Do I Wait For New LSAT Scores Or Submit My Application?
This is a very common question that plagues applicants every year. Is it better to submit your application early (with an old LSAT score) or wait for new LSAT scores? Here’s what you need to know!
Do I Wait For New LSAT Scores Or Submit My Application?
The short answer is to submit your application as early as you can. However, don’t expect admissions offices to review it, and a decision to be made, until after they receive your new LSAT score. Since it’s still somewhat early in the season (late-November at the time of writing), you do not need to worry too much about whether you submit your application now or in late November/December. Why? It actually won’t make much of a practical difference (absent any early decision deadlines of course). In the spring, it is much more important that you submit your application prior to closing deadlines, whether you have a new score or not.
HOW IT WORKS
When you submit your application and it is “complete,” meaning it has all of the required components with at least one LSAT score, it is eligible for review. However, since you indicate in your e-app that you plan to take an upcoming LSAT exam, your application will be placed on “hold” until the new LSAT score is released. Therefore, it does not matter too much if you submit it early or not since it won’t be reviewed until the new score is received anyways. (Keep in mind that your application may be treated differently if your upcoming LSAT is next month versus next June.)
CAVEAT & WHAT TO DO:
Note that some schools may take slightly different approaches to pending LSAT scores. Ultimately, most either hold your application until the LSAT score comes in (which seems to be the majority) or allow you to make the decision. The latter requires that you email the admissions office asking them to specifically review your file without a new score.
If you have the choice, I recommend asking for immediate review only if you hit their median LSAT or higher. This will allow you to take advantage of rolling admissions. (If you already have a stellar LSAT score, they may even take the liberty of reviewing your application as-is and offering you admission without seeing the new score.) If you fall below their median, wait for your new score. It may boost your likelihood of admission.
Additionally, keep in mind that human error is always a factor when processing applications. If you already have an LSAT score on file then submitting your application before you want it reviewed runs the very small risk that it may be reviewed prematurely. Your application will have all of the necessary components of a complete and otherwise “reviewable” application. While it is unlikely that your application will be reviewed prematurely if you indicated an upcoming test date, this does happen but it depends entirely on the organization of the admissions office.
Another, more common, scenario is that you didn’t indicate on your e-app that you intend to take an upcoming test. If this is the case and a decision is rendered before a new score is submitted, you’ll have to request re-consideration when your new LSAT score is released. (Pro-tip: even if you received a positive decision, ask for re-consideration for possible merit-based scholarships based on a new, higher score.)
To avoid any confusion with multiple LSAT scores, follow up with an email once you submit your application. In it, state that you’d either like your application held for review until upcoming LSAT scores come out or request immediate review if they allow it.
For most, it might not make a big difference whether you wait until new scores come out or not. However, in some cases it does. If you are trying to meet some sort of application/scholarship deadline, submit your application before the cutoff date, irrespective of whether you have your new score. (Tip #1 to lawyering: read details and follow instructions. Deadlines are deadlines.) This is especially true if it is later in winter/spring. You need to have your application submitted before a closing deadline. In that case, you must submit your application as-is with an old score. They add the new score later.
If you are applying “early decision” this fall and your November LSAT score is not out but you submitted your application, admissions will most likely review it as-is. The review process for early decision occurs before your new score will come in. If you wait for your new LSAT score to be available, you will likely miss the early decision deadline.
An early decision deadline is very strict. If you miss it because you were waiting for your new scores, you will not receive early decision consideration. Instead, you’ll end up to the general pool of applications which is usually much more competitive.
Overall, there is no harm in submitting your application early, and I always suggest doing so. At the very least, this can speed up the review of your application a by few days. As soon as LSAT scores are released, they will immediately be added to applications. If your application is otherwise complete, it will then make yours eligible for review. This is quicker than waiting to receive your LSAT score and then turning around and submitting your application. There is usually a huge rush of applications after each set of LSAT scores come out. A few days could make a big difference for when your application is reviewed and you receive a decision.
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