Law School Admissions: LSDAS Law School Report
Here is part 5 of the nine-part admissions counseling web series I recently recorded with PowerScore founder and author of the PowerScore LSAT Bible Series, Dave Killoran. You can also find it on thePowerScore YouTube channel.
DAVE: Going to move on to the next topic here: The LSDAS Law School Report. Part of the reason we talked about the letters of recommendation prior to this, is because LSDAS, in their report, actually addresses the recommendations. Anne?
ANNE: Thanks, Dave. And Dave is absolutely right: That's why we talked about the letters of recommendation. It's why [this guide] is structured [like this]: Biographical Information, Transcripts, LSAT, Letters of Recommendation, because that's exactly what the Law School Report includes.
So we'll just go down the line. The first thing that [the Law School Report] includes is your Academic Summary Report, and that's the report that actually includes your LSAC-calculated GPA [See video 3 of 9, "Transcripts"]. That's where you're going to see your GPA change, drop, or heighten, or any letter grades changed.
Now, the second thing it includes, though, is copies of all your transcripts. So, even though the law schools have the Academic Summary in front of them [which may have an altered GPA], they also have the copies of all your trascripts; if there's any discrepancies, they will see them. Now, they reason [this video] is very specific in saying, "Copies of all transcripts (front only)," is because for many schools with strange grading curves, or uncommon grading practices, the place where they're going to explain these uncommon practices or unusual curves is on the back of the transcripts, where it's not copied, and where it's not visible to law schools. Remember, law schools get their transcripts from the LSDAS Report; nothing actually gets sent from your undergradute institutions to the law schools. If there's anything unusual about the way your school grades anything, you need to make sure to explain it in an addendum, which we will talk about later [See video 8 of 9, "Addenda"]. You need to make sure that you make it known that there is something unusual, special, specific, or peculiar about your grades and the way your school handles them.
The next two items [on the Report] are the LSAT scores and the LSAT Writing Samples, and the reason I want to call attention to the LSAT scores and LSAT Writing Samples is because of the sheer quantity of these that are actually included in the LSDAS Report. Up to twelve individual LSAT scores are actually included in your Law School Report; that's a great deal. Even though you can only take your LSAT a maximum of three times every two years, if you've taken it three times every two years for the last 8 years, all of those [scores] are going to show up. Make sure that they count. Make sure that you're not showing any sort of weird up-and-down grading curves as far as your LSAT score goes. For the LSAT Writing Samples, the last three are actually included. The Writing Sample is important: It's important because schools can use it to compare it to your personal statement. You need to take it seriously because it is included in the Law School Report, and law schools will see it.
Finally, the letters of recommendation as processed by LSAC are there. We bring this up for a number of specific reasons, the first one being that it takes up to two weeks to process every single [letter], so you need to make sure they're in there [with plenty of time]. The Law School Report is not considered complete until those letters of recommendation are in there. Try to make [the letters of recommendation] one of the first things you submit, if at all possible. You can actually select which letters of recommendation get sent to which schools, but they are categorized by different letter and number combinations, so you need to keep very close track of them because it can get confusing, and you don't want to be sending a letter that's specifically written for Cornell Law School to NYU. That's just not a very good thing to have; it's shoddy, and you don't want that to be tainting the impression that the Admissions Committee has of you.
And, as far as who can see [the Report]? Everybody can. All the schools that are using the LSDAS for application submission (which is, essentially, every single ABA-approved law school) can see it, [and] they can see everything on there.
DAVE: Okay, and let me just follow that up with a little comment about the Writing Sample. Jon Denning and I did a module about the Writing Sample itself and so, if you haven't had a chance, definitely go and listen to that [Video note: The LSAT Writing Sample module is available to PowerScore LSAT students]. The thing that is really striking to me about this is the fact that you see the last three writing samples are actually kept. I know that some of you out there were thinking, "I'm just going to blow off that writing sample; it's really not all that important," but it is something that is in this Report. [Admissions Committees] are receiving a copy of it, and they're actually getting the opportunity to view it. Now, whether or not they read it isn't necessarily the important idea; the thing is, they're going to see a picture of it. So make sure, as we say in the [Writing Sample] module: Write the thing neatly. Even if they glance at it and read [only] the first couple of lines, you want to make sure that it's neat, and you also want to make sure that at least the first couple of paragraphs are really nice and clear, and well-written. We want the whole thing to be well-written, but if you're going to rush or run out of time, you want to go ahead and [only get sloppy] at the very end.
The other thing I want to add on to what Anne said about those LSAT scores: Typically, with law schools, they want to have an LSAT score that is valid, [i.e.,] from the last three years. They want something relatively recent. I believe it's five years after an LSAT is taken that the scores start to drop off your record, so if you are taking it three times every two years, you can get up to twelve. If you're thinking you can't take every single LSAT every year--[you're right,] you can't. But you can actually get up to that number because [LSAC] keeps [the scores] around for a good five years or so before they start to drop off.