How Law School Admissions Works

Taking the LSAT

You can cancel a poor LSAT score and take the test over again.
You can cancel a poor LSAT score and take the test over again.

If you've taken the SAT (or can remember taking it), you have a rough idea of what the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is like. As the name implies, you'll need to take it before you're admitted to law school. The LSAT is a five-part standardized test with four scored parts (the fifth is included prototype questions that will appear in scored segments in future incarnations of the test). The LSAT tests takers' reasoning, critical thinking and verbal skills, with a 35-minute writing assessment. The scores run from 120 to 180.

The sooner you take the LSAT the better, as your LSAT scores (if you take it more than once) are averaged and submitted with your law school applications. This, however, should be approached with caution. To get rid of a low LSAT score, you'll have to expressly cancel it and take the test all over again. You'll have to pay the fees associated with the test again, and there is a risk you'll do worse the next time around. However, studies of LSAT scores show that test scores tend to rise slightly when taken another time, so it may be a good bet when you get a low score [source: LSAC].

It's a good idea to take practice and sample LSATs wherever you can find them; cramming isn't recommended. In fact, the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) points out that the skills tested by the LSAT are cultivated over several years [source: LSAC]. There are also a number of reputable companies that offer prep courses for the LSAT.

Ultimately, the most prepared LSAT taker is one who has put himself or herself through heavy writing, research and logic courses, taken practice tests and spoken to others who've already taken the test (and passed). After that, it's important to remember to breathe.

Next up, it's time to apply to law school.