Law School Timeline

JD Admissions Timeline

  1. When should I take the LSAT?
  2. How long should I prepare for the LSAT?
  3. When should I apply to law school?
  4. How do I apply to law school?
  5. Which schools should I apply to?
  6. How can Strategy help me?
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1.    When should I take the LSAT?

The LSAT is offered only four times a year:

  • February
  • June
  • September (or October)
  • December

For most applicants, the best month to take the LSAT is June.

If you take it in June, you'll get your score in July and still have a solid two months to prepare your applications before you can submit them in September. And if you need to retake the test because you had a bad test day or just want a higher score, you can retake it in September and still submit your applications relatively early.

Although the June LSAT is ideal, most applicants don't start preparing for the LSAT until the summer before their senior year—after the June LSAT is over. These applicants usually end up taking the test in September or October. (Just to clarify, the test is administered only once in the fall—either at the end of September or at the beginning of October. What month it falls in changes from year to year.)

The only real downside with taking the test in September is that if you do need to take it again, you'll have to take it in December, which means you won't be able to apply until January. And although applying in January is not technically late, it is fairly late in the application process, which can hurt your chances of getting in. Despite that small risk, September is still a good month to take the test.

Stepping back, regardless of what month you take the exam, it's more important to take the test when you're ready. One or two more points on the LSAT will usually increase your chances of getting into a school more than applying early. One more point, for example, can help you bypass up to as many as 7,000 other applicants.

In other words, in an ideal world, it'd be better to take the test in June or September—at the beginning of the application process—but if you're going to do better in December or possibly even February, it's probably better to take the test later and do well than to take it early and do poorly.


One caveat: Many schools stop accepting applications before the results from the February LSAT are available, which means you'd have to apply the following year. So if starting law school next fall is really important to you, waiting to take the LSAT until February could prevent you from applying to some schools.

If you find yourself in this situation, make sure the schools you're most interested in accept the February LSAT. If they do, decide whether waiting to take the test in February will help you get a substantially higher score. If it will, then consider taking the February LSAT. Otherwise, take it earlier.


The LSAT registration deadline is about one month before the test. But because the best test centers in your area might be taken by then, try to register earlier—ideally, at least two or three months before the exam. In the DC area, for example, the best test centers are typically American University and Georgetown.

2.    How long should I prepare for the LSAT?

Most test-takers need two to three months to prepare. Although you might end up needing more time, giving yourself too much time can be problematic.

First, you might burn out. Studying for the LSAT month after month can be draining, causing your score to drop simply because you're sick of reviewing the same kinds of challenges. Second, you might forget what you had learned when you first started, requiring you to use valuable study time to review old material. Third, if you're like most people, you might not really study until the LSAT gets close anyway.

So when you're ready to study, give yourself about two to three months and plan to dive in head first. If you have only a month, consider the pros and cons of skipping the upcoming LSAT to take the next one. Otherwise, dive in and get working.

Our LSAT courses typically start two to three months before the upcoming LSAT, while our one-on-one LSAT tutoring sessions can start at any time.

3.    When should I apply to law school?

Ideally, you want to apply to law school after you have your LSAT score. Because your score can account for as much as 70% of an admission committee's decision, knowing your score before you apply will help you decide which schools you can apply to and which schools aren't worth your time.

If you end up taking the test in December or February, however, you might decide to apply to some schools before you have your score to avoid applying too late. Because most law schools start admitting students as soon as they start accepting applications, applying early can help you increase your chances of getting in. To beat the flood of applicants in January, apply in October or November.

In the end, you can apply at any time during the application process—between September and January for most schools—but when you actually apply should largely depend on when you get your score, which should largely depend on when you think you'll do your best.

4.    How do I apply to law school?

Most schools require you to sign up for a Credential Assembly Service (CAS) account with LSAC. This account keeps your undergraduate transcript and other key documents and then forwards them to the law schools that you apply to. The fee for setting up a CAS account does not cover the application fee for each law school.

Most schools typically require you to submit the following:

  1. Application form
  2. Application fee
  3. Resume
  4. Personal statement (usually one to two pages, describing something about you not discussed elsewhere in your application)
  5. One to three letters of recommendation or evaluations
  6. Undergraduate transcript
  7. LSAT score

The best way to get started is to visit the websites for the two or three law schools that most interest you. Then review their application requirements. Specifically note what recommendation letters you need.

Recommendation letters take time. Start early, ideally two or three months before you apply, and ask professors and former employers who knew you well. Letters from people who know you are better than letters from people who are well-known. Don't ask for a recommendation from a professor who gave you a low grade, even if she liked you. Ultimately, her recommendation or evaluation will be based on her academic assessment of you, not your likeability.

Also take a moment to read the personal statement questions. The questions tend to be open-ended, but reading them can get you thinking about possible essay topics. That said, although it takes time to write a good personal statement, it's often better to focus on improving your LSAT score until you've taken the test. After it's over, you'll have three weeks to polish your statement before you get your score.

5.    Which schools should I apply to?

Many students focus on a dream school or a certain tier of schools—the top 14, for example. But depending on what you want to do with your degree, where you want to live, and what each school has to offer—in terms of scholarships, access to internships, alumni networks, and specializations—the top 5 law schools in the nation might not necessarily be your top 5. It’s possible that some local school that fits your needs is a better school for you than even Columbia, Georgetown, or some other well-known school.

In other words, it’s not easy to decide where to apply. But if you’re just starting out, and want to get a sense of what LSAT score you might need to get into some of the schools you’ve been thinking about, LSAC provides an LSAT-GPA Calculator to use as a guide:

Official LSAT-GPA Calculator

Another interesting tool is the Law School Predictor. It, too, asks for your LSAT and GPA, but then tells you which schools you should “reach” for, which ones you should “target,” and which ones you should use as “safety” schools. To see these results, put in your projected LSAT score and your undergraduate GPA, and then click “Agree to Terms” in the top-left corner. Then scroll down past the ads to find your recommended schools:

Law School Predictor

Ultimately, your decision should be based on much more than just your LSAT score and your undergraduate GPA. As you learn more, feel free to talk with one of our admissions consultants. The first call is free:

Admissions Consulting

6.    How can Strategy help me?

Whether you’re looking for a full-length course or one-on-one tutoring, we can help you prepare for the LSAT by giving you the strategies you need to succeed on test day: