If you're taking the December LSAT, you'll receive your score from LSAC around the beginning of January. You probably already know that it's better to apply sooner rather than later in the rolling admissions process, and that "sooner" means around November. So if you're taking the December LSAT are you in big trouble for law school admissions?
No, but there are better and worse ways to go about it. Below are some things to keep in mind when applying to law school with a December LSAT score:
1. Your LSAT score should be the last part of your application.
Applying with a December LSAT score is a bit like being late to a monster truck rally in Eastern Washington (where I spent my childhood). You're not going to get the best stadium seats to watch Truck-o-Saurus, but you can still see the show.
However, if you wait until you've received your LSAT score and then begin your applications, they might not be finished until the end of January or February. Meaning you are at the bottom of a very large stack of applications, or, in Eastern Washington parlance, "lotting it". (Watching the show from the top of your truck from the parking lot because you were too late to get inside).
To avoid this scenario, either apply without knowing your LSAT score (you can target law schools based on your practice exam scores), or you queue up you applications and send them out the moment your LSAT score arrives.
2. Finish your application (other than the LSAT score) now or right after the December LSAT.
LSAT study will ramp up hugely in mid-November. Because of this, you have time to send in your transcripts, get your letters of recommendation, and write your essays now, while studying is still fairly reasonable. If you don't have the time or the energy to prepare your applications now, wait until after you've taken the December LSAT and finish your applications in the time between the test and when you receive your score — usually two and a half to three weeks.
Because this is a very limited amount of time in which to finish all of your applications, a good plan is to do at least some work now if possible. You can send your transcripts in to LSAC, secure your letters of recommendation, and write rough drafts of your essays. After the December LSAT, you can then revisit your essays, get input on your drafts, and finalize everything.
3. Your LSAT score is very, very important.
Because of the weight of the LSAT score in law school admissions, your best bet for optimizing a law school application with a December LSAT is to get a high score. By way of example, if you apply to law school with an LSAT score of 155 in either November or February, you probably have a better chance of admission applying earlier (all other things being equal). However, applying with an LSAT score of 160 in February almost certainly trumps applying in November with a 155.
To continue our Monster Truck analogy, it's like choosing between spending time applying lipstick or putting together a hot outfit before heading to the rally. Lip liner is nice and all, but a sequined mini-dress will go a lot further toward getting you noticed in the bleachers. The LSAT is the mini-dress. The lipstick is an early application. Are you all with me here, people?
The final word on applying in December: your application won't be at the top of the pack, but getting it in as soon as possible and getting a great LSAT score can ensure you're still a competitive applicant. Now if you'll excuse me, I heard they just turned the Spokane coliseum into a GIANT MUD PITâ€¦