Which 2020-2021 LSAT Date Should You Choose?

BPPBPPtest-dates

There has never been more choices when it comes to taking the LSAT — there are three LSATs left in this 2019-20 LSAT “year” and the following “year” will feature eight more. But as anyone who has spent hours scrolling through Netflix to find a new show (before settling on something they’ve seen before (and spending most of the watch time on their phone)) can attest, more choice doesn’t always make the choice easier. So today, to make your LSAT choice a little less difficult, we’ll go through each of published LSAT dates through 2021 and discuss some pros and cons of each administration.

But first, the ground rules for choosing your LSAT ….

The most important factor, by far, in choosing an LSAT is study time. Studying for the LSAT is, for most people, a two-to-four month, twenty-hours-per-week process. So when choosing an LSAT, think about the two to four months before that test date. Will you have the time during those months to dedicate about twenty hours of weekly study time?

The second most important factor should be whether the LSAT will allow you to apply early in the law school admissions cycle. Law schools use rolling admissions, which means they start offering acceptance letters as soon as they start receiving applications. Ideally you want to get your applications submitted early in that cycle, before too many acceptance letters are sent out. You should aim to have your applications submitted by October or November in the year before you’d start your first year at law school (so October or November 2020 if you plan on starting law school in fall 2021). Obviously, taking an LSAT after that October or November would prevent you from meeting this goal.

And you definitely shouldn’t try to game the system by choosing an LSAT you’ve been told is usually “easier” than other LSATs. First of all, no one — other than the malicious logicians who make this test — knows how hard or easy an exam’s questions will be ahead of time. Second, LSATs are curved, so test takers who take an LSAT with “easier” questions have to answer more questions correctly to earn the same score as test takers who took an LSAT with “harder” questions. For that reason, no LSAT has been historically harder or easier than any other LSAT. You can’t game the system with the LSAT; any LSAT will require at least a few months of hard work, which brings us back to the first point.

And with all that said, let’s get to the 2020-21 LSAT dates …

March 30, 2020 (Monday, 12:30 pm)

Registration Deadline: February 11, 2020 (Tuesday)

This one’s fast approaching — as you can see, you have less than a week to sign up for it. Unless you’re already studying to prepare for this exam, or are just trying to boost your score by a couple points, it’s probably too late in the game to choose this one. But if you decide it’s March or Die, check out our one-month and two-month study plans.

April 25, 2020 (Saturday, 8:30 am)

Registration Deadline: March 10, 2020 (Tuesday)

The April 2020 LSAT exists in a weird liminal space. It’s administered too late in the year for applicants who want to begin law school in fall 2020, but it’s really early for applicants who want to begin law school in 2021. It’s administered quite a bit after most university’s spring break, so that week off won’t provide a late study opportunity. But it’s also administered a little bit before most university’s finals weeks, so finals studying probably won’t conflict with LSAT studying. So if you’re a graduate, or a university student who doesn’t mind threading the needle between spring break and finals, and you want to begin law school in 2021, and you want a lot of runway before the 2020-21 application season to retake the LSAT or get your application materials together, we can recommend the April LSAT.

June 8, 2020 (Monday, 12:30 pm) (disclosed test)

Registration Deadline: TBD

The June LSAT is perennially great for working folk. You can take the June LSAT and get your score back by July, giving you several months to leisurely compile your application materials before sending them in early in the admissions cycle. Even with a busy work schedule, the June LSAT grants you enough time to prevent your stress level from hitting the red during application season.

The June LSAT is a little less kind to folks still in school, however. It’s held less than a month after finals for most students (or around the same time as finals for students on the quarter system), which will obviously eliminate the study time you can dedicate to the June exam. For these students, we recommend holding off ’til July or later.

July 13, 2020 (Monday, 12:30 pm)

Registration Deadline: TBD

The July test can help out working folks nearly as much as the June LSAT. The scores will likely be released in mid-August, so those in the workforce will still have at least a month to build their application and submit them very early in the 2020-21 application cycle.

But the July LSAT helps out students and recent grads way more than the June LSAT. The July 2020 LSAT will be held a couple months after finals at most universities. We’d recommend starting the LSAT study process before you begin finals, pushing through finals weeks and the inevitable post-finals hangover, and then reigniting you LSAT studies in earnest, and carrying that momentum through July.

Also, night owls should be advised that this is the last afternoon LSAT in the 2020-21 year. So if you’d prefer not to take your test at the early hour of 8:30 am, consider July 2020.

And, nota bene, if you hear anything about being able to cancel your July LSAT score after receiving it, or getting a free retake if you cancel your July LSAT score, that applied only to the July 2019 LSAT. The July 2020 test offers no such deal.

August 29, 2020 (Saturday, 8:30 am) (disclosed)

Registration Deadline: TBD

This one’s super exciting for me. The fall LSAT has historically been held in mid-to-late September or early October. Before the July LSAT was introduced in 2018, students who wanted to use their summers to study for the LSAT were forced to take the September or October LSAT. However, the September or October LSAT would often conflict with midterms or papers for these students. So people would spend their entire summers getting ready for the LSAT, only for the LSAT to conflict with their Global Environment and World Politics class or something. For this reason, I’ve long advocated that the September/October LSAT should be moved to late July or August. So I’d love it if droves of you signed up to take this LSAT, just to prove me right.

But regardless of any selfish desires for validation, this is a pretty good date for any student who wants to use their summer to study for the LSAT. It’s especially good for those who want to go straight from undergrad to law school. Those students can dedicate the summer between their junior and senior year to study for the August test, which shouldn’t conflict with their senior-year classes.

That said, if you want to apply early in the application cycle, you should also use your summer to start assembling your applications. That way, you’ll have your applications ready to go around the time you’ll receive your score in September, allowing you to apply early.

October 3, 2020 (Saturday, 8:30 am)

Registration Deadline: TBD

This is another exam for students who want to use their summers to study. I think it’ll be especially good for students on the quarter system. They get out of school in mid-June, which would make it difficult to get fully prepared for the July or even August 2020 exams. But they’ll have plenty of time to get ready for the October test. And the fact that fall quarter classes won’t begin until late September means this exam won’t rub up against midterms or papers or anything like that.

Of course, those who are taking the October exam should make sure they have all their application materials ready to go before they receive their October scores in late October or early November. Otherwise, they may have to apply later in the cycle than they’d prefer.

November 14, 2020 (Saturday, 8:30 am) (disclosed test)

Registration Deadline: TBD

Now we’re at the LSATs “late” in the admissions cycle. If you’re taking these tests in anticipation of starting law school in 2021, then you won’t be able to apply early in the admissions cycle. Now, if these “late” tests are the only exams you can dedicate adequate study time to, that’s totally fine. We’ll refer back to the very first point we made — study time is the most important factor to consider when choosing an LSAT. Just make sure you’re getting your application materials together as you study for this test, so you can submit your applications as soon as you get your score back in early December.

In the last few years, this winter LSAT has been the most taken exam in the LSAT calendar year. So for the November test, test centers can fill up quickly, and test takers frequently get placed on the waitlist and sometimes assigned to test centers as many as 100 miles from their homes. The demand for the for the November exam, plus the fact that the LSAT switched to a digital format in September 2019, led to the November 2019 LSAT being a veritable disaster.

However, we’re cautiously optimistic that the November 2020 LSAT (and the rest of the 2020-21 LSATs, it should be said) will go a lot more smoothly. The January 2020 LSAT didn’t go perfectly for all test takers (frankly, and unfortunately, no LSAT does), but it went a helluva lot better than the November 2019 exam. And we’re hopeful that the test administrators will spend the year following the November 2019 exam recruiting and training new proctors who can ensure the exams will be held without a major hitch.

January 16, 2021 (Saturday, 8:30 am)

Registration Deadline: TBD

Another “late” LSAT. This one, at least, will allow students and workers alike to dedicate their holiday vacations to study time. As with October and November, make sure to assemble your applications as you study for this exam.

February 20, 2021 (Saturday, 8:30 am)

Registration Deadline: TBD

Now we’re in the “super late” portion of the 2020-21 application cycle. Some law schools won’t accept the February 2021 LSAT for 2021 matriculants; if you’re planning on taking this exam to attend law school in fall 2021, make sure the law schools you’re applying to will accept this exam. Alternatively, this test is in the “super early” portion of the 2021-22 application cycle. And any study time you dedicate to the February 2021 test will be done during the thick of winter, so you won’t be sacrificing any balmy summer days or crisp fall afternoons to the LSAT.

April 10, 2021 (Saturday, 8:30 am)

Registration Deadline: TBD

And we’re back to April. In 2021, however, the April LSAT will be positioned a little bit closer to most universities’ spring breaks, which can provide a helpful week of studying. It’s also a little bit further away from finals week, making those even less of a concern. Like the April 2020 exam, however, it’s too late in the year for those who want to begin law school in 2021 (although some law schools may still accept this exam — it never hurts to check).

—————

So, pre-lawyers, choose wisely, study up, and best of luck in 2020-21.

Leave a Reply

Your email will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>