Admissions Question: October 28
October 28, 2018
Q: When should I take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)?
A: Since we are getting so many questions about the LSAT, this is a great time to address this question. If you have done some research into applying to law school, you know by now that the LSAT is a required part of the application. Currently, the LSAT is offered six times a year. Ideally, you will take the LSAT by December in the year before you plan to attend law school. Because most law schools review files in the winter and early spring, you will want to make sure your application is complete sometime in the fall or early-winter, and thus, taking no later than the January LSAT.
If you take the LSAT in March of the year you plan to attend law school, the risk is that your application will be complete later in the process and your file will be reviewed when less space is available in the entering class. (Note: schools will not review your files until all required items have been received, including the LSAT score.) Another disadvantage is that most schools will have already awarded their scholarships by the time they get to reading files with March LSAT scores. In really competitive years when applications are up, a March LSAT is really too late. In years where applications are going down nationally (like the last several years), a March score may be more acceptable, but you will still be later in the process than is preferred and may have less options than had you completed your application earlier.
A few law schools have application deadlines in January or have early action/decision programs (this means that if you apply to that school in the fall, you’ll have a decision earlier than most people, but sometimes must commit to attending the school if admitted). In these cases, you’ll want to take the LSAT no later than the September test - almost a year before you would start law school.
It can be a good idea to take the LSAT even earlier, such as in June, July, or September, so that if something happens around the time you’re planning to take the LSAT (e.g. you get ill or have a family emergency), you can cancel your reservation for the test and take it later. Or, if you don’t feel that the score you received is up to your potential, you can take the test again later and still have time to get your applications complete in a timely manner.
For test dates, registration sites and deadlines, LSAT costs and more, please go to http://www.lsac.org/jd/lsat/test-dates-deadlines.