Area of Law: Lawyer Licensing and Law Schools
Answer # 886
Law School Admission Requirements and LSATRegion: Ontario Answer # 886
Currently, law schools can be very selective about whom they admit into their programs. Demand for legal education has been high in recent years and continues to remain strong. In the last few years, between 5,000 and 7,000 applicants have competed for approximately 2,300 first-year places in Canada’s common-law law schools. Admission committees are faced with denying admission to many well-qualified applicants due to limited space and resources.
All law schools consider a variety of factors in admitting their students, and no single qualification will independently guarantee acceptance or rejection. To be fair, schools rely heavily on selection criteria such as the Law School Admission Test, commonly referred to as the LSAT. They also rely heavily on academic achievements that relate to expected performance in law school and which can be applied to all candidates. However, other factors, such as letters of recommendation, work experience and interviews may also affect the admission decision.
Law School Admission Test (LSAT)
The LSAT provides a standard measure of acquired reading and reasoning skills that law schools can use in assessing applicants. It is a standardized test required for admission to over 220 Law School Admission Council (LSAC) member law schools located in Canada, the U.S. and Australia that is administered in two parts. The first part consists of five 35-minute sections of multiple-choice questions. There are three different question types:
- One reading comprehension section;
- One analytical reasoning section; and
- Two logical reasoning sections.
One section is used to pre-test new test questions and pre-equate new test forms. This section is not included in the final LSAT score.
The score scale for the LSAT is 120 to 180.
As of September 2019, the multiple -choice portion of the LSAT is administered digitally in North America. Known as the Digital LSAT, students can take the test on a tablet provided by LSAC, given to students at the test centre.
The second part of the LSAT consists of a 35-minute writing sample – previously administered at the end of the LSAT test – now administered online. LSAT Writing presents a decision problem, and students are asked to choose between two positions or courses of action, and defend her or her choice. The writing sample lets the student demonstrate their argumentative writing skills; there is no “right” or “wrong” position.
The exam may be done at a time applicants choose, and on software they must install on their own computers. Those who do not own a computer or are unable to borrow one, may be able to take the Writing section of the LSAT at a college or university computer lab, university testing centre, university or public library, or some other appropriate location. Applicants will be eligible to take LSAT Writing on the day of their LSAT administration and for up-to one year after.
The writing sample is not scored but a copy is sent to all law schools to which you apply. For more information, visit LSAT Writing.
Many resources are available to help students prepare for the LSAT. These include prepatory tests and LSAT courses, which sometimes only last one or two weekends in length.
Along with an applicant’s LSAT score, their academic record plays a large part in determining their acceptance. Generally, undergraduate performance is an important indicator of how someone is likely to perform in law school. Therefore, many law schools look closely at university grades when considering individual applications. Course selection can also make a difference in admission evaluations. Applicants who have taken difficult or advanced courses in their undergraduate study are often evaluated more favourably than students who have concentrated on easier or less advanced subjects.
Once an application and its supporting documents have been received, many law schools will make a preliminary judgment about what the applicant’s admission status will be. At this preliminary stage, many schools use an admission index to evaluate candidates. The index ordinarily is a combination of an applicant’s academic record and LSAT score. These index formulas are unique to each school and are followed more rigidly at some schools than at others.
Many law schools do not wait to accept or reject applicants on a specified date. Instead, the schools operate what is known as a “rolling admission process.” A rolling admission process means that the school evaluates applications and informs candidates of the school’s admission decision on a continuous basis over several months, usually beginning in winter and extending to midsummer for waiting-list admissions. Successful candidates are notified in order of preference.
For more information on law school admission requirements or to register for the LSAT, visit the Law School Admission Council website, or contact the law school you are interested in attending.
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