You're coming from a Cal State school, which, in reality, hurts you a little, in light of your GPA. If your major was a difficult one, that will compensate some. If you want to go to a T14 (Stanford, Berkeley), you will need a 165+. If you want to go to UCLA or USC, you need to score in the 160-165 range. USD, UCH, UCD, or Loyola, get 158-162. And if you want to go to USF or Southwestern, you need to plan on 155-159.
Essays and "soft factors" (i.e., work experience, LOR's, etc) can help a lot for URM's. If you worked a lot during school, be sure to tell the adcoms. Ditto if you have a history of doing poorly standardized exams. Do an addendum for either grades or LSAT
, but NOT BOTH. If you do both, you come off as making excuses. Besides, if you do both addenda, what you're telling adcoms is that they don't have anything reliable to evaluate you with, which leads to denials. If you do well on the LSAT, write an addendum for your grades (illness, family tragedy, learning disability, sensory impairment, etc).
If your grades improved as you progressed through school, be sure to highlight that, as well, as students almost always take the harder courses of their programs in the final two years. Put it in your GPA addendum.
Also, highlight your community service, if you have it. And write and rewrite and rewrite and re-edit and rewrite your personal statement at least 20 times, no joke. Make it perfect. You won't rewrite the entire thing, just edit parts of it for vernacular, sentence structure, organization, vocabulary, spelling and grammar, etc.
Buy these these books:The Elements of Style, Strunk and White ($20)
How to Get into the Top Law Schools, Richard Montauk ($25)
PowerScore Logic Games Bible ($40 new, Amazon.com)
PowerScore Logical Reasining Bible ($40 new, Amazon.com)
PowerScore Reading Comprehension Bible ($40 new, Amazon.com)
All Three Next 10 LSAT's ($20 each new, Books are Green, Purple and Red, Blue and Gold, Order at LSAC Website)
McGraw Hills LSAT ($20 Barnes and Noble) Note: Good for Logic Games only, especially diagramming...the best!
LSAC SuperPrep (free through LCAS Law Services if you are approved for a fee waiver)
Either Kaplan 180 or Kaplan Advanced
In addition, go to the LSAC website and Order tests #42-56
Take your last 15 proctored exams with these books, b/c they physically resemble the real testing materals (small, flat).
Read the Scientific American Magazine
Read the Wall Street Journal
Read The Smithsonian Magazine
Put in four-five hours per day every day
. Take at least three timed exams per week during your final two months of prep (you should ideally do six months of prep).
Start slowly. Lead off by reading the PowerScore books and doing all exercises thoroughly, studying the explanations. Begin with the Reading Comprehension Bible for two weeks. Read and re-read; repeat the lessons and study daily. The next two weeks do the Logical Reasoning Bible. Then in your final two weeks read the Logic Games Bible. Follow the approaches to the questions, but use the McGraw Hills Book to learn the most efficient diagramming techniques. Again...DO ALL EXERCISES and read all explanations. Note which questions give you the most trouble and devote extra time to them.
Begin using your SuperPrep Book after six-eight weeks...read it at night for 15-20 minutes before bed and in the morning. During your third month, begin doing the Next-10 and start timing yourself. Learn pacing. Take advantage of the fact that you don't have to do questions in order. In LR, the questions generally get more difficult towards the end of the section (last 5-6 questions), but not always.
Set aside a day for "Lab", where you work only on one section (LG, RC or LR) for that day (4-5 hours). Work on your weaknesses more than your strengths. That might seem redundant, but you'd be surprized; it takes discipline to do that.
Develop a schedule and stick to it. Don't worry about speed early on...worry about understanding the question types and how to approach them. Speed will come.
If you do these things I am telling you, you could be going to Stanford or Berkeley, no joke!
Feel free to PM me if you need anything else...