The LLM Application: LSAC versus LSAT? Both or Neither?

When I embarked on my LLM adventure, I was overwhelmed by the letter jumble I encountered. JD, LLM, LSAC, LSAT, CAS, TOEFL, IELTS, BOLE, ABA, etc. Many prospective LLM students are somewhat confused, just like I was some eight years ago. Because LSAC and LSAT cause confusion for most LLM applicants, we tackle them today. While one is required, the other is not. Which one is which? 

Law School Admission Council (LSAC)

The Law School Admission Council is a not-for-profit organization with a mission to promote access and equity in legal education. LSAC offers a variety of services for the law school application process for both JD and LLM applicants. Most law schools in the country prefer or require that LLM applicants submit their application through LSAC. There is a benefit for the applicant as well. Suppose an applicant is planning to apply to multiple LLM programs. In that case, LSAC’s LLM Credential Assembly Service (LLM CAS) can save time and work. For this service, an LLM applicant sends her transcripts and letters of recommendation to LSAC only once. LSAC packages those materials for the schools to which the applicant seeks to apply. LSAC will also send updates to the schools when items are added to the file at LSAC. When I applied for my LLM, I had to send five giant envelopes, and my schools and recommenders, in turn, had to send five sealed envelopes as well. CAS makes this logistical nightmare a little more manageable.

Law School Admission Test (LSAT) 

The LSAT is an integral part of law school admission in the United States and Canada, but not for LLM applicants. The LSAT tests the skills necessary for success in the first year of law school for those applying for the Juris Doctor program. Those skills include reading comprehension, reasoning, and writing. The test results help admission decision-makers gain insight into law school readiness. 

LLM applicants are lucky not to have to take this test as it is a challenging exam that requires great preparation. Many students take the LSAT twice or even three times in an attempt to improve their score. Most LLM applicants will have to take the TOEFL test, which tests reading, writing, and comprehension. Compared to the LSAT, the TOEFL is a walk in the park. 

Desiree Jaeger-Fine is director of International Programs at Brooklyn Law School and author of "A Short & Happy Guide to Networking" (West Academic Publishing) and "A Short & Happy Guide to Being Hired" (West Academic Publishing).