Is the February LSAT too late for Fall 2013 admission?

STOP!  Read the 2014 update here instead.

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Great question.  The deadline to sign up is this coming Tuesday, January 8th. So what do you need to consider in order to make a reasoned decision about whether to take the February 9th LSAT?

First, if this would be a retake for you, all the usual concerns about retakes are in full force. (And Law School Podcaster has janother version of this same information here—with cool charts and graphics.)

Second, regardless of whether it’s your first LSAT or a retake, relying on a February score for admission in this application season is a risky game.  The score won’t be released until the first week of March, putting you past the deadline for some schools, and very VERY late in the season for every other school.  That said, for the third year in a row, application volume is declining sharply and the overall admissions process has become much less selective.  Last year, as a result, we saw the admission season extend into late spring and summer, even at some of the most selective schools. All the same, most law schools will have filled large portions of their incoming classes by the time the February scores come out.  A higher percentage of March applicants than December applicants face rejections and wait lists—for no other reason than the timing of their application.

Third, there are no downsides to putting off your application for another year.  In that case, a February test (assuming you are well prepared for the test) puts you in a great position—way ahead of the game for next year’s application cycle

Fourth, for what it’s worth, the February LSAT is undisclosed, meaning you will only receive your score, and not your test booklet or any information about which questions you got right and which wrong.

In sum, if you are considering applying this season with a February LSAT, you should understand that it is a riskier endeavor than earlier applications, and that there is no downside to waiting another year.  Should you apply with a February score and be rejected, you’ll have to meet an additional burden of persuasion at those schools that rejected you once already. 

As always, if you’d like to talk about your individual options in more depth, please feel free to contact me.