For years, the LSAT has been offered 4 times per cycle, in June, September/October, December and February. The Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) recently changed that. In 2018-2019, the test will be offered in June, September and November 2018, and January and March 2019. The list of dates is available from LSAC.
LSAC has essentially moved the fall test to early September, shifted the December test to mid-November (before U.S. Thanksgiving), done away with the February test and substituted both January and March for it.
What does this mean for law school applicants who are planning to take the LSAT? The first thing it means it that you’ll have more options. You should still plan carefully, something far too few applicants do. Think a few months in front of the exam to try to ensure that you’ll be able to dedicate blocks of time for your LSAT prep. You may have a full-time job, as I did, or classes, but you should try to reduce yourcommitments as much as you can during your LSAT prep.
For those with full-time work, there isn’t really any general plus or minus to the new times, since there really isn’t any general work schedule in the
contemporary economy. But the increased number of dates does allow you a little more flexibility in your planning.
For college students, the new early September date is probably generally better than the later September/early October date was. Since the test is now the Saturday after Labor Day in the U.S., for American students especially, many will now only bump up against their first week of classes rather than their first four or 5 weeks. That’s good all the way around, and will allow students to focus on the LSAT and then their classes rather than navigating a divided focus. It was always manageable to do that, but so much the better that it will not need to be managed anymore.
The other changes seem less consequential and really depend, for students, on when classes and finals end in the fall. Colleges and universities are varied in their end dates so, as with full-time workers, the new options for either January or March do make things a little more flexible.
One unanswered question is what law schools will do. Previously, it was better from an admissions perspective to take the June or fall LSATs, with
December being a little less desirable (but still ok, depending on your situation and how much better you were confident you could do on the December
LSAT) and February being much less desirable for fall of the same year. I advise my February cycle clients that their admissions and financial aid
opportunities will be stronger if they apply for the fall of the next year rather than the current year—so, for example, a February 2017 score has more
value in the fall 2018 admissions cycle than the fall 2017 cycle.
It is not clear whether that will be true of both the new January and March dates, just the March date, or neither. Law schools will surely announce
policies and it’s worth paying close attention to what those policies say and—sometimes—do not say. We’ll stay tuned, too.
On balance, the new scheduling options provide just that—more options, and that’s generally good for law school applicants, so long as applicants use them as an opportunity to plan when they can achieve their best LSAT score.
by Kyle Pasewark at Advise-in Solutions on February 17, 2019.