If you have dreams of becoming a lawyer one day, the first thing you need to think about is law school. The process of becoming a lawyer starts when you are an undergraduate, and each of these tips will help you make your dreams come true.
Prepare During Undergrad
While in undergrad, you will want to find a field that interests you. There are no defined majors for preparation to get into law school. However, there are recommended majors for those pursuing a future in law. These majors include:
- Political Science
- Business Administration
- Criminal Justice
In addition to taking courses that will help prepare you for law school, you will want to make sure you make yourself stand out from your peers. Participate in extracurricular activities that show you are a well-rounded student with diverse interests. Find a job that allows you to work in a law-related field and learn more about what a future in-law might look like. You can also look into volunteering at a law firm or other law-related place to gain experience as well.
Before you apply to law school, you will need to take the Law School Admissions Test. This test is a half-day standardized examination that is administered six times a year and is required for admission into law school. The test is designed specifically to assess key skills needed for success in law school (including reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning).
The LSAT consists of multiple-choice sections that take 35-minutes. The exam consists of these sections:
- Logical Reasoning (2 sections): The section is worth 50% of your total score and will test your ability to analyze and evaluate arguments. You will read short passages and answer a question about each one.
- Reading Comprehension: This section is worth 27% of your total score and tests your ability to make sense of dense, unfamiliar prose. You need to understand the passages’ structure, purpose, and various points of view, rather than the facts. You will see four passages, each with 5-8 questions to answer. One of the passages will be “paired passages” with questions asking you to compare and contrast the two.
- Logic Games: Is worth 23% of your total score and will test you on basic logic, systems of order, and outcomes. Analytical reasoning questions ask you to make deductions from a set of statements, rules, or conditions.
- Experimental Section: This is a wild card section and is used by the test maker to see how questions will perform on future LSATs.
- Writing sample (1 essay): This section isn’t scored but is sent to law schools along with your LSAT score and is frequently used as a comparison tool to confirm your personal statement or help choose between two relatively equal candidates.
Study and Prepare for the LSAT
When you are preparing for the LSAT, you will want to make sure you register early to secure the date and test location you want. The test will take several hours to complete, and this is why you need to start practicing and preparing far in advance.
Buy a study guide when you start exam prep for the LSAT. Because the test takes so long to complete, you need to time yourself. Some people do very well on their mock tests, but they do not finish the test fast enough. You can work on your speed or accuracy, depending on what your most significant problems are.
You can join a study group so that you can learn with others or maybe find a study partner who can help you assess the areas you need to focus on. It is also recommended that you sign up for an online or in-person prep course. These courses are designed to help you know how to take the exam, how to read the questions, and how to answer them quickly and accurately.
You will want to make sure during your prep and study for the LSAT that you master grammar and logic. Grammar is the language of law, and the LSATs will use it to try to confuse you intentionally. The LSAT tests your ability to analyze and decipher complicated sentences. Once you understand what the questions and answers say, you will need logic to understand how things play out — concepts like validity, conditional statements, and premises.
The most important way to prepare for the LSAT is to practice. Take as many prep tests as possible. Make sure to do real ones that are timed to give you an idea of what test day will be like. When you are taking practice tests, you will want to review your answers before grading your practice test.
Start by doing a “blind review.” As you take your practice test, make sure to circle the questions you are unsure of. Once you’re done, take your time and go over each question without looking at the answer. Then when you mark your test, you will have your real score and your blind score. If your blind review score is low, then you need to work on your grammar and logic. If your blind review score is high, then you need to work on your speed.
Research Law Schools and Apply
As you’re preparing to take the LSAT, you will want to start researching law schools. Since your scores will be sent to the schools you designate, you will need to make sure you have done your research and know which schools you plan on applying to.
Some things to keep in mind when you are researching law schools that you are interested in:
- What is the cost? How much will you owe? Is there access to financial aid?
- Atmosphere of the school: is it calm and collaborative? Or cut-throat and competitive?
- Student life: Talk to current students (remember, you will be spending at least the next four years at this school).
- Faculty to student ratio: What is the teaching quality like? You can talk to current students about the professors, classes, etc.
- Does the school offer research opportunities?
- Where will you be living: climate and culture, close to family and friends, housing, etc.?
Once you have decided on the schools you plan to apply to; you will want to make sure you know the application process. Since applications are considered in the order they are received by the school; you will want to make sure you send in your completed application as early as possible. Most applications will include:
- Undergraduate Degree
- LSAT Score
- Personal Statement
- Letters of recommendation
- Additional information to think about including your resume, work history, extracurricular activities pertaining to law, volunteer work, etc.
- Application fee
When you are preparing to start a law career, you need to take the test before you apply to school, apply to all the schools you want to attend, and begin your new life. Get an appropriate degree, start exam prep for the LSAT, finish the test on time, and go to the school of your dreams.
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