When is the Best Time to Take the LSAT and Apply to Law School?

mss_applicationsA perennial question on would-be JD’s minds is when to take the LSAT. Because the test is so important, the short answer is when you can score the best on the test (usually when you have the most free time to study for it). However, there are also application factors to consider. Most law schools work on a rolling admissions process, which means seats are given away as applications come in. So you want to apply before the majority of other people in order to maximize your chances. When is that, you ask?

Well, here’s the nifty chart LSAC publishes that shows you when people applied for the 2008 admissions cycle:

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According to LSAC, 60% of 2008 applications were received after January 4th. Which means that you want to get your application in before this date. This entails taking the LSAT in February*, June, or October in order get your score to law schools before the big crush. If you’re taking the LSAT in December, you definitely do not want to wait until after you receive your December LSAT score to begin working on your applications. It takes about three weeks to get your score so if you begin your personal statement afterward, your applications will likely be finished in January, otherwise known as when everyone else is applying. It doesn’t mean you won’t get accepted, but your application will be in the middle of a very large stack.

June test takers have the leisure of finishing the LSAT and working on their applications over the summer. If you’re taking the September/October test, you’re in good shape, but don’t wait to start your applications until December. The best idea is to begin working on your personal statement over the summer and fine tune it by having professors, pre-law advisors, etc. read it in early fall, after you’ve finished taking the LSAT.

Remember, your LSAT score is so important that a high score trumps almost any application timeline. However, all things being equal, applying earlier in the process is better, so plan accordingly if at all possible.

* This applies to people taking the February exam the year before they apply (in February 2010 to apply in fall 2010 for the 2011 school year, for example). Those who take the February LSAT for the same application cycle will be very late, indeed. In fact, not all schools accept the February test for their admissions cycles, so be sure to check with schools if you’re in this position.

Article by Jodi Triplett of Blueprint LSAT Preparation.

Sep 30, 2009 - 9:00 am - By Jodi Triplett
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Photo By Photo by: fataetoile/ Cinzia Rizzo http://www.flickr.com/photos/cinziarizzo/ CC Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic
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7 Responses to When is the Best Time to Take the LSAT and Apply to Law School?

  1. JT says:

    A student emailed us today wondering if she shouldn’t cancel her September LSAT score (which she was contemplating because she thought the test didn’t go as well as it could have) so that her applications could be in earlier.

    And it is true that, all things being equal, applying earlier is usually better. But the LSAT is so important that if waiting until December will increase your score a significant or even reasonable amount, then it’s probably better to apply later.

  2. Jocelyne says:

    Hi BP! I have a question. I got 168 on my LSAT and have a 4.0 GPA. My target is T14 but I am not sure if I should wait till next cycle to apply with a higher LSAT score. December is out of question since I have finals (still in undergrad). Should I apply this cycle? What are my chances at T14?

    I am also planning to take the BP course for June 2010 (since I am going to take this test for scholarship purposes). I really want to apply this cycle if I could.

    Let me know what you guys think, thanks!

  3. JT says:

    Jocelyne,
    First, congratulations on some great numbers. Second, we fortunately have a video just for this type of question which you should definitely take a look at.

    With your numbers, you’ll find that you have a good shot at the lower end of the top 14 schools and a chance at all schools depending on your other factors. If you want to increase your chances to break the top 5 or to get scholarship money at an elite school, then you might consider waiting and taking it again.

    If you do decide to take the LSAT a second time, be sure that you’ll be able to change something about your study to get a better score (such as increasing the time you can devote to study or changing your study methods). You wouldn’t want to wait a year only to get the same or lower score.

    Good luck with whatever you decide!

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