The Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)
The LSAT, managed by the Law School Admission Council, is one of the most important components of your law school application. Take the test seriously, and leave yourself plenty of time to prepare.
Timing & Considerations
The LSAT is offered four times each year: February, June, October (or, late September) and December.
- February: February is the first time in a given year that the test is administered.
- June: Generally, the best time to take it is in June preceding your application, since this allows you to more accurately assess your chances of admission to a given school at the time of year when you are deciding on the schools to which you will apply. It also gives you plenty of time to retake the test if needed.
- Late September / October: Taking the test in October can crowd application deadlines because your score will not be released until the end of the month.
- December: December test-takers lose the potential advantage of early applications to those schools with "rolling" admissions policies. Also, because of the holiday schedule, December scores are not released until after the first of the year. In light of the tough competition, we urge taking advantage of any edge you can get. Law schools suggest that "borderline" candidates put themselves at a certain disadvantage by getting their applications completed only at or near the deadline.
Should you retake the test?
Taking the LSAT a second (or third) time is recommended only if you are fairly confident that you will score at least 6-10 points better. Law schools may expect this much improvement due to a practice effect alone. While schools are now required to report the higher of multiple scores, each law school has its own policy on how multiple scores will be viewed in the evaluation of an application.
LSAT Prep Options
The LSAT is probably not a test you're used to, so preparation is very important.
- Visit the LSAC site. Thoroughly review and study the preparation material and sample LSAT, available online at the Law School Admissions Council website.
- Consider a course. More than a few applicants opt to take a test preparation course. Know that these courses are now up to, or over, the thousand-dollar range and do not guarantee better results than studying on your own.
- Take a past test. A conservative (money-saving) first step should be to take an actual, previously administered LSAT test under simulated test conditions. You can buy these previously administered tests online from the LSAC.
- Consider your style. If you need organized preparation, see if you have the discipline to follow the LSAT-SuperPrep manual. If you find you need the organized peer-pressure to systematically do the rather tedious drills, then there are a number of good (and costly!) prep courses which would be happy to take your money.