Scheduling Your LSAT: When to Take the Test?

Good calendar and time management are essential skills for practicing lawyers. And like many of those skills, preparing to apply to law school is a fine time to work on them. This means maximizing your law school prep calendar­—deciding when to start preparing, how much time to give yourself, and knowing what your strengths and obstacles might be.

This includes answering questions such as: which month should you take the LSAT?

I am surprised by the number of people who call me without having thought about the best time for them to take the LSAT. Like everything else associated with the LSAT and law school admissions, having adequate time to do everything professionally is essential. Generally, I recommend that people think about what is in their life three months out from any test date (to the extent they know). You should try to have as clear a life as you can—a “zone of calm,” if you will. That means if you’re changing jobs or just starting a new job, or in the middle of a family crisis, or your parent or spouse is seriously ill, you might want to wait until things calm down. Unless there are clear pressures to apply to law school right now­—and there usually aren’t—waiting an extra few months or even an extra year won’t matter in the long run, and certainly won’t matter as much as securing your best law school admission opportunities. Your best admission and financial aid chances are a long-term investment that is almost never outweighed by a felt urgency about applying now.

For people in school, December or June are generally not the best choices, unless you know you have strong time management skills and your courseload won’t get in the way when finals come knocking. Otherwise you’ll just end up doing a sloppy job of preparing for the LSAT and a sloppy job in your courses, neither of which are helpful to putting your best law school application together.

Sometimes I am asked: is there a difference in the test itself? Well, the February LSAT is the only one where the test is undisclosed, which means the questions will never be released. You won’t be able to see which questions you got wrong and why. But this only matters if you think that information necessary, or if you plan on retaking the LSAT (which is a decision with its own pros and cons). My clients do equally well on all tests; there is no good reason to believe that the February exam is harder, as some on the internet believe (as with so many things on the internet about law schools, without a scrap of evidence to support the conjecture). Not only is it just basically implausible, it would also destroy the consistency of scale that LSAC tries so hard to maintain. How could you scale all four tests the same way if one test was noticeably more difficult? You couldn’t, so it isn’t.

One last note, the decision as to when to take the LSAT should not rush you into deciding when to send out your applications. Of course if you have a compelling reason to apply for admission to law school in a specific year (i.e., right away!) that must enter your calculation. But while you may now have more same-year options than in the past (see my post about that here) upon taking a February or June LSAT, your best admissions and financial bet may be to wait for the next admissions cycle.

~ by Kyle Pasewark at Advise-in Solutions on November 7, 2013.

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