Law School Applications
LSAT & CAS
Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)
The LSAT is offered four times each year: February, June, October, and December. Generally, the best time to take it is in June preceding your application, since this allows you to more accurately assess your chances of admission to a given school at the time of year when you are deciding to which schools you will apply. It also gives you plenty of time to retake the test if needed. Taking the test in October can crowd application deadlines because your score will not be released until the end of the month. December test-takers lose the potential advantage which the early application has to those schools having "rolling" admissions policies. Because of the holiday schedule, December scores are not released until after the first of the year. In the tough competition, we urge taking advantage of any edge you can get. Law schools suggest that "borderline" candidates put themselves at a certain disadvantage by getting their applications completed only at or near the deadline.
The LSAT is probably not a test you're used to so preparation is very important. Registrants should thoroughly review and study the preparation material and sample LSAT, included in the LSAT/CAS information online at the Law School Admissions Council website. More than a few applicants opt to take a test preparation course. These courses are now up to, or over, the thousand-dollar range and do not guarantee better results than applicants who have studied on their own. A conservative (moneysaving) first step should be to take an actual previously administered LSAT test under simulated test conditions. You can buy these previously administered tests online from the LSAT people. If you need some organized preparation, see if you have the discipline to follow the LSAT-SuperPrep manual. If you find you need the organized peer-pressure to systematically do the rather tedious drills, then there are a number of good (and costly!) prep courses which would be happy to take your money.
Taking the LSAT a second (or third) time is recommended only in those cases where the individual is fairly confident that s/he will score at least 6-10 points better the next time around. Law schools may expect this much improvement due to a practice effect alone. While schools are now required to report the higher of multiple scores, each law school has its own policy on how multiple scores will be viewed in the evaluation of an application.
Finally, when registering for the LSAT, please answer "yes" to the question which asks you if you are willing to authorize the strictly confidential sharing of your test results. This will not compromise the confidentiality of your score other than to allow the LSAC to generate (anonymous) statistics on Princeton applicants. These stats have helped you by allowing you to know the "numbers" of previous Princeton applicants. Be certain to answer "yes" so that your information will help future Princeton applicants.
Credential Assembly Service (CAS)
You must use the CAS when applying to any U.S. ABA approved law school. (Law schools in Canada do not require use of the CAS.) You may register for the CAS at the time you register for the LSAT, or you may wait and do so several months prior to when you will apply to law schools. CAS provides a standardized analysis of your transcript(s) to the law schools. This is explained in detail on the CAS website.
The CAS provides law schools with copies of your "report". This report contains your LSAT score, a copy of the written essay, your academic report (the standardized analysis) and your transcript(s), and your letters of recommendation. You must use the CAS for your letters of recommendation. If you previously had letters of recommendation stored at Career Services, those letters must now be sent on to CAS. Once your application is complete, the law school will contact the LSAC and ask for your CAS report to be sent. A fee of $16.00 per report will be charged to your account. Read the LSAC web site information completely for instructions on using your CAS account.
Once you have registered with CAS, you must have the Registrar's Office send one official transcript. The transcript form is bar-coded to ensure timely processing of your transcript once received by CAS. (Do not send your transcript yourself - it will not be accepted by CAS. It must come from Registrar's Office.) Do not wait until the time you apply to law schools to have your transcript sent as it often can take several weeks for processing at CAS. Take care of this application detail early.