For students who want to become lawyers, the first step is getting into law school. Some schools are quite selective, and any student who wants to have a real chance will need to follow through with a smart admissions strategy. There are a few essential elements that go into each law school application. Students should understand, as well, that different law schools weigh these factors differently when choosing whether or not to admit students.
A good GPA is a must
The first step for students is to secure a good grade point average in college. Many students wonder whether they should choose a difficult major or take classes geared toward law school. The simple answer is that these things don’t really matter. Law students come from different backgrounds, ranging from engineering to political science. One of the most important factors, though, is your GPA. If you are sure that you want to go to law school, then it’s smart to take classes that will give you the best shot at earning high grades.
Prepare for the LSAT
The LSAT is the standardized test that law schools use to evaluate candidates, and you will need to score well to get into a selective school. Top law schools look for students with scores approaching 170. This means that in order to get in, you will need to be in the 95th percentile or higher. A student earning a 160 or higher will be a competitive candidate for most schools within the top 100.
To prepare for the LSAT, you might take a class or you might practice on your own. Students with resources often benefit from taking a class. This is not necessary for all students, though, as LSAT practice tests are readily available. A smart student will purchase the old, authentic LSAT tests from LSAC, the company that administers the test each year. When you prepare with tests that actual students have taken, you will be much more familiar with the challenges facing you on test day.
Personal statements matter
In addition to looking at the raw scores on your application, law schools will look at some of the soft factors on your application. You should spend a tremendous amount of time on your personal statements. They should sell the school on why you are a unique applicant. In addition, these essays should be completely free of mistakes. If you struggle to edit your own work, then you should have a family member read over these materials. In addition, it’s best if you adhere to all of the rules supplied by the schools. If the school asks you to keep your statement under 250 words, then you must do that.
In addition to these statements, letters of recommendation can go a long way to telling your story. Though good letters won’t push you over the top, failing to include solid letters could doom your application.
Choosing the right school
Perhaps the most important piece of advice for getting into law school has been saved for last. If you want to get into law school, you must apply to schools that accept students with your credentials. Your GPA and LSAT scores will often operate on a sliding scale. The higher your LSAT, the lower your GPA can be. You should know that some schools have GPA and LSAT floors, and they will not accept any student who lacks those minimum credentials. When you are applying to schools, you may want to apply to a wide range. Give yourself a few safety schools where admission is a near certainty, and send off a few applications to more selective schools, too.