How Useful are LSAT Scores for Admission?
Law schools look at several different elements when considering a student for admission: undergraduate GPA, reference letters, personal statement, resume, and LSAT scores. GPA and LSAT scores are given the most weight though, and despite some controversy as to whether a standardized test can measure all the qualities needed to succeed in a law school as well as in the practice of law, the scores are considered so closely that sometimes one or two points can decide whether a student gets into a certain law school. In fact, the American Bar Association is considering doing away with the LSAT requirement for laws schools. Law schools use the LSAT as a predictor of how well a student will do in law school. The Law School Admissions Council has conducted research showing the relationship between the LSAT average score and first year grades in law school. The combination of an LSAT average score and a student's undergraduate GPA gives an even better prediction than either number does by itself.
How Your Score is considered
The LSAC encourages law schools to look at a student's score bands, which are ranges that include a 'true score'. By considering the rounded error of measurement from any given score, these score bands contain a student's 'true score' about 68% of the time. Not every school uses a student's LSAT average score, many look at the highest score. Every score that is not canceled is reported to the school along with an average.
Since June 2006, the American Bar Association requires that law schools report a student's highest score instead of a student's highest score. Schools still consider the average score in some cases, but since the schools are ranked according to LSAT scores there is more incentive to look at a student's highest score rather than an LSAT average score. In the end, it comes down to whichever bumps a school's ratings higher. This 'competition' is renowned. The Law School Rankings are made famous by US News and World Report; this publication ranks law schools and this ranking is taken from information given by American Bar Association which in turn is gathered from the law school's themselves. According to rankings, the top-ten law school's LSAT scores range from 176 to 166. To see the full list, visit http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/law-rankings
Top 5 Law schools and their LSAT scores (not averages)
- Yale Law School LSAT scores: 171-176
- Harvard University LSAT scores: 171-176
- Stanford University LSAT scores: 167-173
- Columbia University, NY LSAT scores: 170-175
- University of Chicago LSAT scores: 168-172
Taking a Standardized Test
There are many factors that can influence a student while taking a standardized test: personal problems, sickness, or trouble with standardized testing in general. There are many qualities that students may have that the test won't measure, things that are virtually un-measurable. Leave aside the frustration that a mere number will get you admission into the school of your choice (or not), and research different law schools so you have some agreeable alternatives. If you do not feel ready for the test, a no-show is better than canceling or getting a bad score. Canceling a score multiple times raises eyebrows, and might require an explanation in your admission's packet. Law schools who consider an LSAT average score and those who consider the highest score vary, students should look on the school's website and where possible, talk to an admission advisor or representative with the school. Some schools that look at the LSAT average score are New York University, Berkeley, Duke University, Georgetown, Loyola and University of Virginia. Some schools that look at the highest score are Yale, University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Cornell, University of California Los Angeles, Pepperdine and Southwestern University.
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