Taking the LSAT: A Hugely Important Element in Your Law School Admission Planning

American Bar Association Changes LSAT Data Collection Rule

In the summer of 2006, the ABA Section of Legal Education & Admissions to the Bar voted to change its data collection procedures to require law schools in computing the 25th percentile, median, and 75th percentile LSAT scores of their entering classes to report the highest score of enrolling students (who took the test more than once). The ABA's prior rules had required schools to report the average LSAT score of students who took multiple tests. This rule change follows similar action taken by LSAC. This hugely significant change will definitely encourage students to take the LSAT more than once, although current LSAC rules limit applicants to three tests in any two-year period. It does reduces the risk of negative impact of a low LSAT score, but it forces applicants to consider providing multiple LSAT scores, and in effect it will raise the LSAT "price tag" for elite law school admission, since all of these schools will likely report higher 25th percentile, median and 75th percentile LSAT figures. I urge caution in taking any official LSAT. Prepare thoroughly. Prove your readiness by taking many timed, practice LSATs new to you. Score them. Dissect each test completely, so that you come to a 100% understanding as to why each correct answer is correct. Your goal should continue to be to give the law schools one brilliant, deal-making LSAT score.

However, if you end up with a first low LSAT score on your record, definitely take advantage of the liberalization of this rule. Continue to prepare for a second LSAT, with many more practice tests. A second, brilliant score will clearly improve admission probability.

About the LSAT:

The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a half-day standardized test required for admission to all 180+ law schools that are members of the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). It provides a standard measure of acquired reading and verbal reasoning skills that law schools can use as one of several factors in assessing applicants. The test is administered four times a year at hundreds of locations around the world.

The LSAT is your adversary--deal with it accordingly. This test disappoints, in varying degrees, 95% of LSAT test-takers, because everyone wants a score in the top five percent. Law schools, in effect, use the LSAT like a form of IQ test. The major law schools compete against each other in the reported results of the median LSAT score for their entering classes. A high LSAT score does not guarantee your admission, but a low score can make it extremely difficult to be admitted.

The most important rules to remember in dealing with the LSAT are as follows:

  • Don't take the official LSAT test until you are consistently scoring in practice the score you need for the school you want.
  • Students who practice the test frequently generally get a much better official test result.
  • Plan to take the official test only one time--ideally.  You ideally want to show only one official--and high--result.  But if do not reach your goal the first time, continue practicing, and take a second official LSAT.  If you still haven't earned the score you need after your second official LSAT, continue practicing, and take a third--and final--official LSAT.

If you wisely choose to work before going to law school, you don't need to do anything with the LSAT while you are in college. LSAT preparation should become one of your most important post-college tasks. Start this process by taking a free diagnostic LSAT test, offered by Kaplan, Princeton Review, TestMasters and other test-prep providers. (There are also other excellent, but less-well-known LSAT tutoring organizations as well, such as Binary Solution in New York City, and LSAT 179 or Strategy, in metro-Washington, DC.) Pick the program most appealing to you and work hard in it.

Then when you finish, purchase a series of old, official LSAT tests and answers. Take many practice tests. Learn from every mistake. When you are consistently achieving the score you need for the school you want, take the June or October test one year before the year you will start law school (for example the June or October 2008 test for law school starting in August or September of 2009).

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