Oh crap. It’s September. I’m not ready.

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Maybe you’ve been prepping for the September LSAT but your practice test scores are well below where you’d like them to be. Maybe you intended to take the September test, but time got away from you, and suddenly the registration deadline was long gone. Maybe you were planning on taking the December LSAT all along. Either way, fear not – taking the December LSAT is not the disadvantage many 0Ls seem to think it is.

There are two main drawbacks to taking the December LSAT: It means that your application will be complete later in the cycle, and it’s difficult to retake the test during the same cycle if you’re not happy with your score. Let’s take a closer look at each of these drawbacks.

If you take the test in December, you’ll receive your score in late December or early January. We recommend that you submit all other application materials before scores are released; however, schools won’t even begin to look at your application until it’s complete, and the earliest your application would be considered “complete” in this scenario is in January.

By contrast, for September test-takers – who receive scores at the end of October – we recommend that they try to finish up their applications by early December. Although not everyone is able to wrap up their applications that early, taking the December LSAT means you won’t be able to apply quite as early as you otherwise might.

The good news is that how early you submit your application is not nearly as big of a deal as it used to be. Most law schools have rolling admissions, and during the heyday when everyone and their mothers were applying to law school, it was advisable to submit applications as early as possible to improve your chances. Now? With all the news lately about the difficulty of finding jobs after law school, applications are down, and you’re much more likely to be accepted during any point of the admissions cycle.

In summary, drawback #1 – the fact that taking the LSAT in December limits how early you’ll be able to apply – is not much of a dealbreaker these days.

The second potential problem with taking the December LSAT rather than the September test is that, if something goes wrong and you’re not happy with your score, your next opportunity to retake the LSAT will be in February. A number of schools don’t accept the February LSAT, so if you’re hellbent on applying during the current admissions cycle, you could be at a disadvantage.
So with that said, why would anyone take the December LSAT rather than getting it over with in September? Simple – you will almost always be better off applying later in the cycle with a higher LSAT score, than applying earlier with a lower score.

Of course, we’re assuming that you’re actually going to use those extra months to continue studying pretty intensively. If you know your schedule will be jam-packed in October and November and your LSAT books will be gathering dust, you’re probably better off just taking the September test and hoping for the best. But if you think you can improve your score by at least a couple points by waiting until December to take the LSAT, then it’s probably worth doing so.

Deciding which administration of the LSAT to take is always tough, so if you have any questions about your particular situation, feel free to reach out to your instructor or give us a shout in the comments, and we can help talk to you through it. And no matter what you decide, good luck!

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