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Happy LSAT Day! What Now, Would-Be Legal Scholars?

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By William Peacock, Esq. on June 10, 2013 11:29 AM

Dear future barristers, scholars, and “never mind, I’m going to med school” types,

Today, you took the LSAT. It may have been an altogether unsatisfying experience, but at least you didn’t stay up all night writing your take-home history final in a San Francisco hotel (yeah, History 17B teacher. I didn’t forget). You took the test, hopefully did well, and now you’ll wait with bated breath for the next three weeks.

Now that the test is over, we’d advise you to do one thing tonight (after bookmarking this post for tomorrow, and beyond): have a beer or and relax. It’s too late to apply for fall, so you have plenty of time to get OCD about applications. Now, on to the the questions you are pondering:

Should I cancel my score?

Ah, a common inquiry amongst the panic-stricken. Through many years of teaching the LSAT, one thing always stood out: students underestimate their actual score. Rarely did I hear of someone saying, "Man. I nailed that test ... Like, nailed!" only to later find out that they scored a 137. Most students assume that every question they weren't sure on was a miss. In reality, you probably got about a quarter of the "guesses" right, more so if you were able to eliminate an answer or two.

So, should you cancel your score? Did you fail to complete dozens of questions? Did you fall asleep halfway through the second logical reasoning section? If you were conscious throughout the test, you're probably better off letting them grade your score. If not, you have six days to cancel in writing.

What do I do next?

For the next three weeks? Little to nothing. If you haven't gathered letters of recommendation yet, now is a good time to do so. Ditto for ordering transcripts. You can also register for the Credential Assembly Service (CAS), which is the common application system and repository for recommendations, transcripts, etc.

Okay, got the score. What now?

You're probably wondering where you should apply. The general guideline is: a few long shots, a few fifty-fifty schools, and a few safeties. You can use the GPA and LSAT search on the LSAC website for guidance on your chances, based on historical admissions rates. It's as simple as entering your GPA and LSAT score and then tinkering with the results.

Note that the search, while useful, isn't perfect. For one, GPA varies widely by major. If you have a more difficult major, such as engineering, a school is likely to give you more leeway. Also, because application rates are continuing to plummet, your chances now may be ever-so-slightly better than the numbers indicate.

As the application cycle progresses, we'll have more pre-L content, including a list of free applications, scholarship negotiation, and final call: where and whether to go.

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