Getting a Late Start

While many people plan to take the December LSAT, a fair number end up on this schedule because of poor planning. So before we look at the plan, let's examine how to avoid it.

Spend enough time preparing for the LSAT, and prepare well. The commonest cause of being off schedule is needing to retake the LSAT, and most of the time, the problems are entirely within your control.

  • Make sure you identify your cognitive weaknesses and work to fix them. Each section of the test requires skills that are within your grasp if you invest the time to master them.
  • Practice taking timed tests under test conditions. There's no reason for that special panic that sets in when you know you're not ready for the LSAT.
  • Deal with any emotional issues that will interfere with your performance. Whether it's the belief that you must attend Harvard or the notion that a great LSAT score will compensate for low grades, emotional issues that add pressure on test day are an easy road to failure.

Allow time for surprises life will send your way. There are always unexpected problems between you and any goal. Plan for them. If your study schedule requires 15 hours a week, plan to spend 20, so you're not behind when a broken washing machine or a bout of food poisoning kills your week. In particular,

  • Be realistic about how you'll allocate your time over summer vacation. Too many weekend getaways will destroy your plans for the fall.
  • Ditto for back-to-school events. You'll fall behind almost any study schedule the first two weeks back at school.

If you're realistic about your time commitments and study skills, you won't wind up on this schedule unless fate intervenes, or unless you planned to be here in the first place.

Many people plan to take the December LSAT. They know they need extra time to prepare, and they draft essays, polish resumes, and choose recommenders on a schedule independent of the LSAT.

This can work fine, as long as nothing interferes with their LSAT performance. But a heavy snow or a nasty cold can force them to take the February LSAT, and that is always a poor schedule.

If you choose the December LSAT to allow yourself extra study time, and plan to complete your other tasks early, you could do quite well with this schedule:

A Plan for Applying to Law School
With a December LSAT Date


Begin studying for the LSAT


Begin essays


Study for the LSAT


, select recommenders


law schools



Polish essays


Submit applications



Draft supplemental essays, complete applications





read enrichment materials


Take Practice LSATs


Read law school success books




Pay seat deposits, Withdraw from other schools


Take Prep Course

watch history on YouTube


Hold farewell parties

Move. Learn your new city


Begin law school!



January and February can be hectic, so plan to take time off from work or a lighter course load at school. If there's any chance of problems getting to the test center on LSAT day, make plans to leave home early or to stay overnight closer to the test center.

The most perfectly-constructed plan can be bull-dozed by a blizzard, and a poorly-designed plan succeeds only by serendipity. Should you find yourself among the 20,000 or more people each year who register for the February LSAT, see what you can do to salvage the plan.

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