Looking Ahead: What Will The Fall 2015 Admission Cycle Bring?

Law School Expert Blog

The longest admission cycle ever is coming to a close. Instinct and experience tell me that a larger percentage of law school hopefuls submitted applications in February 2014 than any previous February in recent memory. With widespread knowledge that year over year applications are down yet again, applicants know they are in demand more than ever. But now is the time of year to fish or cut bait: if you haven’t yet applied for the Fall 2014 cycle, then don’t. Wait and gear up for 2015.

I am still getting calls from people who are trying to apply now – in March – for admission in the fall. These aren’t highly desirable candidates with strong qualifications and they don’t like it when I tell them they are better off to wait and apply early in the next cycle.

Why wait for 2015? Because the trend will continue. Applicants will continue to get into schools that would have been impossible for them just five years ago. And because rolling admissions does still matter: statistically and practically, your best chance of admission to a reach school (as well as obtaining scholarship funds) is early in the cycle rather than later. The early bird really is more likely to catch the worm: you are more likely to get an offer before schools feel secure about their prospects of being able to fill their classes with qualified applicants. If you have any problems in your application (character and fitness or academic issues to report,) your application will need to go through a few channels. This takes time. Waiting to apply also gives you additional time to improve your résumé, personal statement, and other materials, and to garner more impressive letters of recommendation.

March is the time to gear up for the next admission cycle. You should know by now whether you are taking the June 9th LSAT. If so, you should be well underway with a prep program, either self-study or a commercial course. You have until May to register, but don’t wait until then: the most popular testing locations fill up quickly. See http://www.lsac.org/jd/lsat/test-dates-deadlines/2014-2015/us-canada-june. There is not a lot of risk to signing up early, because you can change your mind up until the day before the test and forfeit only the fees you’ve already paid. If you don’t take at least five timed practice tests, with the last three in a range you’d be happy to hit on test day, then you’re not ready to take the test.

Only when the June LSAT scores are released in early July will you be able to seriously consider your competitiveness at different schools. You will then have July and August to work on your materials because application availability opens in late August for some schools, early September for most others. You will be able to complete all of your applications in September if you are not retaking the LSAT and your letters of recommendation are sent to LSAC in time. September is the ideal time to apply to law school, but even if you end up taking (or re-taking) the LSAT in October, you will still be able to apply by Thanksgiving. When applications were at an all-time high five years ago, Thanksgiving was the date I used as the “early” deadline applicants should aim to meet. Over the next few years, the date slid back to Christmas. Arguably, now it is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but using Thanksgiving as the target is still ideal.

If you have a low LSAT score (in the mid-140s, for example), your chances of being admitted somewhere are better than ever. See http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/which_law_schools_have_the_best_lsat_profiles_and_how_many_are_struggling/. However, just because you can get into a law school doesn’t mean it’s worth taking out student loans in excess of $100,000 to attend. Having an “it’ll all work out” mentality now is something you will most likely regret later. Make sure you take the time to consider the long-term consequences of a decision you are (likely) making while still in your early twenties.

14 Responses

  1. Hey Ann,

    I am preparing for the 2015 cycle and I just want to get your input on my situation and see where you think I stand. I am a pretty traditional student. I have a year left in undergrad and am hoping to apply to law school this fall. I have registered for the June LSAT and my last few practice scores have been in the low 160’s. I have been studying for it for six months and my score just isn’t going up any farther, so I think I’ll just have to deal with that score (or maybe your services could be of aid) but I want to know how you think my application will look with some of these other criteria in mind.

    I started college when I was 16 and did pretty poorly (3.2). When I turned 18 I finished my AA and went on a mission trip to Miami where I became fluent in Haitian Creole and participated and led in the relief efforts following the 2011 earthquake in Haiti. By the time I returned I was 21 and wanted to be a lawyer. I am an English Major and have worked hard to maintain a 3.95 GPA. I have led the pre-law society, worked in the English Academic society, tutor writing, and TA for an English class along with experience in publishing and healthcare. I have some strong letters of Recommendation from professors and employers and I basically just want to know if you think I have a good shot at a top 40 school. University of Washington is my dream school, followed by ASU and BYU. How do you think I am looking? How could I improve?

    Thanks for your time.

    1. Hi Adam,
      I love your upward trend and diverse activities. If your LSAT score is in the low 160s, or even high 150s, I think you are looking at the right schools. If you’d like to talk more about this, reach out to me anytime through the contact form or by phone.

      1. Hi Ann,

        Thanks for the input on my comment back in April.It brought me some peace. I just bought your book “The Law School Admission’s Game.” It’s a little late since I am taking the LSAT next weekend but I thought it would still be good input on my personal statement and resume. Anyway, I got my LSAC GPA and it put me at an ugly 3.49 after my 3.95 and old community college GPA were added together. I am wondering now if you still think I have a competitive shot at BYU or ASU with that low of a GPA and and LSAT score in the 160-165 range. I have only hit 165 once but I haven’t gotten under a 160 all summer, so I am pretty confident I’ll fall somewhere in that range on the real deal. Anyway, my LSAC GPA was a devastating blow to me and I’d just like to know where you think I stand now. Your input is greatly appreciated.



  2. Dear Anna Levine,
    I’m writing because I have a question for you regarding law school addmissions timeline. I’m a graduate student and I will be finished with my program in May 2015. I want to go to law school part-time as soon as I graduate. Do you think I should apply while I’m in my final year of graduate school or should I wait a year? I’m a non-traditional student so I worked before going to undergrad and grad school. Would it look bad to law schools that I’m coming straight out of grad school? Any thoughts and/or suggestions would be much appreciated. Thank you. -Chris

    1. Hi Chris Cook,
      If you want to start law school right after graduate school there is no reason to wait to apply. The reason to wait would be if you are counting on your graduate school grades/professor letters of rec to be persuasive in your law school applications.

  3. Hey Ann, I’m taking the LSAT on Monday and I really want to get my applications out of the way soon after that. However, looking at a lot of schools, the application for the fall 2015 term isn’t available yet. Do you have any idea when it will be?

    1. Hi Jameson,
      You’re jumping the gun a bit. Applications start to be released at the end of August/beginning of September. But I love that you are ready!

  4. Hello Ann, I appreciate you post as it helps to illuminate some the trends in applications as I prepare for the upcoming cycle. As a non-traditional applicant I have been searching to web for all the best tips and ideas for preparation. I recently received my LSAT score back and received a 159. My question is what are you thoughts on if a T-20 is the right goal for me. I am an AA Male, with a masters degree in higher education. My undergrad GPA was not great at a 3.1, but I am 9 years out and have a 3.9 for my masters, which I received 5 years ago. I have interesting work experience, and should have solid references, diversity statement, and personal statement. As I enter this next phase in my life, I wanted to get as much advice as I can to make sure that I am setting my sights correctly. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Brandon,
      Please forgive my delay in getting back to you. I think you could be very competitive at a reach school, and perhaps a T-20 depending on which school we’re talking about. A top 20-30 might be the better reach depending on the school. It’s hard to answer without seeing your transcripts and resume. Have you read The Law School Admission Game?

  5. Hey Ann,

    Your posts have been very helpful and I appreciate you providing the current trends in law school admission for those like me who are deciding when to apply.

    As an international student, I have been studying for the LSAT probably for a longer time than the average test taker (Its been a love hate relationship for a year and a half), but I am certain that I am reaching where I want to be with my score. Having graduated in January 2014 from a top 20-30 undergrad in the United States with a gpa of 3.77 I studied for roughly 8 months and got a 162 on the june 2014 LSAT. I was not too happy with it, since I was reaching for a t14 possibility, and the score was considerably lower than my timed pts even if I account for the test day nervousness.

    I plan to take the December LSAT again, and my question is, would it be better for me to apply for the current cycle or wait for the 2015-16 cycle to apply? I ask because I do not have my application ready yet and I am not certain whether I can satisfactorily work on both the LSAT and the application . Do schools prefer the score from the application cycle or would it be better for me to work out a strong competitive application taking the time needed after finishing the December lsat and apply a year later? Your thoughts will be very much appreciated. Thanks in advance.


    1. Great question, Grace. If your December score will put you in range for the schools you’re considering, you should go ahead and apply in early January. You can work on your application materials intensively December 7-January 6 or so and you’ll be in good shape.

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