We have been getting a lot of emails and phone calls from applicants who sat for the October LSAT (or an earlier administration) and are planning to retake the test in December. Specifically, a great many people seem to be wondering if they should instruct our office to consider their candidacy on the basis of their October/earlier score or have us wait to review their file until their December score is released? In light of all these questions, we thought it might be helpful if we addressed this topic in a slightly more public forum.
Allow me to apologize in advance for the Choose Your Own Adventure nature of this post. This is slightly complicated stuff, and sometimes there’s just not an easy (or artful) way to explain such things.
Whether you choose to have us continue to hold your file for your December score or instruct us to review your file on the basis of your current score, this choice is entirely your own. As I will discuss below, you absolutely have options. Neither course of action described below is necessarily better or more advantageous than the other, and assuming you submit all your application materials in advance of the release of your December score, it is unlikely that you will be too far behind in the admissions process if you choose to have us wait to review your file until your December score is released. But let’s begin at the beginning…
Complete – Holding for Future Test…
If you already have an existing LSAT score (and have submitted all the other materials necessary to be complete), but are registered for a future LSAT, we will hold your file for review until your new LSAT score is available. This has been our policy for a number of years, and we assume, if you have registered for a future LSAT, you would like for us to wait until your new score is released to review your file.
In past years, we did not expressly inform applicants in this particular situation their file was being held for this reason. As you might imagine, this created some confusion, (occasionally) some frustration and quite a few phone calls. Consequently, and for this very reason, we now have a status, “Complete – Holding for Future Test.”
If you choose not to wait for your new LSAT score…
If you are an applicant currently coded “Complete – Holding for Future Test” and would like for us to remove this hold and consider your file on the basis of your current score, we are more than happy to do so. Please just send us an email indicating this preference (LawAdm@wlu.edu), and we will code your file “Complete.”
We just pulled files for review last week, and will continue making decisions on a rolling basis throughout the coming weeks. Consequently, you could receive a decision between now and the release of your December score (i.e. late December). If this happens, you will need to re-apply if you wish to be considered on the basis of your new LSAT score.
If you choose to leave the hold on your file…
First, a little background. We make admissions decisions on a rolling basis, and we offer no early action program. Each year, we wait until we have a critical mass of applications to begin our review process (so that we might have some perspective on the kinds of applications we’re seeing in a given cycle), and this year we will mail out our first admissions decisions around Thanksgiving and will continue making decisions over the subsequent months. In fact, we receive most of our applications after the first of the year, and typically make most of our admissions decisions in January and February. Consequently, if your file is complete by the end of December, you will still be in a competitive position at W&L Law.
If you are sitting for the December LSAT, you should go ahead and submit an application now, and begin sending along the various constituent parts of your Credential Assembly Service (CAS) report (transcripts, letters of recommendation) to LSAC. By doing this, your file will be complete (and therefore eligible for review) much sooner than if you wait until you receive your results to begin the application process.
If you are currently coded, “Complete – Holding for Future Test,” and we are only awaiting your December LSAT score, you are still in a good position to be a competitive candidate at our law school. For the purposes of our admissions cycle, as long as you are complete by December 31, you are well positioned to be considered for an offer of admission, and if admitted, a scholarship award at a time when we have the most scholarship money available. December LSAT scores are typically released in late December, so candidates sitting for the December LSAT who are currently coded “Complete – Holding for Future Test” will likely be fine.
And if you happen to go complete a few days after December 31, please do not worry. December 31 is not a hard deadline, and this date is more flexible than candidates often realize. Even those applicants who are complete well after December 31, if admitted, will automatically be considered for a scholarship award (and many do receive awards). We typically make our first merit scholarship awards around mid-January, so even if you are complete in early January, if admitted, you will still be in a competitive position for a scholarship award. However, we have a finite amount of scholarship funds, so a late application may affect the size of your award (not to mention your chances of admission).
Consequently, it is probably better to think of December 31 as an application advisory date (for lack of a more precise term), i.e. we have found, based upon past experience, candidates who are complete by December 31 are in the most competitive position for admission at our law school. While sooner is better, as long as you are complete by December 31 (or very soon thereafter), your chances of admission are still favorable.
Hopefully, that helps. Admittedly, there is not one clear course of action in this particular situation, and, if you are currently contemplating this very decision, you really need to decide what is best for you. As you have likely begun to realize, the law school application process often involves some really tough choices. However, we are absolutely here to help. If we can be of assistance in any way, please do not hesitate to contact us. We can be reached by phone at 540.458.8503 or by email at LawAdm@wlu.edu. Best of luck!