Every spring, I start hearing from the next year's crop of premium law school applicants—those very prepared, very lawyerly types who plan to apply early in the 2018-2019 application cycle. That's a very smart plan, because early applications (before Halloween of each cycle) give students the best chance of admissions and scholarships. Frequently, these hard-chargers want to prep for the entire spring and summer before taking the September LSAT. While it's true that the September test would allow for pre-Halloween applications, I think it's a mistake to wait that long. Here's why:
1) It puts all your eggs in one basket.
Of course, we always hope for the best—take the LSAT once, kill it, and never take it again—but what if something goes wrong? You could get sick. Someone in your family could have a minor emergency. Your car could break down. A weather event could cause your test center to shut down (as has happened several times recently). Or maybe you just run into an atypically difficult section of logic games, and you don't do your best. In any of these scenarios, you're going to want to take it again. And if you wait for the September test as attempt #1, that means you're looking at the November test—which bumps you out of the golden pre-Halloween early admissions window.
Law schools only care about your highest LSAT score, and many of your competitors are planning to take the LSAT as many times as necessary to achieve their best score. Take it in June! Then you can use the July and September tests as not one, but two separate backup dates. With three bites at the apple, you'll give yourself the best chance of success. Not only that, but the June and July exams will carry far less anxiety when you know they're not your last chance.
2) If you start now, you have plenty of time to prep for June.
As I write this, it's March 3. The next LSAT is June 11, which is more than three months away. Let's call it 100 days. If you started now, and just did one section of a real LSAT every day between now and June 11, you'd have completed 25 tests by the time your official exam rolls around. That's more than enough for most students. And even if it turns out not to be enough, it's still a hell of a good start on your prep for July and/or September.
I wrote recently about procrastination in this space; one thing I have noticed is that students will often overestimate the amount of time it will take to prepare, thus giving themselves an excuse for not starting now. You know the drill: "I can't possibly get ready in time for June, so I'll shoot for the September test. What's that? Sure, I can go have a beer! My test isn't for six months, I'll start prepping next week…"
If you can't get ready in the next 100 days, you might not be able to get ready at all. Start now and shoot for June!
3) Life tends to get busier.
One thing I hear far more frequently from 21-year-olds than I do from 31- or 41-year-olds is "I'll be less busy next week… next month… next year." I think this is because us older folks (I'm 42 myself) have learned that life has a way of always getting busier, not less busy. Sure, you've got a lot on your plate this semester. But next semester, even if it looks light, inevitably turns out to be worse. (You want that A, don't you?) Sure, college is busy generally. Hate to break it to you, but college is nothing compared to an actual job. You're already working, and your job is busy right now? Yeah, well, your job can always get busier. And then you'll add a partner, a dog, and three kids… life doesn't slow down, ever.
If you haven't read that piece on that piece on procrastination, you really should. Studying for the LSAT can be done in one hour a day—I might even say that this is the most effective way to study. If you can't find an hour a day now, be honest with yourself: Will you ever find an hour a day?
Put these three official LSAT dates on your calendar, right now:
- Monday, June 11
- Monday, July 23
- Saturday, September 8
Plan to hit a home run on June 11, and use the other two dates as retakes, if necessary. Plan to apply before Halloween of 2018 to get yourself a great scholarship at a great school in 2019. The time is now to begin your LSAT prep. Call me, right now, and I'll help you get started with a course or self-study plan: 415-518-0630.