a rolling-admissions killer.
    You could take the December LSAT and see whether your score will put you in the running at schools you would be happy attending, apply and see what happens. Then decide whether to reapply the following year with another LSAT score.
    Good luck, and please let me know if I can help in any way.

  6. Dear Ann,

    I took the LSAT 3 years ago (after 2 prep courses) and still got a 152. I didn't get into any of the schools I'd hoped for even though I graduated from an Ivy League school with a GPA of 3.8 (I'd been out of school for about ten years). I spent these last few years working and saving and had prepared to take the December LSAT for Fall 2009 entry. A few days ago, my mother suddenly and tragically passed away and I have been consumed with dealing with the logisics and emotional ramifications of her death. Needless to say, my head is not in the test (now six days away). What might your advice be in this situation - put law school off for another year and take the test in June 09, take the test on Saturday and see what happens, or submit my low LSAT score to some less demanding schools as I'd hate to delay another year?

    Thanks so much,


  7. RJ,
    I am so terribly sorry about your loss. This is no time to take the LSAT. It's not going to go well, and you have way too much you have to deal with during this time. Give yourself a break and take the time you need to take care of yourself and your family.