Gambling With a December LSAT Score in Law School Admissions

If you’re looking to start law school in 2012, I hope you took the December LSAT this past weekend. Well, I really hope you took it a while ago, applied before Thanksgiving, and have already heard back from your dream school. But if not, you hopefully now have a new score on the way.

If that’s the case, there are two courses of action you can take:

1) The Risk-Averse Method

You’ve got a few weeks to get your materials together. Hopefully, your law school letters of recommendation are already in, as professors who are slow normally are like molasses rolling uphill on a cold day during the holidays (Can I pull off Southern charm? That simile suggests that no, no I can’t). Ditto with the transcripts.

If you’re risk averse, it’s time to get your law school admissions essays finished, your transcripts in, and your applications filled out. Then, it’s time to wait.

And wait.

And wait.

A watched Inbox never receives mail, I’m sure someone has said since Al Gore invented the internet. Go out and have fun. LSAT scores are always released a few days before the release date (January 6 this time). That gives you plenty of time to spread some holiday cheer (by which I’m pretty sure they mean schnapps).

Make sure you save some of that for yourself, though, for score release day. You’ll either be celebrating or lamenting.

When LSAT scores come out, hit submit. This allows you to make a last minute audible should the score end up lower (or even higher) than you expected. You’re behind the curve already, but there are definitely slots still at most schools. You might be out of luck at your reaches, but if your numbers would normally get you into a school without much hassle, you’ll probably still be good.

2) The Risk-Taking Method, aka the Maverick

Back before he was a notorious racist, Mel Gibson was an action movie hero. He was a man’s man who could inspire tears in even the most jaded soul. Before action movie stars shaved everything but their faces, he was a hairy behemoth who transitioned easily from action to action-comedy, releasing a string of classics that survive his current reputation.

Maverick was not one of them.

It was a cute enough film that didn’t take itself too seriously, but it’s been relegated to the Sunday afternoon TNT time slot.

In it, he plays a riverboat gambler out for a big score. The penultimate scene sees him play the championship hand of poker without checking his hole card. All in, he flips it over to reveal the card he needs for the win.

If you’re like Maverick, you’ll get your applications in and submit them before you see your LSAT score. While giving you a slight jump on the competition (whole seconds here, as others read their scores and then click submit), it also means that you won’t be able to adjust last minute. Your law school applications will go complete, and the schools will throw you in the pile with everyone else waiting in line for a determination.

All in all, there’s very little difference between the two. You’ll still be applying a little later in the cycle, and that will still hurt you a little (since seats are already filled). However, if you want the respect of an anonymous internet author (i.e. me), you’ll Maverick that sumbitch. And post about it in the comments.

9 Responses

  1. Seth says:

    I must be missing something. How do you submit an application prior to receiving a reportable lsat score? LSAC doesn’t give the option without a score. Please explain. Thanks!

    • If the December LSAT is a retake, then you can apply already and wait for scores to be released. I should have made that clearer – my apologies!

    • Gulliver says:

      You can also apply before your LSAT score arrives even if you aren’t a retaker. The dean at Cornell told me to go ahead and submit it in early December since they normally fill up by early-mid January. You won’t know if you’re competitive yet since you don’t know if you bombed or mastered the LSAT, but she said that it will help for you to be the “maverick.” One down side to being a “maverick” is that it can get expensive for you to apply at a bunch of schools without knowing if you even have a good chance of getting in, but if it’s your dream school it may be a $100 or so worth spending. :) Good luck!

      • Seth says:

        Thanks for the info! I’m a non-traditional applicant with a masters degree from MIT and undergrad gpa of 3.75 so I’m hoping that even if I didn’t KILL on the lsat, I still have a shot at some top schools. I’ve had all my materials together in since 2 weeks ago, so I can’t believe I just assumed I needed to wait for the lsat score! I’ll be submitting all my applications after work tonight. I appreciate this posting!

  2. Mel says:

    So I plan to take the Mel route…but say we get a score increase from Oct (say 6-10 points), I think schools would want an explanation…but we sent in our applications so we wouldn’t be able to do that, right?

    Also, how do we make sure they know we’ve retaken it in December, so they should wait to make a final decision after seeing those scores?


    • Gulliver says:

      You should list it as one of the LSATs that you sat for. The one you already have a score for will show up, but you can let them know that you have another score coming soon so they can wait to review your app until that score comes in. Go ahead and start filling out an online app and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

    • Gulliver says:

      Oh, and some schools probably do want an explanation of disparity in LSAT scores. Mostly the top schools care. I know for a fact that UT Austin cares and prefers that people cancel if they know that it wasn’t their best performance. Make sure the explanation doesn’t sound whiny or that it doesn’t make to big of a deal of a trivial disparity. If you are applying to schools that aren’t highly ranked or super competitive, they probably won’t care because they only report to highest LSAT score to the ABA and if you have a high score then it helps them out a lot in regards to the numbers they report to the ABA.

  3. cc says:

    Matt and Gulliver, am I understanding you correctly in that one can basically submit an application as a placeholder while waiting for an LSAT score to be released? I thought adcomms only accepted complete apps, but it seems there might be some wiggle room there?

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