Welcome to the latest installment of Law Admissions Q-and-A, a monthly feature of Law Admissions Lowdown that provides advice to readers who send in questions and law school admissions profiles.
If you have a question, email me for a chance to be featured next month. My recent article about the February LSAT has generated a lot of responses with further questions on when to take the exam and how it can affect applications.
[Get advice about when to submit law school applications.]
Dear Shawn: I read your article about the February LSAT and got the feeling that it's not a great idea to take the exam in February.
I understand that it is a little late to apply to school this year and I wanted to get your feedback on the issue. I started to prep for the LSAT last month and felt that I would be better prepared to take it in February rather than December. If I take the test in February, should I start applying for school the following year and maybe retake the LSAT in October if needed? Thanks. -At the Starting Line
Dear At the Starting Line: You were right not to take the LSAT in December if you did not feel adequately prepared.
If you want to apply to law schools this year, you need to prepare your applications, including essays and recommendations, now, while studying. This way, when you take the test in February and get your score, you can submit all materials as soon as possible.
Make sure that the schools to which you will apply accept the February LSAT for fall 2014.
If you plan to apply for fall 2015 matriculation, I encourage you to take ample time to prepare and take the LSAT in June. If you have the option to take the exam at a test date other than the February administration, you should take that opportunity. If you are happy with your score in June, begin working on the rest of your applications to submit in the fall. -Shawn
[Learn how to manage a drop in your LSAT score.]
Dear Shawn: I was registered for the December LSAT, but did not feel prepared enough due to some personal matters I have been handling recently, so I did not take it.
I want to take the February 2014 test, and I confirmed that schools I am applying to accept that score. The problem is, I have no prior LSAT scores. How does it look with just one LSAT score coming from February 2014 for admittance in fall 2014? Thank you. -One Shot
Dear One Shot: There are many other applicants in similar positions.
Having one LSAT score is fine, provided you are content with the score. The fact that you will take it in February may demonstrate that you decided to attend law school at the last minute or put off studies.
However, as long as it is a competitive score it should not affect your applications greatly. If you want to begin school in 2014 then you have no choice but to take the LSAT in February.
That said, the risk you take is that you won't be happy with your score and then will have no opportunity to retake the exam before submitting your applications. If you have the flexibility to hold off on applications for a year, you may wish to take a later LSAT and submit applications next fall, rather than rushing the process.
[Find out how to craft a successful law school application.]
I have always found that my students at Stratus Prep who begin early, both with their studies and essays, have the best success with law school applications. I had a student last year who was feeling anxious about her applications – she did not feel ready for the LSAT and wasn't sure if she should take it in February or June.
Though she really wanted to begin law school in fall 2014, I explained to her that waiting one extra year would be very beneficial in the long term. It would allow her the necessary time to be accepted at a top-choice school.
She is now about to submit her applications, after obtaining a stellar LSAT score, and feels more confident and less stressed. -Shawn