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Frequently Asked Questions



Academic Preparation

What should I major in order to get in to law school?

The short answer is: anything that inspires you to deep intellectual engagement.

The longer answer is: there is no required course of study for prospective law school applicants, and admitted law students have undergraduate majors in a wide range of subjects. Generally, a broad college education is a better preparation for law school than one that is too narrowly specialized. Law school admissions committee want to see a record of strong academic performance overall and evidence of a thorough understanding in your particular field of study (i.e., your major). Common “pre-law” majors include history, economics, government, philosophy, mathematics, science, literature, classics and many others. What you study is less significant than the particular “lawyerly” skills you gain through your undergraduate education: critical reading and analytical skills, writing and communication abilities, and general research skills. If you are serious about preparing for law school, take challenging courses and do well in them; seek out courses that make you think!


What is the average GPA for incoming law students?

The national average GPA for all applicants in 2011-2012 was 3.25. However, the average score for admitted students varies quite a bit from school to school. When trying to determine if your GPA is competitive for a particular school, look at the 25th and 75th percentile data; if you fall between these numbers (or even better, above them!), you have a reasonable chance of being admitted, providing the rest of your application supports your GPA. And remember, a strong LSAT score can in some cases compensate for a less than exceptional GPA. For more information about determining your chances for admission to a particular law school, see below.


LSAT

When should I take the LSAT?

You should take the LSAT when you are best prepared to take it. LSAC recommends taking the June sitting; October is by far the most popular test date. Most schools will accept the December test score for consideration for admission the following year; in general this is the latest accepted score, although some schools will accept the February score as well. Keep in mind that the earlier you submit your application, the greater your chance of acceptance and thus you should schedule your LSAT in a timely manner so as to submit your applications as soon as possible.


What is the best way to prepare for the LSAT?

The best way to prepare for the LSAT is to utilize the methods that work for you. Ideally, you should take several practice tests under conditions as close to the testing situation as possible. Consult test preparation books for tips on how to improve your score in each section. As always, there are commercial preparation courses available; Tulane does not recommend or endorse a particular company, and keep in mind that these can be costly. Make the most of the online resources at LSAC.org, and check the websites of the major commercial preparation companies (Princeton Review, Kaplan, ExamKrackers, etc.). In addition to their commercial products, many offer a limited selection of free prep material.


Should I retake the LSAT if I am not happy with my score?

Conventional wisdom says that you should aim to take the test once and do well. Law schools are able to view your entire testing history, and while they are only required to report the highest LSAT score in their matriculation data, the reality is that schools often look at and average all of your test scores. Data has shown that test scores rise slightly, but not substantially, upon retaking the test. If you truly feel as though your test score does not reflect your real ability—i.e., you were ill on the day of the exam, or some other mitigating circumstance negatively impacted you—you should consider taking the test again. Keep in mind that large score differences are subject to review by LSAC, and that you are not allowed to take the test more than three times in any two-year period.


How important is the LSAT to law school admission committees?

In a word, very. Your LSAT score and GPA are two of the most significant factors affecting your chance of admission to law school. However, any responsible law admissions committee will read and review your entire file when making their decision, so it is important that every section of your application is as polished as possible.


What is the average LSAT score for admitted law students?

The average highest LSAT score for all applicants in 2011-2012 was a 153.6. However, the average score for admitted students varies quite a bit from school to school. When trying to determine if your LSAT is competitive for a particular law school, look at the 25th and 75th percentile scores of that institution; if you fall between these numbers (or even better, above them!), you have a reasonable chance of being admitted, providing the rest of your application supports your LSAT score. For more information about determining your chances for admission to a particular law school, see here.

 

Where to apply

How do I decide where to apply?

When considering where to apply, there are a number of factors to keep in mind. One question you should ask yourself is: can I see myself living and working in this location after I graduate from law school? Other factors include cost of tuition, state residency, school's curriculum and areas of specialization, availability of career development services, job placement rates, etc.


Where can I find admissions statistics and other information about law schools?

LSAC.org is your official one-stop shop for all things law school. They maintain a searchable database of law schools here.

There are many unofficial guides to choosing a law school out there, and each one should be taken with a huge grain of salt. However, if you are absolutely unsure of where to start looking, you might find these tools convenient:

And of course, visit the website of any law school you are considering for more information about special programs and other factors that distinguish the school from its peers.


How many schools do Tulane students typically apply to?

The average number of applications per Tulane applicant in 2011-2012 was 7.52.



How to Apply

What should I write about in my personal statement?

In a word: you! Very few law schools interview candidates, so the personal statement is the one opportunity for your “voice” to be heard by admissions committees. Some schools will provide a prompt for the personal statement, while others will leave the topic up to the applicant. Above all, this is a chance to distinguish yourself and create a positive impression on the admissions committee.


How long should my personal statement be?

A good rule of thumb is two pages, double-spaced, in a readable font (no smaller than 11 pt.) Some schools have specific guidelines or requirements for the length of the personal statement, while others do not. Always follow the school’s application instructions.


How many letters of recommendation do I need?

The number of recommendations required by each school varies. In general, it is a good idea to have two academic letters of evaluation/recommendation on file with the LSAC Credential Assembly Service (CAS). If you have a potentially strong recommendation from a professional context, or from another non-academic source, you may also have that sent to the CAS. You will be able to designate which letters should be sent to each individual school.


Who should I ask to write my letters of recommendation?

Your letters of recommendation should come from individuals that know you well and have had the opportunity to evaluate you carefully over a sufficient period of time. Academic letters tend to carry the most weight, although you may also wish to include a letter from an employer, a volunteer supervisor, a lawyer whom you have shadowed, etc.


How important are “soft factors” like extracurricular activities, professional experience, etc.?

While your LSAT score and undergraduate GPA are the most significant factors in evaluating your application, law schools do review your entire application, including your resume, personal statement, and letters of recommendation. These factors are especially important at the most competitive schools, as they receive an overwhelming number of applications from well-qualified students with very similar LSATs and GPAs and thus use so-called “softs” to make their final determinations.


 

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