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When Do LSAT Scores Expire?

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Like true love, happiness, or Star Trek: The Next Generation, all good things must come to an end. So, too must your LSAT score. Like a half-full jug of curdled milk at the back of the refrigerator, LSAC will eventually start to smell the stink of your old score, and throw it out along with the leftover Pad Thai from last week. This stink starts in about five years. That’s generally how much time you have to apply to law school after taking your test.

But if you’re concerned, five years is actually a really long time. For instance, if you take the LSAT in 2009, you could spend Spring 2010 finishing your studies, and then use the summer to smoke a lot of pot and play a lot of Halo as you realize your life has lost a lot of meaning. Fall rolls around, and you look for a good job. Winter and New Years’ is spent breaking into your dad’s liquor cabinet and feeling sorry for yourself that you didn’t find a good job. You spend all of 2011 on a soul-searching trip to Brazil, where you’re fairly sure you can get by on your two semesters of Spanish. That year is mostly a blur. Come spring 2012 you find yourself trying to explain to friends and relatives why you can’t speak any Portuguese. After thinking about joining the army, you get a job at Chick-Fil-A only to be fired six weeks later for “not being Chick-Fil-A material.” You move to Australia in fall 2012, because that seems like something someone who knew what they were doing would do. You find your true love and marry her in winter, only to find out in spring 2013 that she’s actually 13. You’re not the only one who figures this out, and the Australian authorities don’t buy your “you inbred bastards all look the same age” defense, so you spend the rest of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 in an Australian jail, where you confront and repress unspeakable horrors, mainly involving having to listen to Australian accents all day, every day. You get released in spring 2014, but en route to America, your plane crashes into a deserted island and you’re forced to eat the Stewardesses (don’t worry, it’s going to make for a great personal statement). You make a life raft out of papayas, and manage to paddle to Hawaii, a land famous for Chinese-American poets. Too afraid to ever fly again, you book passage on a sailboat, and when you get back you spend all of summer in a mental hospital undergoing intense therapy. You’re discharged in late 2014, at which time you apply to and get into Yale for Fall 2015. Hurrah!

Like Yale, a ton of schools go with the five-year mark, but there is slight variation with that. For example, the earliest score Yale accepts is October 2004, whereas Stanford is okay with February 2004. UVA will actually go as far back as ten years, but you have to pay a special fee to have LSAC root through the dumpster to find your old score. Cornell only allows four-year-old LSATS, though, and it’s not unique among law schools in that regard. Some schools even want scores from at most three years ago (the earliest you could have taken it to apply for Davis was October 2006). But still, that’s a decent amount of time, so you probably don’t have to worry about rushing.

So for most of you guys, the LSAT expiration date is a bit of a non-issue. In my wholly unrepresentative experience, most people take the test in their senior year of college, and then tend to enroll either right after college, or one year later. Taking a year off after school is still absolutely feasible, and highly recommended (I’ve never met anyone who’s regretted taking time off before law school). The only way this might be problematic is if you’re taking the LSAT really early in your college career, and you plan on taking a lot of time off. This might cut out a few schools. So if you are planning on taking a ton of time off, just check with the law schools that you’ve got your heart set on. For the majority of them, you’re looking at roughly five years. Honestly, you should really go live a little. Once you’re a lawyer it’s a non-stop stream of silent weeping and night terrors, so go find yourself in Brazil.

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