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When Should You Take the LSAT?

January 17, 2024
4 min read
Contents

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Reviewed by:

David Merson

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 10/24/23

Figuring out the perfect date to write your LSAT can be challenging. To learn more about the best time to take the LSAT, read on.

Female student writing on calendar

So, you’ve decided law is the perfect path for you, and now you have to begin your law school applications. The LSAT is arguably the most important part of your law school application, and it's also the part that takes the most time and dedication. 

If you’re wondering when you should take the LSAT and how to figure out the perfect test date, this guide has got you covered!

When Is the Best Time To Take the LSAT?

The best time to take the LSAT depends on a few factors that we’ll look at in-depth:

When Your LSAT Score Is Due 

Before you decide when you should take the LSAT, your first step should be figuring out when your applications are due and when you need to have your LSAT score submitted. Base your test date choice on these deadlines and give yourself enough time to retake the test. 

If the last LSAT test you can take is the January test, your first test should be the November one at the latest. Ideally, however, you’ll give yourself a few more months to be safe!

If You Want To Take a Gap Year

While many students plan on attending law school right after their undergrad, there’s value in taking a gap year to gain useful experience and build your law school resume. Another great reason to take a gap year is to dedicate your full attention to studying for the LSAT.

If you’re planning on taking a gap year before attending law school, the best time to take the LSAT would be either in the summer after your senior year or in the fall. Since the majority of LSAT scores are required by December or January at the latest, you won’t want to wait till the very last test date possible to write your exam.

Always keep in mind that you may need to retake the LSAT to get your desired score! Regardless of how well you do on your practice tests when test day rolls around, there’s no telling what score you might end up with. To err on the side of caution, give yourself at least one extra test date to retake the exam. 

Accordingly, you should aim to take a September or October test at the latest to be able to take a November test if need be. This will also give you plenty of time to study after you’ve completed your undergrad!

One gap year often turns into two or three, so taking the LSAT during your undergrad may not be the wisest choice. Your LSAT may become outdated, as LSAT scores that are five years or older are not valid. 

If You Don’t Want To Take a Gap Year

If you’d like to get into law school as soon as possible, then the best time for you to write your LSAT is the summer after your sophomore or junior year.

It’s generally not recommended that students study for and write the LSAT during the school year as it can lead to burnout and may impact their GPA or result in a low LSAT score.

There are typically at least two LSATs during the summer. If you’re in your sophomore summer, you can choose one of the later LSAT test dates to give yourself more time to study. With this option, you can also take the LSAT the next summer if you need to increase your score

If you choose to write the LSAT during the summer of your junior year, opt to write the earlier summer LSAT in case you need to write the second one. These two test dates are the best options, as you will not be in school and can dedicate more time to your LSAT prep!

student writing on large calendar

Factors to Consider When Selecting the LSAT Exam Dates

To ensure you choose the perfect test date, consider these factors:

Test Preparation

Set up a study schedule so that you know how long you’ll need to prepare for your LSAT before writing it. Whether it’s for three months or six, this schedule will provide a clear timeframe for when you should take your LSAT. 

Upcoming Commitments

Planning on backpacking across Europe in the summer? Have back-to-back midterms coming up? Before finalizing your test date, take into account any immediate or future commitments that will limit your availability. 

Retake Options

Don’t choose the very last LSAT test you can take to apply to law school. Give yourself at least one other test date to retake the LSAT in case you score lower than anticipated!

Retaking the LSAT

Speaking of factoring in the possibility of retaking the LSAT, it’s essential you know the rules around repeats. Students can retake the LSAT up to five times in one testing year, and seven times in their lifetime. 

How Long Will It Take to Study for the LSAT?

You may wonder how long it’ll take you to prepare for the LSAT through self-study. It typically takes three to six months.

Students who can dedicate six to eight hours per day to their studies for five to six days a week tend to only need three months. On the other hand, those who can dedicate fewer hours and days to their prep may need four to six months to be fully prepared for the LSAT!

female student studying for the LSAT

Law Schools Admission Timeline

While your law school admissions process ultimately depends on your time constraints and deadlines, this is the general timeline students follow:

Date Application Stage
January - March Application planning (school selection and summer planning)
April - June LSAT preparation
July-August First LSAT test attempt
August Request transcripts and begin on personal statement
September Applications open
September-October Complete personal statement and ask for letters of recommendation
November Early Decision applications due
November-December Suggested timeline to submit regular decision applications
November-February Regular decision applications due

Average LSAT Scores

The average LSAT score is around 151-152. However, top-ranking low schools typically have LSAT averages of 165 and higher. 

Choosing Your LSAT Date

When deciding when to take the LSAT, you should consider the above factors and also pick a date based on your study schedule! Give yourself at least a few months before your LSAT deadlines to take a diagnostic test, figure out what your baseline abilities are, and create a study plan to get to your desired score.

Part of your study plan should also be setting a target test date! This will not only keep you motivated but will force you to actually follow your plan and avoid procrastinating. Some students only require a couple of months to study, while others need several.

As you choose your LSAT test date, pay attention to the registration dates! Registration deadlines tend to be around a month and a half before the actual test day, so keep this in mind to avoid delays. Once the registration deadline passes for a particular LSAT, you will not be able to write it on that date!

Calendar with sticky notes

FAQs: When To Take the LSAT

If you still have questions about when you should take the LSAT, read on to find your answers!

1. When Should You First Take the LSAT?

At the very latest, you should take the second-last LSAT you can to apply to your chosen law schools on time. For instance, if your LSAT score is required by December, you should take the October exam to be able to also take the November exam if need be. 

However, you should ideally give yourself several months to a year to better prepare for the test and reduce the pressure and stress you’ll feel if you leave it till the last minute.

2. What Is The Hardest Month To Take the LSAT?

There isn’t one specific month that is the easiest or hardest to write the LSAT, and if there was, it would change each year since the students writing the LSAT change each year! The hardest test will be the one you haven’t fully prepared for, regardless of the month!

3. What Is the Best Month To Take the LSAT

While you may hear mixed opinions on the best month to take the LSAT, this is all just speculation with no real data to confirm it! 

The guaranteed best month to take the LSAT is the one you have prepared for the most.

4. Should I Leave Time To Retake the LSAT?

Yes! No matter how confident you are in your LSAT abilities, you should leave enough time to retake the LSAT. Doing so can increase your score and, thus, your chances of getting into your dream law school! 

5. When Should You Not Write the LSAT?

If you’re still an undergrad student, it’s generally advised that you do not write the LSAT during the active semesters of your undergrad since you’ll already have other time-consuming obligations like coursework and exams.

6. How Many Times Can I Take the LSAT?

You can take the LSAT five times in a single testing year and up to seven times in your lifetime. 

7. How Long Are LSAT Scores Valid?

LSAT scores are only valid for five years. After this, you’ll be required to retake the exam.

Final Thoughts

All in all, studying for and acing the LSAT will be challenging! As you choose the perfect test date, account for both the time you’ll need to study and the time you’ll need to retake the test. 

Give yourself enough opportunity to succeed on your LSAT so you can get into your dream law school and achieve all of your career goals!

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