Prelaw at ND
Law Fair 2012
The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a half-day standardized test developed by the Law School Admissions Council. The LSAT is designed to measure skills that are considered essential for success in law school: the reading and comprehension of complex texts with accuracy and insight; the organization and management of information and the ability to draw reasonable inferences from it; the ability to think critically; and the analysis and evaluation of the reasoning and arguments of others. The LSAT is offered four times each academic year: in June, September/October, December, and February. The June test is given on a Monday afternoon; the others are administered on a Saturday morning. For observers of Saturday Sabbath, alternative test dates are available. Those with handicaps or who need special equipment or consideration may make special arrangements in advance.
The test consists of four scored, 35-minute sections, involving three multiple -choice question types: logical reasoning, analytical reasoning and reading comprehension. In addition, there is an unscored 35-minute section composed of experimental questions, and a 30-minute writing sample ends the test. Test takers do not know which section is experimental. The scoring scale ranges from 120 to 180 points.
For students who plan to apply to law school in their senior year (for admission to the fall class after graduation), you should plan to take the LSAT in June following your junior year. This date has several advantages. Since the semester is finished, there is no tension between trying to study for classes at the same time as preparing for the LSAT. You have approximately a month between the end of classes and the LSAT administration to prepare. Your score is in your hands by the end of July so you can begin the process of selecting law schools. You also have the opportunity to take the test again should you decide to cancel your score or feel you need to retake the test.
For some, a school-year date is preferable. The summer may be too busy, exam sites may be too distant, or a student may be going abroad. Many feel they are more focused during an academic year or slip into "test mode" more easily. If you plan a Fall admission to law school, you should take the test no later than October of the year prior to anticipated entry into law school.
Law Services reports scores for five years. Scores for all LSAT exams taken in the five years prior to your application to law school will therefore be reported to the law schools you designate. Multiple scores will be averaged by Law Services in its report to law schools. Copies of your writing samples for those tests will be included, up to a maximum of three samples. Some law schools will not accept a score earned more than three years prior to an application (so, yes, you may have to take the exam again if your score is more than three years old). Check with the schools to determine if you need a more recent score.
You SHOULD prepare for the LSAT. Generally, you should take the exam once, and be well prepared. There are many methods of preparation (and multiple modes of preparation are most effective in improving scores), that will allow you to become familiar with the types of questions asked on the exam before you take it. The Prelaw Society partners with Kaplan to offer a mock LSAT that duplicates an actual administration at least once a year so you can understand what you will face in the actual exam. Law Services has various "PrepTests" (disclosed tests you can use to practice) and other preparations you can order on the LSAC website. You may prepare on your own using LSAC materials and commercial preparation books, or you may take a commercial prep class (in South Bend the only prep company on site is Kaplan), or take an online class (which may not be the ideal prep method given that the test is administered on paper with pencil), but whatever you do, you should prepare carefully and well. Everyone else in the room taking the test will have prepared unless they were ill-advised or not advised at all. Don’t be that person.
When it is time to take the test, if you feel unprepared, distracted due to family or personal problems, or ill, DO NOT TAKE THE TEST. You can get a partial refund of the test fee. Prepare for the exam, and be sure you can give it your best effort. Law Services tells us that someone who has taken the test once can be expected to score a few points higher the second time, so schools will often discount small improvement on a score on a retake. Many schools use the averaged scores for admission decisions, so you would need to score substantially better on the retake to make it worth your time and money. You also always run the risk of lowering your score.
Still, if you take the LSAT once and receive an unsatisfactory score, you may wish to take it a second time. The information you glean from your first test can help you target the question types you need to study and practice. You CAN improve your skills--and thus your score--with increased preparation. Law schools are no longer required to report only averaged scores to the LSAC and ABA; they now may report the highest score of an applicant, so retaking the test may strengthen consideration of your application if you improve your score by more than a few points.
Regular registrations for the LSAT are due approximately one month before the test date. Deadlines may vary for those requesting special arrangements for test sites. Late registrations, accepted only as space is available, are permitted by mail, or by telephone or at http://www.lsac.org. Test dates and deadlines are available at the LSAC website at www.lsac.org. When you get to the LSAC home page select the About LSAC tab at the top of the page, then select The LSAT from the menu on the left. The Law School Admission Information Book can be found in the list a little more than halfway down that list. It provides comprehensive information on the registering for the test as well as any other questions you may have (deadlines, prices, etc.) before you start the registration process. To be certain of getting your first choice of test site, you should register well ahead of the deadline date. If you anticipate applying to law school within five years of taking the test, you may register for the Credential Assembly Service at the same time.
When you register to take the LSAT, please be sure to have your score reported to Notre Dame. This will enable the prelaw advisor to offer you and future students personalized advice and accurate statistical information on law school acceptance ratios and rates. All information held in our office remains strictly confidential.
You will also want to register for the Candidate Referral Service (CRS). This free service makes information about law school candidates available to law schools. Law schools may recruit potential applicants on the basis of specific characteristics; for example, LSAT score, undergraduate grade-point average (UGPA), age, citizenship, race or ethnicity, and geographic background. If you establish an LSAC.org account for any purpose, you may authorize release of your credentials to law schools participating in the CRS. LSAC recommends that you authorize release, because you may be contacted by interested law schools you otherwise might not have considered.
You can apply for a fee waiver either through Law Services or through a participating law school. Fee Waiver forms are available in 104 O'Shaughnessy, through law schools, or from Law Services. The fee waiver covers the following services:
One LSAT $132.00
To be considered for a fee waiver a person must be a US citizen, US national, or a permanent resident alien of the United States with an Alien Registration Receipt Card. Fee waivers are intended for only the most needy candidates and this implies need in excess of that required for routine financial assistance; only those with extreme need should apply. All waivers are for the combination of services listed above. Whether granted by a law school or requested from Law Services, the fee waiver application form and supporting documentation must be submitted to LSAC. Applicants are no longer required to submit the paper LSAC Registration Form; you may now register for LSAC services online after you receive notification that your fee waiver application has been processed. Items received separately at LSAC may be returned unprocessed.
Paper fee waiver packets are available in 104 O’Shaughnessy. However, the quickest and most convenient way to apply for a fee waiver through LSAC is to complete an online application. Applicants are informed of their fee waiver decision immediately since the online application will be conditionally approved or denied in “real” time. Conditionally approved applicants nay then use the fee waiver to order services online. However, the applicant will have a 45 day deadline to submit applicable tax forms, which will be reviewed by LSAC for a final decision. Go to www.lsac.org for more detailed information. You must first establish an online account with LSAC (there is no charge for this) in order to apply for a fee waiver.
If you apply using the paper process, start at least 4-6 in advance of the deadlines listed in the 2009-2010 Law School Admission Information Book (http://www.lsac.org/pdfs/InformationBookweb.pdf).
You may also request a fee waiver through an ABA approved law school. Law Schools are not bound by LSAC financial eligibility restrictions, although they may elect to apply a similar standard to determine eligibility. Be sure to allow the aw school sufficient time to process and return the form to you to meet the regular test registration receipt deadlines in order to avoid paying the late registration fee. Some schools may specify a date by which they must receive fee waiver requests.