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Three Weeks Until the LSAT


There are some dates coming up that you should keep in mind. First of all, if you’re signed up for the September LSAT, you have until this Friday, September 4th to change your testing center. This means very little to most people since in most metropolitan areas there are few (if any) test centers to which you can switch, but you can check. Friday is also the last day to postpone your test date and get a partial refund. Or, lastly, you can take the stupid route and postpone as late as Sunday the 6th, but you can only do this online, and you won’t get any money back.

Once upon a time (before 2009) you could change your test date up to 24 hours before the thing actually started. If you did this, it was as if you had never even been signed up for that first date. So if you decided a few days before the test that you really weren’t ready to tackle the beast, you’d just call LSAC and you’d have a clean slate (though they would still keep your money, and probably spend it on drugs). If, however, you never bothered to call and just didn’t show up, they would get all pissy and put an “absent” in your file, which, while no scarlet letter, would make you look sort of like a flake. But this system was really nice because you could wait until the final few days before having to decide if you were ready or not. And then, like when your girlfriend got that Depro-Provera shot, everything changed.

Starting with the most recent test (June 2009) the postponement deadline got moved so that instead of the day of, you now have to give three weeks notice, which sounds like an awful Sandra Bullock sequel (what a terrible person, by the way). Being forced to make that decision three weeks in advance is insane. You can see huge improvement in those final three weeks, and just because you’re not solid as a rock by this Friday doesn’t mean that you won’t be by test day. So what in tarnation are you to do if you feel like you’ve improved, and are still improving, but you don’t know whether or not you’ll be all the way at your target score in time? Do you go for it and risk not being ready, resulting in either getting a crap score or having an “absent” in your file, or do you postpone, but risk throwing away an opportunity for getting this thing over and done with?

The reason LSAC made the change, according to one of their friendly representatives over in Newtown, Pennsylvania (they’re seriously, worryingly nice, at least when I’ve called), is that they wanted to make sure that more people could get a seat. The thing is, there can be tons of would-be test takers on waiting lists, who really want to take the test, but who never get a spot because a lot of people who have confirmed seats wait until the last minute to pull out. The folks at the LSAC have joined the ranks of those who say pulling out at the last minute is not a good idea. They believe that an earlier deadline will keep people who aren’t very serious from staying enrolled, thus freeing up more spots for the kids on the waiting lists. A noble goal, maybe, but there’s a problem.

While some people might be flaky and have no intention of studying, many people have been studying but just don’t know if they’re going to be ready. So this June there were way more people who didn’t show up and got an “absent” in their file, a trend that will almost certainly continue. Like I said before, having an “absent” in your file used to look kinda bad, but now law schools know that it could just be the case that you didn’t feel all the way ready a few days before the test, and that’s pretty understandable. So it’s really not something you need to worry about. If you’ve got time to study a lot for the next four weeks, and you’re not way, way far away from your target score, you have a decent chance of seeing some huge improvement. The potential benefits are huge, the potential risks are minimal. Stay signed up.

And let’s say, worst case scenario, you study your ass off and you’re just not ready come September 26th. You needn’t cancel or anything, because you can’t. You can choose to simply not show up for the exam. This means that you now have an absence that means very little, and you’re out $150 or so, but you can continue studying and take the December test. But you could very well be just fine, get an awesome score, go to law school, and make tons and tons of cocaine. Just kidding, I mean money. You use the money to buy the cocaine. This will all be covered in 1L, don’t worry.