Law School Admissions Timeline & Checklist
Applying to law school is a long process with many steps. The earlier you start to build relationships with professors, consider what type of law you are interested in, and plan for taking the LSAT, the better. Our Kaplan LSAT experts suggest first asking yourself, what needs to be done?
Get a great start by checking out the LSAT study resources on our checklist of things to be done before your applications are due, and fill in a calendar with what you know is already on your agenda: school, work, obligations, birthdays. Looking ahead is the best first step on your path to LSAT and law school victory.
3 Years Before Law School: Plan
- Give thought to what type of law you’d like to practice: entertainment, personal injury, criminal, and so on.
- Consider taking writing, critical thinking, reading-intensive, and logic courses. While not required for law school admissions, these will give you a leg up when it comes time to prepare for the LSAT and will help prepare you for law school.
- Get familiar with resources like the Law School Admission Council, through which you will later submit your application, the National Association for Law Placement, and the American Bar Association.
- Look into joining a preprofessional student organization with other prospective law students.
- Enhance your knowledge of the legal field by talking to practicing attorneys in different industries, law school students, and others with firsthand experience.
2 Years Before Law School: Prepare
- Research specific law schools. Consider factors like location, cost, reputation, competitiveness, employment prospects of alumni, and financial aid availability.
- Make an LSAT prep calendar. Include important dates, like deadlines for test registration, applications, and financial aid. Schedule your test prep, as well. Give yourself three to six months before your test date to prepare.
- Consider which professors know you well enough to write strong, positive recommendations. Contact them early so they’ll have plenty of time to meet your application submission deadlines.
- Start working on your law school application early. Give yourself plenty of time to draft and revise your personal statement and resume.
1 Year Before Law School: Apply
- Choose your LSAT test date and reserve your seat on LSAC.org. The LSAT is given eight times a year: March, April, June, August, October, November, January, and February. Register for an exam date no later than the fall in which you plan to apply—or a year before you will be starting law school. This will give you ample time to re-prep and retest if necessary. Sign up as soon as registration dates open. Seats can fill up quickly.
- Figure out how you are planning to prepare for the LSAT: classes, self-prep with books, LSAT tutors, and attend some free events! Then register/buy/sign up and get it on that calendar. Remember that if you have any questions, we are always available to help on Twitter, Facebook, or by phone. Still in school? Make an appointment with your prelaw advisor and get any information or resources they might have.
- Set your LSAT score goals and continue to prepare, keeping a positive attitude and a systematic approach. Schedule weekly practice tests and put them on your calendar.
- Make sure all supporting materials—test scores, transcripts, personal statement, addenda, resume, and letters of recommendation—are included in your application package or otherwise safely en route to your prospective schools’ admissions offices.
- Submit your law school application through the centralized LSAC application system. Law schools use a rolling admissions process, so the earlier you apply, the greater chance you have for acceptance and earning merit-based scholarships. As you choose the schools to which you will apply, add their admissions deadlines to your calendar– but keep rolling admissions in mind! At many law schools, the earlier in the process you apply, the better chance you have. Also talk to the schools about admission fee waivers if you know you are applying!
- Wait for acceptance letters!
Six Months Before Law School: Decide
- Weigh the pros and cons of each program carefully. Beyond rankings and reputation, look for the best fit for you, taking into account each school’s specific programs and student culture. Visit schools wherever possible.
- Don’t forget to consider non-academic factors like climate, extracurricular opportunities, setting, cost of living, and financial aid.
- Look into options for financing your education: grants, fellowships, scholarships, and other opportunities. Law schools give significant scholarship money based on test scores.