Swipe Left for the Next Applicant (Ep. 236)

Nathan Fox's headshot.

When you’re applying to law school, you gotta put the winningest sh*t upfront. That means your absolute best LSAT score, sweet references, and a personal statement chock full of dating-profile-worthy facts about who you are and what you’ve achieved. The guys hear from a 3L about how Bar prep is a lot like LSAT prep. They offer advice to someone who fears their score (and test-taking ability) is improving too slowly. They take a look at the wild swings in the US News law school rankings outside of the top 20 and help a 2020 1L-to-be decide where to attend. And the guys take a look at a personal statement that would have law school admissions peeps swiping left. Plus, updates on LSAC practice-test licensing and news about how the coronavirus is affecting law schools and the LSAT world.

As always, if you like the show and you want to get more from the Thinking LSAT community, check out the links below. You can connect with other folks studying for the LSAT, and get more useful resources from Nathan and Ben.

LSAT Demon

Personal Statement Review Package

Strategy PrepFox LSAT

Thinking LSAT Facebook Group

Instagram (upcoming events)

Important Dates

March 20, 2020 – Last day to reschedule March LSAT

March 30, 2020 – It’s the March LSAT

April 24, 2020 – June LSAT registration deadline

April 24-25, 2020 – Thinking LSAT NYC Class!

April 25, 2020 – It’s the April test

6:30 – Pearls vs. Turds, Update Ed.

Matt is a longtime listener and current 3L! You know what that means. He’s about to sit for the bar. So naturally, he’s taking some bar prep. And in his practice, he’s seeing a piece of advice that’s all too familiar, and all too turd-like: to read the question stem before reading the argument. Fans of the show will know that Nathan and Ben agree you should never, ever, under any circumstances read the question stem first. Just read the passage, understand what it said, and then answer the questions about it.

8:39 – “Official” LSAT Prep Plus

LSAC is changing how they are handling licenses for LSAT prep questions. All y’all will now be required to nab an Official LSAT Prep Plus license that gives you access to nearly all Official LSAT PrepTests™ for one year and includes some other benefits. But don’t jump to get your license just yet, here are some guidelines to help you navigate this whole licensing thing:

  • If you are planning to solo study and want access to older tests through LSAC, you need this license. As a bonus, this license lasts one year, so it will go with you to any test prep courses that you may decide to take. Just make sure you let any prep company know that you already have this license so you don’t get charged for it twice!
  • If you plan to take a test prep course, hang tight. The test prep company will let you know whether you need to purchase this license. They may include the license in their tuition fee.

12:25 – Coronavirus And The LSAT

It may not come to you as a surprise, dear readers, that notices are rolling in about how the coronavirus and COVID-19 are affecting the LSAT and law schools around the world. A Berkeley student-to-be lets the guys know that Berkeley is canceling their Admitted Students Weekend until further notice. Plus, LSAC sends some important announcements of their own:

  • The March LSAT is canceled in the following countries: South Korea, Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, and China
  • The March LSAT is still scheduled for the US and Canada, but LSAC is allowing you to change your test date to April, June, or July without penalty, so long as you make the change by 3/20/2020.

32:06 – Slow Going To Raise The Score

Shelby’s been working her butt off since scoring a 147 on her first practice test in September. Now? She’s batting in the low 160s (badASS, Shelby!). But she wants to know what it will take for her to keep climbing, and if it will take her just as long. She also wants to know if she’s going too slowly on sections and whether she should consider accommodations to get more time. Nathan and Ben discuss Shelby’s situation and offer up the following:

  • Remember that scoring in the 170s and 180s cannot be achieved by everyone—you can improve your score, but there will be diminishing returns on your efforts as you get into the elite range.
  • Remember to focus on accuracy. If you are consistently nailing the first 18 questions at 100% accuracy, you can and will get faster the more you practice.
  • Remember that accommodations are meant for those with learning differences. If you believe you have a learning difference, go ahead and seek accommodations. If not? Try to get to your target score the old fashioned way…

39:31 – Deciding Which Law School To Go To…

Law school admissions letters are starting to roll in. And for many folks that means a variety of offers. Some reach schools, like Harvard, are sending acceptance letters (hell yeah!), meaning you could study at an elite institution, but for hefty tuition. Other schools are sending big offers with full rides and stipends. And that’s just what is happening to G. They got into Harvard, but they’re already saddled with considerable debt from undergrad and grad school. Should they bite the bullet and go to Harvard? Or head somewhere else that won’t add to their debt load? Ben and Nathan mull it over—if you’re going into debt? Harvard, Stanford, and Yale are the three you would go into debt for. They offer G some advice, including deferring with Harvard and applying more broadly in the fall.

46:57 – US News Rankings

Deke shares a graph that tracks the US News law school rankings over the past decade, and the results are…eye-opening, to say the least. Outside of the top 20? Shit gets crazy. Schools climb and then drop in the rankings precipitously, leaving Deke to wonder what merit the rankings have at all outside of the top 14-20. The guys review and make some observations about some standout schools (both good and bad).

52:40 – Personal Statement Review

B asks the guys to review her personal statement—or rather shred it to pieces. And the guys oblige. They guys find a bunch of great stuff buried deep in the lengthy essay, but agree that the admissions staffer would have already swiped left before reaching the good stuff. Some pro tips? Treat your personal statement like you would your dating profile. If you wouldn’t put your baggage on your tinder profile? Don’t put it in your personal statement. Got amazing shit to say about how great you are? Make that the first sentence, y’all.