When to Take the LSAT to Apply to Law School Next Fall

After a tough 2020, a new year is underway. For aspiring lawyers looking to start the law school application process, now is the time to plan the year ahead, to be ready to apply by early fall.

The first and hardest step in that journey is the Law School Admission Test, or LSAT. Unless you plan to apply with a GRE score, which some law schools now accept, your first priority should be to make a study plan to master the LSAT.

When Is the LSAT Offered?

In recent years, the LSAT has been in flux. In 2019, the LSAT went digital, administered on tablet computers in proctored test sites. Test frequency also expanded from four to seven times a year.

[READ: How to Set an LSAT Study Plan Months in Advance.]

Last spring, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the LSAT was replaced with the remotely proctored LSAT-Flex, which will be used exclusively through at least April 2021.

The Law School Admission Council, or LSAC, has not yet announced test dates beyond April. However, LSAC seems to be on track to offer the test nine times annually, in accordance with the time frame announced before the pandemic.

LSAT test sites should reopen when safe, but this may be many months away. Before LSAT-Flex is fully phased out, there will likely be a transition period when both proctored LSAT tests and remote LSAT-Flex tests are offered. You can keep track of test updates on LSAC’s website.

Which LSAT Dates Are Best?

Since the difficulty of the LSAT is carefully calibrated and curved, no test date is easier than another. Popular times like June and September may fill up early, but that is merely a reflection of the academic calendar since many test-takers are in school and have the most time to focus on the test during the summer.

The best way to choose a test date is to work backwards from when you will be applying to law school, accounting for any personal scheduling conflicts like family events or competing obligations.

Because the law school admissions process is rolling, applicants should apply by September or October for their best chance of admission. To receive scores by then, applicants should take the LSAT by August or September.

[Read: What Is a Good LSAT Score?]

However, applicants should anticipate taking the LSAT more than once, if necessary. Law schools generally take an applicant’s highest score and impose no penalty on applicants with multiple test scores. Thus, applicants should aim to take the test by June or July to have breathing room in case they need to cancel or retake it. As a bonus, many test-takers find they have the most time to practice during summer.

The LSAC typically releases test dates and opens registration three months in advance. Test dates will fill up quickly, especially once in-person tests resume, so try to register at least a month in advance.

When Should You Start Studying for the LSAT?

For best results, set aside at least three or four months to study for the LSAT. You will need this time to familiarize yourself with the test and learn the basic techniques used for each type of question, followed by repeated practice and review.

To benchmark progress and simulate the test experience, leave time to take at least five full practice tests. Note, however, that LSAT mastery comes from focused and methodical practice, not from plowing through one test after another. Quality of practice is more important than quantity to make steady progress.

What Comes After the LSAT?

The LSAT and transcript are the two most important factors in law school admission, but they are not the only ones. Review this fall application checklist to ensure you have all your materials ready to go.

It can take at least a few weeks to put together your resume, personal statement and other written materials. It can also take a few weeks to request and submit your transcripts through the LSAC Credential Assembly Service, the central clearinghouse of law school applications.

[Read: How High Is the Typical College GPA Among Accepted Law School Applicants?]

Be sure to leave ample time for recommendation letters, as well. Think ahead to professors, employers or other supervisors who can provide letters of recommendation, and try to request letters a month in advance. Law schools tend to require at least two letters, and most accept up to three or four.

Like many new year’s resolutions, getting into law school requires consistent and steady work over many months. To get your mind in shape to tackle the LSAT this summer, start browsing test prep options now while you are motivated and ready to go.

More from U.S. News

How to Prepare for the LSAT on a Budget

Study Habits That Won’t Help on the LSAT

Test Prep: 7 Tips for LSAT Success

When to Take the LSAT to Apply to Law School Next Fall originally appeared on usnews.com

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