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Should I start taking the LSAT as early as possible (freshman year of college)?

PBushPBush Posts: 681Registered User Member
edited January 2010 in Law School
Would they look down upon taking the test really early or many times?

I would prep first of course, but I figure that since the LSAT is so important to law school admission, that the best strategy would be to start insanely early.
Post edited by PBush on
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Replies to: Should I start taking the LSAT as early as possible (freshman year of college)?

  • bluedevilmikebluedevilmike Posts: 11,964Registered User Senior Member
    Yes and yes. This is a bad idea.
  • sallyawpsallyawp Posts: 2,059Registered User Senior Member
    Short answer to your headline question -- absolutely not. Take the LSAT once and be fully prepared before you do so.
  • drusbadrusba Posts: 7,850Registered User Senior Member
    Intent should be to take it once and do well. Unlike SAT for college, many law schools including your high ranks will hold a bad LSAT score against you even though you submit a second test with a good score.
  • PBushPBush Posts: 681Registered User Member
    ^ Would it look weird to take it well and do very well but early? When do people normally take the LSAT?

    I'm just the sort of person that likes to get things done early.
  • drusbadrusba Posts: 7,850Registered User Senior Member
    Any score is good for five years so if you take it and do well you will need to apply within five years to law school to get the benefit. Most who are considering law school immediately after college take it end of junior or beginning of senior year. Many (and this is a lot) don't even take it until after college because they work a couple years before deciding to go to law school.

    Getting it done earlier than usual should not be the goal. Scoring high should be the goal. The issue you need to consider if thinking of taking it in freshman year of college is this: if you blow it you are likely done as far as top law schools are concerned even if you score higher later; LSAT is the biggest factor in admissions to law school and a high GPA will not save a low LSAT.
  • PBushPBush Posts: 681Registered User Member
    ^I figured I'd practice for it and take a lot of practice tests so I don't think I would just "blow it". I was thinking of taking it sometime sophomore year.

    Of course I want to score high but I suppose my question is if I'm getting 170+ on practice tests, is there any reason to not take it sophomore year (or even freshman year)?
  • marny1marny1 Posts: 2,235Registered User Senior Member
    IMO-- if you want to take it early, be fully prepared and maximize your study time- think about taking it sept/october of your junior year at college. Reasons for this suggestion-

    1. you'll have 2 years of college study already under your belt
    2. take advantage of studying during your summer break. There are way too many distractions and other academic commitments during the school year.
    3. you'll know your LSAT score before senior year and you'll be able to decide what schools to apply to and start preparing applications during the summer prior to senior year.
    4. still gives you the opportunity to do study abroad spring semester junior year if desired.
    That's just my opinion- but I think the summer break may offer you a good study environment and will give you the free time needed to study for the LSAT's and even start preparing law school applications (senior year) without having the additional time conflicts with school commitments.
    just my 2 cents--

    also there is a negative (burnout) factor in studying too much for this test- I'm a parent so I can't relate to this concept. But some students have written on TLS and LSD that too much studying can diminish your results. So I think it wise to concentrate on a specific time period (2 to 5 months seems max.) and just give it your all.
    Good luck.
  • jonrijonri Posts: 5,207Registered User Senior Member
    You're a senior in high school, I think.

    Here's the best advice I can give you. If you are taking any dual enrollment or college classes or AP/IB courses which you want to use for college credit, do well in those. They may end up counting towards your college gpa for LS purposes--even if your college doesn't count them.
  • standrewsstandrews Posts: 1,365Registered User Senior Member
    As a rising sophomore this summer my son had trouble finding a job so he started prepping for the LSAT, intending to take it June, 2010. His practice scores were consistently in the 170's, so he decided to take the September, 2009 test because he felt he wouldn't be any more ready next June. Fortunately, he did extremely well. Now he can focus on his grades and enjoy his undergrad experience knowing that he has banked a great score. His goal was to get a good score, not to take it by a certain date. It just turned out that was earlier, not later.
  • samonite16samonite16 Posts: 250Registered User Junior Member
    "if you blow it you are likely done as far as top law schools are concerned even if you score higher later"


    This is not true. It used to be that schools took the average of all LSAT scores, but now virtually every school (including the top ones) take the higher of the two scores.
  • drusbadrusba Posts: 7,850Registered User Senior Member
    ^Not correct. About four years ago, the ABA changed the method that schools are required to report their middle 50% ranges which are used by USNews in ranking from using the average of scores for candidates that submitted multiple LSATs to using highest score submitted. At the same time the LSAC, which administers the LSAT, changed from recommending that law schools use the average of multiple scores to using the highest for admission. It was thought these changes would create a goundswell that would result in all law schools going to considering for admission the highest LSAT score submitted. It didn't happen. Many law schools did change to considering highest scores but many did not and the many that did not include almost all high ranks who will still consider bad scores against you.
  • sallyawpsallyawp Posts: 2,059Registered User Senior Member
    now virtually every school (including the top ones) take the higher of the two scores

    This is not at all correct. In fact, many, if not most, of the top law schools will average your scores and will require an explanation from you regarding your decision to take the LSAT more than once. If you search my past posts, you will find a post with quotes from the websites and law school applications of most of the T14 law schools stating their policies.
  • PBushPBush Posts: 681Registered User Member
    ^ Then what about the lists on this page: Retaking the LSAT

    Or maybe the lists are misleading because many of the law schools that use the highest score are lower-tier?

    Ok everyone, I understand now that the LSAT should be taken as few times as possible. That said, I still feel like taking the LSAT during my freshman year would be advantageous for me, though feel free to try to convince me otherwise. I'm not a stubborn guy at all and I will value all your opinions. If I gave the impression that I was going to be the idiot that tries to take the LSAT 8 times (yes, I know three is the max), that is not true at all. I only took the SAT once. In fact, I have never retaken a standardized test in my life, except for the PSAT.

    Advantages to taking the LSAT super-early
    1. A LOT of time for prep. More than three months with absolutely nothing to do, and for various reasons, I'm unable to take any college courses. I plan to follow the 5-month plan outlined here: 5-Month Study Schedule
    2. Don't know how many of you have read his (?) posts, but Cue7 has a lot of posts in the UChicago (where I'm heading this fall) forums about how he suspects that the reason Chicago underperforms at pre-law placement relative to its peers is because people don't take the LSAT seriously enough. I don't know if he's right, but either way, I plan to take the LSAT very seriously, and I sincerely believe that this will be the best time for me to focus on knocking out the LSAT (and being fully prepared to do so) and not needing to juggle studying for the LSAT (which supposedly is the equivalent of a full-time job or at least a part-time one) with taking hard classes, pursuing a satisfying social life and interesting extracurriculars.
    3. Note, I may want to knock out the LSAT as early as possible, but that is not inconsistent with getting a high score. If I'm not consistently getting good scores on the practice tests, I won't take the real thing, though I will likely continue studying and consider taking it the next test date.

    Potential Disadvantages which I would like to get some opinions on
    1. Of course, relative intellectual immaturity. I'm the first one to admit that I'm much smarter now as a HS senior than I was as a HS sophomore. Am I underestimating the impact of this relative to the advantage of having a lot of time to prepare?
    2. Impact of college courses. This is related to the above point. Will taking courses in logic and so forth make a huge difference in my score, keeping in mind that I will be learning logic according to the 5-month plan. Student615 says here (http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/law-school/309068-taking-lsat-during-sophomore-year.html) that: "While I don't imagine that law schools would care whether you took the LSAT sophomore year, I would caution against it. I think that college level work in general will do a lot to prepare you for the test: critical thinking, logic, dense reading, emphasis on speed."
    3. Will colleges look at when I took it, even if I got a good score, and say, "OMG! Another over-achieving ORM!!!"
    4. The five-year limit on the score. If I understand correctly, June marks the beginning of a new cycle, right? This means that I can only apply either my senior year or one year after that, right? My thinking is that if I take more than a year off before applying (or reapplying, wouldn't it be fairly easy for me to find some time to prep again?)


    Apparently others have taken it sophomore year (http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/law-school/309068-taking-lsat-during-sophomore-year.html) so it isn't too crazy for me to take it freshman year, right? Of course...that is a slippery slope until gradeschoolers are taking it.

    At the very least, would you guys think it would be worth it to study hard for the LSAT this coming summer before I even enter college even if I don't take the LSAT until sophomore or junior years?

    Once again, I have to emphasize. I am aware of the huge experience gap between me and most of you, and really value your insight. My own personal experience taking the SAT early in junior year has shown me how stress-relieving it is to have the SAT out of the way while everyone else is trying to struggle with prepping for it and getting good grades with a rigorous junior year courseload. In fact, if I could do it all over again, I would have taken the SAT as a freshman or sophomore so I would have had the summer before junior year to do something much more fun and exciting.

    Also, I don't mean to sound really conceited (though, I admit I am...), but I do consider myself more mature than average, and I've learned to trust my gut about these things, though admittedly, my gut is only 18 years old...

    And yes, I am wary of the pitfalls with this strategy. After all, that is why I asked everyone's advice... ;)

    Edit: I also forgot to mention that I read some schools have their own time limit on the LSAT and won't take scores older than three years. Not that I want you guys to do the hard work researching which ones these are, but any off the top of your head?
  • marny1marny1 Posts: 2,235Registered User Senior Member
    You seemed to have made up your mind- though everyone's advice to you was to wait until you completed at least 2 to 3 years of college. I don't think our advice to you is going to be any different now despite your last posting.
  • sallyawpsallyawp Posts: 2,059Registered User Senior Member
    This is a repeat of some information I posted about a year ago. To my knowledge, nothing has changed on this list. As you can see below, most of the top law schools will want to see reasons given for why you took the LSAT more than once.

    This is the post from last summer --
    A few bits of current information from the websites of some top law schools:

    1. Harvard Law School:
    Should I retake the LSAT? If you take the test more than once, all scores and their average will be reported and considered.

    2. Georgetown Law School:
    For reporting purposes, Georgetown adheres to the ABA policy of reporting the higher LSAT score. For evaluation purposes, the Georgetown Admissions Committee typically averages LSAT scores. Georgetown may consider the higher LSAT score if you have only taken the LSAT twice. Please address any mitigating circumstances you feel the Admissions Committee should consider.

    3. Columbia Law School:
    Even though the ABA requires that we report the highest LSAT score, the Committee considers the entire LSAT testing history when evaluating applications for admission. Published statistics for this and prior years were based on average LSAT scores.

    4. NYU Law School:
    If I take the LSAT more than once, does the Committee see the higher score?
    Yes, but they evaluate based on the average score in most cases. The Committee may take special circumstances into account. If a candidate can point out specific reasons why the Committee should consider an LSAT score aberrant, they should detail those reasons in an addendum to the personal statement.

    5. Penn Law School:
    Q. If I take the LSAT more than once, does the Admissions Committee consider the average or the higher LSAT score?
    If there are circumstances that you believe affected your performance on a prior test, we encourage you to provide an additional statement with your application explaining those circumstances. The Admissions Committee will consider such information and may, at its discretion, evaluate your application based on the higher or highest LSAT score.

    6. U of Chicago Law School:
    What if I took the LSAT more than once? We recognize that some students will take the LSAT more than once, perhaps because the first score was the product of unusual conditions or because it seemed low given earlier practice test scores. In keeping with recent changes in LSAC and ABA policies, we will focus on the higher of an applicant's two scores. LSAC data suggest that the first score is an excellent predictor of a second score; applicants are thus advised to re-take the test only if there is reason to expect significant improvement. We certainly do not wish to encourage expenditures on repeat test taking.

    7. U of Michigan Law School:
    How does the University of Michigan Law School handle multiple LSAT scores?
    The LSDAS report for an applicant who has sat for the LSAT more than once will show every score or cancellation, as well as the average score. The ABA requires law schools to report score information based on an admitted student's highest score, and therefore, that is the score to which we give the most weight. We do, however, consider the average score as well, because data provided by the Law School Admissions Council suggests that it has the greatest predictive utility. If you have a significant disparity between scores (six or more points), it would be very helpful to address any explanation for the difference in an optional essay or addendum.

    8. U of Virginia Law School:
    What is your policy on multiple LSAT scores?
    Multiple LSAT scores will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. We do not automatically use the average, the highest, or the most recent score, but will evaluate any information provided by the applicant that may be relevant to the interpretation of test results, such as illness, testing conditions, or other extenuating circumstances. The recent change to the ABA rule regarding multiple test scores affects only how we report the LSAT score of an applicant who took the LSAT more than once. The old rule required that law schools report the average of multiple scores; the revised rule now asks law schools to report the higher of multiple scores. The ABA rule does not now, nor did it ever, tell law schools to rely on one score over another in making admissions decisions, but rather encourages schools to look comprehensively at all information presented in an application for admission. That practice has not changed.

    9. Northwestern Law School:
    All applicants are required to take the LSAT. The LSAT is administered in June, October, December, and February. Applicants may take the test more than once, but repetition is not advised unless some disruptive factor has interfered with performance during the first administration. If an applicant takes the LSAT more than once, the Admission Committee will consider all scores, the circumstances surrounding each test experience, and possible benefits resulting from prior exposure to the test. Test results are sent to the Law School by the Law School Admission Council. According to LSAC, scores are valid for five years after the test date.

    10. Cornell Law School:
    If I take the LSAT more than once, will you take the highest score or the average of the scores?
    In general, Cornell Law’s policy is to take the higher score if it is at least 3 points higher than a prior score, but the Admissions Committee invites applicants to submit an addendum to their application explaining the different LSAT scores and why we should take the higher score.

    11. Duke Law School - no comment made on website

    12. Boalt - takes the highest (I'm sure someone can find the quote, if necessary)

    13. Yale - no comment made on website, school still states that they use a holistic approach to admissions

    14. Stanford - makes no comment on website

    Moreover, the takeaway seems to be that if you take the LSAT more than once, you had better have a good reason for doing so (102 degree fever, power outage at the testing location, death in the family, etc.) and you had better take some time to explain that reason in your application. Therefore, you should prepare for and go into the LSAT as if you are going to take the test once and only once. Having explanations for one thing or another on your application, instead of just having a strong application, diverts attention from your strengths and may lead to questions about your ability and/or your commitment.

    The LSAC has repeatedly emphasized to law schools that your first LSAT is the test most likely to predict your success in law school, and I think that most of the top law schools are clearly keeping that advice in mind. You may take the LSAT more than once (in fact, up to three times in two years), but I believe that you do so to your detriment in admissions.
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