The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Law school hopefuls face exam

Emma Driscoll | Friday, September 29, 2006

While the atmosphere on most of campus tomorrow morning will be alive with traditional home game excitement, the atmosphere in DeBartolo Hall will be significantly more serious when students hunch over and face the Law School Admission Test [LSAT].

“A lot of students express anxiety about [the LSAT] happening on a game day,” said Arts and Letters Associate Director Ava Preacher, who serves as the law advisor for the University.

But Preacher said there have been at least nine LSATs administered on game days during the years since she has been advising those interested in law, and during those years, students have not come back to complain about the timing.

Since students usually arrive early for the exam, tests are administered in DeBartolo’s interior rooms and doors are locked during the exam, Preacher is sure test-takers “won’t hear a whole lot of […] game day distractions.”

The LSAT contains an analytical reasoning section, which Preacher said is “colloquially known as ‘the logic games.'” There are also logical reasoning and reading comprehension components.

While the actual test time adds up to about three and half hours, Preacher said students should “plan to be there for about five hours,” primarily because of breaks scheduled during the exam.

Notre Dame students tend to fare well on the exam – the University’s mean is 159 out of the highest possible 180, according to Preacher. Of the 182 senior law school applicants from the 2004-05 academic year, 157 students were accepted into law school.

Students prepare for the exam in various ways, but Preacher said many take “commercial prep classes,” like those offered by Kaplan. It is possible, she said, for students to do self-directed study.

“However, if students are going to prepare on their own, they need to talk to me,” said Preacher, because it is important for students to know what materials to use and how to approach their study.

Still, the LSAT is not everything when applying to law school.

“Students always think it’s a numbers game, and actually the LSAT and GPA only define the range of schools to which [students considering law school] can apply,” Preacher said. “The higher the scores, the larger the range.”

In the past academic year, Preacher has had at least 300 meetings with undergraduates, graduates and alumni seeking advising in the past academic year. Law schools attract applicants of various backgrounds and experiences.

“[People considering law school] are very diverse,” Preacher said. “We have students from every major, every type of personality. It’s interesting.”

Some students who come to Notre Dame may be interested in staying to attend law school at the University. As for the prospects of current Notre Dame students applying to the law school, “I wouldn’t say it’s easier or harder,” Preacher said.

She did say, however, that the top-end applicants – and therefore, those accepted – to Notre Dame Law School often come from the University’s student body.