So, I get this question a lot: how do I write an addendum for law school?
You should write an addendum whenever there is a weakness in your background.
That could mean a low GPA, some low grades (D’s, F’s, grades of 1.5 or lower), a withdrawal for a quarter or semester or longer during college, and/or a LSAT score that is not representative of your potential.
How long is an addendum?
The addendum is about 3 paragraphs. It should fit on one page, and be double-spaced with a 12-point font and 1-inch margins.
How do you write an addendum?
First, you need to title it. For example, it can be titled “Transcript Addendum” if it’s about your grades or “LSAT Addendum” if it’s about your LSAT score.
You’ll start off with giving the specific time that the problem occurred. For instance, let’s say during your freshman year you contracted the flu and it caused you to be out of school for several weeks and also caused fatigue for the rest of the term. You ended up not doing well in your classes.
Name the quarter or semester and the year that it happened. Then explain what happened. Explain the impact that it had on you. Include anything you tried to do to remedy the situation.
Then take responsibility for it. Admit if you didn’t ask for help during that time. Take responsibility for what you didn’t do and then tell us what you learned from that experience.
For example, in the case of the flu, you may have learned that if you get sick again, you should talk to some professionals on campus (academic adviser, campus health center nurse or doctor, professors, TAs, etc.) to get help. Now you know that if you’re absent from class for a week, you will talk to your professors about making up tests and/or essays or possibly withdrawing from the class.
Last but not least, end your addendum on an uplifting note. Perhaps you had some low grades during your freshman year but in the last two years of college, your grades have been a 3.6 or higher. You should write that! Point out the positive that has happened since the issue occurred.
That’s how you write an addendum for law school. It’s not difficult to write once you know what to do. Watch the video above to hear my tips again.
Want more tips for writing the addendum?
Check out the No B.S. Guide to the Law School Addendum. This guide provides detailed advice on writing the law school addendum, as well as nine sample essays.
Hi Peg! I have two LSAT scores, a 163 and a 171. The reason for the first was an unexpectedly hectic work schedule in the weeks leading up to the first test. I was able to study sufficiently the second time. Do you think this warrants an addendum? Thanks!
Wow! That is a stellar score increase! Congratulations, S! You do not need to write a LSAT Addendum. Schools understand that sometimes the first test just doesn’t go well, and they like seeing a score increase on the second test. Schools will only use your higher score of 171 in evaluating your application. Thanks for writing in, S, and great job on your second LSAT.
Hello Peg. I also have two LSAT scores, a 154 and a 166. The first score was taken while working near a full-time job and a heavy course load. The reason for the increase was simply taking time to study solely for the LSAT and a new study method. Is this something that should be explained? Thanks!
Congrats on your awesome score increase, PE! Wow! 12 points?! That is marvelous. I’m glad to hear that you took more time to study just for the LSAT and also found a new study method that worked for you. No need to explain your two scores in an addendum. You got a higher score the second time and that’s what law schools will use. Great work!
Hi Peg. I canceled the score on my first test, and tried again this December. I haven’t received my score on the December test yet, but I don’t think it went very well. If the score is way lower than I hoped, should I write an addendum? I have a strong undergrad GPA, and the LSAT practice tests were going really well, but my nerves always get the best of me during standardized tests! Thanks for your help.
Good question, Claire. I’m sorry to hear you don’t think you did very well on the December LSAT. Always so frustrating to not do well due to nerves, especially after prepping well.
I would advise you to write an addendum about not doing well on standardized tests ONLY if you have real evidence. So many people say this but their SAT or ACT score is not actually LOW enough to show a pattern of not doing well on standardized tests. Can you disclose what you got on your SAT or ACT?
Thank you so much for your response! I got a 2190 on my SAT. Not a bad score, but quite a bit lower than the norm at the college I ended up going to (especially the 640 on the math section). What do you think? Thank you!!
And a bit more info: my undergrad GPA was 3.9 and I highly doubt that my LSAT score will reflect the same potential (although I haven’t received it yet). I do also have generalized anxiety disorder, which affects my performance on tests, but wasn’t sure if it would be better to leave that information out…I don’t want them to think that I can’t handle the pressure of law school! I doubt that my SAT score would help, but I wasn’t sure if I should write an addendum about my test anxiety. Thanks again!
A 3.9 GPA is fantastic (great work!) and if your Dec LSAT score truly turns out to be low, your GPA can help buffer it a bit. When someone is a splitter (such as a high GPA and low LSAT score in your case), I recommend that you apply to schools where your GPA is at the 75th percentile or higher (won’t be hard with a 3.9) AND your LSAT score is at least at the 25th percentile or between the 25th and median.
You have to really weigh whether you want to tell them about the generalized anxiety or not in an addendum. It depends on how much you’ve worked on it through therapy and other ways, and whether you’ve seen improvement in your life, but just not on timed tests. For some applicants, it is a major issue and they actually apply to get accommodations at their law school after they get in. They have documentation to back up their anxiety disorder. Other students choose not to disclose at all. It is a personal choice.
A 2190 on the SAT is a good score. This is not valid evidence that you do not do well on standardized tests. You have to compare your score with the averages of students across the U.S., not at the college you attended. A score of 1800-2100 is good. Yours is above 2100.
Peg, thank you so much for your advice! That’s a big help. Keeping my fingers crossed for my Dec. score 🙂
You’re very welcome, Claire! I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you too. 🙂
Hi Peg! I am currently in the middle of the application process for fall 2016 admission. I graduated from college in May 2015 and then did a summer internship from June to August. From August to December, I have not been working so there is a gap in my resume in terms of professional experience, but I have had other time-consuming activities that are listed on my resume. In addition, I wasn’t able to work due to family circumstances and I wanted to take time to study for the December LSAT, but I will be doing a spring internship. Should I address this gap in an addendum and if so, should I disclose the nature of my family situation in it? Thank you!
Thanks for writing in, T. Good question. You do not need to write an addendum. Gaps on the resume happen all the time. Sometimes it’s due to family circumstances, sometimes because someone can’t find a job, sometimes because the person wants to travel or just take time off–there are any number of reasons for a gap. It’s okay.
Thank you for your prompt response. Some admissions offices that I have talked to said that they would like to see an addendum for this since it’s a gap of more than 3 months whereas others and people like you have said it’s not necessary so I’ve gotten confused! I do have to agree with you – the gap isn’t apparent since I’ve been heavily involved with volunteer work in the meantime so there isn’t a total absence. If anything, law schools will reach out to me directly if they have a question about my resume, right?
You’re very welcome for the advice, T. I find it odd that some admissions people want to know what you’ve been doing during those three months. Really? Also, if you have volunteer work during that time on your resume, then you’re fine. I wouldn’t write an addendum. You’re right. If they really want to know what you’ve been up to, they will contact you directly.
This is reassuring to hear! Thank you 🙂
Hi Peg! Thank you for taking the time to respond to these comments! I just got my grade on the December LSAT score. I got a 161 when I was scoring around a 165 on practice tests. This is my first time taking the test. I have a 3.88 GPA from Yale and a 4.0 GPA from an MA program at Columbia. I also have 5 years of work experience after college. As part of my graduate school program, I took two courses at Columbia law school and received As. I really want to go to Columbia or NYU law schools, but obviously my LSAT score is way lower than their bottom 25% (Columbia’s bottom 25% is a 168 and NYU’s is a 166). I read your addendum posts and book, and I see that you recommend against writing addendum for low LSAT scores unless you are sick, car accident, etc. I have two questions: 1) Should I write an addendum saying something about how my success in these two law courses could perhaps foreshadow my ability to do well in law school as a whole? and 2) the deadlines for Columbia and NYU are February 15th. Is there an option to submit the applications on time and then LSAC would send in my February LSAT score later on in the admissions process? Is this possible?
Thank you so much for your advice!
Hi Sara, you have a GREAT academic background! That coupled with your five years of work experience will make you an excellent candidate for so many law schools. Excellent work!
In terms of your questions…
1) No, you do not need to write an addendum on this. Just make sure you have your Columbia Law School transcript sent to LSAC so that it’s part of your Law School Report.
2) You should email/call NYU and Columbia directly because the last time I read their sites a few weeks ago, they both said they would NOT accept the February LSAT. And yes, LSAC will notify all schools that you’ve already applied to that you have a new LSAT score waiting in your Law School Report. They will automatically do this after you take the LSAT a second time and get your score. Good luck, Sara!
I have THREE LSAT scores, and I’m wondering if I need an addendum. My first score of 157 I simply did not study for. I registered for the test during a period of unemployment with the plan to go to law school after at least 2 years of professional experience. Shortly after registering, I received a job offer requiring a move, and between that and long working hours, I did not find the time to study. My second score was a 164, and unfortunately that was due to a lot of nerves, and drinking too much water prior to the test (if you catch my drift). My last score is a 170. Do you think the first score warrants an explanation? Obviously I don’t have a good excuse for the second one.
Nope. No need to explain any of your scores in an addendum. Just apply! Schools will be happy to see your 170 (way to go, Kim!) and will use it to evaluate your application. Schools focus on your higher score. Congrats on increasing your score from a 157 to a 164 to a 170. That’s awesome!
I’m not sure if my commented got deleted or if I forgot to post, so I’m sorry if you are getting this twice. I have 3 LSAT scores, the first one being a 157. I had signed up to take the test following graduation while I was seeking employment. I did not plan to attend law school until I had at least 2 years of professional experience. I thought I could take advantage of being unemployed to study, but shortly after registration, I was offered a job which required a prompt move. I came into the role right at busy season and was not able to devote much time to studying. I did not take the test again until a year later where I got a 164. This time I had studied, but was extremely nervous and drank too much water prior to the test (not a good excuse, I know). The last time I took it this past December I received a 170. Do you think I should write an addendum addressing the October 2014 score (157) considering I did not take it again for another year?
As you can see, your earlier comment was posted. FYI, I moderate all comments so it can take a day or two for your comment to appear. Congrats again on your awesome third score!
Peg, I am looking for advice on a unique addendum. My husband is in the US Navy. We received station orders in January of this year. I had not sent in my applications because I didn’t want to waste money and heartache on multiple applications if I couldn’t attend the school. Can I, and how, do I write an addendum explaining my lateness in applying and the reality that I am limited to the two law schools within the area we will be stationed? Thank you so much in advance!
Thanks for writing in, Chey. I’m glad your husband received his station orders so now you know where you can apply. Totally understand you waiting to hear before applying to your schools.
I thought this over and I’m not sure if an addendum is the best place to say why you’re applying to that school (the two schools where you’ll be stationed). Also, you don’t need to explain that you’re applying “late.” Just apply. Instead, I suggest that you insert a small paragraph in your personal statement, before the conclusion, where you explain why you’re applying to that particular law school. Don’t mention the other law school. Just focus on why you want to go to THAT particular law school.
For many applicants, they want to insert a paragraph like this near the end of their personal statement to emphasize to the school why they’re a good fit for that school. They have a connection to the school or the city/state or region. Maybe there are particular specializations at the school that they’re interested in too.
Hope that helps you out. Good luck with your apps!
I have two LSAT scores, a 135 and a 143. I am very aware that my scores are not impressive, however, I am a very good student and do not believe the scores reflect the best of my abilities. I studied business at a Big Ten school and achieved a cumulative GPA of a 3.5. Also, I am working at a very sought-after e-commerce corporation. Do you think my poor scores should be explained in an addendum?
Congrats on earning a solid GPA of 3.5, Jessica! And that’s great that you’re currently working at a great e-commerce company–law schools love seeing work experience. But those two things, while great attributes, will not make up for a low LSAT score. Schools will use your 143 to evaluate you–they take the higher score–but that score will hold you back from getting into good schools. If you write an addendum for your scores, you need to have a valid reason for why you didn’t do well.
Hi again Peg! I was wondering if I should write an addendum for an MPA that I didn’t finish. After a curricular revision, the school eliminated my area of focus and all of the courses that I was planning of taking. I thought that there wasn’t any sense in continuing with the reason for wanting to be there being gone. I just don’t want an admissions committee to look at that unfinished transcript and pause. What’s your take on this? Is it necessary to comment on it?
Sure, that makes sense to do that. You could title it “MPA Transcript Addendum.” Try to explain what happened in one page or less.
Hi, Peg. I found your post on Addendum extremely helpful. However i have a question, if the reason for a drop in my gpa during a gap of 2 quarters is related to family circumstances should I go into detail about those circumstances even if they are personal? For example: parents divorce, family conflicts, or becoming grandparents caregiver etc.
I’m so glad to hear you found it helpful, Sam! I’m sorry to hear about your GPA drop during those two quarters. Yes, you should say that it was due to family issues including your parents’ divorce, etc. You don’t have to detail each one but please do state that these events occurred and how it had an effect on you. You might want to check out my No B.S. Guide to the Law School Addendum for sample essays and more tips.
I have two LSAT scores, a 143 and a 149. I am very aware that my scores are not impressive, however, I am a very good student and do not believe the scores reflect the best of my abilities. I studied Poilitical Science at UGA and achieved a cumulative GPA of a 3.27. Also, I worked 40 hrs/wk throughout my whole undergraduate career and kept my schloraship from freahmen to senior year plus I graduated on time. I wrote a Diversity Statement (I’m AA) and a LSAT Addendum. Standerized Tests has never been my strong point. My ACT score to SAT score. My ACT was 19 and rosed to 21. My SAT score was way below 1800. I know I am overall a strong student. I just feel like my LSAT is holding me back. Also, my Personal Statement and Recommendations are great. My question is should I add my history of standardized testing in my Addendum?
Erika, that’s great that you graduated with a 3.3 while working full-time and keeping your scholarship all four years. Congrats! Also great that you already wrote a diversity statement and have good LORs and a strong personal statement.
It’s good that you’re writing a LSAT Addendum to explain your two scores. Detail anything that happened on the day of the test or leading up to the day of the test that was detrimental to your performance.
In terms of your ACT being a 21, that’s not considered a low score. The national average is considered a 20 or 21. So, you’re right at the average. A 15 would be considered low. In terms of your SAT, a 1100 or lower is considered low. Was your SAT close to 1100?
So, to answer your question at this point with the information that I have, I don’t consider you to have a history of low standardized testing and thus, I would not recommend including that argument in your LSAT Addendum.
Thank you for responding! My Sat score was 1290. I guess that is not too low. I really want them to look at me overall and not just my LSAT number. Therefore, I submitted a PS, DS, Resume, and a LSAT Addendum. My advisor from undergrad and friends that are in law schools told me not to worry since my PS and DS is strong and decent GPA, but I’m worried though. The first time I took the LSAT I was sick which made me nervous to cancel, so I went through taking it. The second time I was fine and confident. I just don’t want to sound like I’m making excuses in the LSAT Addendum.
What else should I say in the LSAT Addendum? Also, I’m appyling to schools like UGA, UF, Georgia State, LSU, and U of South Carolina. Thank you again!
You’re welcome, Erika. Yep, your SAT score of 1290 is not low enough. I agree with your advisor and friends that having a strong PS and DS and a decent GPA do go a long way. Also, the fact that you worked full time throughout college is HUGE. Very few students do that. I hope you made it clear in your materials why you worked full time and how it had an impact on your studies.
For your LSAT addendum, it would be good to explain that you were sick the first time. Also, explain that you continued to work full time while prepping for the LSAT and going to college. Let them know that you know the 149 is lower than their median (thanks for listing your schools) but that you believe your GPA, strong work ethic, and years of work experience are a greater reflection of your potential to succeed in law school. Good luck, Erika!
I found your post super helpful, thanks so much for sharing this information! However, I am still having trouble. I am trying to transfer out of a lower ranked T14 into a higher ranked T14. However, my GPA last semester was a 3.35, and I thought I would definitely be able to improve it the second semester, but it dropped to 3.29, with an overall of 3.33. This occurred because of some personal circumstances, and I was wondering if I should include an addendum. My issue is that the GPA dropped only .06 so even though I had a personal situation, it wouldn’t be adequate justification because the admissions committee would have expected it to drop way more, especially regarding the circumstances. So, should I include an addendum?
Hi Sal, I don’t think explaining a .06 decrease is going to help your application overall. You only went from a 3.35 to a 3.29. It’s not much of a difference. Focus more on making sure you have a strong personal statement that explains well why you want to transfer and why the school you’re transferring to is a really great fit for you. Good luck!
You’re very welcome, Sal! 🙂
I was a chemistry major freshman year and I finished with a 2.4 GPA that year, including a failed class. I changed my major to political science right afterward. I have had a 3.6 GPA ever since. There were some financial issues during my freshman year. Should I write one?
I read the your posts, as well as your book, but have a personal question. I received a 149 on my first LSAT and a 147 on my second LSAT. While i recognize that these scores are very low, I received a 3.75 GPA from a well respected small liberal arts school and have worked at the NY County DAs office for three years. I know you recommend only writing an addendum if you have a REASON for your low score, and for me it is mainly that I am not a good standardized test taker. I received a 29 on the ACT, but still did very well in college. Do you think that my ACT score is low enough to write something like “Similarly to my ACT scores and my performance in college, I don’t believe my LSAT score will reflect my performance in law school.”?
I just came across your website and I am blown away by all your wonderful tips! I am planning on purchasing your workbooks to get a better understanding on how to improve my application.
I did not do so well on my first 2 years of undergrad (almost went on probation); however, my last two year GPA is at 3.6. I am writing a transcript addendum but I am not sure which reasoning I should focus on as there were a few factors that led to my poor performance:
– I was working 3 jobs to pay off my school. Immigration was not easy on our family financially and I did not want to put any restrain on my father financially. I quite two of my jobs and decided to only work part time as a life-guard so that I can focus more on school – unfortunately my plan didn’t work out so well : I got the concussion injury at work.
– suffered from a concussion at work- I was on a paid leave for two month and I delayed my finals. however I did not feel the same for a while as I was feeling fatigued and had trouble focusing. instead of taking a few terms off I decided to go ahead and take courses. I have a few WD and quite a few low grades (c-, D) on my transcript.
– I was not interested in my subjects the first two years of undergrad. My dad was pushing me to go to med school so I was taking science courses. My grades improved drastically once I changed my major to psychology (this coincides with the time I was feeling healthy again after the head injury).
I would be grateful if you gave me some advice on this.
This blog closed on July 1, 2016. While I am keeping this blog and site LIVE as an online resource for current and future prelaw students, I no longer answer questions posted online. If you buy The No B.S. Guide to the Law School Addendum, included at the end is an email where readers can contact me if they have further addendum questions.
My name is Mauricio. I found your post very helpful. Thank you for the information. I took the September LSAT 2016 and I think I did not do very well. My practice exams ranged from 135-149. I am hoping I get at least a 150. If I get a score of 155 or less should I write an addendum? My GPA is 3.75 and I have worked throughout college. I have always done poorly in standardized tests. My SAT score in critical reading was 240/800 (1st percentile), a 360/800 in mathematics (8th percentile), 450/800 in writing (36 percentile), multiple choice 42/80, essay score 8/12 and on the SAT subject tests, I scored a 470/800 in math level 2 (4th percentile) and 290/800 in literature (1st percentile).
This blog closed on July 1, 2016. While I am keeping this blog and site LIVE as an online resource for current and future prelaw students, I no longer answer questions posted online. Please note that similar questions are often repeated several times by different students on the same thread. Thus, I recommend reading the comments and responses above for possible answers to your question.