Law School Discussion

Need advice, please

Need advice, please
« on: November 24, 2015, 09:56:51 PM »
Hi,

I think it might be best to provide some background info before asking for advice. I took the lsat twice in 2010, in February and December. First score was a 143 and the second was a 146. Terrible scores, I know. I was accepted into a non-ranked law school, experienced financial hardship while I attended, got bad grades and was academically dismissed after the third semester. I now have over $120,000+ in additional student debt. I will have to start over if I am accepted into another law school, so basically the time spent at that non-ranked law school was for nothing.

When I first started studying for the lsat in 2009, I approached it with an "undergrad mentality". Meaning that I thought I could buy lsat prep books, memorize info in those books and do well on the lsat (stupid, I know now). I did not take a timed exam for the February or December exam. I answered about half of the questions on both exams.

I decided to study for the lsat in late February 2013 (after the dismissal) with a different approach because my first approach did not work. I drilled question types for most of 2013. I started taking timed exams in 2014. I could not answer every question under timed conditions so I decided to start with a base number. In logical reasoning, for example, I could only answer 12 questions in 35 minutes. So I set a goal of 12 questions within 35 minutes. Then would increase to 13 questions the next month, 14 in the following month, etc. I set this goal for each section. I am now finishing 95% of the questions under timed conditions which I am fine with. The only questions I do not answer are the 5/6 questions in one reading comprehension passage.

I want to score a 165 or higher on the lsat. Right now I am scoring in the low 150s. I have taken preptests 29-40, 42, 44, 47, 50-68 timed. So the only exams remaining are 69-75. My plan was to take the February 2016 lsat but I do not think I will be scoring anywhere near a 165 in 2 months. There are a few reasons why I want to score a 165. First, it is doable. My blind review scores range from the mid 160s to high 160s.  I even have a few low 170 scores. Second, the thought of acquiring more debt for a law degree is scary. So I want to get a full scholarship. A 165 lsat score along with my undergrad GPA of a 3.5 can do that. Third, having an academic dismissal on record negatively impacts my appeal as a law school applicant. So I want to do as much as I can (i.e., score a 165 on the lsat) to become a more appealing applicant and also to show that I have the ability to succeed in law school.

So what would you do in my situation? I hate the idea of postponing but it appears that might be the best thing to do. One last thing to note, I work 40+ hours/week and commuted to work for almost a year in 2013 which is why my lsat progress has been slow.

Sorry for the long post.

Thank you for your time,

~Michelle



Re: Need advice, please
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2015, 08:56:09 AM »
Well it sounds like you are putting in a ton of effort and 143-146 are not amazing scores, but they are not terrible. I believe it puts you slightly under the top 50% of test takers.

A 165 may not be doable, to be perfectly honest it would put you in the top 20% of test takers and as you learned in your prior experience at the other law school it is not easy being in the top 50% of the class, let alone the top 20%.

I suppose you can take a Kaplan or other LSAT program, but again a 165 is difficult to get.

Additionally, the law school rank really does not mean that much, my school went from being a top 100 school when I enrolled to now being 138th I think and my job has not fired me, nor has a job denied my motion, in fact believe it or not the only time i ever discuss law school rankings is on this board. As a lawyer it never comes up.

Remember U.S. News is a for-profit unregulated magazine that has found a niche making insecure law students think it means something. Since you have gone through 1L you know the stress, confusion and insecurity that is prevalent in any 1L class. What better way to make money than to make up some ranking based on nothing in that situation, it is a genius move on their part, but it really means nothing.

So as to getting a 165 all you can really do is take the LSAT again and see what happens. If you want to spend a few thousand more dollars enroll in a course, but there is absolutely no guarantee you will get a 165 and odds are if you got a 143-146 originally a 20 point jump is unlikely, maybe a 150-155 is doable, but even if you got a 165 the bigger issue will be not getting academically dismissed.

A good LSAT score doesn't mean anything once your in school and more importantly even if you get a 165 on the LSAT it does not mean your passing the bar either.

Good luck to you, but don't set unrealistic expectations on yourself. Law school is doable and even with a 143 LSAT you can graduate from law school and a get a licensed to practice law. What you do with it after that it is up to you.

Here is a good article http://www.legalmatch.com/choose-the-right-law-school.html that explains how to choose a law school, even if you get a 150, 165 and I personally hope you get a 180, but since only 1% of people get a 180 there is a 99% chance you will not.


Re: Need advice, please
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2015, 09:29:31 AM »
Hi Michelle,

I'm going to come at this from a different angle, since I didn't see it addressed in your original post. Before you even spend five minutes on the LSAT, have you identified why you ran into serious problems in law school, and are you confident that you have developed a plan to deal with them the second time around?

Remember, your low LSAT score was not the reason that you were dismissed. Something else happened once you got to law school that you were not able to effectively manage. Perhaps it was time constraints, financial worries, test anxiety, I don't know. The point is that law school has not gotten easier since 2010, and if you have not addressed the "why?" issue, then you're setting yourself up for another hard time. It is critical that you identify the problem and figure out how to deal with it first.

Please understand that I'm not trying to be overly harsh, but getting academically dismissed is a big deal and it indicates that you are gong to need to make MAJOR changes to your entire approach, not just a higher LSAT score. After law school you're going to have to face the bar exam, which makes the LSAT look like kindergarten. Get this issue figured out first.

If you score 165+, that's awesome. It will give you some options. With an academic dismissal, however, I don't know if you will be eligible for scholarships. Thus, you need to decide whether or not you are willing to accrue more debt to get a JD. That's a question that only you can answer, but be realistic about your goals and earning potential and let that guide your decisions.

Re: Need advice, please
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2015, 06:42:51 PM »
Thank you both for the responses.

Maintain FL 350, I identified the problems awhile ago. The main reason why I had such a difficult time in law school was due to my financial situation. I had almost $10,000 in credit card debt, no job and was 100% dependent on financial aid. The financial aid was insufficient to live on for each semester and actually ran out half-way through each one. I lived in my car at one point and went up 48 hours without eating several times during each semester. I did not have a meal before any of the finals and suffered from sleep deprivation.

The second reason was partly due to my learning strategy. I started changing it during the second semester and landed in the top 80%+ on several midterms. I did more adjusting during the third semester and got the top score on two midterms. So I had the ability to do well but my financial situation pretty much negated that.

There is some silver lining though. Two of my Professors, the Assistant Dean at the law school and another Professor who is on several of the school's committees, are both willing to write letters of recommendation for me. They knew of my financial situation and also acknowledged how prepared I was for class.

Re: Need advice, please
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2015, 08:29:59 PM »
Hi,

I think it might be best to provide some background info before asking for advice. I took the lsat twice in 2010, in February and December. First score was a 143 and the second was a 146. Terrible scores, I know. I was accepted into a non-ranked law school, experienced financial hardship while I attended, got bad grades and was academically dismissed after the third semester. I now have over $120,000+ in additional student debt. I will have to start over if I am accepted into another law school, so basically the time spent at that non-ranked law school was for nothing.

When I first started studying for the lsat in 2009, I approached it with an "undergrad mentality". Meaning that I thought I could buy lsat prep books, memorize info in those books and do well on the lsat (stupid, I know now). I did not take a timed exam for the February or December exam. I answered about half of the questions on both exams.

I decided to study for the lsat in late February 2013 (after the dismissal) with a different approach because my first approach did not work. I drilled question types for most of 2013. I started taking timed exams in 2014. I could not answer every question under timed conditions so I decided to start with a base number. In logical reasoning, for example, I could only answer 12 questions in 35 minutes. So I set a goal of 12 questions within 35 minutes. Then would increase to 13 questions the next month, 14 in the following month, etc. I set this goal for each section. I am now finishing 95% of the questions under timed conditions which I am fine with. The only questions I do not answer are the 5/6 questions in one reading comprehension passage.

I want to score a 165 or higher on the lsat. Right now I am scoring in the low 150s. I have taken preptests 29-40, 42, 44, 47, 50-68 timed. So the only exams remaining are 69-75. My plan was to take the February 2016 lsat but I do not think I will be scoring anywhere near a 165 in 2 months. There are a few reasons why I want to score a 165. First, it is doable. My blind review scores range from the mid 160s to high 160s.  I even have a few low 170 scores. Second, the thought of acquiring more debt for a law degree is scary. So I want to get a full scholarship. A 165 lsat score along with my undergrad GPA of a 3.5 can do that. Third, having an academic dismissal on record negatively impacts my appeal as a law school applicant. So I want to do as much as I can (i.e., score a 165 on the lsat) to become a more appealing applicant and also to show that I have the ability to succeed in law school.

So what would you do in my situation? I hate the idea of postponing but it appears that might be the best thing to do. One last thing to note, I work 40+ hours/week and commuted to work for almost a year in 2013 which is why my lsat progress has been slow.

Sorry for the long post.

Thank you for your time,

~Michelle
Where you trying to work in while going to law school? Most of the lower law schools have most of their student do this.
Its a stupid death trap. Could a person who got into Harvard do that and survive? Barely. Could you? Maybe? But why do that. If you "have to work" don't go to school. That is what the living expenses is for. That is why they give you that extra $15,000 a year. If you can't live on that. Don't go to school. You WILL fail. Harsh reality.

If you failed without working, don't even try again. Not trying to be mean.

Re: Need advice, please
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2015, 09:24:39 AM »
Where you trying to work in while going to law school? Most of the lower law schools have most of their student do this.
Its a stupid death trap. Could a person who got into Harvard do that and survive? Barely. Could you? Maybe? But why do that. If you "have to work" don't go to school. That is what the living expenses is for. That is why they give you that extra $15,000 a year. If you can't live on that. Don't go to school. You WILL fail. Harsh reality.

If you failed without working, don't even try again. Not trying to be mean.

Hi Trinitite,

No worries; you did not come off mean. You are correct, in fact. I should not have attended law school while in that kind of a financial situation. I did not work at the time because the law school put a cap of 10 hours per week. Working 10 hours per week would be worth neither the time nor money because the little extra money earned from it would have not been enough to alleviate anything.

I am currently in the process of paying off all personal debt and saving money for law school. That way, I will not have 10 monthly payments to make while in school and will have money set aside, two things that were not present while I was attending school.

Re: Need advice, please
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2015, 11:38:13 AM »
Where you trying to work in while going to law school? Most of the lower law schools have most of their student do this.
Its a stupid death trap. Could a person who got into Harvard do that and survive? Barely. Could you? Maybe? But why do that. If you "have to work" don't go to school. That is what the living expenses is for. That is why they give you that extra $15,000 a year. If you can't live on that. Don't go to school. You WILL fail. Harsh reality.

If you failed without working, don't even try again. Not trying to be mean.

Hi Trinitite,

No worries; you did not come off mean. You are correct, in fact. I should not have attended law school while in that kind of a financial situation. I did not work at the time because the law school put a cap of 10 hours per week. Working 10 hours per week would be worth neither the time nor money because the little extra money earned from it would have not been enough to alleviate anything.

I am currently in the process of paying off all personal debt and saving money for law school. That way, I will not have 10 monthly payments to make while in school and will have money set aside, two things that were not present while I was attending school.
You sound like you have a good plan, I wish you the best
Also try to take the LOWEST course load you can to start (easier to get good grades in less classes-easier to focus)

Also, don't rule out bankruptcy. It wont pay off the student loans, but will the rest and can be explained at character and fitness easier than falling behind on everything.

As for student debt, just IBR it. Honestly.

Re: Need advice, please
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2015, 02:23:22 AM »
 :) :) :)I want to go here,too.

Re: Need advice, please
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2016, 06:08:41 PM »
Hi Travis,

Thank you very much for the response; it is greatly appreciated!

Shortly after the dismissal I spoke with admission counselors from each school that I plan to apply to. Each one stressed that it was imperative to improve my LSAT score and to explain (as precise as possible) the reason(s) behind the dismissal. I briefly explained to them what I experienced and how that negatively impacted my performance on the finals. Each counselor said that I have an appropriate issue to address in an addendum letter. They were also impressed to learn that the assistant Dean of the law school is willing to write a 505 letter for me along with two other Professors who are willing to write letters of recommendation.

I created an eleven month LSAT prep schedule. 3 months will consist of games review where I will work on familiarity and methodology. 5 months will be spent on logical reasoning review/methodology. 3 months will be dedicated to taking timed exams. I will spend at least 3 days a week on LSAT prep, four days will be the maximum in order to avoid burn out. Does this sound like a good prep schedule?

Thank you for your time :).


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Re: Need advice, please
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2016, 07:31:45 PM »
I want to score a 165 or higher on the lsat. Right now I am scoring in the low 150s.

My theory is that you must score at least a 165 on the LSAT.