5 Ways to Strengthen Your Law School Application

Start work now to maximize your LSAT score and perfect your materials.

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With spring officially upon us, application season is only six months away. This may sound like a long time—but, to maximize your LSAT score and the quality of your applications, you should get to work on the following five action items today:

1. Ramp up LSAT prep: If you are planning to take the June LSAT, you should already have started your preparation, and now is the time to increase your studying. The LSAT should be your priority for the next few months.

If you are not ready in June, taking the October LSAT is a viable alternative and, contrary to some rumors, waiting until October will absolutely not affect your application status. I have worked with countless students who have been admitted to the top law schools with October scores.

[Use these seven tips for LSAT success.]

It is best to push back to a later test date than to take the test if you are less than fully prepared. Read my column next week for more tips about choosing between the June and October exam.

2. Start developing your essays: The time to start brainstorming your essays is now. While some schools will have additional essays that will not be available until the 2012-2013 applications are released this summer, the personal statement and diversity statements do not change from year to year.

Be sure you develop a unique personal story that will resonate with admissions applicants and give them something unique to read that will differentiate you from all of the other applicants.

[Avoid these five essay mistakes.]

3. Begin selecting and prepping recommenders: Only after you have decided how you are going to position yourself in your essays and package your personal story, start brainstorming and reaching out to potential recommenders.

Be sure not to make any common errors when choosing and contacting recommenders, from contacting them via E-mail to waiting till the last minute. Such errors could jeopardize your entire application. My team and I typically spend a number of hours helping each of our clients pick and prep the most impactful of recommenders.

4. Address any holes in your transcript and résumé: If you have a weakness in a certain area on your transcript, consider taking a summer course to demonstrate that you are dedicated to your studies and that you are making a concerted effort to rectify your academic record.

You can also use the summer to enhance your résumé with an internship or volunteer work. Take on leadership positions whenever possible, whether on a project at work or on a committee for a nonprofit organization.

[Find out how to make a jobless summer productive.]

5. Decide if you're going to work with an admissions counselor: You may already be in contact with a pre-law adviser at your undergraduate institution, and while these advisers can be a useful resource, they may not be able to provide the same level of personalized attention and service as a seasoned admissions counselor. Working with an admissions professional who has helped thousands of other applicants successfully navigate the process will likely represent one of the best investments that you can make in your future.

Most students not only recover the cost of such counseling but come out tens of thousands of dollars ahead with the merit-based scholarships they earn as a result of the application they produce with a counselor's help.

[Learn how to maximize law school financial aid.]

How are you preparing for the upcoming application season? Let me know in the comments, E-mail me at shawn.oconnor@stratusprep.com, or contact me via Twitter at @StratusPrep. And check back next Monday for my advice on whether you should take the June or October LSAT.