Recently, we’ve been getting a lot of emails from high school and university students about how to get into law school, medical school, teachers college, and post-graduate programs. We surveyed 10 different students in different professional programs and collected their responses and combined them to give you some tips.
TIP # 1: Talk to Others / Use the People Around You as a Resource:
The number one tip all five students gave us had nothing to do with grades, or building a resume. The number one tip was for applicants to better use the people around as resources. Some of our tips came from students who hadn’t gotten in the first time they applied, but by talking to those who had gotten in, they had gained insight and adjusted their application to be more diversely appealing, resulting in an acceptance the second time around. “It always surprises me,” said one student, “when I talk to a high school student who says they are interested in medicine, and I give them my contact information so they can email me questions, and they never follow-up. What better way to gain insight into the process than to ask someone who has been through it successfully? There, right before you, you have someone who is living your dream – why would you not want to soak up all the knowledge and insight you could possibly get?”
We think this is an excellent point. Students often get insight into the career by talking to professionals in the field – in the same way, talking to a student who has successfully gotten in, and has completed a year or more, can give you incredible insight into submitting a successful application. We know it’s really hard to stroke someone’s ego, and listen to them brag about how awesome they are for getting in, while you are waiting so patiently, but put your pride aside, and make the most of the resource. People value their time carefully – if you have someone who is willing to sit there and email back answers to your questions, or meet you over lunch and share their knowledge, take that offer gratefully. They just might have that little something you are missing.
Another student talked about using people as a resource in a different way: “I always thought asking a current, academically strong law student to write you a reference letter would be a smart idea. For a current student to write ‘I’ve been through two years of law school at X school, and I can attest that this person would do wonderfully in law school, and would make an excellent addition to our student body’ – that would hold a lot of weight, I think, because it’s a person talking from current experience in the program. If you have to get three references anyways, why not get a friend or extended family member in law school to write you a character reference? They are sure to write you a strong reference, and will only be willing to do so if they think genuinely that you are a good candidate – after all, their reputation is on the line by recommending you.”
This is another great idea. On the Windsor Law application, for example, they have a question on each reference form that asked if the reference writer had been to law school themselves. We thought this was such a smart question – how can anyone who has never been through med school or law school attest to whether or not you would do well there? How would they know if they have never been themselves? Plus, there is no harm is getting a diverse set of references – from an employer, from an academic, but also someone who can attest to your character.
TIP # 2: Apply to a “Guaranteed In”/”Sure Thing” School – Even If Its Far Away
Some of the students we talked to applied to only a few schools during their first round, and regretted it deeply: “I was so sure I would get in the first time, that I didn’t apply to my back-up school. I was so shocked when I didn’t get in anywhere and so disappointed… but the second time, I applied everywhere and sure enough, I got in.”
Another student warned against this, though, stating “Applying everywhere is NOT the same as applying to a ‘guaranteed in’ school. My friend has applied to every med school across the province, but when you ask him where he think he is sure to get in, he shrugs, because he isn’t sure. If he really wanted to go to medical school, then he ought to apply to a guaranteed back-up somewhere outside the province, or outside the country.”
We really want to emphasize this point – applying everywhere isn’t the same as applying somewhere you are likely to get in. A lot of students become short-sighted, and worry about writing transfer exams back to Canada after they complete a professional degree in the US or UK (both of which are becoming increasingly competitive), or racking up a lot of student debt. Undoubtedly, those are real concerns (especially the latter) but the alternative is you might not get in anywhere at all. For those of you who haven’t applied to a “sure thing” back up, consider doing so now – many state schools still accept applications through the summer, and some will even let you apply for free. What could be the harm? You can always turn it down once you get accepted somewhere else. But do you really want to lose a year because you didn’t apply to a sure thing the first time?
There is another quick point we wanted to make – there isn’t any harm in spending a year to take extra courses to boost your GPA, or taking a year off to re-write the MCAT, LSAT, GMAT, etc. and get a really good score. Taking that time and improving your application might just be the thing you need to get in, and you could save yourself literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. But be realistic – if your chances are still looking bleak after trying to improve your application, there wouldn’t be any harm in applying to a few back-ups. As we pointed out – you can always turn down the school once you’ve gotten in … but as the famous Wayne Gretzky once said, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
Part II is coming soon!
Got any tips of your own, or questions about surviving your studenthood experience? Leave a comment below, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Welcome LSATers! Congrats on completing the first LSAT test of the new year. While its not exactly the Valentine’s weekend you had planned, hopefully the LSAT was so awesome, it was like giant lovefest for you.
We’ve discovered how important the LSAT is to our readers and subscribers, so we will dedicate a post or two which include everything and anything about the LSAT – your experiences, updates we get on scores, and what people around the world thought of it. We open the comments section up to hear your thoughts and feelings, so comment away! We will also be posting updates right here on this post, so bookmark our website, and check back here every once in a while before your score comes out to see what people are saying.
Upon completing your test, I am sure anxiety set in, coupled with your irritation that you didn’t have your cellphone on you and had to wait forever to use the pay-phone and for someone to come pick up. But while the gnawing feeling in your chest may last until your score comes in, we here at Surviving Studenthood, are here to ease the burden and share in communal experiences.
Now that it’s over, relax. Enjoy a big lunch, turn on the TV and catch up on your old shows, so peruse the web for awesome sites (like ours, and The Wonders of Womanhood!), and after a re-charing break (or day) get back to the assignment you have due Monday.
How was the Feb LSAT? Any sections particularly hard? Was it easier or harder than previous sittings? What would be advice you’d give for the June 2011 LSAT-ers?
Updates and Additions to our Feb 2011 LSAT post
So, while we keep you posted on the 2010 Oct LSAT sitting (we suspect there may not be much for the next week-ish), we must turn our attention to those pesky law school applications which have been hiding in the rather magnanimous shadow of the LSAT. For those of you applying to Ontario Law Schools, the deadline is right around the corner, on Nov 1st, 2010. While you may be biting your nails in anxious fever about your score, don’t chew to the bone, because you need those fingers for typing!
Lets look at a couple things for applications.
I thought the anxiety of the 2010 October LSAT would magically disappear after I wrote the test. Evidently not, as Surviving Studenthood kindly designates another post about this test despite the fact that there are only a few of us wrote it. In keeping with whole-hearted fashion of pursing every post to its fullest, we have decided not only to write a re-cap post, but to keep posting updates – all the information we can find, as soon as we find it! – about the LSAT; such as the grading curve (that is, how many questions you can get wrong and still get a 170), when scores start to be released (as they take several hours to process – we will let you know when people start getting their scores) and any other exciting news about this LSAT!
So, lets recap:
Test Difficulty: There seems to be a tug-of-war opinion about whether this test was harder than the June 2010 LSAT. A friend of mine (and a co-writer for Surviving Studenthood!) who wrote both said she though the June one was harder, but her testing experience was different then – more commuting, more pressure, and more panic – all of which may contribute to her opinion. What are your thoughts? Was the test more challenging in Oct or June?
Section Difficulty: Reading Comprehension seems to have been a big problem for many test-takers – less for content reasons, and more for structural reasons. Apparently a passage on African-American nationalism had people’s knickers in a twist – I didn’t find it particularly challenging, but I did have to stop after reading the passage and really think about the author’s point before I moved to the questions. It has people in a rather uncomfortable and unhappy position. Apparently Reading Comp was time-consuming and had too many questions regarding inference or required referral back to the passage (e.g. detail questions).
Logic games seems to be a mixed bag – some people found it to be perfectly fine, and others thought it was not so hot. It seems wording was also a problem here: what were relatively easy games (e.g. grouping, distribution etc.) discombobulated people with strange wording. One person mentioned the car game as sporting unnecessarily round-about wording (though not a tough game once you got your head around it), and another student mentioned there were too many conditionals – requiring test-takes to re-draw out the game for every question. It seems wording rather than difficulty is what snatch away time for excellent score in this section.
If you felt that way about either of the sections, don’t worry about it – enough of a similar response from other LSAT takers will result in a more lenient grading curve (as in June 2010).
Logical reasoning seemed to be the most positively received – there is a debate going around about whether there were new types of questions on the LSAT. One student mentioned the question about the abridgment to Shakespeare’s Hamlet – which I confess had me stumped. I spent over a minute thinking “Wait, how am I supposed to know that? What are they even asking me?!” – but I think it was, subtly, an inference question. The same individual mentioned the car-theft question as well, but I confess I don’t remember it clearly enough to admit if it could be or couldn’t be categorized into an existing category of question types. Apparently one Logical reasoning section was notably harder than the other, but they both seemed to be better received than the other sections.
Testing Conditions: Like every other test, testing conditions vary around the world. I’ve read posts online of someone’s phone going off for a full minute during the test, someone else had a cougher right next to them that threw off their concentration.
From one of my favourite LSAT blogs, I read the following:
### In breaking news, our NY affiliates report a rumor that in a testing center in Columbia, the proctor asked that anyone with a phone place it on the table in the front of room. Those that did so were dismissed. Ouch.
Ouch is right. Aren’t you glad we told you not to bring your phone at all to the testing site in our previous post?
A couple of test-centers had an issue with hoodies – of course, there are always students who never bother to read the rules, and three hundred people have to sit and wait for every hooded test-taker to be escorted by a proctor one-by-one to place their sweater on the side. It happened at my testing center, and I think those students are very lucky – they could have been dismissed, like at Columbia. For future LSAT takers – PLEASE, read the rules IN FULL, well in advance of the test date – it will make your own testing experience more pleasant.
Should You Cancel Your Score?
Off the bat, I would discourage you from cancelling your scores. Often test-takers come home with unfounded test-day fears which subside when they receive their scores. For others, keeping your score is important for an accurate reflection of your true LSAT ability on a testing-day – an experience you cannot get from your practice test experience, no matter how closely you mimic the test day environment.
I talked to a student who wrote the test in June – she didn’t do so great, and she came back with a vengeance for October. While you may not be able to accurately predict how you did, there is no stigma in needing to repeat your test. All Canadian schools, and many US schools take your highest, rather than an average score. According to an admissions office I spoke to, there are too many students who re-write the test to be discriminatory. And although I suggested writing the LSAT multiple times may influence the admissions panel’s opinion about you when comparing to a candidate who only wrote it once, she firmly disagreed. Her advice (along with other admissions officer at difference schools) is: if you can improve your LSAT score, write it again – the point is to present the very best application and score you can. They recognize that students have a bad day or testing experience, and they don’t discriminate because someone had a good testing experience the first time they wrote the test as opposed to the second. In the end, you are judged on how well you fair in that testing session, and that’s that.
If you really feel the urge to cancel your score, you have 6 calendar says from your test date to notify LSAC. If you have LSAT jitters, wait it out, and spend the next three weeks immersed in something else. In my opinion, its better to know than be left guessing, but you need to go with your gut feeling. Remember, even if you do cancel your score, it will count as an LSAT sitting – and you are limited to writing the LSAT three times in a span of two years.
** Updates **
4:37PM Friday October 29th, 2010
Its 20 minutes to 5pm, and according to our sources, NO ONE has received their scores. There has been no changing of little green icons to grey. While there is still time yet, it seems unlikely to me that everyone’s scores can be processed today – hence, no one scores will be.
We will keep you posted, but my suggestion is you enjoy a wonderful Halloween, and then come back here Monday morning and we will give you any updates we find.
2:01 PM Friday October 29th, 2010
We’ve hit the 2 o’clock mark, with no updates on scores yet. It seems NO ONE is reporting a score release. There is talk that generally most of the scores come out between 3-4pm, but there is also a question of whether scores just might be released on Monday, as reported.
We’ll keep you posted!
12:25 PM Friday October 29th, 2010
Okay, so some sources say the June LSAT scores started coming out around 3 – I got mine at 2:50, so maybe I was one of the earlier batches, I don’t know.
No one seems to know how the scores are released – by test centre, by score, by your favourite colour :). Haha!
Hang on tight – and leave your comments below! I get the impression the time is close – people are seeing weird changes in their previous LSAT scores, which may indicate accounts are being activated.
11:37 AM Friday October 29th, 2010
I finally made it to bed last night, and got up to frantically check my email. I read somewhere that people have gotten their scores by 6AM but no such luck for me. Further research and talking to sources makes it seem that no one has gotten their scores yet, which is very interesting.
The June 2010 lsat scores were first received around 11ish, I believe – I know for sure by 3pm I had my score, but several people were waiting well into the evening. The fact that there has been no activity at all (changing of the score date from Nov 1st to Fri Oct 29th, little icons changing) is interesting.
If something happens and scores are not released today, there will be no processing till Monday. I understand LSAC is closed over the weekend, so at least there will be no agonizing during Halloween.
There is plenty of time yet – so we will keep you posted 🙂
12:11 AM Friday October 29th, 2010
As we mentioned in this last update, it is likely today is the day we will start seeing changes. I’m so nervous – I feel sick. 🙂 But hey, we are in this together, and worrying isn’t going to help!
What can we tell you so far?
Your LSAC account will show your score before you get an email. To view your score, log into your LSAC account, place your mouse on the “LSAT” tab and select “LSAT Status” from the drop down menu. It will show your score there. A good way to tell your score will be coming in is when the green icons — — which stand for “not available yet” will change to grey icons — — which means “cannot be displayed”. Your account is being processed and a score will be available then.
The scores come out in batches, but no one knows what the order is. Previously people on the east coast got their scores first, but it is up in the air every LSAT. We shall keep you posted on the score release progress, so check back here for details, and for other wonderful posts on surviving ‘studenthood’. Please subscribe to our blog (you can enter your email address) to get emails on all of our other wonderful posts!
Good luck to all!
One week to go! Based on the last six previous LSATs, score have been released early. Starting Friday Oct 29th, people should start to see changes in their LSAC account – icons will change from “unavailable” (or little green icons) to “pending” or little grey icons. We shall keep you posted on the developments of scoring. Hang tight! We are almost there!
Nothing yet – we just posted this post! 🙂 Keep coming back to check – we will post up any and every update we scour out about the LSAT on this post.
Please leave your thoughts, advice and experiences in a comment section below! What did you think of the 2010 October LSAT test and testing experience?