Mark Your Calendars – Law School Application Week Edition

It’s Law School Application Week! Check out our 3 wonderful events going on this week!

The Law School Fair is Wednesday September 27, at the Illini Union in Rooms A, B, and C. We are looking forward to seeing many of you there!

 Join us as over 100 law schools visit campus to meet with prospective students. Gather information about law schools, talk with admissions professionals about their schools, collect some fun freebies and law school application fee waivers. This event is FREE and open to the public. Dress is business casual. For more information, including a list of law schools attending the fair, visit our website. See you at the fair! No registration is required.

Four Things to Do Before the Law School Fair

Here are a few things to do before to get the most of out of the Law School Fair.

  1. Look at the Schools’ Websites and Do Some Background Research
    1. Have specific questions for the admissions representatives that are coming to campus. Most basic questions can be answered by simply looking at the website (GPAs, LSAT scores, where their graduates work, professors, etc).
    2. Example questions to ask: Where do students typically work after their first year summer? What is the school environment like? Are there study groups or other academic resources available? What do students do in their free time? How many students are involved in clubs and activities? What is the most popular class at the law school?
  2. Have an Elevator Pitch Ready
    1. What’s an elevator pitch? It is a 30 second introductory speech about yourself.
    2. The elevator pitch should start out by telling the representative your name, your hometown, your major, when you are applying to law school, and why you are interested in that specific law school. The law schools want to get to know you, so you should tell them a little about yourself.
    3. Don’t read off the speech, consider it the beginning of a conversation.
  3. Get Your Outfit Ready
    1. Dress is business causal for the event.
    2. Men – A dress shirt, dress pants, and a tie are appropriate. No suit coat is needed.
    3. Women – A dress shirt, blouse, or sweater, and dress pants or a skirt are appropriate.
  4. Things to Bring With to the Event
    1. A list of schools you want to talk to and why you are interested in those law schools.
    2. A notebook and pencil. If you are impressed with a school or want to remember a specific detail about a conversation, it is best to write it down right away.
    3. No need to bring a resume – most law schools will not accept resumes at this event.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

For Law School Application Week we have some great events planned!

FALL EVENTS

Law School Admissions Panel Tuesday September 26

7:00PM 1002 Lincoln Hall

What are law school admissions professionals really looking for in an applicant? How do they weigh LSAT scores, grades, or work experience? What makes them take notice of an applicant–and what would make them deny someone? Join us for this expert law school admissions panel to discover this and more. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions. This is a must-see event for anyone considering applying to law school!

Panelists include:

Dean Ann Perry from the University of Chicago Law School  http://www.law.uchicago.edu/

Ms. Grace Mayeda from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law  https://www.law.berkeley.edu/

Dean Rebecca Ray from the University of Illinois College of Law  https://law.illinois.edu/

Law School Fair Wednesday September 27

10:00-2:00PM Illini Union Rooms A, B, and C

It’s the biggest pre-law event of the year! Join us as 120+ law schools visit campus to meet all who are interested in applying to law school. Learn about law schools, scholarships, and the application process while meeting the people who will be reading your law school applications. Application fee waivers and other freebies will be available. Stop by or stay the whole time! This event is free and open to the public. Business casual dress.

Getting to Know Northwestern Law (co-hosted with Pre-Law Honors Society) Thursday September 28

6:00 – 7:30 pm  1090 Lincoln Hall

Interested in Northwestern Pritzker School of Law?  Join us as Assistant Director of Admissions Sarah Rewerts discusses The Northwestern Law Difference.  Sarah will also share her inside perspective on Northwestern Law’s admission process, including:  the Early Decision program; the interview process; the recent decision to begin accepting the GRE (for the Fall 2019 entering class), and more!  This is a great opportunity to get to know Northwestern Law and to have your questions answered!

Pre-Law 101 Tuesday October 3

4:00-5:00PM Room 514 of the Illini Union Bookstore

This workshop is designed for incoming students who are new to pre-law or are interested in learning more about it. We will cover: What it means to be pre-law at Illinois, course selection, majors, and extracurriculars, building a pre-law resume, and what law schools are really looking for. We will outline a four year plan to maximize your undergraduate experiences in order to make a great law school candidate. We’ll also take any questions about law school and legal careers. Click the link above to register so that we can guarantee seating and materials for everyone. Each Pre-Law 101 session is the same. Incoming students should attend a Pre-Law 101 prior to setting up an individual pre-law advising appointment.

Scholarships

We’ve collected 275 scholarships–for both undergrads and incoming law students–on our Scholarships Spreadsheet over on our Pre-Law Compass page. It’s a wide variety of scholarships based on everything from being left-handed to making a video to tweeting, and deadlines vary, so check it out!

Internships

It’s NOT too early to start looking for spring/summer internships today! We post internships on our blog and our Facebook page. Check out this blog post for a plan on how to start finding spring and summer internships this fall.

Pre-Law Resources

Now is a great time to check out–or join–all of our pre-law resources! Click the links to explore. You can also search this blog for posts about the LSAT, law school applications, resumes, internships, and more!

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Compass page

 

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What to Do Now That the LSAT Is Over

If you took the September LSAT, now is the time to be planning ahead for the rest of the fall semester. The release date for scores (via email) for the September LSAT is October 12.

The regular registration deadline for the December 2nd LSAT is only 6 days after the release date. The regular registration deadline for the December LSAT is Wednesday October 18. The late registration deadline (with possible additional fees) is Wednesday October 25.

By registering for the December LSAT then, it is not guaranteed that your preferred testing location will be open. Spots will fill up quickly, especially for the LSAT location in Urbana-Champaign.

If you took the September LSAT and are currently waiting for your score, this blog entry will go on to discuss how to decide whether to retake.

Whether to retake the LSAT. The bigger question for many of you will be: Should I retake the LSAT? This consideration is even more important due to the timing of the next LSAT (in December).

How do Illini perform on an LSAT retake? As a general guideline, most retakers score within 2.5 points of where they scored on the last LSAT. We did a study of University of Illinois LSAT takers from 2012-2015 and found these results:

  • 44% of Illini took the LSAT more than once
  • The average Illini LSAT retaker scored 2.45 points higher on the second exam
  • Of all Illini LSAT retakers:
  • 51% of Illini retakers scored better on a subsequent LSAT
  • 15% of Illini retakers scored worse on a subsequent LSAT
  • 6% of Illini retakers scored the same on a subsequent LSAT
  • 33% of Illini register to retake and then are absent for the subsequent exam

Some questions to ask yourself about whether to retake:

  • Was your actual score consistent with your practice exams?
  • Do you have the time and willingness to continue your LSAT preparation consistently until December?
  • How will you continue LSAT prep without your academics suffering? (Consider final papers and exams.)
  • What can you do differently so that this exam performance is better?
  • How close is your score to the medians of your top choice law schools? Is it likely that you could achieve the medians by retaking?

If you decide to retake in December, here are some suggested next steps:

  • Register ASAP; you may not get your preferred test site and that will mean making other arrangements such as a hotel
  • It is VERY important that you return to studying for the LSAT now! Don’t wait.
  • Clear your upcoming schedule as much as possible to allow you to balance prepping for the LSAT and prepping for final exams/papers/projects.
  • Consider doing something different in your LSAT prep–exploring a different book, class, website, using a different study plan, etc. (For some suggested resources visit our Compass page and click on the LSAT folder.)
  • Revamp your application timeline. Your goal should be to apply by mid-January, when the December LSAT scores will be released.

You may find it helpful to speak with a Pre-Law Advisor about next steps. Call 333-9669 to make an appointment!

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Law School Admissions Update: LSAT or GRE?

The American Bar Association (ABA) requires that ABA-accredited law schools use some sort of entrance exam in the admissions process. The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) has been the exam used by ABA-accredited law schools for admission to their Juris Doctor (JD) programs for over 50 years.  That changed in March of 2016 when the University of Arizona Law School announced that it would begin accepting either the LSAT or the Graduate Record Exam General Test (GRE) for applicants to its JD program beginning in the Fall of 2016.  Harvard Law School followed suit in March of 2017, announcing that it would begin accepting either the GRE or LSAT with this fall’s application cycle. In August, Georgetown University Law Center announced its plans to do the same, also with this fall’s applicants. A day before Georgetown’s announcement,  Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law stated that it would begin accepting either the GRE or LSAT next fall, for the class that would begin in the Fall of 2019. Click on the links provided to learn more about the application process for each of these schools. Note: Northwestern’s Assistant Director for Admissions and Financial Aid, Sarah Rewerts, will be here at UIUC on Thursday, September 28, 6pm, 1090 Lincoln Hall, to discuss this and other admissions-related topics.

So — what does this mean for a prospective law school applicant?  As of right now, unless an applicant for this cycle is planning on applying ONLY to the three schools listed above that will currently accept either the GRE or LSAT (a strategy that PLAS does not recommend), applicants will still need to prepare for and take the LSAT.  But since this topic is getting a lot of attention in the news, we thought it would be helpful to provide a brief overview of both standardized tests.  As always, we encourage you to do your research and learn more about this issue.

What is the GRE?

Content/Format: It is a computer-delivered standardized test, administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), that evaluates test takers on the following areas:

  1. Analytical Writing (one section with two separately timed tasks). Measures critical thinking and analytical writing skills.
  2. Verbal Reasoning (two sections). Measures your ability to analyze and evaluate written material and synthesize information obtained from it.
  3. Quantitative Reasoning (two sections). Measures problem-solving ability suing basic concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis.

The GRE also includes both an unscored and a research section.  Per the GRE’s website, the Analytical Writing section will always be first. Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and unidentified/unscored sections may appear in any order so test takers should treat each section as if it counts toward your score.  For more information about the GRE content and structure, check out the ETS website: https://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/about/content/.

Cost: $205, which includes 2 free practice tests and a diagnostic tool; other practice materials are available for a fee on the website.  Go here for more info: https://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/prepare/.

Location/Time: The GRE is available any day but Sunday. You can select the U of I Testing Services Lab on Neil Street for administrations during the week. 

What is the LSAT?

Content/Format:  It is a paper and pencil test (although it has begun piloting a computer-delivered format), administered by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). Per the LSAC’s website, it is comprised of the following:

  1. Reading Comprehension (one scored section): Measures the ability to read, with understanding and insight, examples of lengthy and complex materials similar to those encountered in law school.
  2. Analytical Reasoning (one scored section): Measures the ability to understand a structure of relationships and to draw logical conclusions about that structure.
  3. Logical Reasoning (two scored sections): Assesses the test taker’s ability to analyze, critically evaluate, and complete arguments as they occur in ordinary language.
  4. Experimental Section (one unscored section): This will be an additional section of the types of questions identified above, but the test taker will NOT know which section is experimental so test takers should treat each section as if it counts toward your score.
  5. Writing Sample (one unscored section): Although this is unscored, copies of your writing sample are sent to ALL law schools to which you apply.

For more information about the LSAT’s content and structure, go to the LSAC’s website: https://www.lsac.org/jd/lsat/about-the-lsat.

Cost: $180

Location/Time: The LSAT is currently offered four times per year, although as we mentioned in a previous blog post, that will be increased to six times per year beginning in the 2018-2019 testing cycle. The upcoming dates of LSAT administration are as follows: September 16, 2017; December 2, 2017; February 10, 2018; and June 11, 2018.   There are multiple test sites, including UIUC.  Go here for a list of regular administration LSAT locations: https://www.lsac.org/jd/lsat/testing-locations/regular.

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Welcome Back, Part 2: Top 3 Things That Happened Over the Summer and Mark Your Calendars!

We hope you had a great summer and that your semester is off to a good start. Beginning next week, PLAS will resume our Monday “Mark Your Calendars” edition, followed by a midweek blog post addressing a host of topical issues.  But since you’ve been away, some important pre-law related events and updates have occurred.  Here are the Top 3:

  1. If you haven’t heard yet, the Law School Admission Council has announced some big changes to the LSAT. Want to learn more?  Check out this July PLAS blog post.
  2. PLAS has updated its list of available scholarships for undergrad and law school students.  The tally is now 275!  Go to the PLAS Compass page to learn more!
  3. PLAS recently published a blog about the best way to get an internship for Spring and Summer 2018.  Click here for more information.

And have you heard? Three more law schools have announced that they will begin allowing applicants to use either LSAT or GRE test scores for admission to their schools!  Want to learn more?  Check out our midweek blog post, coming this Wednesday, August 30.

Also — last week our blog featured a list of upcoming PLAS events, including our FREE PRACTICE LSAT, set for Friday, September 8 and the Law School Fair on Wednesday, September 27, Illini Union A, B, C, 10am-2pm. Check out last week’s blog for information on other upcoming PLAS events.  If you are interested in taking the FREE practice LSAT, note that space is limited so interested students should  go to our PLAS Events Calendar and register ASAP!

Campus Events and Activities

University Counsel’s Office — PAID Internship!

As we announced on Friday on the PLAS Facebook page, University Counsel’s Office is hiring 1-2 undergrad pre-law students as PAID interns for 2017-18! Required: At least sophomore standing, minimum 3.0 GPA, and consistent weekly availability. This is a GREAT opportunity to meet a variety of attorneys, see the practice of law, and contribute to the success of a legal team! Applications due Sept. 8. See attached position description for more details.

 

Provosts’ Undergraduate Student Advisory Board – Call for Applications

Provost’s Undergraduate Student Advisory Board is looking for students who:

  • Are undergraduates for the current year who will be on campus—not studying abroad or graduating early—both this fall and in Spring, 2018;
  • Have a strong record of academic achievement as evidenced by a 3.0 GPA or above in their college courses or, for first-time new freshmen or transfer students, as evidenced by what you would consider a “very strong” high school or prior institution record;
  • Are interested in academic affairs initiatives and activities on campus;
  • Are involved in both academic and extracurricular activities here or, for first-time new freshmen or transfer students, were involved at their previous institution.

Please be aware that a primary requirement for participation is availability during the set meeting times for the fall, no class or work conflicts. Though we certainly don’t expect you to vet this in the nominees, know that this will be the first question we ask any of them. Fall meeting dates are Wednesday, October 4; Friday, November 10; and Friday, December 8, all from noon to 1 p.m. with lunch provided.

Applications can be completed here and are due by Friday, September 8th at 5p.m. Questions can be directed to mschaefr@illinois.edu or students can call (217)333-6677.

Career Center

One big change that occurred over the summer at the Career Center is the transition away from I-Link to the new job and internship portal called Handshake.  Click on this  link to learn more about this new search engine and to register to set up your own Handshake page!

Information Night for International Students — Friday, September 1, 6-7pm, Room 143 at the Career Center International students will be introduced to services, programs and resources of The Career Center. A short tour of The Career Center will follow.

National and International Scholarships Program – Luce Scholars Program: Information Sessions

The Luce is for U.S. citizens under the age of 30 who are young professionals, seniors and graduate/professional students. The Luce fully funds a one year internship in East or Southeast Asia for those with little significant academic or personal experience with Asia.

Thursday, August 31, 2017: 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.—Information session and discussion with a former Luce Scholar
Friday, September 1, 2017: 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.—Workshop on how to craft a Luce Application

All sessions are held in the Illini Union Bookstore, 5th Floor, Room 514. If you would like to discuss the Luce before the next information session please contact the NIS Program to schedule an appointment. For more information about the Luce Scholars Program, go here.

College of Law Opportunities for Pre-Law Students

Prospective Client Volunteers Needed–Please consider volunteering to play the role of a prospective client with a possible legal issue for students in CFI: Interviewing, Counseling & Fact InvestigationVolunteers are needed on September 13, 14, 27, and 28 at varying times.  You will meet with and be interviewed by your lawyer for approximately 15-20 minutes.  You will be given the fact pattern for the role you volunteer to play.  Please consider signing up for multiple sessions.  To volunteer or for additional details, contact Angela Martin (aymartin@illinois.edu).  Feel free to refer any non-law, or undergraduate friends.  Your time is greatly appreciated!

PAID Video Operators Needed– The Trial Advocacy Program needs video operators for the fall semester on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings from approximately 5:30/6:00 p.m. – 8:30/9:00 p.m. at the Champaign County Courthouse, Urbana.  You can choose to do one evening a week or both evenings.  The pay is $8.25/hour.  For full job details and requirements, please contact Angela Martin (aymartin@illinois.edu).  Feel free to refer any non-law or undergraduate friends.

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Big LSAT changes: What should you know?

If you haven’t heard yet, the Law School Admission Council has announced some big changes to the LSAT. What are they, and what should you know? Let’s dive in.

Expanded LSAT options. Starting in 2018-19, the LSAT will be offered 6 times per year instead of the 4 times per year schedule it’s been on for years.
What it currently is (4x/yr): June, September OR October, December, February
What it will be in 2018-19 (6x/yr): June, September, November, January, March, June, July (the LSAC year will start in July beginning in 2019) (Click here to view the upcoming schedule.)
Potential impact: The addition of the November and January tests instead of December and February could be a good thing. As a group, Illini performed worse on the December exam, which was during or right before finals. Taking it in November instead–right before fall break–at least prevents the dreaded LSAT/finals overlap. The January date is only two weeks earlier than the old February schedule, but for those who are taking it and applying immediately, saving two weeks that late in the cycle could be helpful. The July exam in 2019 will be helpful in providing another summer opportunity–this might be the best part of the new schedule for students.

No more limits. The LSAC has also decided to eliminate the rule that applicants could only take the LSAT a maximum of 3 times in any 2 year period. Now, there will be no limits on how many times a person can take the LSAT.
What it was: A person could take the LSAT a maximum of 3 times in 2 years.
What it will be: A person has no limits on how many times s/he takes the LSAT.
Potential impact: Probably not much. Although it will now be possible to continue retaking the exam after 3 times (and we’re sure many will), will the score really improve by doing so? Both LSAC’s data and our own show that on average, retakers score about two points higher on a second exam, and see less improvement on a third exam. Illini who took the LSAT 3 times had the same average score as those who took it once. And, about 15% of Illini retakers obtained a worse score upon retaking, so that’s another risk. At a certain point it becomes very difficult to sustain LSAT studying due to burnout and the time commitment involved. Of course there is also the issue of how a law school will evaluate an applicant with seven LSAT scores…remember that every single score will be seen by an applicant’s law schools.

Tablet-based tests. The LSAC is currently testing a tablet-based LSAT option. No word yet on when this format might become available. Right now the LSAT is a paper and pencil test and will continue to be until the LSAC decides otherwise.
What it was: Paper and pencil.
What it is now: Still paper and pencil, until we hear otherwise.

Khan Academy LSAT prep.  The LSAC has partnered with Khan Academy to create free LSAT prep which will be available to all. It’s expected to debut in the second half of 2018, so this could be a helpful resource for anyone planning to take the LSAT in late 2018 or after. See the press release here.

We will monitor all upcoming LSAT changes and share with you what we learn, so stay tuned!

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5 things to do after the June LSAT

June LSAT scores are just about to be released. If you’re done with the June LSAT and applying to law school this fall, now is the perfect time to reallocate all the hours you were spending on LSAT prep to other parts of the law school application. What should you do now?

  1. Get your letters of recommendation lined up. Have you already contacted your LOR writers and asked them to submit a letter for you? If not, do that now, because giving your writer all summer to write the letter is smart. Don’t wait until a super busy time for them–like September, for professors–to ask. Here are some tips.
  2. Register for the Credential Assembly Service if you haven’t already. This is the account you will need to complete your law school applications. Click here for more information.
  3. Order your transcript if you aren’t taking summer classes. If you are taking summer classes, put a reminder on your calendar to order your transcript after August 18. Note: You will need to order a transcript from every undergraduate institution where you took courses–even summer courses–so now is a good time to reach out to the registrar of any community colleges or schools from which you transferred. Here is where you order your UIUC transcript.
  4. Draft a personal statement. Your goal is to convey your passion, career goals, and important elements of your character in two double-spaced pages. Sound difficult? We’ve made several resources, including a video and handout, available over on our Compass page. A great deadline would be to complete a draft of a personal statement by the fall semester start so that you can set up a review appointment and have plenty of time to edit.
  5. Research law schools. You’ll want to have a list of 8-10 law schools representing a variety of elements including geography, admissibility, and programs of interest. You can find LSAT/GPA data, employment information, tuition, and more by using a resource like Law School Transparency’s Reports, which allow you to make direct comparisons, or the American Bar Association’s Required Disclosure reports.

And, if you’re planning on retaking the LSAT in September, register for it right away and start your studying! The test date, September 16, is only 10 weeks away! Many test sites will fill, so you’ll want to register early to get your preferred testing location.

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Feeling anxious about the June LSAT? You have options!

June and September are the most popular LSAT administrations for Illinois students and alums. What should you do if you are feeling anxious as we approach the June LSAT?

First, it’s important to acknowledge that some anxiety is normal. The LSAT is a difficult test, and it’s perfectly natural to feel some anxiety about performing well on it. Of the thousands of students and alumni I’ve worked with over the past 10 years, I can probably count on one hand how many weren’t nervous about this exam.

If you are getting concerned that you will not be ready for the June exam: Know that you have options. Let’s take a look at each.

Option 1: Withdraw from the June LSAT now. This might be a good option if you know you didn’t spend enough time on your LSAT prep this spring, and/or you are not going to be able to focus on LSAT prep for the next few weeks. This option can take the pressure off, allowing you to refocus your game plan for September. You can withdraw and register for the September LSAT now (click here to do so). Advice for those who make this choice: DO NOT PROCRASTINATE. Once the pressure of the June LSAT is off, you will be very tempted to put your LSAT materials away all summer. DO NOT DO THIS, or you will find yourself in the exact same state of panic in August when you realize you are not ready for the September exam either. I have seen this countless times! Use this summer wisely, and take the time you need to be fully prepared for September.

Option 2: Keep going, and make a game time decision. This is more for the students who have been LSAT prepping consistently this spring but still feel they are pretty far from their LSAT goals. Crank up your LSAT prep–you still have 3.5 weeks, and that’s enough time to make some significant gains.Clear your schedule as much as possible and give it your all. Take a final timed practice test around June 9. Then, you can make a game time decision: You can withdraw from the LSAT as late as the day before the test (June 11). Withdrawals are not seen by law schools–you will only lose your test registration fee. In the long run, this is a small price to pay to avoid having a low LSAT score. Advice for those who choose this option: Really clear your schedule for the next few weeks and study as much as possible. If you truly want to see results, you will need to take this seriously and put in the time and effort. On the plus side, it’s only for a few weeks–you can still go to the pool later this summer.

Option 3: Know that you can cancel your LSAT score after the exam. This option is more appealing to those students who have serious test anxiety or whose LSAT prep shows inconsistent results–some days you do great, others are deeply disappointing. How will you feel on test day? It’s very hard to say. Keep in mind that if test day does not go well, you can go home and immediately cancel your score. You won’t know what score you received, which means you’ll need to retake, but there is some benefit to gaining the experience of taking an actual LSAT to make you feel more confident the next time around. Advice to those who choose this option: Follow the LSAC instructions carefully, as you only have 6 calendar days to cancel. (Click here for instructions.) Since you know you will be retaking, get back to your LSAT study prep right away–the September test is only 8 weeks after the June one, so you will need all of that time to prepare.

Option 4: Hope for the best. Continue your LSAT prep diligently, take the June LSAT, see what happens, and let this dictate whether you retake. This is a perfectly valid plan if you’ve been taking your LSAT prep seriously and you just have some general anxiety about test day performance. Advice for those who choose this option: June LSAT scores are projected to be released July 6. Given that the September exam is Sept. 16, you will not have much time to prep for a retake after getting your June score. Please keep an open mind about this suggestion: You may want to keep LSAT prepping after the June LSAT until you receive your score. Why? So that you can continue to make gains for the September exam. If you set aside your LSAT books from June 12 to July 6, you’re probably going to lose some ground that you’ll have to make up for. Another option: Be ready to make a decision almost immediately when you receive your score about whether to retake. Consider: Under what circumstances would you retake? For example, If my score isn’t _____ then I will definitely retake. Or, If my score isn’t within 2 points of where I was practice testing or If my score isn’t at the median of Dream Law School. The point is to consider this now so that you can prepare yourself for this decision, instead of waiting until the score comes out to even think about it. You won’t have weeks to bounce around the idea of retaking once your score is released–you’ll need to get on with it. Quickly.

Overall: Keep the big picture in mind. Do your absolute best to prepare and perform on this test. But don’t get sucked into tunnel vision about the LSAT and what it means. What the LSAT does is predict first-year law school performance. The LSAT does not measure intelligence, or your ability to make an impact on the world, or how successful you’ll be as a lawyer. A high LSAT score doesn’t mean you’ll be the best lawyer in the courtroom, just as a low LSAT score doesn’t mean that you can’t graduate at the top of your class and become a very successful lawyer. Being an effective lawyer requires many other skills beyond performing well on one test! Keep your chin up, give it your absolute best effort, and keep moving forward.

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Mark Your Calendars – End of Semester Edition – Farewell Class of 2017!

Information for Graduating Seniors and Alumni

Congratulations and best wishes to our UIUC graduating Seniors!  We would love to hear from you so please keep in touch.  In fact, we have created a Linked In Group, entitled “Illini Pre-Law Alumni.”  This is an opportunity for PLAS to stay in touch with all of you and for you to stay in touch with your classmates and other UIUC alums. You never know when you might end up in a new city and need to network to find a new job or information on law school. Please go to LinkedIn to join our group.

Information for Fall Law School Applicants

Our events have concluded for this semester but we do have a public service announcement.  Fall law school applicants — do not forget to identify and meet with people whom you would like to write letters of recommendation on your behalf BEFORE you leave campus!  If you wait until the fall to make the request(s), you will likely find yourself waiting in line behind others who asked first!  For information on how to solicit letters of recommendation and some other application tips, go to our April 26 blog post.  If you would like a helpful overview on letters of recommendation that you can share with letter writers, go to the PLAS Compass Page and check out our “Guide to Letters of Recommendation” in the “Application Pointers” section.

Information for June LSAT Test Takers — Reminder about day of exam!

LSAC provides a list of day of test reminders here. It is absolutely critical that you look at this list well in advance of June 12 so that you follow the LSAC’s instructions to the letter. Any violation of LSAC rules constitutes grounds for you to be dismissed from the test.  

PLAS Summer Activities and Office Hours 

Although we will only be posting to our blog a couple of times per month, we will occasionally post information of interest on Facebook (Pre-Law Advising at U of IL) and Twitter (@UIUCPreLaw).  Keep checking in – you never know what interesting opportunities we will hear about and share.

If you need to schedule an appointment with a pre-law advisor over the summer, remember that PLAS Summer Hours are in effect and appointments are available in advance.  Just call the PLAS office at (217) 333-9669 to make an appointment. Enjoy your break and look for announcements about our fall calendar when you return in August.

Have a great summer!

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Early Bird Blog for Fall Applicants: Three Tasks to Do Now and This Summer

Fall Law School Applicants – Now is the time to get organized and start preparing your applications for the fall.

Here are three tasks for fall applicants to complete over the summer.

First, request your letters of recommendation NOW.

  1. Who should you ask to submit a LOR on your behalf?
    1. Your letters should be written by professors or supervisors who are both in a position to evaluate your work and capable of expressing enthusiasm about your relevant talents and abilities.
  2. What is the best way to approach a possible letter writer?
    1. Make an appointment with your recommender to discuss your request. Explain your interest in law school and provide helpful information to assist the writer.
    2. This might include a copy of your transcript, a personal résumé that lists academic distinctions and accomplishments, and a copy of your personal statement or an explanation of why you want to attend law school.
    3. You may also wish to provide your grade point average and your LSAT score. If you are unsure as to what the writer needs, ask him or her.
  3. What do I do if I am graduating and planning to apply to law school in a year or two?
    1. Stay in touch with people whom you think would be able to submit a strong LOR on your behalf.
    2. Several of the law schools that require applicants to submit LORs prefer to have at least one of those letters come from faculty, even if you are not coming straight from undergrad to law school.
  4. How does the recommender submit the LOR?
    1. The process is handled through the applicant’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS) account which is set up via the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) website.
    2. Every law school applicant is required to apply to law school through their CAS account. Click on this link to learn more the LOR process.
    3. You can also check out our Compass page for a very helpful handout on this topic.

Second, draft your personal statement.

  1. What is a personal statement?
    1. The personal statement is a 2- to 3-page essay that, when done well, introduces who you are and what unique qualities you bring to the institution while also highlighting your strengths and demonstrating strong writing skills.
  2. Check out Pre-Law Advising Service’s Personal Statement Do’s and Don’ts.
  3. Have someone else take a second look at your personal statement.
    1. Have someone else like a family member, professor, or friend review your personal statement or set up an appointment with one of the Pre-Law Advising Services advisors by calling the PLAS Office at 333-9669.

Third, update your resume.

  1. Pay attention to length.
    1. Some law schools have a strict 1-page limit, while others are flexible. Check the requirements indicated on the application or the school’s website to determine the appropriate length.
  2. Consider the two Rs: recent and relevant.
    1. Ideally, each item on your résumé should be both, but at minimum each item should be recent or highly relevant.
  3. Ask us to review your résumé.
    1. The same process for personal statement reviews applies; please make an appointment by calling 217-333-9669 and email us your résumé 2 business days prior to the appointment. We’ll review it and be prepared to discuss it with you at the appointment time.
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LSAT Preparation: Some Thoughts from a UIUC Alum

Today’s guest blogger is Cary Shepherd, a graduate of the UIUC College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, where he studied History.  Cary received a 171 on the LSAT, which is the 98th percentile (scores range from 120-180).  After taking the LSAT, Cary became an LSAT tutor, working with students at UIUC and in Chicago. Cary is currently in his second year at the University of Chicago Law School.

To read an extended version of this article, please visit the “LSAT Preparation” tab on the UIUC Prelaw Compass page. The Compass version contains important details about the preparation process, and links to LSAT studying materials.

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If you choose to attend law school, taking the LSAT will likely be one of the most important events of your career. Much like marriage, this pivotal event is not guaranteed to change your life for the better. Roughly 50% of marriages nationwide end in divorce; roughly 40% of law school graduates fail to find long-term jobs as attorneys. But there is good news. If being an attorney is the job for you, it is possible to improve drastically on the LSAT, and a great LSAT score will help to get you into a great school, maybe with a great scholarship! That said, doing well on the LSAT is no easy task. This article will provide you with the basic steps to success on the test.

First things first – for the best results, you need to spend at least six months studying for this test. This next part is important: it is not possible to cram for the LSAT.  Even if you study 40 hours a week, it takes time to absorb what you are learning. Success requires that you study for two hours per day, six days per week, for at least six months. I’ve tutored numerous law school candidates, and the ones who work hard generally improve an average of 1.5-2 points per month.

During those two hours a day, your studying is going to be divided among an assortment of tasks at the beginning stages, and gradually narrow down to a more simplified set of responsibilities. Here’s a look at the fundamental steps:

  1. Purchase and take an LSAT preptest that is no older than 2012. You need to do this at the earliest possible stage so you know your base-level performance. This will help you to focus your study efforts, and it will allow you to gauge how long it will take for you to reach your target score. It also allows you to better understand the advice given in your preparation guides.
  2. Purchase and carefully read a high-quality LSAT preparation book. Then reread it. Now again. If you purchase books divided into the three section types, start with the logical reasoning, then read the logic games, and finally the reading comprehension guide. You can read them all simultaneously, but if you start reading them one at a time, do it in that order.
  3. After you have been reading your study guides for about two weeks, it is time for you to start taking an LSAT preptest on a weekly basis. Carve out a time of the week that you always have free and take a four-section preptest. Make sure to use a digital proctor, a wooden pencil, an analog watch, and never give yourself extra time or extra breaks. When you finish the test, take a break and then correct your exam.
  4. Record your performance. Create a spreadsheet and input the date you took the preptest, the preptest number, your score, and how you performed on each section. This will allow you to track your progress and focus your efforts on the areas that need improvement.
  5. Once you have grasped the fundamentals of the sections types, you should start taking individual sections under real test conditions daily (i.e. take one 35-minute section each day). After you have taken your section, score it and correct the questions you answered incorrectly. Make sure you understand why you were mistaken on your incorrect answers, as if you fail to do this, you will fail to improve.
  6. Once you have reread your LSAT books ad nauseam, you can put them on your shelf for a while. Use this extra time to increase your preptest schedule to twice a week, and spend more time taking individual 35-minute sections. The key to this phase is correcting both your answers as well as your habits. For example, if you find yourself becoming unfocused, note this, and labor to resolve that issue. If your records indicate you are regularly missing “parallel reasoning” questions, reread the chapter on these, and check out what other reputable LSAT guides say on the topic.

A lack of obvious improvement can be demoralizing. Mental health aside, this will make it hard to keep studying for dozens of hours every month if you haven’t seen your score increase in weeks. But if you are studying intently – even if your score doesn’t show it today – you will improve eventually. I’ve gone as long as six weeks without seeing any improvements. When I finally did make that next breakthrough though, it was well worth it and the results were apparent. Good luck, and try to enjoy yourself!

Author’s Note

Please note that there is more than one way to prepare for this test. I’ve had considerable personal success using this approach, and many of my tutoring students have benefited from these practices as well. Additionally, these points only scratch the surface of the best preparation methods. Many students benefit from additional practices ranging from meditation to reading National Geographic.

If you have any questions, or if you are interested in tutoring services, please feel free to email me at lsat.shepherd@gmail.com. I offer a free introductory tutoring session, and I am always happy to hear from UIUC students.

 

 

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