After the LSAT: What now?

You did it! The LSAT is over! Take a deep breath.

Right about now, most people want to take the next few weeks off before thinking about their applications. Smart applicants will really maximize these next few weeks by focusing on the remaining elements of their application so that they can get those applications out early, qualifying them for the most aid.

Now it’s time to dive in to the rest of your applications. What’s your time frame for completing them? A good time frame to submit your applications is anytime between Halloween and Thanksgiving. But you will need to consider some of these elements:

Deciding whether and where you’re going to apply early decision. You can only apply to one school through a binding early decision program. It’s time to consider whether you want to choose this option, in which case your early decision application will be due (depending on the school) on November 1, November 15, or December 1–in any case, a deadline you need to know. Applicants should carefully consider this option. In the case of binding early decision programs, you need to decide: how committed are you to this school? How important is aid to you? Would you go there even if you had to pay full price? Would you be willing to withdraw all of your other applications if X school admitted you? That is the level of commitment that binding early decision requires. Take some time to research and consider this big decision.

Letters of recommendation. We’ve been talking about these for ages. Hopefully, you’ve already got your letter writers lined up. If not, RUN, don’t walk, to your recommenders and get them lined up. You should expect at least 6-8 weeks for your recommender to write the letter, submit it, and for the LSAC to process it. That means if you want to apply by November 15, you need to get your recommendations lined up NOW!

Personal statement. Yep, it’s time to take that energy and time you were focusing on the LSAT and devote it to your personal statement. In addition to our personal statement workshops (which you can find on our event calendar here), we also have some tips and suggestions for the personal statement on our website. Spend some time thinking about your values, your goals, and what makes you stand out from the crowd. Then write a draft, set it aside for a few days, and revisit it. Don’t worry if you don’t love the first draft–no one does. Start now so that you can spend 3-4 weeks thinking, writing, and editing. When you are ready for some feedback, you can make an appointment for a Pre-Law Advisor to review your personal statement and discuss it with you. (Call 333-9669 to set up a personal statement review appointment. Please email us your statement and resume two business days prior to your appointment so that we have time to review it.)

Transcripts. You’ll want to order a transcript from each undergraduate institution you attended. Visit the LSAC’s page for more information on the transcript ordering process.

Take a look at our earlier post called “What should I be doing now?” for even more application details.


Good Luck and LSAT Day Tips

It’s almost here! This Saturday is the LSAT for many of you. We wish all of you LSAT takers good luck!

Here are some final test day reminders/suggestions:

1. Make sure you eat breakfast (and pack a snack).

2. Give yourself plenty of time to drive to the test site, find parking, and check in.

3. Figure out what you’re going to do with your cell phone because you cannot bring it in with you. The LSAC has adopted a no tolerance policy towards electronics.

4.  Review the LSAC’s Test Day instructions one last time.

5. Don’t pay attention to what the people around you are doing. Bring your focus back to you and giving your best performance.

For some perspective, remember that the LSAT does not define you forever. The LSAT is not a predictor of bar passage, employment, or effectiveness as a lawyer. I don’t remember ever having even one conversation about the LSAT once I started law school, and no employer has ever asked me about it. (They did, however, care a lot about law school grades and class rank.)

Good luck! Let us know how it goes!

We posted a fun LSAT video on our Facebook page for you to check out too!

Free LSAT practice tests

Sophomores and juniors, this post is for you! A great way to get an idea of your “baseline” LSAT score or simply begin the LSAT prep process is to take a full-length practice LSAT. Here are some upcoming opportunities to take a free practice test.

Note: We are not affiliated with any LSAT prep company. We do not receive any compensation from them. We simply provide information to students about upcoming opportunities that you may find beneficial. Students are under no obligation to use any company’s services just by taking a free test.

Princeton Review is offering a free practice LSAT under test conditions on Saturday, October 6 from 1-4 pm at the College of Law (504 W Pennsylvania Ave). Participants can then attend a “Scores Back” session to receive their scores and specific feedback on their performance on Sunday, October 14 from 3-5 pm at the College of Law. Register for these sessions online at or call 800-273-8439.

Kaplan is hosting upcoming LSAT practice tests on October 6 from 12:00-4:00 pm and on October 7 from 2:00 to 6:30 pm. Register online at or call 1-800-KAP-TEST.

The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) offers a free LSAT online that you can download, print, and take under your own conditions. (Make sure that you time yourself carefully to get a realistic idea of how you perform.) Find it at

PowerScore offers the same free practice LSAT as the LSAC website, along with a “virtual proctor” to keep yourself on track. Their website also has some sample “lessons” about test sections.

These would be great opportunities for sophomores and juniors to get an idea of what the LSAT is all about, or even for students taking the December LSAT to gain more experience taking the test under “testlike” conditions.

More Law School Open Houses

Following up on last week’s posting about visiting opportunities at Illinois law schools, here is some information on law school tours, open houses and information sessions for several midwest law schools outside of Illinois.  Again — we encourage you to check out the websites of the schools on your list for more information about visiting the various campuses.

Drake University Law School: Explore the opportunities available at Drake Law School by arranging a campus visit tailored to your interests. Your visit may include sitting in on a class, meeting with an admission and financial aid counselor, visiting with a professor in your area of interest, and/or touring the Law School and Legal Clinic with a current student. 

  • To schedule your visit, call 1-800-44-DRAKE, x2782 one week in advance. The Law School Office of Admission is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Indiana University Mauer School of Law — Bloomington: Call or e-mail the Admissions Office if you’d like to attend a 1L (first-year) class and/or tour the building with a current student. Phone: (812) 855-4765

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law — Indianapolis: Contact the admissions office by e-mail at, or by phone at 317-274-2459.

 University of Iowa College of Law: Fall 2012 tours will be given between September 5 – November 21 at the following times:

  • Mondays and Wednesdays: Class visit at 11:30 a.m. to Criminal Procedure: Investigation with Professor James Tomkovicz and tour at 12:35 p.m.
  • To schedule a visit during the above listed times or to request a different time, contact the Admissions.  The Admissions Office is open from 8 am to 12 pm and 1 to 4:30 pm (CST) Monday through Friday, and is closed on weekends and University holidays. Please contact the Admissions Office to schedule your visit by email,, or by phone 319-335-9095.

Marquette University Law School:  Information sessions are set for 11:45am-1:30pm on the following Fridays: September 28; October 5; October 19; November 16; November 30; and December 17.  For more information about these sessions or other visiting opportunities and to register, go to:  To contact the Office of Admissions about visiting the campus, you may use the online form available via the link above, or by calling (414) 288-6767.

University of Michigan Law School: For general information about visiting the law school, go here:  Prospecitve students interested in visiting the Ann Arbor campus and taking a tour, visiting a class or meeting with an admissions counselor should schedule their visit by using the online registration system

During the term, the law school offers at least two student-led tours each weekday. Between terms and during the first three or four weeks of each term, the law school has tours led by an admissions staff member on a slightly more limited schedule. Fall term ends December 7. There are no classes October 15-17 or November 22‑23.

Michigan State University: The Office of Admissions welcomes prospective students and their guests to visit the Michigan State University College of Law. Visits to the College typically are 60-75-minutes in duration, include a 30-minute appointment with a member of the Admissions staff, and a 30-minute student-led tour of the College. To arrange a visit, you must complete the online form at least one week prior to the preferred visit date. Go here to register online:

University of Minnesota: If you are an admitted student for Fall 2013, please contact the Office of Admissions directly at to schedule a visit. If you are a prospective student who has not yet gone through the application process, Minnesota will host weekly information sessions this fall. During a typical visit, prospective students have the opportunity to attend a small-group information session, tour Mondale Hall, and observe a first-year class (optional). All visits will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the Office of Admissions, located at 229 19th Avenue South in Room 290. Visits will conclude at approximately 11:30 am. If you do not wish to attend class, please arrive at 9:45 a.m. The law school suggests scheduling visits 1-2 weeks in advance to ensure availability. Go here to register:

Notre Dame Law School:  Admissions offers three types of visits, Weekday Visit Programs (Class Visit, Information Session, and Tour); Class Visits (Class Visit and Tour only); and an Open House (day-long informational program). You must register online. Details about each event and registration information can be found here: Space is limited, so please register early.

St. Louis University School of Law: If you would like to set up a visit, contact the Admissions Office at (314) 977-2800 or

Valparaiso University: The admissions office has set the following visitor days: September:  17, 21, 28; October:  1, 5, 8, 12, 15, 19, 22, 26; November:  2, 5, 9, 12, 16, 19

To Schedule Your Visit contact the Admissions office by phone or email at:
P:  219.465.7821

Washington University School of Law-St. Louis: The School of Law Admissions Office is open Monday through Friday throughout the academic year and the summer.  The University is closed for various holidays and events.  Please contact the Admissions Office for more information. To schedule a tour, please make an appointment through the Admissions Office at 314-935-4525.  During your visit you are welcome to meet with an Admissions Counselor to talk about your application and the admissions process.

University of Wisconsin Law School: The Fall Open House will be held on Monday, October 22nd. The event includes a continental breakfast followed by building tours and class visits throughout the afternoon. Special presentations by Rebecca Scheller, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid, administrators, faculty members, and current students are also on the agenda. All attendees will have an opportunity to ask questions. To register, please email, or call the Law School Admissions & Financial Aid Office at (608) 262-5914.

Very helpful webinars hosted by MSU

Michigan State University College of Law is hosting a series of FREE and very interesting, helpful webinars on a variety of topics. Their next webinar is called Cracking the LSAT and will take place on September 27 at 6:30 Central time. They are also hosting upcoming webinars about personal statements and about MSU law specifically.

Two MSU webinars that we highly recommend are the upcoming Career Options and Market Outlook for Attorneys on November 7 at 6:30 Central time and the archived webinar on Patent Law Careers (which already took place and is hosted on their website). You can find registration information, more details about each webinar, and a full  event calendar at

Take advantage of these great, free resources!

This I Believe: A great way to start your personal statement

The current “One Book, One Campus” selection is This I Believe: The personal philosophies of remarkable men and women. I’ve read this book (and several other volumes of This I Believe) and I regularly listen to the podcasts, which challenge ordinary people to distill their personal philosophies into very brief essays.

What do you believe? This could be a great way to begin writing your personal statement. I recommend checking out the book and the podcasts to spark your thinking. (You can get the book for $10.50 at the Illini Union Bookstore, and the podcasts are free if you search for them on iTunes.) It’s very hard to distill our core beliefs into one brief essay, but the value of this exercise is that it forces you to pick what beliefs are the most important to you and then try to concisely articulate why. What better way to introduce yourself to a law school than by speaking to your core values?

The Executive Director of This I Believe, Dan Gediman, is also coming to campus next Thursday, October 4 at 7:00 at the Illini Union. To find out more about this lecture and upcoming events related to the One Book, One Campus program, visit I hope I see you there. And I hope that this exercise helps spark your thinking about what to write on the personal statement.


Yale Law admissions pointers

Yale Law School recently shared with us some helpful advice and pointers about applying to their program. We are in the process of scheduling a Yale Admissions webinar for University of Illinois students, but in the meantime, check out these helpful resources for future Yalie success.

The Associate Dean of Admissions, Asha Rangappa, writes a very candid and extremely helpful blog called the (203) Admissions Blog. She writes, for example, about how to write an effective personal statement, including what she dislikes seeing.

Yale also posts a helpful Incoming Class Profile at  They also indicated that roughly 80% of Yale’s incoming students have been out of college for one or more years.

In addition, Yale Law shared with us the following tips and suggestions for applying to their school. Enjoy!

Application Tips 2012, from the Yale Law Admissions Office

1.         Timing

  • All applications must be submitted electronically.
  •  We encourage you to take the October LSAT.  If you choose to take the December or February LSAT, we will not be able to begin reviewing your file until late January or late February, respectively.
  •  We cannot hold or re-review a file for an updated LSAT score.  If you will be retaking the LSAT, please wait to release your LSAC report until all scores are on file with LSAC.
  • Your chances of admission to Yale are not affected based on when you apply.  However, applying later will mean a longer processing time and later notification of a final decision.
  • In order to avoid delays with your financial aid package, please submit your financial aid applications (FAFSA and Need Access) by March 15, 2013, even if you have not yet received a decision from us.
  • Due to our lengthy (and thorough) review process, Yale releases its decisions much later than most other law schools.  Mid-March is a typical time to receive your decision.  Our goal is to have all decisions completed by mid-April.

2.         Letters of Recommendation

  •  We strongly recommend that you submit your letters of recommendation through the Law School Credential Assembly Service (CAS).  Please do not have duplicate copies sent to the Law School.
  • Academic letters of recommendation are given the most weight in our admissions process.  We strongly recommend that students submit at least two recommendations from professors who can evaluate their academic work.
  • Once we receive all application materials and two letters of recommendation, your file will be reviewed.  We cannot hold a file for review for additional letters.  If you want to ensure that additional letters of recommendation are in your file before it is reviewed, please wait to submit your application until all of the letters are on file with LSAC.
  • Be sure to include your full name and LSAC number on all materials and correspondence (including letters of recommendation).

 3.         Personal Statements

  •  Your 250 word essay (Question 7) can be about any subject.  Some essays that have been successful in the past have been about subjects studied in school (string theory, French opera, historical movements), current events (local elections, national controversies), and personal anecdotes.  Topics like “Why I want to go to Yale,” creative writing, or abbreviated versions of personal statements are typically less successful.
  • Please note that the personal statement (Question 8) is a required part of the application.  Most students submit the personal statement they have prepared for other law schools.

4.         Other Materials

  •  You may include a resume with your application, but please answer questions 4 (scholastic honors), 5 (activities outside of school), and 6 (activities since graduation) separately.  Not providing these answers will delay the completion of your application.
  • Yale does not require a dean’s certification form as part of the application.  Admitted students will be required to submit a Dean’s Certification after deposit; all admission offers are contingent upon the student’s Dean’s Certifications matching the self-disclosures provided in the character and fitness section of the application.




“What should I be doing now?” For fall applicants

The most common refrain we hear this time of year is from applicants asking “what should I be doing now?” We’re glad you asked!

1. If you are taking the October LSAT then right now is all-LSAT-and-nothing-but-the-LSAT-time! We’re  less than three weeks from the LSAT, which means that you will want to really focus on your LSAT prep above all else. At this point, we suggest that you set aside those personal statements and essays to focus exclusively on LSAT prep. The only exception is…

2. Get your letters of recommendation NOW, whether you are taking the October LSAT or not. If you are applying this fall and you still don’t have your letters of recommendation locked up, do this immediately! Right now! Don’t even finish reading this paragraph. Just go talk to your recommenders this very second. Expect it to take at least 4-8 weeks for the recommender to write the letter, send it in, and for the LSAC to process it.

3. Explore the admissions websites and blogs of schools that interest you. Many law schools host VERY helpful blogs and even tweet updates about their admissions process. (For example, the Dean of Admissions at Yale Law School recently wrote some blog entries about what she likes/doesn’t like in personal statements here .) It is important to understand that while there are qualities that every law school likes to see, each law school is also a bit unique in what it values. Some schools may value work experience, others are more community service oriented, and still others may prefer to see international experience. These admissions websites, blogs, and Twitter accounts can give a LOT of insight into what the school–and the admissions dean–is interested in hearing, as well as what’s “been there, done that” for them.

4. If you are finished with the LSAT (yay!), then it’s time to work on your personal statement and your supplemental essays. Log into your CAS account and open the applications of the schools that interest you. (It’s okay, the schools won’t see your application until you click “submit”, so you can open the application as many times as you want.) Look at the prompts each school gives for personal statements and look at the supplemental essays they want you to submit. Make a list of all the supplemental essays you will need.

Brainstorm about your personal statement. What do you have to offer a law school? What are your career aspirations? What meaningful experiences have you had? If you’re having trouble getting started, attend one of our Personal Statement Workshops; you can view them all and register at

5. When you have written a draft, set up a personal statement review appointment. The challenge for applicants is that you haven’t done this before, and you don’t know what the rest of the applicant pool’s essays look like. As Pre-Law Advisors, we’ve read hundreds (maybe thousands?) of essays, and we can tell you exactly how this essay compares to the pool. We can also help troubleshoot, brainstorm ideas, offer suggestions for better structure and flow of the essay, and comment on the tone of the essay. (Note that we do not edit the essay or provide proofreading services. Mechanics and grammar are at the discretion of the student.)

To set up a personal statement appointment, call 333-9669. Then, email your personal statement to the advisor two business days before the appointment so that we can review it and give it some thought prior to appointment time. You can also email your resume for review at the same time.

6. Order your transcripts. Remember that you must provide a transcript from each undergraduate institution you attended, even if you just took a summer class at a community college. It can take some time to coordinate with all of the Registrars at other colleges; do yourself a favor and start now. You can find more information about that process here

We are hosting a workshop on Applying to Law School on Monday, September 24 at 4:00 in 161 Noyes to discuss specific details about the application process, working with the LSAC, and strategizing about your application plan. Check it out at See you there!




Open House Round Up

The law schools are beginning to announce their fall open houses as well as their tour and information session schedules.  This is an excellent opportunity for you to visit some of those schools on your list  and get a sense for what the student experience is like at each institution. Check the law schools’ websites for more information about open houses and tours.  Here are some Illinois law schools that have begun advertising their events.

The John Marshall Law School — Open Houses Based on a sample itinerary, it appears that these sessions begin around 9am and go to approximately 1pm, featuring mock classes, tours and opportunities to chat with current JMLS students. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012; Saturday, November 17, 2012

For more information and to register for an open house at JMLS, go to:

In addition, the Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution at the John Marshall Law School is inviting interested UIUC students to participate in an “All-Star Advocacy” workshop at their Chicago campus on select Fridays during the fall semester from 11am-3pm.  Participants will have the opportunity to participate in this specially designed workshop, tour the newly-remodeled JMU facility, be treated to lunch and then observe one of JMU’s trial teams in pre-competition preparation.  This program will be offered on the following dates:

September 28; October 5; October 12; October 19; October 26; November 2; and  November 9.  If you are interested in attending any of these events, please contact Chase Grusczka at either: or (630) 319-3942 with your R.S.V.P.

Northern Illinois University Law School — Open Houses 

For more information, go to:

September 22: 

October 26:

  • Fall Open House and Class Visit
    NIU DeKalb, Room TBD
    DeKalb, IL
    8:30-11:30 a.m.

November 3:

  • Fall Open House and Mock Class
    NIU DeKalb, Room TBD
    DeKalb, IL
    9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

November 9:

  •  Fall Open House and Class Visit
    NIU DeKalb, Room TBD
    DeKalb, IL
    8:30-11:30 a.m.

Most of the remaining Illinois law schools have information on their websites about upcoming information sessions and tours.  Several schools require the completion of an online form to schedule a visit.  Make sure you follow the instructions given by each school.


CLEO/ABA Offering Free Pre-Law Seminars

The Council on Legal Educational Opportunity of the American Bar Association has designed some courses to help identify, motivate and prepare students for a career in the legal profession. Committed students can learn how to successfully navigate the law school admission process and underwrite their success in law school by participating in the College Scholars program.

Click here for directions.   25 East Jackson Boulevard · Chicago · Illinois · 60604 

 For FreshmenThe Road To Law School seminar aims to provide Freshmen an overview of the key components of the law school application process.

For Sophomores:  The Sophomore Super Saturdays seminar aims to help students further develop logical reasoning, reading comprehension and writing skills – the skills needed to become a competitive law school applicant.

For Juniors, Seniors/Post Graduates: Juniors Jumpstart the LSAT seminar aims to help participants understand the importance of systematic and timely preparation for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Accordingly, juniors will be granted priority enrollment for the seminar

CLEO is a non-profit project of the American Bar Association.  Since 1968, CLEO has helped more than 7,000 low-income and minority students become successful members of the legal profession.  The College Scholars Program seeks to continue this standard of excellence through a collaborative effort between CLEO and colleges and universities throughout the United States.