What most people don’t know about the law school admissions process
- Sep 24, 2012
- Reviewed by: Matt Riley
Every year, we get dozens of calls from potential LSAT-takers that haven’t gotten critical guidance on how the application process actually works. (The most popular are students planning to take the February LSAT and get into law school that Fall).
So, we’ve put together this list — incredibly short tips that you MUST know and follow to be successful in the law school application process.
Questions? Ask away in the comments.
- Apply Early. Application deadlines are for suckers. Law schools start admitting students and awarding aid starting in October or November.
- Take the LSAT Early. If you’re applying in the Fall, you need to plan for the June LSAT with October as a re-take backup. (More on June vs. October LSAT)
- You must study for the LSAT for months. Unless you turn out to be a LSAT super-genius, you need to plan for at least 3 months of focused LSAT study (with 4 being better). That means working on the LSAT at least 10-20 hours per week.
- LSAT is more important than grades or extracurriculars (for the 4 months you study for it.) Shocking, I know — all your life you’re told that grades are the most important thing, followed by your extracurriculars. Think of it this way — the LSAT is worth as much as your entire college GPA — or 8x more important than one semester, or 32x more important than a single class, or 100x more important than a single test or paper. That means that being busy with school work is not an excuse for failing to study for the LSAT.
- You don’t know how you’ll do on the LSAT until you’ve taken a timed practice test. You’ll only improve from your first attempt, but you need to set realistic goals. Only ~2% of test-takers will get >170.
- Apply to a range of schools. It’s extremely dangerous to apply to only one school for two reasons. First, you might not get in. Second, you might be leaving a much better school (or much better aid package) on the table.
- Apply where you expect to practice. Unless you go to a top-20 school, it will be vastly easier to find a job in the state where you went to law school. Don’t go to Florida State if you want to wind up in Ohio.
- Start on letters of recommendation now. Who do you think gets better letters from professors — students who request them over the summer or the first 2 weeks of school, or the student that waits until 3 days before the application deadline?
- You need help with your personal statement. You need someone with good proofreading skills to read your statement — not only for actual errors, but to make sure you’re communicating an effective message. Pre-law advisors at school can often help with this.
- Stand out in a good way in your personal statement. How your study abroad to England or Australia changed your life is not a good topic. Make the admissions committee want to have a beer with you. (More on Law School Personal Statements).
- It doesn’t matter what you study. Law schools take students from every discipline. Just get good grades.
- Law school applications are a numbers game. More than any other grad program, law schools depend on the hard numbers (GPA and LSAT).
- You have to be special to beat the numbers. While some students get into schools with much lower-than-average credentials, they are in the minority. The big mover on the is status as an under-represented minority.
- Financial aid is dependent on your numbers. This is why you need to over-study for the LSAT. If your numbers are way better than average for a target school, you’ll likely get a big scholarship.
- It’s going to be expensive. Students are shocked by the cost of the admissions process between LSAT prep ($250-$2,000), LSAT registration ($160 per test), Credential Assembly Service ($155) and applications ($25-$100). Remember that this is a tiny, tiny fraction of the cost of law school itself.
- It’s ok to wait a year. You don’t need to apply to law school right away if you are a college senior. It’s better to take the time to do this process right rather than to rush it. That means that if you’re reading this in January as your very first step, you should not try to go to law school that Fall.
Next Step Test Preparation provides complete courses of one-on-one LSAT tutoring for about the price of a crowded lecture-style prep course. Email us or call 888-530-NEXT (6398) for a complimentary consultation.
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