Monday, January 09, 2006

Admissions: The LSAT

I thought I would share a few thoughts today about the LSAT. Most of you who are applying for law school this year will have taken the LSAT, as law school application deadlines are on Nov 1, Jan 15, or Feb 1. However, U of New Brunswick is Mar 1 and U of Moncton is Apr 30, so the upcoming LSAT test on Feb 12, 2006, and the following information may apply to you. For those of you thinking of applying in 2006/2007, you might also find the following helpful.

According to informal surveys, most people write the LSAT more than once. Some say that rewriting will not significantly improve your score. In my case however, my second try resulted in a marked improvement. After my first poor showing, I then took a personal inventory of how I had prepared the first time and came up with a methodology that I was sure worked for me. I have heard this same strategy for others who have had to write the LSAT more than once. I found strategies that allowed me to more fully comprehend the games section of the LSAT, which brought my scores up considerably on the practice exams, which I dedicated myself to the second time around.

Many prospective law students feel more confident going into the LSAT having taken a preparatory course. Kaplan and The Princeton Review are probably the best known. In Canada, Oxford Seminars puts on courses throughout the country. Numerous private companies in each city or university in Canada put on courses as well. It is a good idea to visit the local law school to look at the bulletin boards where you will be sure to find advertisements for numerous LSAT prep courses. You can also find advertisements on other bulletin boards in undergraduate university buildings. It is helpful to ask around – ask classmates or friends that you know who have written the LSAT or taken a prep course to see what they think about the various prep courses offered in your area.

There are many LSAT prep courses, books and CD-ROMs that may help you gain an edge over other LSAT test writers. However, everybody will find the best success through gaining a strategy of his or her own. This comes through practice, pondering and practicing again. Learn from your mistakes. Come up with short cuts and strategies that work for you. Increase your mental endurance through more regular, prolonged study sessions and repeated mock LSAT test writing situations.

As I mentioned, I wrote the LSAT twice. This is common. It is an overwhelming experience the first time round, and many people are unprepared, especially in terms of the mental and physical strain and the endurance required. Alternatively, perhaps nerves got in the way. Do not be too embarrassed if you find that you need to write more than once. If you have decided that law is your dream, do not let this obstacle get in your way. Do not give up that easily. Under normal circumstances, you can take the LSAT up to 3 times in any two-year period. This applies even if you cancel your score or if it is not reported otherwise. You may hear from different authorities that LSAT scores do not differ greatly under normal circumstances from one test to another. You can find more detailed information on this at (LSAT Registration & Information – Canadian Law School). This document includes a great matrix of differences between multiple test attempts. Do not be thrown off by this information. It is a matrix of averages. Not everyone will fall within his or her averages. If you feel that you might do better if better prepared, both mentally and physically, it is definitely worth trying the LSAT more than once.

As with your GPA, your LSAT score should be a private matter. Some students like to boast about their LSAT score. However, the LSAT is not always indicative of your real potential in Law School. There are so many other factors that come into play, such as ability to handle stress, social ability, study habits, whether some or numerous areas of law catch your fancy, your relationships with other law students and law professors, and so on.

Sharing your LSAT score is not necessary. It does not help anybody. It can make people feel bad about themselves, or cause them to categorize you. Unless someone shares their score with you in a non-hostile, non-threatening manner and in an atmosphere that you are comfortable with, I would suggest that you tuck your score sheet in a locked file cabinet and forget about it.

If you found this post useful, you may be interested in the book I wrote on the Canadian Law School experience. It's also available at Chapters/Indigo. Thank you to those who have purchased the book. I hope that you have found it useful in your preparation for law school and, if applicable right now, in helping you to land a great legal job.


Dure said...

Hi Adam,

I wonder what your opinion is about the paralegal profession in Canada?
Dure Perold

Adam Letourneau, author of So, You Want to be a Lawyer, Eh? said...

I would reserve my comments about the paralegal profession, as I might offend someone. There are various levels of "paralegals" out there. In fact, I employ one in our real estate practice. The word needs to be better defined in Canada, and its various jurisdictions to avoid improper usage of the term.

Rosalie said...

How are a person's multiple LSAT scores dealt with? If I do poorly the first time around, is it forgotten if I do better the second time around?
I'd like to get into McGill, in particular, but interested in a general response.