Ready for the September LSAT?

Law School Expert Blog

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.

4 Responses

  1. Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. I will have my applications ready to hit send once the December scores come out.

  2. Hi, Anne. Thank you for posting TG’s email and your response on to your blog! Like TG, I am also 27 with a UGPA under 3.0. I have received conflicting advice re: the application process. Such advice range from how my not-too-stellar UGPA cannot possibly be offset by a graduate degree, to how having a PhD will put in me in very favorable light (regardless of LSAT score and UGPA).

    I agree with your thoughts and I’ve also adopted a similar strategy: to just get the best LSAT score that I can. As you said, it can only help me… I figure even if my score would not be high enough to get me into my “reach” schools, it could still be high enough to get some scholarship offers from my mid-level and safety schools.

    Right now, I am preparing to take the December LSAT. Admittedly, this is still an early exam date in my case because I intend to apply for admission for Fall 2011. It is hard to find time in a full schedule to study, but I try to squeeze in at least 3 hours a day. At this point, I don’t think I’m prepared to take the test yet, but hopefully things will look up in the next few weeks. And if not, postponing to February is always an option.

    Thanks again, Anne, and keep the posts coming. Always a delight to read your advice on the application process.

  3. hi anne, i absolutely love this blog!

    i am 27 years old and planning to apply to law schools in Canada and the U.S. in November. I don’t feel ready to write the LSAT in September, but i still want to apply in November.

    1)Can i apply to schools in November and have them wait on my December LSAT? If you are postponing your LSAT why not get the application in early to save the stress?

    2) if i took it in December, but did not do as well, by taking it in February, would schools accept the new LSAT mark? The issue i have is that i really want to apply in November and not waste anymore time. I’ve read on this blog that you can apply to schools in December, is that only for U.S. schools? because in Canada, the deadline is November 1.

    3)Are there options on most applications for me to tell schools to wait on my LSAT mark?

    I know it’s alot of questions but i really need some advice.

    1. Hi Amit,
      You can apply to schools in November, but it’s sort of silly to do so because (1) you don’t know where you’ll be competitive, and (2) they won’t be able to review your application without an LSAT score, and (3) you would be better off spending that time studying for the LSAT.
      Most schools accept a February LSAT, although it’s not ideal.
      I cannot give advice about law schools in Canada; my expertise is solely in US Law schools.
      You can (and must) tell law schools on the application about a pending LSAT score.
      Good luck with everything, and please let me know if I can help you with the U.S. Applications.

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