Why the February LSAT is a Bad Idea for 95% of Applicants (Even if Harvard Law School is Extending its Deadline)

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Applications are down, and Harvard Law is reacting. Yes, the unfortunate postponement of the December LSAT in a few locations is a nice little excuse for doing so. What is motivating them? They don’t want to compromise the quality of their student body because the number of applicants is decreasing, so they are hoping to grab those top students with February LSAT scores. Why? Because otherwise those people will wait and apply early next year and maybe go ED at Columbia or choose Stanford or Yale. By taking those folks this year, Harvard wins.

But don’t get me wrong – even in their blog post announcing the deadline extension, they say earlier is better and that if you feel comfortable with your competitiveness with your current LSAT score, you are better off having your application reviewed earlier in the cycle.

By the time you get your February LSAT score, it’s March. By the time law schools review your application, they have sent out enough admission letters to fill their class and they have waiting lists. They also have given out their scholarships. So, the February LSAT is not the way to get into a reach law school. It’s a way to get into a safety school, or to improve your chances on a waiting list you’re already on by improving your score, but that’s about it in terms of usefulness for the current admission cycle.

6 thoughts on “Why the February LSAT is a Bad Idea for 95% of Applicants (Even if Harvard Law School is Extending its Deadline)

  1. Hi Ann,

    Although I have mixed feelings about my upcoming Dec (’13) LSAT score, I decided to keep it and I am planning to apply to schools I have a strong chance for admission. However, I am making 5-7 point jumps on recent practice tests.

    I plan to take the FEB LSAT and apply to reach schools. Given your statements above, what are your thoughts on my situation and how will schools view a jump from a 162 to a 167 on the FEB LSAT?

    • Ann Levine on said:

      Hi John,
      If you can get a 167, and you are trying to get into schools where 167 is the median or lower, you would be a better applicant applying early for the next cycle as opposed to (very) late in this one.

  2. Hi Ann,

    Thanks for taking the time to post all this admissions info. I bought your book too — very helpful!

    Anyway, I recently took the December LSAT and am worried my (expected) score isn’t high enough to gain admission to my preferred schools. However, I’d really like to avoid taking the February LSAT. Test day did not go how I’d hoped, and I’m expecting a score in the low 150s/high 140s.

    My top 3 choices are Tulane, U of Richmond, and Temple. I think I otherwise have a pretty competitive application: 3.6 GPA as an honors student (was a double major/double minor, all in rigorous disciplines), publication in a well-known undergraduate law journal, very strong LORs and PS, fair amount of research experience, and plenty of leadership experience and extracurriculars.

    I know it’s probably difficult to assess my chances without looking at the details of my application, but do you think that score will kill my chances at those schools?

    Thanks!

    • Ann Levine on said:

      Hi Jeremy,
      Glad the blog and book have been helpful (I always appreciate 5-star reviews on Amazon if you are so inclined).
      A score in the 140s would kill your chances at Tulane, and would make the other two a reach. But with a low 150s score, it would be a long shot also so I don’t think a couple of points will make a difference for these schools. If you think by studying longer you could reach into the mid-150, it would improve your prospects considerably (especially if you waited and applied early for the next cycle as opposed to late in this one). I hope this helps.

  3. I graduated early from undergrad and had some time before my internship started, so I decided I would study for the LSAT and sit for it in February. I decided late in the game that I was interested in pursuing law school, and I am not planning on applying for this fall, more likely next fall or the following year (2 years from this fall).

    I know that LSAT scores are good for 5 years, but would taking the LSAT this early and keeping a score for ~1.5-2 years hurt my application? I read that if you’re taking time off between undergrad and law school that more recent LSAT scores are looked at more favorably. Also, February LSATs are more experimental. Advice?

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