Lawyer Up: The LSAT and Preparing Your Law School Applications

November 18, 2015

It’s now one week before Thanksgiving, so it’s time to get very serious about law school applications. Whether you’re set on your LSAT score or going to take the December test, now’s the time to get all of your ducks in a row. Law school applications are rolling, so take advantage and get them in as early as possible.

The LSAT is the first thing that comes to mind when people think of law school. While the LSAT is a standardized test just like all the rest, don’t let that fool you into thinking that it’s anything like any other test that you’ve taken. Unlike the GMAT, GRE, and MCAT, the LSAT isn’t based on facts and subjects studied in school. Instead, it is based on your ability to reason through a variety of problems. That makes studying for the LSAT different than studying for other graduate school standardized tests. The most important distinction to remember is that you’re learning how to study how to take the test, rather than for the test.

The test is four hours long, which is quite a draining exercise. That being said, with proper planning, the test is very manageable. Fair warning: you should commit a lot of study time to really feel comfortable - though it varies person-to-person, the average study time is about six months. Yes, it might sound crazy, but the LSAT is a very important part of the process. Arguably, admittance to law school is a numbers game. The right GPA-LSAT combo puts you in the yes pile almost automatically - the numbers just make the rest of the application process that much easier.

The essay is free form – talk about yourself. The lack of guidance can make it difficult to begin, so the best advice out there is to write a story about yourself. It doesn’t have to be “I want to be a lawyer because…”; it does, however, need to demonstrate that you are interesting and have the skills necessary to be a good lawyer. Communication is what makes a good lawyer, so be cognizant of the way that things are phrased and punctuated.

The rest of the application is very similar to college applications. Choose recommenders who know you well and will write positively about you. “Optional” essays aren’t optional - if you want to go to a specific school for a specific reason, consider either writing an addendum or a specific essay for that school. You might also want to tailor your resume by school, if possible. Even if you aren’t solidly within the school’s GPA/LSAT range, consider how your “softs” (essay, resume, recommendations) can help make you a more attractive candidate.

Frankly, the hardest part of applying to law school is not taking the LSAT, getting an amazing GPA, or filling out the application. The hardest part is having everyone say, “Don’t go to law school.” It can be incredibly draining to go through the process when articles, peers, and professionals are screaming that you’ve made the wrong choice. That being said, those responses are good motivators. When you’re constantly bombarded with reasons not to go, you really have to examine why you do want to go. Law school isn’t for everyone, and it’s not the safety net that it used to be. Listen to the advice around you, but make up your own mind. It’s a challenging ride that’s only worth it if it’s what you really want.

Written by sccalaw, current law student at Georgetown Law

 



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