2 MAR / 2015 0

6 Reasons You Should STILL Take the LSAT – Even if Some Law Schools Are Dropping It

It was bound to happen: Last month, two law schools – the State University of New York-Buffalo Law School and the University of Iowa College of Law – announced they would admit students without requiring an LSAT score; instead, they stated they would admit students based on their undergraduate grade point average and scores on standardized tests other than the LSAT.

Not surprisingly, many pre-law students erupted in euphoria. The LSAT understandably causes a lot of pain for students. The thought that these two law schools were just the beginning of a “snowball” trend of schools dropping the LSAT requirement led many to begin speculating they could forego the exam altogether.

Students should not be so quick, however, to jump on that bandwagon. As Mark Twain once said, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

Even if a few more law schools drop the LSAT as a requirement for admission, students should still prepare for and take the exam.

Admittedly, it might be difficult to take our word for it. After all, we are an LSAT prep course, and our business is premised on the existence of – and requirement to take – the LSAT. Nevertheless, here are 6 compelling reasons (that have nothing to do with the preservation of any LSAT prep course) for why students should take the exam despite this new developing trend.

1) The LSAT Can Help You Determine if You Will Perform Well in Law School

Pursing a legal career is a decision that shapes your future and locks you into a certain path – at least for some time. Like any career decision, you should not pursue a specific career if either you don’t like the area or are not good at it. Most people would agree with that advice. For example, if you failed that biology exam or just don’t like the subject, perhaps a medical career isn’t your cup of tea.

take the lsat

Photo by ddpavumba

The same principle should apply with a legal career. The Law School Admission Council (the company that writes the LSAT) has released data demonstrating that LSAT scores are a good indicator of how students will perform their first year of law school and on the bar exam. Therefore, the LSAT can help you decide if a legal career is right for you. If you understand the logic on the exam and get a good LSAT score, you will likely perform well in law school and beyond. If you don’t do well on the LSAT and can’t grasp the logic, then perhaps you need to reconsider a legal career.

That isn’t meant to be harsh; the legal world is competitive, and you should ensure you have some chance of success before jumping in. The LSAT – while (still) being an important requirement for admission to law school – represents a valuable tool for understanding whether you will perform well in law school and in areas that you will use when practicing law. It costs just $170 to take the LSAT (compared with the $150,000+ it will cost you to go to law school). Even if you hate the exam or might not need it for a few law schools, you should embrace it – and take it – for this purpose.

2) Don’t Base a Personal Decision on a Law School’s Business Decision

James Gardner, the dean of SUNY Buffalo’s law school, hinted that the decision to drop his school’s LSAT requirement was designed to allow the school to increase its enrollment. First-year enrollments have declined by approximately 20% since 2011 at SUNY Buffalo. Like any business, SUNY Buffalo and the University of Iowa College of Law must take steps to maintain or increase revenue. The principal way to achieve that goal is to increase enrollment. Dropping the LSAT, as described by Gardner, “address[es] that problem to the extent that [it] remove[s] what is, for some students, an obstacle for applying to law school.” In other words, these law schools’ decisions are business decisions bred from a desire for self-preservation.

While there is nothing wrong with that, students should not follow suit and dispense with taking the LSAT. Law school folks want you to enroll in law school not because they think you will be a good lawyer, but because they want you to pay them tuition. They may not be as concerned about you and your career as they might be with getting you in the door.

taking the lsat

Photo by Stuart Miles

Attending law school, and becoming a lawyer, is a deeply personal decision. As demonstrated above, the LSAT can help you determine if law school is right for you. Accordingly, simply because two law schools (and perhaps others) are removing a significant barrier of entry should not mean students should decide on a law career without taking the LSAT. Instead, use the LSAT as a tool to make the best personal decision for yourself.

3) The LSAT Can Help You Get Into a Better Law School

This year, the University of Iowa and SUNY Buffalo were ranked #27 and #100, respectively. Nothing against either school, but, if you aspire to being admitted to a top-10 or top-20 law school (or just one of 99 law schools that were ranked higher than SUNY Buffalo), you need to take the LSAT because these other schools (with few exceptions) require the LSAT for admission and consideration.

law school admissions

Photo by Stuart Miles

Some students might counter (or rationalize) by arguing, “Well, I’ve always wanted to go to [School X That Doesn’t Require the LSAT].” Our answer to that: Why would you place a ceiling on your career prospects? If you take the LSAT and get a good score, you automatically broaden your opportunities because you will have the ability to get admitted to a very good law school and increase your chances of landing a great job upon graduation. Sure, you can always go ahead and attend School X, but at least now you know that you can do better (if you want to). There is tremendous upside in taking the LSAT.

4) The LSAT Can Help You Get Into Other Law Schools

Have you ever been to Buffalo? What about Iowa? If you are from the northeast, were you dreaming of heading towards some warmer weather for law school?

Even if a few more law schools drop the LSAT, foregoing the exam severely limits your options only to those schools that have dispensed with the exam as an admissions requirement.

take the lsat

Photo by nuttakit

Later in your career, you will learn that having options is never a bad thing. Options give you choices. Choices, in turn, give you the freedom to pave your own destiny. Therefore, although a few law schools do not require the LSAT, you should never limit yourself just to those schools. Create options for yourself. You may be happy you did. In some cases, you may even need them.

5) You Can Still Get Admitted to Law School with a Bad LSAT Score

Photo by ambro

Photo by ambro

Thankfully, if you take our advice and take the LSAT but get a bad score, the world is not over. As Elie Mystal recently wrote on Above the Law, law school is ALREADY the easiest professional school to get into.” Indeed, there are many law schools that accept average and below-average LSAT scores, especially if you have a reasonably good GPA. So if your life’s dream is to be a lawyer (despite the bad LSAT score), you will still have options for law school. Further, if you really stink up the place and bomb the exam, you will – as we all know – have options at schools that don’t require the LSAT for admission. Thus, there is nothing to lose by taking the LSAT.

6) The Trend Towards Dropping the LSAT May Reverse

Just like dropping the LSAT may signal a business decision by law schools to increase enrollment, the opposite may hold true when the economy inevitably rebounds, and law school admission numbers ultimately increase. Trends are cyclical. If and when this occurs, law schools may need to control their enrollment and re-introduce barriers (such as the LSAT) that some of them are now removing. Thus, you should not assume this trend is permanent, or that it may not reverse.

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The LSAT may send many students running for the hills. Although a new trend may be forming among law schools who are dropping the LSAT as an admissions requirement, students should continue to take the LSAT. Taking the exam provides a huge upside and little, if any, downside. If you perform well on the exam, you have a great indication that you will likewise perform well in law school, and you will have the credentials to get admitted to a top law school. On the other hand, if you do not perform well on the LSAT, you can still get into law school or try your chances (and rely on your GPA) at a law school that doesn’t require an LSAT score.

18 FEB / 2015 0

Law School Application Timeline – How to Prepare for Law School During Your First Years in College: Grades, Extra-curriculars, and More

The following article is a guest post from Christina Taber-Kewene, Director, Law Admissions at Admit.me and the admissions consulting company, Admit Advantage

Enter Christina . . .

We often talk to young undergrads who want to know our secret formula for success – should they join 15 clubs in college?  Major in Philosophy to demonstrate logical thinking and writing skills?  Take that prestigious internship on Capitol Hill?  Study abroad to learn a second language?  The right response to all these questions is: What do you want to do?

Study

Because law schools, unlike medical schools, don’t require any specific undergraduate courses to qualify for entrance, you have a lot of leeway in your undergraduate studies.  Many students think they need to major in Political Science, Philosophy, or other supposedly law-related areas, and they are wrong.  Feel free to major, double major, major and two minors (we know how those interests vary) in whatever you are most interested.

Photo by imagerymajestic

Photo by imagerymajestic

The one caveat is that grades do matter for admission.  So be careful to challenge yourself while still remaining sensitive to your overall GPA.  Should you take “fluff” classes to boost your GPA?  Absolutely not.  But don’t be completely haphazard in your course selections.  Bombing Organic Chemistry three times just because you (the English major) wanted to see if you could figure it out for fun will do you no favors.

The exception to this advice is for those students who plan to specialize in certain areas as lawyers.  Patent lawyers, for example, also possess at least an undergraduate degree in a relevant scientific field, if not a graduate degree, and study to join the patent bar. 

And, of course, many others come to law having already practiced in a different field or obtained advanced degrees in another area, and this influences their choices as a lawyer.  A JD/MD typically will have a very different path from a JD who majored in Cultural Anthropology.

Finally, remember to begin cultivating relationships with professors now.  You will need two academic recommendations for your law school applications, and having a strong relationship with several professors beginning in your first years will be a great boon when it comes time to apply.

Extracurriculars

Build a life that matters to you outside the classroom.  If you are the type of person who enjoys playing in the school orchestra, running for student government, playing lacrosse, AND trying out for the spring drama production, then go for it!  But if you are a serious musician focused on honing your musical craft to the exclusion of other activities, then that is just as useful.  What schools care about is that you commit yourself to your activities and grow in them.

Photo by Stuart Miles

Photo by Stuart Miles

Leadership – that much-sought-after attribute on school applications– can mean many things in this context. You can show that you rose through the ranks of student government over the course of four years, or that, after barely making the women’s rugby team as a freshman, you emerged as co-captain your senior year despite a lack of innate physical prowess.  Just remember that schools see right through resume padding, so do what you like, but go deep more than you go broad.

Work

You want to show a law school admissions committee that you have a strong work ethic and have challenged yourself throughout your college years.  This can look very different for different people. 

One student may have supported herself through school with two part-time jobs during the academic year and more than full-time work during the breaks.  Another student may have taken on no paid work but have garnered prestigious internships in the breaks.  Both candidates are attractive for different reasons to schools. 

So if you have the economic means to take on those interesting unpaid internships, then do it!  But if you don’t, work hard, earn the money you need, and know that this too is very attractive to schools.  Whatever you do, don’t sit idle.  If you can’t find an internship or opportunity you want, then create one.

Photo by Stuart Miles

Photo by Stuart Miles

A word on paralegal work, which many students seek out before applying to law school.  This can be very good experience for deciding whether you want to be a lawyer.  But lots (and lots!) of applicants come to law school with this background.  It will not provide you with a better chance for admission in and of itself.  Again, take on this work because it is the experience you want, not because it is going to be an advantage in law school admissions.

Conclusion

In sum, the classes you take and experiences you gain in college matter a lot for your personal development.  Always choose substance over form and pursue what interests you most.  Your passion and engagement will shine through to an admissions committee.  Grades matter, scores matter, but your overall package matters most of all.  And if you are serious about applying to law school, seek out activities and work that will give you a sense for what working as a lawyer is like.  As you get further into your college career, you will seek out the pre-law advisor at your school and start preparing for the LSAT.  But in your first years, focus on figuring out who you are and who you want to be.

Christina Taber-Kewene is Director, Law Admissions at Admit.me and the admissions consulting company, Admit Advantage. Create a free profile on Admit.me to connect with other applicants and get a free evaluation of your law school application.

27 JAN / 2015 0

4 Reasons Speed Reading Won’t Help on LSAT Reading Comprehension

We’ve encountered students who have wondered whether speed reading, or in general learning to read faster, will help them perform better on the LSAT Reading Comprehension section.  This question often comes from foreign students who have difficulty with English: they generally wonder if their difficulties on LSAT Reading Comprehension stem from their inability to read the language faster.

LSAT Reading Comprehension

Speed reading or just reading faster, however, will not help you on LSAT Reading Comprehension.  Here are four reasons for this inescapable truth:

4 Reasons Speed Reading Won’t Help on LSAT Reading Comprehension

1) Speed reading is more like skimming

Chances are you weren’t a speed reader before you started preparing for the LSAT.  If you began learning how to speed read as a matter of coincidence, or for the specific purpose of reading LSAT Reading Comprehension passages, you will still be a beginner.  Assuming you’re a rookie, speed reading will likely become more like skimming when you apply it on the LSAT.  This is especially true in a pressure-packed situation such as LSAT test day. 

If you are skimming LSAT Reading Comprehension passages, you are bound to miss important details.  For example, try speed reading these publications, and see if you can grasp important facts contained in them.  Missing these details will either force you to spend too much time on a given question (as you dive back into the passage to find the information you need), or cause you to answer one or more questions incorrectly (because you missed an important detail or fact).

2) You will not comprehend important aspects of an LSAT Reading Comprehension passage

There are crucial items of information in LSAT Reading Comprehension passages that you not only need to locate, but comprehend as well.  If you are skimming a passage, however, you will miss this critical information altogether, let alone comprehend it.

LSAT Reading Comprehension

For example, one crucial item in any LSAT Reading Comprehension passage is the main idea.  Almost every set of questions that corresponds to a passage will include a question asking you to identify the author’s main idea.  This information can usually be found in a sentence or two in the passage where the author chimes in and provides his or her own opinion about the content of the passage.  This is information you should recognize and underline as you are reading the passage.

If you are skimming a passage, however, you will miss this critical piece of information.  Recognizing and comprehending when an author offers commentary, whether that commentary is or relates to the main idea of the passage, and how that information relates to the rest of the passage requires that you read the text at a normal rate of speed.  Speed reading (or what it may become: skimming) will short-change this process.

3) It will prevent you from setting up guideposts in the passage

The key to doing well on LSAT Reading Comprehension is not to speed read at all.  Rather, you need to read the passage carefully and set up guideposts or markers along the way. 

The questions will usually focus on one or more important pieces of information.  These items include, among other things, the main idea (see above), important people, important concepts, and groups or people with opinions.  Other sections of the passage will prompt you or prepare you for important pieces of important, such as time frames, specific clauses (like “but,” “because,” “as a result,” etc.), and opinion-related words (like “argue,” “propose,” “support,” etc.). 

As you read a passage, you must underline the pieces of information above.  Then, when you answer questions, you can refer back to the passage as necessary and use the underlined information as guideposts to find the information you need.

Speed reading makes it impossible to apply this methodical approach.  Although the urge to read fast will be overpowering, the more effective (and counter-intuitive) method for doing well on LSAT Reading Comprehension is to read carefully and set up these markers or guideposts for your benefit when you answer the questions.  (You should also follow these general LSAT Reading Comprehension tips.)

4) You will sound like a pretentious jerk

If you go around claiming you can speed read, and you can burn through an LSAT Reading Comprehension passage in half a minute, you won’t make any friends.  Rather, you will just seem smarter and only might be more interesting.  And you’ll also sound like an irritating, pretentious jerk. 

This is a general rule you should follow regarding any skill or accomplishment: Don’t brag about it.  Especially when it comes to an exam like the LSAT, where things aren’t always what they seem.  Even if you can speed read a passage and comprehend it and answer 6-7 questions about it correctly, no one wants to know that because it reminds them of the shortcomings they may be experiencing with this exam. 

Keep your successes to yourself.  People will like you more.

Or you can just ditch the speed-reading (or reserve it for some other non-LSAT related reading activity), and approach LSAT Reading Comprehension the way we recommend.

15 JAN / 2015 0

9 LSAT Excuses And How You Can Overcome Them

Topics: LSAT Prep, LSAT Tips

As students become familiar with the LSAT and begin studying for it, they become more aware of what the exam requires of them, and, in the process, they often develop a series of so-called “LSAT excuses” that they use to explain away issues or difficulties they are having with the exam. 

Nothing impacts any activity more detrimentally than a negative perspective or attitude.  They create artificial walls behind which people can hide when it’s convenient.  On an exam of this magnitude, such an attitude can exact an even more devastating blow. 

 Download A FREE Guide That Reveals The Five Most Common Logical Principles Tested On The LSAT!

When students encounter these LSAT excuses, they need to find ways to combat them, overcome them, and ultimately eliminate them from discussion.  Sure, it’s easy for an instructor (or anyone) to respond to these excuses by saying they simply need to stop.  However, that kind of response is often inadequate and unproductive. 

LSAT Excuses

Photo by Stuart Miles

There should be more substantive responses to these LSAT excuses – advice that helps a student address and overcome an excuse in a positive and productive way.  Below are LSAT Freedom’s responses to the many LSAT excuses we’ve encountered in our experiences with students. 

9 LSAT Excuses

1) “I don’t do well on standardized tests.”

This LSAT excuse is probably the most common excuse bandied about by LSAT test-takers.  They believe they performed poorly on the SAT or ACT, and now they believe they are performing poorly on practice LSATs.  Instead of attributing the low practice score to a weakness on the exam or some other difficulty or obstacle, they immediately chalk it up to the grand conspiracy of standardized tests and the illusion that there exists a class of unfortunate souls who will never be able to perform well on these tests. 

As Lord Business famously declared . . . “What a bunch of hippie, dippie baloney!”

LSAT Excuses

There is no such thing as this daunting wall of “standardized tests” that a certain group of dummies can’t overcome.  It is such nonsense.  Do you know how we know that?  Do you really want to know??

Because these standardized tests actually test you on substance.  The LSAT, for example, tests you on your understanding of logic and specific logical concepts.  If you learn and understand those concepts, you will be able to recognize them on the LSAT and answer questions correctly. Doing well (or not) on the exam has nothing to do with whether or not you belong in some privileged class of people that performs well on standardized exams.  Instead, it has more to do with whether you know the stuff you’re being tested on. 

It has nothing to do with the test.  Saddle up, and learn the logic, and . . . surprise! . . . you will begin to perform well on standardized tests.

2) “It’s an IQ test, and I’m not that smart.”

Understanding how conditional reasoning works, learning the difference between correlation and cause-and-effect, and discovering how the negative proof fallacy rears its ugly head in everyday conversation does not prove you are smart.  Nor does finishing four Logic Games in 25 minutes. 

LSAT Excuses

 

The same principle applies to the exams you took in high school and college: Getting an A or a B on an exam doesn’t prove you are smarter than anyone else.  Nor does the fact someone else got an A or a B on an exam prove he or she is smarter than you.  Doing well on an exam simply demonstrates that a person has the knowledge necessary to answer questions on that exam that tests the recall and application of that knowledge.  It does not demonstrate intelligence.

If you dedicate the time to learn the logic on the LSAT and then practice consistently for a specific period of time, you will develop the knowledge necessary to perform well on the exam.  It has nothing to do with intelligence.

(Well . . . maybe it demonstrates intelligence in some other way: You had the smarts to prepare for the exam while others didn’t . . .)

3) “You can’t study for the LSAT.”

Yes, you can.  We understand where people are coming from on this one: It’s not an exam that resembles those exams you took in high school or college where you were required to memorize a bunch of useless information, and then you were tested on your ability to be able to regurgitate that information onto a piece of paper. 

However, as we’ve emphasized before, you can prepare for the LSAT, and you can do so in two ways: 

First, as explained above, you need to learn the logic that the exam tests.

Second, you need to practice and apply these principles by taking past LSAT exams. 

Studying and preparing for the LSAT isn’t rocket science.  It doesn’t require some inherent ability to do well on this particular kind of exam.  It merely requires good, old-fashioned focus and hard work. 

4) “It’s a logic exam. You either know logic, or you don’t.”

That’s not the way logic works.  Guess what?  No one knows logic going into this little LSAT game.  The people who know it on the way out took the time to learn it.  This excuse is no different than #3 above.  You can learn the logic, just like you can prepare and study for the LSAT in general.  You just have to do it.

5) “You won’t use anything from the LSAT when you’re a lawyer.”

This is a huge myth.  The logical principles you will learn and apply on the LSAT, the arguments you need to evaluate on the Logical Reasoning section, and the reading and understanding you need to demonstrate on the Reading Comprehension section all have value in the legal field. 

As a lawyer who litigates cases, you will be reading cases, understanding the arguments and holdings of those cases, drafting your own arguments, and analyzing and challenging an opposing attorney’s arguments.  Frequently, the arguments you see – even those by a judge – will have logical flaws.  Your ability to identify, isolate, and address those flaws will impact your success as a lawyer. 

As a transactional or corporate lawyer, you will be preparing and reading contracts and similar documents.  You need to understand what specific language means and how it will impact your client.

Don’t dismiss the LSAT because someone told you it has no application in real life.  It certainly does, and your law practice and career will benefit from doing well on the exam.

6) “I’m too slow, and the LSAT is timed.”/”If I had more time, I would do better.”

This is a common excuse.  We’ve heard from so many students who have told us that, “if only I could have more time, I’d finish all four Logic Games in 35 minutes.”  Or this one: “When I do them without worrying about the time, I get them all right!”

LSAT Excuses

The 180 Watch

That’s just silly.  It’s like saying, “If only I was as tall as Lebron James, I could dunk.”

Most of you are not as tall as Lebron James. 

And none of you will have more than 35 minutes to complete a section on the LSAT. 

Instead of dwelling on these limitations, however, focus on how you can use them to your advantage

On the LSAT – believe it or not – a limited amount of time can help you. 

Let us introduce you to Parkinson’s Law.  You don’t need to know where that comes from, or who came up with it.  You just need to know this basic principle:

A task will swell in importance in direct proportion to the time allotted to it. 

 

Said another way: Work will increase so as to fill the time available for it to be completed.  We tend to fill the time we have.  For example, if you have two hours to write a research paper, you’ll use two hours.  If you have four hours, you’ll spend four hours.  If you have 24 hours, you will spend every waking second you have, and the project will become an unmanageable monster. 

Photo by Stuart Miles

The lesson: If you have less time within which to complete a task, you will be more focused and work more efficiently.  You will dispense with unnecessary details and distractions.

On the LSAT, 35 minutes is a blessing in disguise.  On the Logic Games section, that corresponds to a little over 8 ½ minutes per Logic Game.  When you are practicing, find ways to focus your effort and work more efficiently.  Eliminate wasteful thoughts from your head.  Don’t day dream.  Focus on setting up the Logic Game properly so as to reduce maneuvers later on with individual questions.  If you find the correct answer on a question, move on.  And so on and so forth . . .

Don’t think of time on the LSAT as a detriment.  It’s an advantage and a helpful tool for you to unleash your uber-efficient test-taking ability.  A sufficient amount of practice will enable you to harness this ability and apply it effectively.

7) “I get really nervous.”/”I have a lot of anxiety.”

Nerves are the result of lack of preparation and experience.  The best way to overcome a bad case of the nerves is to practice as much as you can under timed conditions.  The more you practice, the more familiar you will become with the exam and how to deal with its many twists and turns.  You may not be able to wipe it all away, but a sufficient amount of practice with actual LSAT exams will go a long way towards reducing the anxiety you may experience on the exam.

8) “I don’t have time to study for the LSAT. I have [a job/a family/school work/a date/to take a nap].”

Everyone is busy.  Everyone has commitments and obligations.  So this excuse just doesn’t work.  If you want to get into a good law school, you need to restructure your life a bit so you can prepare for the LSAT and do well on it.  If you can’t carve out time in your schedule to prepare for the LSAT, you will not get the score you want, get into the law school you want to get into, or obtain the job you desire.

The best way to make the time to study for the exam is to create an LSAT study schedule, and then hit it consistently.  This will create a productive habit of preparing for the exam at a specific time and for a set period of time.

The bottom line: If you want to do well on the LSAT, you need to make the time for it.

9) “I’m so afraid I’m going to fail.”/“I’m scared of failure.”

You’re afraid of failure?  What are you going to do?  What’s the alternative?  Not taking the LSAT?  Not going to law school?  Not becoming a lawyer?  If that’s what you want, that’s fine.  However, if you want to become a lawyer, not taking the LSAT or not doing well on it because you’re afraid of failure isn’t the answer.

Samuel Beckett once said, “Ever tried.  Ever failed.  No matter.  Try again.  Fail again.  Fail better.”

You wouldn’t believe what you can accomplish if you just tried and – in many instances – tried to achieve what some might consider the “impossible.”

The worst thing that can happen isn’t crashing and burning.  It’s the inaction or the boredom that might result from not pursuing and achieving your goal simply because you’re afraid of some abstract “failure.”

Failure should never be an excuse.

Nor should any of the other LSAT excuses above!

They are just that: excuses.  They are self-defeating statements that prevent you from performing the actions necessary to score high on the LSAT.  They represent attempts to justify inaction.  The advice above should help you eliminate these LSAT excuses from your vocabulary and focus on preparing for the exam.

7 JAN / 2015 0

How to Determine If You Need An LSAT Addendum

When students apply to law school, they might find themselves wondering if they need a law school addendum or LSAT addendum

An LSAT addendum is a one-page addition to a law school application that explains extra issues a student might have but does not want to address in a personal statement or diversity statement.  If these issues are serious enough, a student might want to explain them in an addendum. 

The addendum briefly identifies the issue and lets the law school know what occurred.  In some instances, a student can use an addendum to transform a negative issue into a positive benefit. When these issues relate to a student’s LSAT score, many refer to it as an “LSAT addendum.”  Whatever the case, a student should be very careful and strategic when determining if such an LSAT addendum is necessary.

 Download A FREE Guide That Reveals The Five Most Common Logical Principles Tested On The LSAT!

So when do you need an LSAT addendum, i.e., an addendum that explains some issue regarding your LSAT score?  The following guidelines should assist in helping you determine when you DO need a law school/LSAT addendum and when you do NOT need one.

LSAT Addendum

5 Instances When You DO Need An LSAT Addendum

1) Accommodation problem on LSAT test day

If you have received certain accommodations throughout your life or throughout school, you needed those accommodations during when you took the LSAT, someone at the test center (stupidly) denied you those accommodations, and you LSAT score suffered as a result, you should explain that issue in an LSAT addendum.  This would be a classic example of a situation where an addendum is necessary. Law schools would likely view an explanation of these circumstances as helpful.

However, use common sense.  You should prepare an LSAT addendum only when there is a discrepancy between your LSAT score and your GPA.  For example, if your score is low (like in the 140s), but your GPA is high (like a 3.8 or 3.9), you should prepare an addendum.  If, on the other hand, your score was in the upper half or third of test-takers, perhaps an addendum might be overkill.  For example, an LSAT addendum stating that, if you had received those accommodations, your score would not have been an embarrassing 174 and could have been a perfect 180 will likely fall on deaf ears.  So, again, use common sense.

2) A freak occurrence on LSAT test day

If a freak occurrence – such as a family illness or death, a mistake in bubbling answers, the heat breaking in the exam room, or a dinosaur biting off your leg in the middle of the exam – occurs on test day, and that event significantly impacts your LSAT score, an addendum will be helpful in explaining to a law school that your score likely would have been different but for that event.

LSAT Addendum 

Keep in mind, however, that when preparing an LSAT addendum (or any addendum for that matter), you should refrain from becoming emotional or argumentative.  (This is a helpful tip for when you practice law as well.)  The purpose of an addendum is to disclose information or to persuade the law school admissions committee that it should overlook an anomaly or deficiency with respect to your LSAT score.  Exaggerating the situation or making a desperate emotional plea will turn them off very quickly.  Focus on the facts of your situation, and present them in a dispassionate, measured way.

3) Medical issue on test day

In much the same way a freak occurrence on test day might require an LSAT addendum, so, too, would a medical issue you experienced that impacted your exam performance.  If you were in a car accident and were in deep discomfort or heavily-medicated on exam day, an LSAT addendum should be prepared that addresses those difficulties.  Similarly, if you got mono, broke an arm or leg, or otherwise experienced some medical issue that physically and/or psychologically impacted your ability to take and do well on the LSAT, you should explain that in an LSAT addendum.

4) Two LSAT scores that are many points apart

If you took the LSAT more than once, and you did significantly better the second time, you  may want to persuade the law school to consider the higher LSAT score and disregard the lower score.  Sometimes, you figure out a brand new method for studying, or you make a major breakthrough leading up to the exam, and your score jumps significantly as a result.  If this occurs, it might be helpful to prepare an LSAT addendum and explain to the law school what happened and – most important – why that high score is appropriate for you.  The last thing you want a law school to think is that your high LSAT score was an anomaly. 

5) History of performing poorly on standardized exams

Some people just don’t do well on standardized exams.  That is not uncommon.  If you’re one of them, you should advise the law schools to which you’re applying of this fact in an LSAT addendum.  However, your addendum should not just casually mention this issue.  You should demonstrate it.  In life, it’s always better to show someone something rather than tell it.  Providing documentation of your poor performance history would be much more persuasive than leaving such proof out of your LSAT addendum. 

So, if possible, include score reports from your ACT or SAT days.  Also, if possible, include some information about how your peers performed on the same exams, and then provide information regarding how, despite those test scores, your grades were better than your peers’ academic performance. 

5 Instances When You Do NOT Need An LSAT Addendum

Not every event or situation requires an LSAT addendum, and you should shy away from submitting one in certain circumstances, even despite an intense desire to do so.  Here are five instances when you do not need an LSAT addendum and should not submit one.

1) Two or more LSAT scores that are within several points of each other

If you took the LSAT multiple times and received two or more LSAT scores that are close to one another, you do not need to explain anything to the law school in an LSAT addendum.  Rather, your range of scores, on its own, will demonstrate to the law school that your scores are within the appropriate range for your skills and abilities with respect to the LSAT.  In other words, the law school will not view any one of those scores as an anomaly.  If you decide to prepare an LSAT addendum, you might risk highlighting negative traits about your character or self-esteem, such as a lack of confidence, heightened nerves, or hesitation.  Don’t waste your effort here.  Be confident and proud of your LSAT score or scores, and move on.

LSAT Addendum

2) Canceled LSAT test date

Alerting the law school admissions committee to the fact that you canceled a test date or did not show up for whatever reason will likely highlight negative traits that you may not have.  For example, an admissions committee might think you were indecisive and changed your mind at the last second.  Even worse, committee members might view the canceled date as an example of your unpreparedness for the LSAT.  In addition, they could think you were nervous and back out of high-pressure situations.  It makes no sense to give the law school any opportunity to view you in a negative light.  Again, don’t worry about a canceled test date, and move on with your life.

3) You performed better on practice LSATs than you did on test day

Look, we get it.  But no one cares.  Seriously.  What a law school admissions committee wants to know is how you performed on test day – you know, in the same high-pressure environment other LSAT takers experienced.  The fact that you scored five or six points higher on a practice test the week before means nothing because you did not take that test in a test day environment with other students.  Law schools need to measure you on an even playing field with other students.  Practice LSAT scores prevent them from doing that.  Don’t use an LSAT addendum to highlight your practice scores for this purpose.

4) Your second LSAT score was higher than your first LSAT score because you were unprepared the first time

If you explain that you did poorly the first time around on the LSAT because you were unprepared, that will prompt law school admissions committees to ask themselves several probative questions about you that you really don’t want them to ask.  Questions like: Why didn’t this person think being prepared the first time around wasn’t important?  Would this person be unprepared for law school?  Would this person be unprepared for an interview?  Does this person think life gives you second chances?  If you were unprepared, you shouldn’t tell a law school that was the reason for your poor performance.  Unless you have a better reason, skip the LSAT addendum.

LSAT Addendum

An LSAT addendum should be focused on explaining compelling facts

The key things to remember when preparing an LSAT addendum (or any law school addendum) are to remain focused on the facts you are explaining, and to make sure those facts are compelling.  You should have a really good reason for including an LSAT addendum with your law school application.  In addition, emotion should play no role in your explanation.  Make your LSAT addendum short, fact-based, and dispassionate, and move on.

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