"The Journey to Law School:

A Personal Journal Describing the Pre-Law Preparation Process"

by

J.J

 

April 2003

Preparing for the LSAT and examining prospective law schools is a very involved process. I visited the University of Texas Law School over spring break and was both pleasantly surprised and taken aback by some of the things I learned about attending law school. I sat in on a contracts law class where most students where very excited to be discussing the “Hairy Hand Case” (although there were a few oblivious students surfing the internet on their laptops). When questioning some second and third year law students about their experiences, I was surprised to learn that the first year curriculum for virtually all law schools is a stringent core curriculum. Students at the UT Law School have no input at all in their academic schedule for the first year. I was also surprised to learn that unlike most undergraduate classes, law school classes only have one exam. Thus, students rely heavily on study groups to receive feedback from their peers and make sure they are keeping up with the material presented. Aside from the somewhat heinous orange walls and circa WWII army and navy recruiting posters, I felt that UT provided a very comfortable environment.

I see law school as a huge investment and I want to make sure that aside from academic excellence, the atmosphere of the school and the location of the school are appealing. Many of the other students who accompanied me on the tour had already applied to UT without ever touring the campus or getting a hands-on idea of what the school has to offer. I definitely feel it is important for me to plan ahead and attempt to visit prospective schools to determine if they are right for me.

Because I absolutely dread standardized tests, I have started collecting and examining all kinds of LSAT preparation materials. I have been working my way through an LSAT preparation book published by the Princeton Review that has been particularly helpful in giving me a general overview of the LSAT. Because the LSAT is such a tightly-timed test (it’s designed so that the average test-taker will not be able to comfortably complete all of the questions in the allotted time), I know that it will be crucial for me to practice picking up speed.

One of the best tips I have found in this book is to fill in all of the remaining bubbles in a section when there is only five minutes remaining. After doing this, you can tend to whatever remaining questions you can realistically answer. By filling in the remaining bubbles, you have a one-in-five chance of choosing the right answer and raising your score even though you were not able to fully complete the section.

I have also ordered books of old LSAT tests from LSAC on-line and I plan to practice taking the tests under simulated conditions as much as possible. I am trying to devise a study routine that will realistically fit into my schedule and prevent me from experiencing too much frustration. I’ll have to wait and see if my strategy works.


July 2003

The Princeton Review LSAT preparation book is set up with a series of mantras that test-takers should keep in mind when preparing for the LSAT. One of them is "I will work steadily and consistently to master the techniques in this manual by practicing on real LSATs I've ordered from LSAC."

This should definitely be my mantra. It's difficult to work steadily on LSAT preparation when you have what seems an expansive amount of time before you have to take the test. But, this can be a very deceiving notion. When I practice inconsistently, I find that I have to go back and re-learn concepts that I previously covered. This boils down to a waste of time and a rather ineffective way to study.
However, I'm facing a somewhat drastic change in my test-taking plans at present. I'm a year and a half away from graduation and I'm very possibly going to study abroad in spring of 2004. This changes everything immensely.

I will not be able to take the LSAT in June prior to my senior year as I had planned. And, because I would like to apply to my prospective law schools as early as possible, this leaves me with the prospect of taking the LSAT in December before I go abroad. This leaves me a little over four months to study. I have to tighten down and set goals for myself and study as consistently as possible. My practice exam scores are not as high as I would like them to be. And, based on the median scores for acceptance to most of the institutions I am applying to (particularly my first choice), I will need to score about a 159. This is where the stress sets in.

The best advice and information that I can give to any pre-law student is that preparing for the LSAT takes A LOT of time. Setting aside four hours for a practice exam when you have many other competing responsibilities is hard. Be flexible. Realize that although it's not anyone's idea of fun, your score is extremely important and attending the law school of your choice will be your reward for good test preparation. I definitely have to keep telling myself this, especially when I become frustrated.

More news on my progress soon.