By Neal Chamberlain
Shove a number two pencil, a couple tissues, keys, snacks, a valid ID and some basic hygiene products in a one-gallon Ziploc and you”ve got the LSAT in the bag.
A plastic baggy crammed with the bare essentials and hours of intense preparation time are the only weapons pre-law students are allowed to have when they hold the law in their hands, the LSAT.
Between 200 and 250 students will come one step closer to law school Monday when they take the Law School Admissions Test at noon in the Wilkinson Student Center. Dedicating time to prepare for the LSAT is crucial, said Catherine Bramble, J.D. and BYU pre-law Advisor.
“We recommend four to six months and ten to fifteen hours a week [of preparation time],” Bramble said. “It”s the single most heavily weighed factor in [law school] admissions.”
There are no rules that require students to prepare for a certain number of hours before taking the test. In fact, Bramble said some people study for months and others take the test without studying at all.
“I think people, whose second language is English, usually spend closer to a year studying,” Bramble said. “Then you get the range of people still walking in cold; which is crazy to me.”
Dozens of LSAT preparation courses are available to warm and prepare the cold minds of those looking to take the test. Bramble said courses provided by BYU, Ace and Kaplan are well established and recommended.
Whether having prepared for hours, days, weeks or months, the time eventually comes to take the test. Last year 140,048 people nationwide took the LSAT, according to the Law School Admission Council.
Students take the test at different times in their lives. Last fall, 25 percent of all law school applicants were 22 years old or younger; about 38 percent were 23 to 25; and about 19 percent were between ages 26 and 29. Ten percent were over 34 years old.
BYU students, who chose Monday as the right time in their lives to take the LSAT, will be tested on five sections. These sections cover logical reasoning, reading comprehension, and logic games.
Jordan Putnam, 24, a political science major from San Diego, has spent months preparing for the LSAT. He said the content of the test will not be the most challenging part. Timing will be the most difficult part of taking the test on Monday, Putnam said.
“It”s just the fact that it”s timed,” Putnam said. “So just getting your timing down has been the hardest part in preparing for the test.”
Similar to the rules of the ACT and SAT, students are required to drop their pencils when time has expired. Monitors, or proctors, make sure students do not try to sneak in one more answer after the time is up. Bramble said between 10 and 15 monitors will strictly enforce time regulations on Monday.
“I”ve heard the BYU proctors tend to be a little more strict and little less lenient than at other places,” Putnam said.
Dallin Merrill, 23, from Highland Village, TX, graduated from BYU and was recently accepted to St. Louis University School of Law based on his LSAT score. He said it”s important to take time to prepare for the test but that it never seems to be enough.
“It doesn”t matter how much you prepare. You always feel like you should have done more,” Merrill said. “And while the LSAT is important and heavily weighted, if you don”t do as good as you”d hoped it is definitely not the end of the world.”