Is the February LSAT too late for Fall 2014 admission?

Great question.  The deadline to sign up is this coming Tuesday, January 7th. So what do you need to consider in order to make a reasoned decision about whether to take the February 8th 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. They’ve also got a great interview with admissions officials and test prep experts about retakes.)

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 fourth year in a row, application volume is declining sharply and the overall admissions process has become much less selective.  For the last couple of years, as a result, we have seen the admission season extend into late spring and summer, even at some of the most selective schools. Applicants have even received solicitations from law schools to apply with June scores for that fall’s entering class!  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.  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.  Later applications may also fare relatively less well in the scholarship sweepstakes than earlier applications.

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, but not necessarily fatal to your application, and there is no downside to waiting another year. 

As always, if you’re a UMass student or alum and you’d like to talk about your individual options in more depth, please feel free to contact me.