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U of T launches Canada's first free LSAT prep course

Faculty of Law to help low-income students

The cost of LSAT prep courses can discourage some students from applying to law schools (Photo by Caz Zyvatkauskas)

The Faculty of Law is Canada’s first law school to offer a free Law School Admission Test (LSAT) preparatory course for students from low-income backgrounds.

The move is part of the law school’s efforts to “level the playing field,” says Alexis Archbold, assistant dean of students, “and give everyone a fair chance at a good LSAT score, as part of their application to law schools.”

There are many preparatory courses offered by private companies, and although they are not required, most students interested in law school take them to try to increase their chances for a high LSAT score, says Archbold. The fees can range from $500 to $1000, depending on how long the course is.

Archbold says some prospective students from inner-city schools have told her they cannot afford to pay for such prep courses, so they don’t bother taking the LSAT and don’t apply to law school.

“Law schools need to be more sensitive to certain demographics; we need to proactively identify these groups, and find out why they are not applying to law school,” explains Archbold.

The Faculty of Law has hired a law student who can teach tips on how to best answer LSAT questions but the prep course includes further assistance such as: workshops on the admission process, a thorough breakdown of financial aid options, how to decide which law school to choose, and what a JD grad can do with a law degree.

Current law students will be available to share their experiences of law school life as well.

The preparatory course will run once a week from June to October 2012,  and students with at least a 78 per cent undergraduate average, who are in third or fourth year, and who receive the Canada Grant for Low-Income Families are eligible. See the registration form here.

Priority will be given to the Faculty of Law’s LAWS program alumni—students who went through the mentoring and law-focused high-school program at any of the six participating inner-city schools.

“We know that students who don’t have familial support or any familiarity with second-degree programs find the application process daunting,” says Archbold. “That’s why some don’t bother applying, or don’t seem to do so successfully.”

Many law schools in the United States, such as Harvard, NYU, UCLA and UC Davis, offer such preparatory courses.  

Taking the Faculty of Law’s preparatory course does not affect any student’s application to the U of T law school, and students are encouraged to apply to many law schools.