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Consider taking LSAT before applying to a Law School

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<<Letters of recommendation, grades, and personal statements—the list of worries can be endless for the undergraduate seeking to apply to law school. Nevertheless, the first step before one can even apply to law school is to take the LSAT. The LSAT is the law school equivalent of the MCAT, the exam required for students wanting to attend medical school. The LSAT consists of six parts: a reading comprehension section, two logical reasoning sections, one logical games section, one experimental section, and one essay. The exam is graded on a scale of 120-180, but the experimental section and the essay are not factored into the score. A student may also take the test more than once if he/she does not do as well as he/she thought, but it is not recommended because the majority of law schools will average the scores. However, there are testing companies, such as Testmasters and the Princeton Review, that have classes and books to help prepare for the LSAT.

Law schools are ranked based on 32 factors set by the American Bar Association and are divided into four tiers: Numbers 1-50 are tier one, numbers 51-100 are tier two, 101-150 are tier three, and the remaining law schools are tier four. In order to get into a law school, a score of at least 160 on the LSAT is needed to get into most of the tier-two and some tier-one law schools, but for the Ivy League schools, like Harvard, one needs at least 170 to stay competitive.


In the past, law schools have placed nearly equal emphasis on grades and LSAT scores. More recently, this balance has shifted in favor of LSAT scores because they are more indicative of how each candidate will do in law school. That is not to say that grades have become worthless. Law schools do take grades into account, and low grades are not going to send a positive message.

What comes next in the application process are the letters of recommendation, the personal statement, and the resume. Most law schools require two letters of recommendation, with at least one coming from a professor at the student's undergraduate university. Therefore, it is very important for students to get to know their professors far in advance so that getting these letters will not become a hindrance. The resume is essentially similar to one that anyone applying to a job would submit. It should ideally be one page and provide a brief outline and description of what accomplishments the student has achieved.

The personal statement is important because it gives each candidate the opportunity to express why he/she is applying to law school and why the school should accept him/her. Generally, the content of the personal statement is up to the candidate, but a few law schools will give the applicant a set topic. Great care should be taken to ensure that the personal statement flows and is without errors because law schools are just as interested in how each candidate expresses him/herself.

What helps in the application process and when writing the personal statement is careful evaluation of what the reason is for wanting to attend law school. Candidates who want to study law because they do not know what they want to do with their lives or because lawyers have the potential to make millions are not the best candidates for law school. The rationale behind this is that those applicants are generally going to drop out because they cannot handle the high-pressure atmosphere of law school. Finally, students should apply to several law schools; even if one has a high GPA and LSAT score, it is not a guarantee that one will get in.

Once all of the above has been completed, a student must register for the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS) because most law schools will not accept anything otherwise. LSDAS is a service provided by the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) that students can use to fill out law school applications. It also distributes letters of recommendation, LSAT scores, and transcripts, among other things, to law schools. Students can register for the service through the LSAC website (LSAC.org).

Even if a student has considered all of the factors in the application process, he/she must think ahead and plan for the realities of law school. Law school is incredibly expensive and requires a great deal of effort in order to do well. Therefore, it is recommended that if a student can get an internship or a job at a law firm, or if a university offers law classes to its undergraduates, the student should pursue those types of options to get an idea if he/she will like dealing with the law on a daily basis.

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