A few months ago, I went fishing for the first time in a couple years. I got up early, grabbed my pole, walked down to the water, and got set up before dawn. I had the most success in the two hours after sunrise — fish are usually more active right after the sun comes up. People who came later still caught fish, but their window of opportunity was smaller.
If you’re planning on taking the December LSAT and applying to law school this cycle, your window of opportunity is just starting to close. The fish are still biting, but the sun has already risen. You’ll need to focus on getting your application materials together as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Law school applications are generally considered on a first come, first served basis. Broadly speaking, there are three main windows for applying. From the time applications open until November is considered on the early side. From Thanksgiving to February is the middle period, and from February until applications close is late in the cycle. There’s no reason to panic if you’re waiting for your December score, but you should be ready to apply as soon as you receive your results. The longer you delay beyond that, the slimmer the pickings become.
So, how do you make the most of your time? Until you actually take the LSAT, that should be your primary focus. Once you finish the test, you should switch to gathering your application materials. First, if you haven’t already, you should request letters of recommendation. The requests are the least time consuming aspect of your application, and it can take a long time for your recommenders to get the letters in to LSAC.
After you send out the requests, you should switch to your personal statement. The personal statement is a slog — it takes a long time to come up with a topic, a long time to write, and even longer to edit. The process is mentally draining, so I would recommend switching over to completing the application forms any time you’re too tired to focus on writing. The forms are relatively mindless, but they take a while to complete, especially if you’re applying to a lot of schools.
Given that time is of the essence in maximizing your chances, I would get started on all of this as soon as you can after taking the LSAT. The last thing anyone wants to do after completing 12 weeks of study is switch over to compiling and completing application materials. But, at the end of the day, the additional weeks of work play an important role in determining your success in attaining offers of admission and financial packages. Keep things in perspective and focus on the end results if you start feeling down.