LSATs during freshman year?
February 29, 2008 5:44 PM   Subscribe

Taking the LSAT Freshman year?

I'm an anxious-undergraduate, considering taking the LSATs now (freshman year), and attempting to apply to law schools ASAP.

Essentially, I'm looking for anyone with experience, knowledge, tips, etc. Is this a good idea?

I have a 4.0 GPA thus far, and am not particularly worried about the logical aspect of the test. I feel like I can do relatively well...

My worries are, what if I do poorly? What are the upsides to taking it now? Downsides?

Thanks hivemind.
posted by aleahey to Education (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Well, you can keep taking it over and over again.

But law schools are not going to accept you in your first year of undergrad. You've only completed a semester! What internships have you had? Experience? Advanced classwork? Recommendations from professors documenting a long history of academic excellence?

Dude, you need to calm down about law school and kick back. Work hard, explore your options, and enjoy yourself. You keep it up like this and you're going to have an ulcer by the time you're a junior.
posted by Anonymous at 5:56 PM on February 29, 2008

You are confused. No law school I've ever heard of would accept you before you apply in senior year, with 3.5 years of grades under your belt. Relax and take the LSAT as a junior or senior.
posted by chinston at 6:08 PM on February 29, 2008

I believe that most law schools require that you have a bachelors degree, which is about three and a half years away for you. I know that I applied for grad school when I was a senior, and when I was accepted it was contingent on my finishing my BS that spring. So even if you do awesome on your LSAT, most law schools still won't look at you now.

You could start studying for your LSATs, but you could also keep studying for your classes to keep up that high GPA. Your classes will only get harder from here on out. Pick up an LSAT study guide if it'll ease your fears, but I think you should put it out of your mind for now.
posted by christinetheslp at 6:12 PM on February 29, 2008

Your LSAT scores are only good for a certain number of years, and since you can't even apply to law schools for 3 years (at a minimum!) your scores might expire before then. Strange, not good idea.

Chill a bit, do some other stuff, and re-visit in 2 or 3 years whether you still want to go to law school at all.
posted by ohio at 6:17 PM on February 29, 2008

There are several sources for practice tests. Take them obsessively and compulsively for the next three years and you should do fine.
posted by GPF at 6:28 PM on February 29, 2008

Yeah... focus on your classes now. Keeping the GPA over the next four years is going to do you more good than studying for the LSAT for 3 years will. The LSAT is probably more important than GPA, but if you're confident you can do reasonably well on it, then you should really devote your energy to classes for now. If that's not enough to keep you busy, spend some time volunteering/gaining life experiences that will make you more attractive to law schools.
posted by Shiva88 at 6:31 PM on February 29, 2008

Most schools will average multiple tests. There's no reason to take it now when your analytic abilities will improve over the next few years.
posted by null terminated at 6:32 PM on February 29, 2008

Some law schools average multiple LSAT scores rather than taking the highest score, so beware if you plan to take it multiple times.

Also, I tell everyone who is applying to law school this: don't go straight through. Take 2, 3, 4 years after law school and do something in the world. Learn about real business issues, learn about what life is like in cubicle hell, because (a) law firms are an alternate reality* and (b) there are entirely too many lawyers who don't have a clue about how the world actually works. You will probably do better on the LSAT once you realize that tests aren't such a big deal in the grand scheme of life's challenges and you will almost definitely do better in law school if you have some experience under your belt (getting called on by a law professor seemed almost trivial after a first career spent pitching multimillion dollar ideas to skeptical investors).

Short version? Take it easy. No need to climb the mountain at a sprint. You'll do better in the long run. And best of luck. It's a great profession if you take it for what it is.

* Unreality moment #3882348: A friend of mine was recently laid off from a firm and was given 2 months to find a new job. What?! In my first career, you'd find out you were getting the axe at 4:45 on Friday and you'd be out the door 15 minutes later with your box of belongings.
posted by socratic at 6:33 PM on February 29, 2008

You are a freshman, it is entirely possible that you will change your mind about law school (most undergrads change their career goals at least once). Why rush now? Take an art class, a little philosophy, some literature, study a foreign language, etc. In other words broaden your horizons between now and your senior year. You might not even want to go to law school. (But if you do, law school like well rounded applicants.)

However if you do stick with law school, at the end of the summer before your senior year is the best time to take the test. This gives you a chance to really focus on the LSAT during the summer when you aren't distracted by classes, and it gives you plenty of time to take the test again before law school applications are due.
posted by oddman at 6:34 PM on February 29, 2008

Also, I tell everyone who is applying to law school this: don't go straight through. Take 2, 3, 4 years after law school and do something in the world.

I second this thoroughly. This is probably the greatest advice about law school available. Reciting fact patterns in a lecture hall does not constitute learning how the world works. And as a lawyer, you need to know how the world works.

Plus, you may find something you enjoy doing that does not involve high stress tedium. The world has enough lawyers.
posted by norabarnacl3 at 6:40 PM on February 29, 2008

I'm a professor and have seen a lot of nervous anxious ulcer-ridden prelaw students. Here's my advice:

1. Relax. Law school would be good, and if you end up not going, you will do something else good. For now, enjoy college, get the most you can out of it. Take classes that challenge you to rise to your potential. Don't take classes just because they're easy.

2. Take philosophy classes, in particular take logic. (I'm a philosophy prof, but we do have the highest percentage of any major in admittance to law schools) Philosophy classes (in most departments) will force you to think and express yourself clearly -- it's pretty much the whole point of the discipline. Being precise about language is a huge part of law.

3. Take intro surveys to a bunch of subjects. Take some science or quantitative courses -- these will help you hugely in law practice. Take an intro lit survey, whichever one has the best reputation on your campus -- this will help you to read carefully.

4. Get into some non-intellectual activity on campus. Exercise class, ultimate frisbee, the spanish club, whatever. Connect with people who aren't in the pre-law track.

5. Consider learning another language and studying abroad. These are among the best experiences a college can offer. Never in your life will it be so easy to do these things, and few things can teach you as much about the world. Take advantage.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:59 PM on February 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

I should clarify:
There are some students who come into undergrad from a high school experience that was all about getting in to the "right" college. They come into undergrad and are immediately obsessing about the next goal like that: getting in to the "right" professional school.

It's ok to plan ahead, but in many cases it's counterproductive to continue to be obsessed with this kind of external status marker. Once you're in to college, there are a lot of paths open to you that have good status, and not all of them go through professional schools. In college you should focus on developing skills and really taking advantage of the tremendous resources available to you there, rather than thinking solely about getting on to the next step. (Maybe this is not your situation. I've seen enough bright, motivated students be in this situation that I thought it worth mentioning.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:05 PM on February 29, 2008 [3 favorites]

Like everyone can't apply now, so don't worry about it. You also shouldn't worry/stress about LSATs now, so don't prioritize them. Worry about grades.

If you want to feel you're at least doing something, you can certainly use your forethought to your advantage. Go out and buy yourself an LSAT prep book, and take a practice test this weekend. Don't look at the score. Take another one next weekend, then look at both. If you have some downtime in April or May, do it again. If you have problem areas, spend a couple weekends your sophomore year on them and then take more practice tests. Sophomore year can be the year you see if you can really improve your scores on your own. If you're not improving enough, then consider a prep class the summer before your junior year or sometime during the junior year, then take another practice test or two.

Such a plan spreads out the time devoted to LSAT prep as much as possible so you can focus on grades. Nevertheless, you'll still have a good idea by spring of your junior year what score you'll get on the real test. Take one then, and with any luck, it'll be satisfactory and you can spend your last year of undergrad enjoying yourself (except the part about sending in applications). If your spring of junior year LSAT score comes back far below your norm, you still have time to take it again that summer or even the fall of your senior year.
posted by aswego at 7:14 PM on February 29, 2008

Your lsat score is good for 3 years.

Unless things have changed since I took the LSAT (2006), my understanding was that an LSAT score is good for five (5) years.

More to the point, however: relax. Maybe you're all amped up because you did well last semester, but a decent GPA (or even a fantastic LSAT score) do not a good lawyer make.

Enjoy your undergraduate career, pursue the things you find interesting, and re-evaluate your situation in your junior year, when you know a bit more about yourself and what you think you might like to do with yourself.
posted by diggerroo at 7:28 PM on February 29, 2008

Oh for God's sake, please don't think about the LSAT until at least your junior year. Here's my recommendation:

Spend the next two years focusing exclusively on your general required courses. Get really into them. If there's any flexibility at your school, take the classes that sound the most interesting in each area. The best way to prepare yourself for law school is to get a good, rounded undergraduate education. College is for learning, not for preparing you to be a lawyer - that's what law school is for. Just pour your heart into these courses, and try to learn as much as you can. You may actually discover a passion in another area.

Also, have some fun outside class. I don't mean just going to keggers, though that's good too. Investigate joining extracurricular activities that intrigue you in some way, even if it's something you've never done before. The thing about college is that, while it's not the paradise us old-fogies (I say at age 30) might remember it as, it's really one of the best times in your life to really just explore. Try different things on and see how they fit. Volunteer at the radio station, take up intramural soccer, etc. These things will make college fun and put stress in perspective.

Go abroad for a semester your junior year. See the world. Come back and take your LSATs. If you do well, awesome. If not, well, take them again.

And then, your senior year, instead of applying to law schools, focus on getting a paralegal job at the kind of law firm you want to work for. Work there for a year. If you still want to be a lawyer, apply to law school.

But seriously, be an undergrad for a while before you start stressing out about being a law student.

You'll notice I agree with the others who said to take a year or more before law school. Having attended a professional school five years after graduating from undergrad, I think it's the best way to go.
posted by lunasol at 7:34 PM on February 29, 2008

The advice above is good, and you should definitely take it. It is possible, though, to enroll in most Canadian law schools after only two years of undergrad (with the exception of the University of Toronto). You can then practice in MA or NY with a Canadian LLB degree.

This was actually my plan (I'm Canadian), so I wrote the LSAT in October of my sophomore year. I decided to wait, and get my degree, however, and apply to American schools. I'm glad I did. I've matured a lot in four years, and am way more prepared for law school now than I possibly could have been two years ago. You should do the same.

I'm actually very glad I wrote the LSAT early though -- it meant I went into the application process knowing exactly which schools I should aim for, and it took a large potential stress out of the process. October of second year, like I did, is probably a bit early... but I see no reason not to write any of the LSATs including and after, say, the June administration following your second year.
posted by ewiar at 7:38 PM on February 29, 2008

potential stressor... Tip 2: proofread your personal statement more carefully than I did the post above.
posted by ewiar at 7:44 PM on February 29, 2008

If you take it later in your college career, try to hold onto this fervor that you have now as a freshman. I took it as a senior in college and ended up rolling out of bed, still high from the mushrooms I ate the night before, got to the testing place dirty and groggy and still pretty freaked out. Taking it under those conditions were pretty fucking surreal, and did not lead to me doing my best. Then I had to go to law school in South Carolina. Thats a lesson for all you kids out there.
posted by ND¢ at 8:07 PM on February 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Most schools will average multiple tests. There's no reason to take it now when your analytic abilities will improve over the next few years.

This information is no longer accurate.

Virtually all schools now take the highest LSAT score because the ABA changed the number that schools report. It used to be that the ABA required schools to report the average LSAT... so the average LSAT was what was used for US News Rankings (etc)... and, because of that, school's evaluated based on the average.

Now the ABA requires the highest score to be reported... so the US News Rankings are now based on the max score... so most schools now evaluate the max score.


That said... as someone who has worked with the admissions office for my three years of law school, I can tell you that right now you don't even know that you want to go to law school. You think you know, but you really don't. You are (hopefully) going to be a completely different person in three years, and it will be that person who needs to decide if Law School is the right thing to do or not.

Please do not invest any time or energy this year (or next) doing things "for" law school. Don't take undergrad classes "for" law school, don't study for the LSAT, don't do anything like that. Focus on your GPA, and then, in your junior year, start trying to figure out if law school is really what you want to do... it is a really, really bad thing to do "because I've been planning to go for so long", or "because I can't think of anything else to do", or "just because".

You will likely hate every minute of law school if you're one of those people. You have to go because you want to study the law and for no other reason.
posted by toomuchpete at 10:49 PM on February 29, 2008

LSATs are good for five years; take it your junior year.
posted by lockestockbarrel at 11:10 PM on February 29, 2008

Oops. Thanks toomuchpete.
posted by null terminated at 1:24 AM on March 1, 2008

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