Pre-Law Information Guide
This is a guide to help advisors answer some basic questions that students thinking about law school may have. Any students who are seriously considering applying to law school, or would just like some more information are encouraged to meet with the Pre-Law Advisor at Centenary:
Dr. Christopher Parker
Department of History and Political Science
Magale Library Basement 24A
Frequently Asked Questions:
What factors are considered in admission to law school?
A: Far and away the most important factors influencing law school admissions are a student’s GPA and their scores on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). Extracurricular activities and letters of recommendation are usually only important in borderline cases.
When should I take the LSAT?
A: The LSAT should be taken either in June after your junior year or September/October of your senior year. Students are not advised to take the LSAT earlier, as generally students perform better after completing their junior year.
Should I take the LSAT once for practice?
A: Students should definitely not take the LSAT for practice. When LSAT scores are reported, law schools receive the scores for all tests taken. Schools do place an emphasis on the highest score, so if you do receive a score below your expectations it may be a good idea to take the test again. However, this should not be your strategy from the start.
Should I take a commercial LSAT preparation course?
A: The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) does not recommend taking a commercial course, however, for students who have difficulty with standardized tests a prep course may help to reduce anxiety and increase confidence. At the very least the course will not harm your LSAT scores. Although these courses are expensive, members of the Pre-Law Society receive a discount from Princeton Review. All students should take the sample test included in the LSAT registration or from other LSAT information guides, as it is very helpful to know what kinds of questions are on the LSAT.
Are there any tips for taking the LSAT?
A: You should begin studying well in advance of your test date so that you know and are comfortable with the kinds of questions that will be on the test (many prep courses will involve at least 3 to 4 months of preparation). Use the study skills you developed at Centenary. Practice taking the test. Sample tests are available on the Law School Admissions Council website (www.lsac.org). You don’t want to have to waste time reading directions, so you should go in knowing what to expect from the test. Get a good night’s sleep.
What is the best major for Pre-Law?
A: The LSAC recommends a broadly based training in liberal arts and sciences, and thus there is no single “preferred” major. The liberal arts mission at Centenary fits this recommendation, but generally any major that stresses analytical reason, writing ability, and oral communication skills should be considered.
Does a double major help getting into law school?
A: No, the key is the broadly based training in liberal arts and sciences. A double major is not a factor in law school admissions.
What about letters of recommendation?
A: Most law schools require one to three letters from professors and from a Dean or Pre-Law Advisor. You should get letters from faculty members who really know you, as general letters of recommendation carry no weight. Keep this in mind throughout your career at Centenary. Give your professors something good to write about and don’t expect them to write a good letter if you don’t show consistently good behavior throughout your career.
Recommended Courses for Pre-Law Students:
From the ABA:
• History, particularly American history
• Political Theory and American Political System
• Ethical theory and theories of justice
• Economics, especially microeconomics, and economics and public policy
• Math, such as pre-calculus and financial math
• Basic understanding of human behavior and social interaction
• Understanding of diverse cultures, international institutions, and interdependence of nations
At Centenary you should take Introduction to Law: PSC 208: Introduction to the Law and try to take at least one course from each category:
Case Reading and Analysis: PSC 355: Constitutional Law or PSC 356: Civil Rights and Liberties
History: American History 1 or 2.
Ethical and Political Theory: PHIL 202: Ethics or PHIL 309: Topics in Social and Political Philosophy
American Political System: PSC 102: Introduction to American Politics or PSC 336: Judicial Behavior and Politics
International Political Institutions: PSC 324S: International Laws and Organization
Economics: ECON 151: Introduction to Economics; BUSN 223: Commercial Law
Math: PHIL 210: Symbolic Logic; ACCT 203: Principles of Accounting; ACCT 204: Managerial Cost Accounting
Diverse Cultures: TREK Culture Requirement; BA Language Requirement
Freshman and Sophomore Years
- Attend Pre-Law Society meetings
- Begin taking some of the suggested courses to develop your analytical and writing skills that are valued by law schools.
- Concentrate on maintaining a high GPA.
- Plan to satisfy your TREK requirements and strengthen your application. Internships and volunteer work can satisfy both the Community and Culture requirements.
- Complete your TREK requirements. Projects completed after your junior year won’t help your application as much.
- Volunteer or intern with a lawyer or local law office.
- Register and begin preparing for the LSAT. Get your hands on sample tests and preparation books, and register for an LSAT prep course if you desire to take one.
- Continue to maintain a high GPA while taking the some of the upper level courses that will more rigorously develop the skills that will help you in law school.
- Meet with the Pre-Law Advisor to discuss your courses and the application process.
- If feasible, during the summer visit some of the law schools that are on your wish list.
- Maintain a high GPA.
- Attend local law forums or law school fairs that are generally held at large schools during the fall.
- Write to law schools to obtain catalogues and application forms (a large collection of law school catalogues is also available outside of Dr. Parker’s office)
- Register for the October LSAT if you did not take it in June, or if you received a low grade in June and wish to retake the exam.
- Request letters of recommendation.
- Write your personal statement.
- Applications should then be completed and sent to schools as early as possible in the fall. Many schools use a “rolling admissions” procedure and this benefits students who apply early.
Pre-Law Advising Links:
2) LSAT Preparation
Princeton Review(Princeton Review also has a representative,
Erin Savoie, with office on campus in Centenary Square. Erin is available to meet with students and provide them with more information about LSAT prep with Princeton review, as well as about law school in general)
Test Prep Practice
4) Law School Admissions Council
The LSAC website is a great source for information about law schools, the application process, the LSATs and the legal profession in general.
General information on all steps of the application process: http://www.lsac.org/jd/default.asp
For information on Centenary's Pre-law program, contact:
Dr. Christopher Parker
Department of History and Political Science