Many international students wish to go directly to law school in the fall after finishing undergraduate study so they can stay in the United States. Unfortunately some top law schools (ex. Harvard and Northwestern) actively preference candidates who have gained additional experience between undergraduate study and law school. A large percentage of candidates for elite law schools will have that additional experience, and you will be competing with them. For example, Harvard reports that over 80% of accepted candidates have had at least 1 year of gap time, while more than 60% had 2 or more years of gap time. This gap time could be in the form of masters degrees, job experience, or volunteer programs.
If you are a native of an English-speaking country*, or if you graduated from college in an English-speaking country, you probably won’t have to take a language test. If, on the other hand, you graduated from a college outside of an English-speaking country, you may.
Check the specific requirements of each law school, and note that schools often impose different requirements for LLM applicants and JD applicants. (If you can’t find the language requirements of your law school online, just send the admissions office an email or call them.)
Some schools require you take the TOEFL or IELTS, and some require international students to complete an online interview to assess language skills.
This guide by 7 Sage gives more information about language testing requirements.
*“English-speaking countries” generally means the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland, often Canada, and occasionally Singapore, South Africa, Pakistan, and India.