The LSAT is offered four times every year: February, June, September/October, and December. Often, students ask me if it matters which LSAT they take. On one level, it does not. Although individual LSATs may be more difficult, there is not a pattern that shows, for example, September’s test is harder than any other. However, there are some benefits to taking a particular LSAT, depending on your preparation and when you are applying to law schools.
Which LSAT Should I Take?
1. The February LSAT non-disclosed.
The February LSAT is non-disclosed, meaning that LSAC does not publish the test, nor provide students with a copy of it. While this may not be meaningful to well-prepared students, for those who did not have as much prep time as they wished, we suggest waiting until another administration. If you need to take the LSAT again, your previous test is invaluable. Using prior LSATs to guide future study is a great way to analyze and benefit from your previous performance. Without the test, however, this is impossible. So if you are not planning to apply to law school the same year you take the February LSAT, and you do not feel fully prepared, I would recommend just waiting until June.
2. Certain LSATs mean you can apply to law school sooner.
Law schools report their median LSAT scores and GPAs to the American Bar Association (ABA). For those that do rolling admission, they need to keep these numbers as high as possible for ranking purposes. The ABA publishes these rankings yearly, and schools obviously want as high a ranking as possible.
Many law schools use rolling admissions, meaning that they start their admissions process as soon as students apply. Some schools wait until they have closed their admission period before they decide who to admit. If you are applying to a school with rolling admissions process, the earlier you apply, the better. This is especially true if you are borderline for acceptance. They are more likely to accept you early in the process, before they have seen a lot of strong applications. Many schools see the majority of their applications around Christmas, since college students have a break to complete them. Get your application in before this rush if you are worried you might not get in.
This also works the other way. Towards the end of the application period, it is going to be much more difficult to gain acceptance to a school with rolling admissions if you do not hit their median admission standards. They are much less likely to accept students even slightly below their median in April or May than they are in, say, October or November. Keep this in mind when you decide which LSAT to take. It might be much wiser to take, say, the June LSAT. The February LSAT is too late to be admitted the same year if a school admits students on a rolling basis.
3. June and September LSATs might allow for more studying time for college students.
If you are a college student, we do have some definite advice for you! June and September are usually the best LSATs to take. The June test, depending on how your school’s semesters work, is generally about a month after final exams. This gives students plenty of time to really focus their attention solely on the LSAT. Prep for those taking the June exam should begin around January, especially if you are taking several classes.
September is also an excellent time for students to take the LSAT. If you do not take a heavy summer class load, you can focus several months’ worth of studying on the LSAT. While you will have to take the LSAT after fall classes begin, the majority of your prep can be completed relatively distraction-free.
The December falls near the end of the fall semester, meaning you would need to prepare for it as you were taking classes. This is not ideal. It also is right around when many schools administer final exams. You want to be as focused as possible when you take the LSAT. Unless you are very diligent with your prep, December is best to avoid. February is also not an ideal time, as it comes right when the winter semester is beginning. Taking the LSAT as you are adjusting to new classes provides tons of distractions, so is best to avoid.
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