Congratulations! You have passed the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) and have been accepted into law school! Now, the fun starts! For those considering law school, cost can be a true deterrent. Another factor that many take into consideration when contemplating going to law school is how rigorous the course of study will be. Law school will likely be a much harder course of study than what you experienced when getting your undergraduate degree. There are many reasons why law school is harder than undergraduate school. Even with its challenges, about 40,000 law school students graduate each year, meaning that it is, indeed, possible to graduate with a law degree!
In most American Bar Association (ABA)-accredited law schools, classes are taught differently than they are in an undergraduate college program. You probably became used to a didactic style of teaching and learning during undergraduate studies, in which you memorized facts and dates using short-term memory skills. Law school, on the other hand, utilizes your critical thinking and analytical skills, focusing on long-term memory. Instead of a lecture-style class, which you likely experienced in many of your undergraduate courses, law school courses are taught in a more Socratic-style of teaching, in which professors ask students many direct questions, and much discussion goes on among the students. Although it can seem intimidating at first, this method of teaching helps you to develop your critical thinking skills under pressure, something that you will need to be able to do in your law career. Students in law school are expected to be able to argue multiple points of view and positions, accepting that a right answer to a given problem might not exist. It is also important for law school students to remember much information, as it will likely be used by you in the future, either in another class or in your career as a lawyer.
Because of the different ways law school courses are taught, studying also requires a different approach than what you might have used in undergraduate school. You must understand an exhaustive list of ideas and materials comprehensively, which involves much more than memorization. Many law school students turn to study groups to study concepts that they have learned. Other resources that can help law school students in studying include your college’s law library, supplemental materials, and, if available to study, past exams.
First-year law school classes tend to be the most difficult of any that you will experience in your three years of law school, as you are getting used to new subject matter and heavier readings. Some of the hardest classes in law school, according to current and former students, are:
You might find that the grading system in law school is vastly different from that of your undergraduate college. In fact, some law schools completely do away with letter grades, instead grading students on a scale that may include terms such as honors, pass, low pass, and fail. Many of the assignments you turn in might not be graded throughout the course, so the ones that are graded count for much more. It is also difficult to know how you are doing in a course in which you are not given grades or having your efforts ranked. Most law professors grade strictly on a curve, using their personal discretion. This means that your grade is dependent upon the grades of others in your class, making it even more difficult to get good grades in law school.
You might have been the star of your undergraduate class, participating in every lecture and offering opinions and viewpoints that were appreciated by your professors. This will likely be different in law school. You are expected to dress in more business-like attire, and be well-groomed when you come to class. The classes are also much more competitive than those of your undergraduate school. You should think about how you look, how you sound, and how you act when attending law school classes, and dress for success. You never know who might show up to one of your law school classes – such as a potential employer scouting for new talent. Also, if you look and act like a lawyer, it’s easier to see yourself, and for others to see you, as a lawyer.
It’s understandable that the anxiety you feel as a law school student will be higher than what you experienced in undergraduate school. You might be working full- or part-time while in law school, and potentially having to commute to school as well, which increases stress and anxiety, giving you less time to focus on studies. Make sure that your family and friends are aware of your increased schedule and let them help you out as much as possible. Also ensure that you have free time for yourself, to unwind and take care of your own needs.
If you are a law school student experiencing high anxiety and stress, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Turn to your college’s counseling center or Office of Student Services for immediate help. Other helpful resources include:
In 2020, 24/7 Wall Street reviewed data on ABA-accredited law schools, including the median LSAT scores they accepted, the typical undergraduate GPAs of those accepted, and acceptance rates, and came up with the following schools ranked as the hardest to get into in the U.S.:
Test prep company LSATMax examined acceptance rates, GPA and LSAT scores at law schools and came up with this list of the easiest ABA-accredited law schools to get into as of 2021:
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