You have numerous opportunities to share your experiences in your law school applications through the personal statement, diversity statement, and short answer responses. However, you may need to explain irregularities or discrepancies in your application, too. An addendum can address potential red flags.

Typically, addenda are short, objective paragraphs that respectfully ask the admissions committee to consider unusual or extenuating circumstances that would not otherwise be apparent when evaluating your candidacy.

An addendum gives you to the opportunity to explain in your own words an issue that might concern or confuse the admissions committee. However, an addendum is not meant to serve as a long supplemental essay. Nor is it meant to be a list of excuses. Overall, addenda are opportunities to briefly, forthrightly and graciously share with Admissions Committees less than ideal aspects of your application.

The three most common types of addenda are an LSAT addendum, a GPA/transcript addendum, and a disciplinary action/criminal record addendum. These are described briefly as follows:

  1. LSAT Addendum (often requested by Admissions Committees)

Write this addendum if you have taken the LSAT multiple times. In your brief addendum, account for a change in score, emphasizing that the higher (usually the most recent score) is a more accurate representation of your ability to excel in law school.

If your LSAT dipped after multiple attempts, share with Admissions Committees what may have been going on in your life that contributed to this dip.

  1. GPA/Transcript Addendum

Write this addendum if you have a dip in your academic record or an unusual transcript (e.g., if you have transferred or taken a leave of absence). Account for the circumstances that contributed to this irregularity. Your addendum can highlight unusual circumstances that lead to an uncharacteristic performance in a class or semester (e.g. death of a parent, serious illness that requires hospitalization/missed classes, full time employment to pay for tuition).

For an uncharacteristically low GPA, emphasize improvement in academic performance, including a strong LSAT score. If your major GPA is stronger than your cumulative GPA, you should highlight that as well — particularly if your major GPA is in a field that aligns with the study of law.

  1. Disciplinary / Criminal Record Addendum

Write this addendum if there is a disciplinary or criminal record of your misconduct. This information is important to disclose not only to law schools but when you apply to be admitted to the Bar.

Objectively explain what happened and emphasize what you have learned from the experience, highlighting your respect for rules/laws.

Some final tips that apply to all of the addenda that you write:

  • All of your addenda should be written with a straightforward but gracious tone that emphasizes your ability to learn from previous test-taking, academic, or disciplinary experiences.
  • Keep it brief. One or three paragraphs is usually sufficient.
  • Let someone edit your addenda. Whether it is your Stratus counselor or a trusted colleague or friend, let someone review what you’ve written and help you ensure you are striking the right tone.
  • Don’t dwell on the addenda. Don’t spend time feeling bad that you have to write an addenda — many applicants do. Instead, write something thoughtful but concise. You want admissions committees to spend the bulk of their time reading the other portions of your application.
  • Finally, an addenda is relevant for the task of the present moment — your law school applications — but they are an opportunity to begin self-reflection, too. In looking at the bigger picture of your future career as a legal advocate, writing addenda is a good exercise in acknowledging less than ideal situations, and celebrating how you have worked to move past them. Self-reflection and self awareness are useful traits to begin cultivating as you move forward with your career and your life.

This article originally appeared on Stratus Admissions.