Assuming you’re taking the LSAT in October, you have quite a bit on your plate at the moment. Here’s a checklist to help you sort it all out:
To Do Yesterday
- Register for the October LSAT and LSAC's Credential Assembly Service. The information you enter there will be auto-populated into your applications later on.
- Start thinking about potential recommenders (two). The sooner you can let them know that you will want a letter from them, the better. Make sure to pick them carefully and be involved in the writing of the letters.
- Study for the LSAT! Nothing comes even close to the level of importance your LSAT score has when it comes to admissions.
- If you haven’t done this already, start thinking about the schools to which you want to apply. Of course, your school list will vary over time, and will ultimately be honed down by your GPA/LSAT combination, but it's always good to have a handle on where you may want to go and why. Also, getting a good idea of which schools you want to attend will allow you to know around what number your LSAT score should be. Investigate schools and potential specializations, and put together a list.
- Approach your recommenders formally and have them start working on your letters. Give them a deadline of August 30, and check on them periodically to ensure they're staying on track. The video below will give you a good idea of what you should look for in your recommenders, and how to help them put together great LORs: http://youtu.be/x3IC9ZVl6FE
- Also, start thinking about potential personal statement topics. Check out these two blog posts for more information on what you should and shouldn't do: http://blog.powerscore.com/lsat/bid/153413/ and http://blog.powerscore.com/lsat/bid/153303/.
- The video below will give you a brief rundown of things to keep in mind as you write your statement: http://youtu.be/In66yk6cHUY
- Study for the LSAT.
- Write your personal statement. Loosely follow this process: Write a draft. Walk away for a few days. Revise the draft. Walk away for a few days. Revise the draft. And so on. This will allow you to have some distance between you and what you're writing. If you're having trouble narrowing down topics, write rough drafts of various topics and have someone else read them. Ask them to tell you which one is the most powerful. Then work on that one exclusively.
- Work on your résumé—get it updated and cleaned up. Many schools will ask for one in your application materials.
- Look into whether the schools you are applying to require a Dean's Certificate—if they do, obtain the form and submit it to the appropriate office at your undergraduate institution.
- Obtain CAS Transcript Request forms, submit one to every undergraduate and graduate institution you've attended, and have them send in the forms to LSAC for processing.
- Study for the LSAT. Focus on taking (and reviewing) as many practice tests as possible.
- You should have your personal statement almost completed. Now is the time to write a "Diversity Statement" (if you feel your background actually merits one). Although not all schools ask for one, many do, and it's always good to have one on hand.
- Talk to your recommenders and make sure they are done with the letters. Give them the required CAS LOR forms and have them send in your letters to LSAC for processing. Finalize your personal statement, diversity statement, and résumé.
October (first 3 weeks)
- Take the LSAT and then take a week off. It may be tempting to jump from the LSAT right to applications, but give your brain some time to relax. Your score will not be available for 21 days, giving you one final chance to put the final touches on your applications. Most ABA-approved law schools make their applications available on LSAC during September and the first weeks of October.
- Put the finishing touches on any essays you may still be working on. Upload your personal statement and diversity statement (if you've written one) to your LSAC account.
- Check the status of your LORs and transcripts on CAS—if any are missing, contact the appropriate people/offices and get them fixed ASAP. This video will give you an overview of the whole application process, and who is responsible for what part of it (surprisingly, not all of it is you!): http://youtu.be/PhEYkrQuctg
Last week of October (after you receive your LSAT score)
- Decide whether or not you need to re-take the test in December. If you're happy with your October test score, use it to narrow down the range of schools you wish to apply to approximately 12 (4 safeties, 4 targets, 4 reaches).
- Log into your LSAC account, pull up the applications to the schools you have selected, and check them over carefully for any "supplemental essay" opportunities (i.e., "optional" essays or long-answer questions that you can use to present another aspect of your candidacy or of your personality). If you feel that your background and/or experiences merit writing any of these essays, do so. The video below will give you some pointers on what you should focus on for your supplemental essays: http://youtu.be/KXmA7brNT_g
- Go over the applications to the schools you're applying to with a fine-tooth comb. If you decided not to re-take the LSAT in December, press that submit button once you've thoroughly evaluated your apps. You should be able to hear back from each school before the end of the year (if not early in the new year).
- If you decide to retake the LSAT in December, you will end up sending in your applications around December 31, i.e. towards the end of the rolling admissions cycle. This will slightly lower your chances of admission; however, this could (potentially) be offset by receiving a higher LSAT score in December.
Giving yourself plenty of time to get your essays, résumé, transcripts, letters of recommendation, LSAT score, LSAT score reports, and applications completed will greatly benefit you during the admissions cycle.