I received this e-mail from a blog reader:
Hi Ann, I have read your blog and numerous discussion boards that say a December LSAT score puts me at a disadvantage in the admission cycle. I do not feel ready for the September test but I would like to know if I can send in my application before I get the score? I am 27 with a GPA below 3.0. I would appreciate your insight and advice. – TG
I want to start by thanking TG for agreeing to allow me to respond to this question for the benefit of all of my readers. Any disadvantage of applying later is more than made up by getting an LSAT score a few points higher than you would’ve gotten on the September LSAT. I am a huge proponent of rolling admissions, but a better LSAT score is ALWAYS better. You can still submit applications by early January when schools are up and running again after the holidays. Postponing the September LSAT until December is NOT the worst idea in the world. See this post from last year: Not Hitting Your Goal LSAT Score?
As far as applying earlier goes, your applications cannot be reviewed without your LSAT score. They’ll just sit in the office waiting for that score report. If you absolutely know where you’re applying (say, if you’re staying close to home and there are only a few schools nearby) then submit your applications in early December so the schools can gather the reports from LSDAS, etc. But in September, October and November I’d rather see you concentrating on the LSAT than on your application materials – assuming you have limited time to spend on the business of applying to law school.
The following is a brief excerpt from my book, “The Law School Admission Game: Play Like an Expert“ addresses the issue of how to know if you should go ahead and take September or wait until December:
How do you know if you’re really ready for the LSAT? If you don’t feel ready to take the LSAT, your instinct is probably right. You have a few options. You could take the test and if your score is halfway decent, you can apply. This is a poor strategy that usually goes worse than you expected and becomes something you have to later explain on your applications. Plus, it’s a huge ego-deflater to see a low score. Make sure to take many timed practice tests with five sections. It’s an endurance test and a speed test, so you must practice under these conditions. Practice in distracting conditions, not in ideal ones. It is better to take a test in a noisy coffee shop than in the silence and ideal environment of a library carrel of the 7th floor of your campus library.
TG, I hope this helps you and everyone else wondering exactly the same thing. As always, I welcome comments, feedback and questions.