The Law School Admission process can be very confusing but it’s key to get a few steps in even before you commit to going to Law School.
The LSAT-A whole ‘nother type of torture.
LSAT Prep: The LSAT, or Law School Admission Test is the criteria along with GPA most School look at while admitting. This is the best starting point for knowing your options. It is incredibly expensive and costs around $500 and needs to be prepared for thoroughly. You should plan on at least 10 practice tests and 100 hours of studying at minimum. Many people spend more time and take more practice tests. I used the practice tests from 10 Actual, Official LSAT PrepTests Volume VI: (PrepTests 72–81) and read several strategy books at me local library. I struggled with Logic games and found The PowerScore LSAT Logic Games Bible: 2019 Edition (The PowerScore LSAT Bible Series Book 1) to be very helpful.
It also helps you look at your options. Law Schools are required to post admitted student data that gives you a solid idea of the GPA and LSAT you need to expect to be admitted. Let’s say your GPA is a 3.5 and you want to get into Northwestern. The average GPA for 2018 was 3.84 but the lower 25% was a 3.58 so there’s a chance but you need to make sure your LSAT is in the top quartile, which is a 170 for Northwestern. With that in mind, you take a practice LSAT and score a 152. While I’ve heard of students improving significantly, you’re probably not going to see that much of an improvement, a 170 is an exceptional score. You can reasonable expect to raise it to a 160 which can get you into a lot of Tier2 Schools like UC-San Diego where the median GPA is a 3.53 and LSAT is 159, plus the weather is much nicer. For anyone thinking about Law School, this step in key to knowing your options and planning your application process.
The LSAT: Once you have a plan, create an account on the LSAC website and sign up to take the LSAT. It’s important that you give yourself a few months to study, so plan out your schedule ahead of time. My advice would be to look for a June-August test that works for you. Then if you need to retake, you can take the November test and still have applications completed around the new year. Most applicants have wrapped up my mid January and that is a good goal to make sure you’re not behind.
Letters of Recommendation
Try and check this box off as soon as possible with 1-3 quality LORs. I was lucky, I had a great LOR and my choices only required one so that’s what I stuck with. It will take a month or from start to finish and they are good for several years so you might as well do it ahead of time. Plus, a recommender is a lot more likely go write a complementary letter if they have a whole month with a pleasant reminder to work on it rather than being rushed to do it in two days, even if they will most likely wait until the last minute.
Transcripts and more
There are a few more annoying steps and tasks to accomplish before you can actually apply.
Schools not only ask for LSAT scores, LORs and GPAs, they typically also want a Personal Statement or occasionally an Essay. The most common question is along the lines of, “Why would you be a good fit for the Imaginary University Law School?” These take a long time, for me it was 2-4 days of thinking and working on each one of them. They’re very much a balancing act between telling a story and explaining why you should be their number one choice.
Schools then often accept Addendum if there’s any other information they should know. For me, it was an important piece of the puzzle. I wrote about the rigor of my Chemistry Minor and Science Curriculum and stressed how well they prepared me.
Finally, some schools ask for Resumes. I was lucky in this category, I edited my swanky professional resume to include more of my individual acedemic achievements and away I went.
Applying to Schools
For most Schools, that’s the basic pieces to get through the application, however the processes vary. LSAC has a decent system to let you know what those tasks are but I secretly believed they were trivial tasks meant to test us. Your best bet is to give yourself time and start chipping away. If you can’t get through the admission checklist… you will be in trouble for Law School.
Forward and Onward,
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