The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is the single most important element in your law school application. It is a very challenging test and you need to be well-prepared for it. The information below will help you get ready.
How do I register for the LSAT?
You register for the LSAT (and do almost everything else related to applying to law school) at the Law School Admissions Council website, http://www.lsac.org. Go to the LSAC website and click on the “Register for the LSAT” link under the LSAT heading. You can find dates, times, and locations there as well. The fees for the LSAT change each year, so be sure to check that on the LSAC website. Register early so that you get the dates and locations that you want.
Where are the test locations nearest to me?
LSAT locations can be found on the LSAC website by clicking on “Test Centers” under the LSAT full menu option.
When should I take the LSAT?
The LSAT is administered four times a year- in June, September/October, December, and February. If you are a current student, the preferred test is the September/October one. That exam allows you to study heavily over the summer and comes early in the semester before you get too far behind in your classes. Taking the September/October test will put you on a good schedule for having all of your information submitted to the schools by January for admission the following fall. Follow this link for more on the application process. The December exam will also allow you to get your application completed by early January, but is administered right around the time that you will have final exams during the fall semester. This makes concentrating on the LSAT very difficult. The February exam occurs late in the cycle and should be avoided. By the time the February scores are reported, 3/4ths of the seats at most law schools are already filled. The June exam is also not ideal because it comes shortly after the end of the spring semester, so there is not as much time to study for it beforehand.
What are some good strategies for preparing for the LSAT?
Adequate preparation for the LSAT is an absolute must in order to do well. The exam is designed to not give you enough time to answer the questions. The more familiar you are with the style of questions, the quicker you can answer them. It is also not an exam for which you can cram. Slow and steady is the best way to prepare yourself for the exam. What follows is a typical plan for studying. It does not need to be followed exactly, but gives you an idea of the time you should invest in studying.
If you are taking the September/October exam, you should begin studying for the exam over the winter break. Buy some test books available at bookstores or some past exams from LSAC. These are available for purchase here.
Over the course of the spring semester, you should continue to study a little bit each week, increasing your familiarity with the questions and the sections of the exam. When summer begins, you need to increase your study time. If you are taking an LSAT prep course, you would typically start the prep course in early summer (this varies based on the length of the course). During the summer, you should be doing at least some studying every day. Take practice exams under test conditions- that means that you need to time yourself and proceed through the whole exam with no interruptions. That is the best way to get a sense for how the actual exam will be. The more familiar you are with how to operate under test conditions, the better.
As the fall semester begins, you should continue to study once a day. However, as you approach the date of the exam, it is helpful to taper off your studying somewhat. Again, this is not an exam for which you can cram. Before the exam, give your mind a little break from studying so that you are fresh on the exam day. Get a good night’s sleep the night before and make sure that you have breakfast that morning.
Are LSAT prep courses worth it?
This is a difficult question to answer because it depends on the individual student. Some students are able to do well on the LSAT without a prep course, just studying extensively on their own. Other students note a significant improvement from the prep course. Still others see no difference in their test scores as a consequence of the prep course. The best answer to this is probably a qualified yes. Prep courses are not cheap (typically anywhere from $1200-$1500) but do provide a structured opportunity to study regularly. It is difficult to recommend any one prep course over others, since students typically only take one course and the outcomes are so personal. Below is a list of some of the local test prep companies. These are not endorsements, but are just for informational purposes:
Is there any way to get help paying for the LSAT?
You can apply for a fee waiver for both the LSAT and the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS). Be aware, however, that the fee waivers are challenging to get. As LSAC notes on their website, “Because the cost of these services is only a fraction of the cost of a legal education, the need criterion is considerably more stringent than for other financial aid processes. Only those with extreme need should apply.”
For more information on the fee waiver, visit here.
As an alternative, the UCLA Law Fellows Program offers an LSAT prep course scholarship to students, typically in their junior year, who are admitted to the program. More information is available here.