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Should I be patient and apply next cycle?

NefertariNefertari Alum Member
in General 202 karma

After learning that the September LSAT is the last score you can submit for early decision, I am now contemplating whether I should hunker down, achieve my fullest potential score and apply for next cycle. I am scoring in the 160s while BR is 173-180. It pains me to see such a big gap every time between actual and BR scores. I am taking the September test and will do my absolute best on it, however, I'm afraid it might not reflect my best potential score (which I understand to be the BR scores).

The reason I am hesitating on waiting to apply next cycle is TIME. I had my heart set on starting school next fall, graduating, start working and then think about starting a family with my husband. All of this would be pushed back a year, and I've come to realize how valuable time really is. I am in my mid-20s and have work experience in journalism. I also need to get scholarships and my goal from the beginning of my LSAT journey has always been a full ride.

With all that said, should I wait and apply next winter? Should I apply for regular admissions this cycle with my September score? Sign up for November?

The weight of my future feels especially heavy this morning. Any input will be greatly appreciated :)


  • MissChanandlerMissChanandler Alum Member Sage
    3256 karma

    Where are you wanting to apply early decision? I think your decision is going to depend on what your goals are. If a full ride is the most important thing to you, it is absolutely possible with a high 160s low 170s score. Early decision is often thought of as a bad move if you're aiming for scholarship money, because you're locked into that school if they accept you and there's less incentive for them to give you a scholarship and you lose the opportunity for scholarship negotiation.

  • NefertariNefertari Alum Member
    202 karma

    @MissChanandler I didn't know ED could be a bad move for scholarships! :open_mouth: I wanted to apply ED to Northwestern since they have a merit-based $150k scholarship. My goal is a full ride. Although I would love to aim high for NU or other T14 I know that realistically, going to a top regional school with a full ride is a great choice.

    And thank you for the new information!!

  • eRetakereRetaker Free Trial Member
    2038 karma

    Wow that is a huge gap between score and BR. It is clear that you have the fundamentals and understanding, so in your case I would wait a year to really get a mid 170s score. But if your September score comes out to 169 or something then just ED Northwestern for that $$$.

  • drbrown2drbrown2 Alum Member
    2227 karma

    I've been thinking about this topic the past few days as well. It appears that Northwestern's ED application deadline requires a September score or earlier, but I believe other schools would allow a November score so long as the application materials are submitted on time. Michigan Law's second ED deadline is December 7, and there is no mention of a last LSAT score.

    If your goal is to get a full ride this cycle then I would check into other schools you know you would attend if admitted. Look into their scholarships available for ED students, and what the grade requirements are to keep the scholarship.

    If there are no other schools you would attend with a generous ED scholarship comparable to Northwestern's, you can still apply this cycle and try to negotiate scholarships. You wouldn't be locked into attending law school in that scenario, and could apply ED next cycle. Northwestern prefers 1L students who have some work experience, so a year off may improve your chances of admission if you are a recent graduate.

    Good luck with the LSAT!!! That should probably be the only thing you are concentrating on right now. All the admission deadline stuff can wait. If your score isn't as high as you hoped, you can take it again and still go for scholarship $$$ this cycle!!!

  • MissChanandlerMissChanandler Alum Member Sage
    3256 karma

    Northwestern is one exception because of the guaranteed scholarship upon ED acceptance. In that case, you might want to go for it.

  • Rigid DesignatorRigid Designator Alum Member
    edited August 2018 1091 karma

    Yes, I'd wait. If it were me I wouldn't want to look and think I could've done better, especially given that LSAT's importance.

  • NefertariNefertari Alum Member
    202 karma

    @drbrown2 I will definitely look deeper into what other schools offer. And you are absolutely right. LSAT is the only thing I should be focusing on right now. With all these other amazing comments, I've come to the conclusion that I will do my best in September, and if I'm not happy with my score then I will take it again either in January or March, work for another year and apply next cycle. I don't think November is a better option for me, because it doesn't seem like enough time will have passed after the September test for me to have a guarantee on a higher score.

    It seems like my emphasis on delaying for a year shouldn't be as big of a deal as I originally thought it was... my stress might have exaggerated the dilemma :sweat_smile:

    @MissChanandler @eRetaker @drbrown2 @"Rigid Designator" Good luck on the LSAT!! Thank you :blush:

  • LivingThatLSATdreamLivingThatLSATdream Alum Member
    500 karma

    Schools have stipulations on Early Decision, if its a binding ED, then you forego scholarship negotiations and you can only apply to one binding program. NU does offer the 150K scholarship, however, it's not a full ride. Still 150K to NU would be great! But if you are set on a full ride and are okay with a regional school, applying ED may not be the best option. Some other schools have great specific scholarship opportunities, such as NYU, UCLA, that require add'l essays. You may may able to find a specific scholarship that is centered around journalism and offers a full ride. I've looked into business/entrepreneurship scholarships and a few public service ones because that is my background. Those require applications to be completed by January 1st typically. So if you find one that interests you, a November LSAT score may be perfectly acceptable. Some schools also offer full rides + stipends.

    Putting together a comprehensive and cohesive application takes a lot of time especially when considering additional scholarship essays. So depending on how far along you are in that process it may make more sense to wait. I took the exam last December and really wanted to get my applications in to start this fall. I realized I was rushing the process. I'm 30 and also want to start a family at some point sooner rather than later. It was a big conversation I had to have with my partner who is 35. I had to do what was best for me because ultimately, that would be best for us in the long run. I spent the past nine months studying, I feel way better about this test than I did last year, I've been working on my essays, everything just feels more right, and I feel more prepared.

    Keep at it! See how the test goes in September and if you feel like you can do better, keep studying and do better. Good Luck!

  • NefertariNefertari Alum Member
    202 karma

    @LivingThatLSATdream said:
    Putting together a comprehensive and cohesive application takes a lot of time especially when considering additional scholarship essays. So depending on how far along you are in that process it may make more sense to wait.

    This speaks to me. I have been so focused on LSAT studies that I've yet to start any applications and don't want to rush them either. I want to give them at least as much thought as I'm giving the LSAT. I feel you about having that big conversation! My partner is also older than I am, but he is OK with postponing a wee babe. I really hope to be in the same situation as you, where I feel more ready for the test and the admissions process! I know what a relief it must be for everything to feel as if they are going at the right pace. Persistence is key :heart: Thank you so much for your words of encouragement and good luck on the test!!!

  • Leah M BLeah M B Alum Member
    8392 karma

    Your BR score is a theoretical maximum but honestly, not everyone will be able to close that gap 100%, or it may take a long time to get there. There is a big difference between being able to get to 175 untimed and doing it within time constraints. I think it's an individual judgement call though if you think you still have room to improve. Those are totally valid reasons to want to head to law school right away.

    And yes re: ED, the downside of them is that if you are accepted, since it's binding, the school doesn't have any reason to negotiate scholarships with you. If you apply ED to a school that doesn't have a pre-determined scholarship for it, you can end up having to pay full sticker. Northwestern is great though because of that $150k. It's not full tuition, and as their tuition goes up, it's even less of a percentage now, but that is a solid scholarship to a very good school. I'm considering EDing there myself!

    Also, I think it's possible that Northwestern could accept the November LSAT for ED this year. Their website looks like it hasn't been updated from last cycle. Last year, the LSAT wasn't administered until early December, which is after their ED deadline. This year with it being moved up to mid-November and LSAC getting scores ready faster, it's possible that it will be accepted. You could email admissions and double check, if you haven't already.

  • _oshun1__oshun1_ Alum Member
    edited August 2018 3652 karma

    You shouldn’t be planning on postponing another year before even having taken the lsat. Maybe you get a 168 on September and you do get that $150k ED from northwestern. Maybe you retake in November or even January and get a 170+ and get a full ride/close to full ride from like UCLA/Cornell/Duke/Michigan...
    Don’t sell yourself short already. You don’t need to postpone another year just bc you don’t get a 170 on one of the earlier LSATs in the cycle.
    Also, your BR score just shows your understanding of the test in untimed doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll ever hit a 180 timed.
    If you’re K-JD then I do recommend you take a gap year.

  • NefertariNefertari Alum Member
    202 karma

    @"Leah M B" Let us know if you do ED to NU! Yes, even thought it isn't a full ride I would take on a little loan if it was for NU :sweat_smile: I love Chicago. And I know BR score isn't telling of what I'll do on test day to the tee, but I would like to get my actual score closer to at least my lowest BR score. I've read other threads where they talk about big gaps between actual and BR score, and most of them say focus on doing a lot of timed sections and PTs. Which I've been doing! Ugh. Time is the enemy here. Trying to defeat it best I can.

  • NefertariNefertari Alum Member
    202 karma

    @"surfy surf" I'll see how I do come September :blush: And I'm not aiming for 180... haha just my lowest BR score or close to it. Thanks for the advice!

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