Law School Admissions First Steps: 3 Things You Can Do Now
Whether you’re applying in the upcoming admissions cycle or might wait until next year, if you’re committed to applying to law school, you can take the following steps toward submitting your applications right now.
1. LSAC Registrations
The Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) is the organization that manages all aspects of the law school application process. LSAC creates and administers the LSAT and serves as a clearinghouse for everything you will submit to schools as part of your application. Below are the three registrations you should consider now.
Create an LSAC Account.
Your LSAC account will be the home for every aspect of your application process, including registering for and taking the LSAT, uploading transcripts and letters of recommendation, accessing each application and ultimately submitting all your applications. Creating an LSAC account is free and doesn’t expire. Click here to create an LSAC account.
Register for the Credential Assembly Service (CAS).
CAS allows you to send external application materials to LSAC for verification, summarization and electronic transmission and to submit completed applications electronically. Although it costs $175 to register for CAS, your registration is good for five years, so even if you’re uncertain about applying in the upcoming cycle, it’s a good idea to get this part of the process out of the way. Once you’ve created your LSAC account, you will be able to register for CAS.
Register for the Candidate Referral Service (CRS).
By registering for CRS, you are authorizing LSAC to share your credentials (including LSAT score, undergraduate GPA, age, citizenship, race, and other information about your profile) with law schools. Law schools are then empowered to reach out to you with information about themselves, and sometimes application fee waivers! CRS registration is optional.
2. Create an LSAT Plan
The single most important criterion for law school admission is the LSAT score, so it is important to create a game plan to prepare for and take the LSAT. Registration is $180, and may involve additional fees for late registration and other reasons. Below we outline the key factors in determining your own LSAT plan.
How should I prepare for the LSAT?
The key to LSAT preparation is realizing that it will require a serious, sustained effort. We recommend preparing for the LSAT for about 10 hours per week for four months. There are many preparation options: in-person classes, on-demand video courses, 1-on-1 tutoring, and self-study books and guides. Choosing the right combination of these options depends on your budget and learning style, but whatever you do, don’t go it alone! According to LSAC research, test-takers who employ one of the above methods score significantly better than those who do not.
When should I take the LSAT?
In deciding when to take the LSAT, first take into account when your other obligations will allow you to devote enough time to LSAT preparation, particularly during the month before the test is administered. Most college students, for example, avoid taking the December LSAT because it coincides with end-of-semester schoolwork.
You should also coordinate your LSAT plan with your intended application submission dates. If you’re applying early decision, make sure to take the LSAT no later than September/October. If you’re applying regular decision, every school will accept a December LSAT score.
If you can, take the LSAT in June of the year you’re intending to apply, or earlier, giving you enough time to retake the test if necessary. LSAT scores are good for up to five years, and it’s best not to scramble to take the LSAT and put together a winning applications simultaneously.
When should I register?
Registration for each administration closes about six weeks before the test date, so be sure to register before then. You can electronically withdraw your registration up to the night before the test, but you will not be refunded your registration fee. Registration withdrawal information will not be sent to schools, so from an admissions perspective there is no harm in withdrawing your registration if you don’t feel fully prepared as the test approaches.
3. Upload Transcripts to CAS
Since uploading transcripts to CAS requires processing by both the school and LSAC, it’s best to take care of this step early so that it doesn’t delay your application submission. For more information on the process, click here.
Which transcripts should I upload?
LSAC is very broad in its guidance regarding which transcripts to upload, so plan to upload transcripts for any from which you received grades since graduating high school. This includes schools from which you’ve transferred, many study abroad programs, summer coursework, and post-undergraduate coursework (whether or not you ended up getting a postgraduate degree).
When should I upload them?
There is no reason to delay uploading transcripts from schools from which you’ve already graduated. If you’re planning on applying directly from college, wait until the summer after your junior year.
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