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You Received Your LSAT Score…Now What?

In #INTHEKNOW, PreLaw Blog on October 23, 2014 at 10:22 am

Breaking Down Your LSAT Score
LSAC gives you your LSAT score percentile, this will give you a better idea of how you did in comparison to other students who took the test. Log into LSAC. Click on the LSAT tab then the LSAT Status link. The IRR Additional Information has percentiles from past 3 years and the Conversion Table has a number of questions right for your score.

Applying Smartly
Before receiving your score you probably had a pretty good idea of what schools you wanted to apply to based on your GPA and what you were scoring on practice tests. Now that you have an ACTUAL LSAT score, you can better assess at which schools you are competitive. You should still consider applying to schools that would be considered a “reach” and of course schools that would be a “safety.” Look up law school rankings (http://www.top-law-schools.com/rankings.html) and on each law school admission page; they will provide you with a nice breakdown of LSAT and GPA ranges for each school. Make sure you know your LSAC GPA since it may be different from your GPA listed on your transcript. Now you can assess what schools you should apply to:

• “Safety” schools: BOTH your numbers are above the school’s 75th percentile. This is a good way to get scholarship opportunities.
• Competitive Schools: BOTH your numbers are within the school’s 25th and 75th percentiles. **Not a guarantee of outright admission**
• Schools where you are on the fence: one of your numbers is within the school’s 25th and 75th percentiles (or above) and the other number is below the 25th percentile. Look at the ranges of each number, a tighter range means they put more weight on that number. Hopefully the better of your two numbers is the one they weigh more and if not, you become less competitive. This does not mean that you are not competitive but you may need to compensate with other factors such as resume, personal statement, etc. If there is a reason that one of your numbers is significantly lower than the other consider writing an addenda (see below).
• Reach schools: BOTH your numbers are below the school’s 25th percentile.

When to Retake
In reality, most people see very little improvement in their score after retaking. Remember that many schools will also average your two scores so really think about how much you would be likely to improve. Also keep in mind that most people score a few points worse (or on the lower end of the range they had been scoring) on the day of the actual test than in practice tests. Make an honest assessment of your efforts the first time around and determine you should retake based on the following considerations:

• Did you study hard the first time? Did you underestimate the test and prep for it like the SAT? Or did you really dedicate yourself to studying? If you underestimated the test, consider retaking.
• Did you have a “bad day” on exam day? Recognize that a complete disasters is much more severe than a mild disaster. A complete disaster is something like showing up late to the test, being deathly ill, dealing with a motorcycle gang outside the test center. Hopefully you cancelled your score, but consider retaking if you didn’t. A mild disaster, on the other hand, is where maybe you were just distracted or normal test anxiety. Mild disasters might just repeat themselves the next time you take the test and then it is probably not worth retaking.
• Did you prepare enough? Did you prepare LONG enough? And were you smart about how you prepared? The LSAT is one of the harder, if not hardest standardized tests. Preparation may take some people longer than 3-4 months to get their best score. If you didn’t devote the requisite time to it, consider retaking it.
• Admissions Policies of Target Law School(s). Do they average or take the higher score? If they average, any improvement you see will effectively be cut in half, so think seriously about whether retaking is worth it.

When to Write an Addendum
This is not a time to make excuses just give the facts! Consider writing an addendum to your application with respect to your LSAT score if:

• You only have 1 score and something terrible happens on test day. If you are just a bad standardized test taker, be careful. But if you are normally a good test taker and can provide evidence of this (i.e. old tests), consider writing an addendum about the disaster.
• You retake and there is more than a 3 point difference between the scores.

Preparing for the 2014 USC Law Fair

In Uncategorized on September 11, 2014 at 1:19 pm

The USC Law Fair will be held next Thursday, September 14 in McCarthy Quad, which means that you now have one week to prepare for it.  If you are planning to attend the Fair, consider the following items during your preparation:

  • Do your research. Familiarize yourself with the law schools that will be at the Fair.  The list of participating schools can be found at: http://dornsife.usc.edu/list-of-participants/.  Create a list of schools that you want to speak with at the Fair and conduct basic research on the schools, including admission criteria, location, size, and any specific programs that interest you.
  • Ask questions. The Law Fair provides you with a great opportunity to speak with representatives from the law schools, so this is a perfect time to ask any questions you might have about that particular school.  Asking questions shows that you are genuinely interested in the school by engaging the representative in lively discussion.
  • Timing.  If you plan to speak to many law schools and other organizations at the Fair, allow yourself enough time to visit each table and ask questions.  You want to give yourself enough time before class or after class to visit each of your targeted schools.
  • Dress for success. Come to the Fair dressed appropriately so the law schools and other participating organizations are not distracted by your clothing.  Students may dress in business casual, but we encourage all students to attend the Fair if they are on campus!

Visit our website for more information regarding the Law Fair: http://dornsife.usc.edu/usc-law-fair-2014/.  We look forward to seeing you all at the Law Fair next Thursday, September 18!

Deciding on a School

In #INTHEKNOW, PreLaw Blog on April 7, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Getting accepted into law school by itself is very exciting! And if you are lucky enough to get multiple acceptances to schools of interest then you are going to have to narrow it down and make a decision. At the end of the day it may just be the one school that feels right to you is where you end up going. But if you haven’t experienced such a feeling here are some factors that you should consider when making a decision:

  • Ranking. When we are applying it is easy to get caught up in the ranking of the school. While that is a factor that should be considered (after all employers do consider it), it is important to note that going to the best ranked school is NOT a great way to decide where you will spend the next 3 years. Instead rankings should be considered in tiers (ie: top 20 versus top 30). That way you can make sure you are looking at comparably prestigious schools without allowing it to consume your decision-making process.
  • Cost. Law school is expensive and the cost just continues to go up. That means that anything that could possibly make it less expensive should definitely be a factor to be considered. Look into scholarships and do not be afraid to ask schools for money. Look at the general cost of tuition and ask about the anticipated cost of attendance for all three years.
  • Location. This is pretty obvious factor to consider but it is important to keep in mind that you need to think about this not just for where you want to spend 3 years of law school but where you want to live after law school. Think about where you ultimately want to practice  in the long run. While going to law school in New York does not mean you have to work in New York upon graduation, there are certainly going to be more opportunities with New York based employers. If you want to stay in CA, maybe a California school would be better than an east coast school. That being said there are plenty of people who find jobs in different cities, states, and countries upon graduation. Talk to the career services office at the schools you are interested to see how many graduates secure employment in the place you want to live.
  • Future employment. How many students have employment secured upon graduation? What is the career services office like? How many employers come to the OCI’? Does the school provide a lot of networking opportunities? While future employment prospects may seem so far off and easy to ignore at the time being, this is something that is REALLY important in the grander scheme of things and should be a huge factor in your decision-making process.
  • Environment. Would you prefer to be in a small class or a bigger one? Does the school have a more competitive or less competitive reputation and how will this affect how you perform as a student? Remember not only do you want to go to a school but, more importantly, you want to go to school where you will do well. It is better to go to a lesser ranked school and be top of the class than a better ranked school and be near the bottom. You need to consider the environment of the school (talk to students, look at retention rate from 1L to 2L year, etc.) and determine what environment will be best for you and allow you to thrive.

If you have any questions or need help deciding on a school you can contact us at prelaw@usc.edu!

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