What law schools favor LSAT over GPA and Vice-Versa
Many students are "splitters" in that they have a strong LSAT score but a weak GPA or vice-versa. For these students they will increase their success when applying but directing their applications to those law schools which favor the stronger part of their application (i.e., those with strong LSAT scores applying to law schools that favor LSAT over GPA). The following post discusses what schools favor the LSAT over GPA and the converse as well.
For every law school the two most important components of your application are your undergraduate GPA and your LSAT score. However, the relative importance of these two variables varies in that some law schools focus more heavily upon your LSAT instead of your GPA and vice versa. The key to determining whether a law school prioritizes GPA or LSAT can be determined by viewing a law school statistics in relation to other law schools.
This information can be useful in helping you where to apply for it you have a 175 LSAT score but a 3.2 GPA; you will find more success by applying to law schools that favor LSAT over GPA such as Northwestern. Conversely, some law schools such as U.C. Berkeley’s Boalt Hall look more closely at GPA and an applicant with a 4.0 but a 164 LSAT score would be wise to apply to Boalt.
Determining which schools favor LSAT over GPA and vice versa can be determined by examining the statistics of a law school’s entering class relative to its standing amongst other law schools. For example, Northwestern focuses more heavily upon LSAT then GPA in evaluating candidates. This deduction is formed by finding that LSAT score for its 25th percentile of applicants is 166, or tied for the 7th highest amongst law schools. The LSAT score of its 75th percentile is a 172, or the 4th highest amongst law schools. Yet the GPA statistics are much lower in relation to other law schools, with a GPA of 3.40 (30th highest) at the 25th percentile and a GPA of 3.80 (26th highest) at the 75th percentile. Thus, Northwestern would very likely take a candidate with a high LSAT and be forgiving of a lower GPA. Note that the GPA statistics of Northwestern, 3.40 to 3.80, are less rigorous than the University of Iowa (3.46 and 3.80 respectively) and a complete match with Brigham Young University.
Other top law schools that focus more heavily upon LSAT vs. GPA include:
Chicago (LSAT 25th: 169 – tied for 2nd; LSAT 75th 173 – tied for 4th; GPA 25th 3.49 – tied for 16th; GPA 75th – 3.77 tied for 51st)
Columbia (LSAT 25th: 169 – tied for 2nd; LSAT 75th 174 – 3rd; GPA 25th 3.56 – tied for 6th; GPA 75th – 3.81 tied for 21st)
Michigan (LSAT 25th: 167 – tied for 6th; LSAT 75th 170 – tied for 11th; GPA 25th 3.49 – 16th; GPA 75th – 3.79 tied for 37th)
Conversely, other law schools will favor GPA over LSAT.
The prime example is Berkeley/Boalt. (GPA 25th 3.64 – 4th; GPA 75th – 3.90 4th; LSAT 25th: 163 – tied for 18th; LSAT 75th 170 – tied for 11th);
Without boring you with statistics, the following law schools also favor GPA over the LSAT:
U. of Iowa
U. of North Carolina
U. of Washington
U. of Florida
U. of Georgia
Brigham Young University
Thus, if you have a strong LSAT score and not as compelling a GPA then you should apply to the first set of law schools. If instead your GPA is the best aspect of your application, you will fare better by applying to the second list of schools which favor GPA over LSAT score.
Utilizing TLS Stats can also help by viewing where applicants with stats similar to yours were accepted or rejected. View stats.phpWhy do applicants always reference the "top 14" law schools instead of the top 15 or top 20?
Although the US News has published an annual version of the rankings since 1989, there has been remarkable consistency at the top of the US News Rankings. While there have been variations of ranking within the top 14 law schools, the top 14 has always been the same 14 law schools.
Within the top 14, there is a generally consistent clump of rankings with Yale always being first and then Stanford, Harvard, NYU and Columbia always appearing in the top five for the last 10 years. After that, Chicago, Penn, Berkeley, Michigan and Virginia are generally the next clump of top law schools. The remaining top 14 law schools are Duke, Northwestern, Cornell and Georgetown. Georgetown has been the gatekeeper of the top 14, steadfastly holding on to its ranking of 14th for the last 9 years.
If there ever will be interloper into the top 14 supplanting Georgetown, it would most likely be UCLA, Texas or Vanderbilt. A summary of the rankings (except this year's) can be found at my father's website at: http://www.prelawhandbook.com/law_schoo ... 00_present
Some have argued that the top 14 law schools are national law schools, having strong placement opportunities throughout the nation. However, the fact that most graduates of UCLA and Texas practice in California and Texas respectively is likely due to choice more than limitations.What law schools take the highest LSAT instead of averaging multiple LSAT scores
American (explanation needed)
Ave Maria (explanation needed)
California Western (explanation needed)
Capital (explanation needed)
Cardozo (explanation needed)
Catholic (explanation needed)
Chicago-Kent (explanation needed)
Chicago (explanation needed)
City U. New York (CUNY)
Columbia (explanation needed)
Connecticut (if most recent)
Cornell (explanation needed)
Davis (UC Davis - King Hall)
Dayton (explanation needed)
Denver (explanation needed)
Detroit Mercy (explanation needed)
District of Columbia
Fordham (explanation needed)
Franklin Pierce (explanation needed)
George Washington (explanation needed)
Golden Gate (if most recent)
Hastings (UC Hastings)
Idaho (explanation needed)
John Marshall Atlanta
Kansas (explanation needed)
Lewis & Clark
Loyola New Orleans (explanation needed)
Louisville (explanation needed)
Maine (explanation needed)
Maryland (explanation needed)
Missouri Columbia (If most recent)
Missouri Kansas City
Nebraska (explanation needed)
New York Law School
Northern Kentucky (explanation needed)
Notre Dame (explanation needed)
Oklahoma City (explanation needed)
Oregon (explanation needed)
Pace (explanation needed)
Roger Williams (explanation needed)
Saint Thomas (MN) (If most recent)
San Diego (explanation needed)
Seton Hall (explanation needed)
South Texas (explanation needed)
Southern Cal (USC)
Syracuse (explanation needed)
Vanderbilt (explanation needed)
Virginia (explanation needed)
Washington U. (MO)
Washington & Lee (explanation needed)
Western New England (explanation needed)
William & Mary (explanation needed)
Where should I apply with a LSAT score at 148 or below?
Ideally you should not apply anywhere until you retake the LSAT. Most law schools now take the highest LSAT verus averaging, thus you can quickly improve upon your score and will not be held back by your past score. While a LSAT instructor, many of my students jumped from a 148 to a 160 with a lot of diligence and focus. I highly recommend
using the tips mentioned in the LSAT section of this message board. The following thread includes a list of tips from over 100 members who excelled on the LSAT:viewtopic.php?f=6&t=396What is a URM? What groups are traditionally considered to be URMs? Can I qualify as a URM if I am something other than that?
URM stands for "Underrepresented Minority." The groups that are traditionally considered to be URMs are African Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanics. If you are not one of these, you may receive some form of boost for diversity that you bring to the class, but you will not be counted as a URM.My GPA at my university was a (insert number here), but LSAC calculated my GPA to be a (insert much lower number here.) What happened?
Well, there are a few things that might have happened.
First, if you have ever attended another college before the one you are currently at, then these grades will be counted in calculating your LSAC GPA. This could even be community college classes you took while you were in high school.
Another possibility is that you took classes that you received a poor grade in, usually an F, and then retook them and got a much better grade. Most universities will not count the first time you took the class in your GPA, but LSAC will.
The last possibility is that you have Ws (Withdrawals) on your record which LSAC counts as punitive, meaning that these classes count as an F in your LSAC GPA. It is possible to remedy this problem if you convince your university to change these to non-punitive Ws, but I think the process for doing this at most universities is somewhat cumbersome.
Note that on occasion your LSAC GPA can rise above your college GPA. This is because the LSAC counts + grades as an extra. .33, thus an A+ will be counted as a 4.33 instead of just a 4.0, boosting your GPA in that instance.I did (insert extra-ciricular activity here). Does this make me special enough to get into someplace where I am below the 25th percentiles?
The simple answer to this is that there is only one way to find out, and that way is to apply and see what happens. To be a little more specific/helpful, examples of soft factors which may push you over the edge are Peace Corps, Teach for America, and military experience with multiple deployments. Even these will not get you into a school where you are severely below the medians; this is generally reserved for people who have written an award winning novel, won an olympic gold medal, cured cancer, or something along these lines.What schools can I get into?
1) To fully answer this, you will need to supply your GPA and LSAT score. If you don't have it, you cannot be helped. There is an entire forum dedicated to answering What are my chances questions at:viewforum.php?f=9
2) Check the TLS Stats page (stats.php
). Compare your numbers to different schools.
3) Go to the law school rankings page (http://www.top-law-schools.com/rankings.html
) to get the stats on the 25% and 75% GPA and LSAT numbers for schools you are interested in. If you fall in between you have a good chance of admission. The closer to the 75% numbers the higher your chances are.
4) We cannot tell you if your extracurricular activities are strong enough to push you over the edge, just assume it won't help, this way you'll have a worst case scenario. When should I apply?
The sooner the better. Ideally, before Thanksgiving. Make sure that your application is completed and also well put together. If you rushed things and haphazardly put together a subpar Personal Statement, etc. than wait. Note that recommendations often times hold up your application from being complete and elgible for review. Approach professors months before you want to submit your applications to ensure that they have time to properly draft a strong recommendation. For advice on recommendations view http://www.top-law-schools.com/letters- ... ation.html
and for advice on personal statements view http://www.top-law-schools.com/statement.html
.When is the best time to take the LSATs?
1st Choice) June 2nd Choice/Retake) September/OctoberWhich is more important applying early or studying harder for a higher LSAT score?
Higher LSAT scoreShould I graduate early or stay the full four years?
What major should I get? Should I double major?
This is up to you. Neither will give you a boost for law school. The most important thing is to receive the highest possible GPA. Pick a major where you can get a fantastic GPA. If you double major or graduate early, make sure to keep that GPA up, ADCOMMS don't care what you do. Given there will be some leniency for low GPAs of some majors (i.e. Engineering). Nothing is unique. A lot of people double major or graduate early. You have to evaluate yourself and see what is best for you and your own circumstances. No one on here can truly answer your questions because we don't know you or your circumstances. You can look at old threads and see the different angles and discussion of each choice. Everything has its perks and also downfalls.Is it better to take a scholarship at a lower-ranked school or attend a higher-ranked school at the sticker price?
There is absolutely no one "answer" to this question, though it is one of the most frequently asked. However, there are factors which one must take into account in order to properly make this exceedingly difficult choice, factors which I will attempt to delineate below:
A.) How vast is the rankings chasm between the two schools you're considering? If you're asking these boards whether to go to Cooly Law School on a full-ride or Michigan at sticker, the answers will be almost universally in favor of Michigan and you'll likely be written off as a troll - but that's an extreme case and unlikely to really be much of an issue. More commonly, people are forced to choose between a T14 and another well-regarded Tier 1 school, for instance Georgetown at sticker vs. George Washington with a full--scholarship, or between two schools of disparate (but not hugely so) rank, such as UC Davis and Loyola. Other common dilemmas include Columbia or Northwestern with a full-ride vs. Harvard or Yale with no money.
B.) How debt-averse are you? This is a very personal matter. Some people would gladly trade the prestige of going to Cornell for a free JD from Emory, others would be horrified at the mere thought, preferring $100,000 (or whatever) in debt because it offers them greater margin for error vis-a-vis class rank, more potential job offers, greater national portability of the degree, etc. You need to do your own cost-benefit analysis, and when doing so, you need to consider the following:
C.) What type of law do you want to practice? If you're interested in working for a swanky, Vault-type biglaw firm and hell-bent on starting at $160,000/year, then you're likely going to want to go to the highest-ranked school you can swing admission to, and debt be damned. But think about how sure you are that you want biglaw: Sure, the money's great, but the hours are long and the work is hard - do your homework and think a little about what you'd really like to do. If it turns out you're actually interested in Public Interest law, working as a public defender, saving the whales, doing pro-bono defenses for environmental causes, etc., then you need to think seriously about the kind of debt you're going to be in at graduation, because $200,000 in debt can be a real albatross when you're earning $40,000 a year. Two additional points to consider - 1) $100,000 in a scholarship may seem like a huge amount of money now, but realize that this amount is not as large when seen in the context that you could be making $160,000 upon graduation; and 2) you will not be paying taxes on that $100,000 in tuition savings, so it makes it effectively worth $150,000 in after tax dollars. Since the first point directs you towards the better school and the second point towards taking the scholarship, it shows that there is no clear answer on whether to take the scholarship or not.
D.) Where do you wish to live and work? Many people have their entire family in one city, or for whatever other reason they go into law school knowing what city they will eventually make their lives in. This is helpful, because these people have a unique opportunity to pursue scholarships at their regional schools. For instance: University of the Pacific-McGeorge Law School places superbly in the city of Sacramento, but quite poorly on the East Coast. If, however, you were 100% sure you wanted to live and practice in Sacramento, then taking a full-ride at McGeorge over, say, Noter Dame at sticker is almost a no-brainer. Similarly someone who had their heart set on Tampa-St. Pete would be far better off going to Stetson for free than going to Illinois at sticker. Etc. But again, this requires a high degree of certainty about your future location: The rule of thumb on these boards tends to be that if you're even 10-20% sure you might want to live elsewhere, then go to the best school you got into.
E.) How much do you personally value prestige and name recognition? This is hard to quantify, but for many people it is worth a substantial amount of money to be able to say they went to Harvard and they'd just never be as happy saying they went to Duke, or what-have-you. Give this some thought.
As you can see, there is no simple answer to this question, but there does exist a relatively boilerplate set of factors which you'll likely be told to consider should you pose such a question on these boards.What type of work experience should I get? Should I take a year off or go straight to law school?
Whatever you like. You do not need legal work experience to get a boost in law school admissions. Pick a job that you will enjoy and can learn and experience something great. There is a lot of benefits of taking a year off, such as traveling, receiving work experience, sowing your wild oats, etc. If you do take a year off, don't waste it with something mundane or average, do something that you will truly enjoy and something memorable that you might be able to use for a Personal Statement. Do something that you will like, excel in, and also don't waste your time. Life is too short not to live it up. Note that what many strategic applicants do is get the strong internship or job while applying (or during the Fall) and once they are accepted (which can be as early as Janurary for early applicants) then you can plan an amazing trip around the world with little concern about how law schools will view any gap in your resume.Are the optional essays such as "Why Penn" or "Why Michigan" really optional
Technically, they are optional as members on this board (including myself) did get in to Penn and/or Michigan without writing these essays. However, for those on the borderline, these essays can be crucial for they show your commitment to the school, manifested in your taking the time to research and write about that particular school. An ideal "Why" essay will show that your knowledge and interest of the school goes far beyond the superficial. The following "Why Penn" essay was written by DelDad, who was accepted to Penn with just a 3.3 GPA (but a great LSAT score), and is excellent for it is interesting and evidences his knowledge of the school by actually writing about his visit to Penn.
“What if those prospectives, up there, fell through the floor? Would Penn have a duty to them that would be different from Penn’s duty to you? They haven’t paid tuition – I bet they haven’t even paid their application fees yet!” That hypothetical, posed by Professor Eric Feldman during a Torts class, drew laughter from the students and eight visitors (including myself) who were present. After the chuckling died down, three students responded to the question seriously (unfortunately, no one seemed to think Penn would have much of a duty to us poor, injured prospectives), and Professor Feldman went on from there to another hypothetical. Throughout class, students were well prepared, and they actively and intelligently participated in the discussion. Both students and professor showed evidence of what I am most looking for in my law school experience: a rigorous, intellectual inquiry into the law that takes place in a collegial, and relatively relaxed, atmosphere. Other students I spoke to and observed that day solidified my impression. So did the conversations I had with my friend, XXX, Penn Law '00. She spoke glowingly about the academic and theoretical foundation she received at Penn and the advantages it gave her during clerkship, in corporate law, and now, in the Philadelphia D.A.’s office. Priya also gave rave reviews to Penn’s professors (Geoffrey Hazard, in particular) and the atmosphere of the school. I have visited schools where students were relaxed and happy, and I have spoken to students at others where the academics were intense and rigorous. Penn Law is the only place I have personally encountered that has all those characteristics simultaneously, and, largely because of that, Penn is my first choice for law school.
Among the many other attractive aspects of Penn is that it demonstrably considers public service as something more than an afterthought. I have heard nothing but positive reviews of the public service requirement, and I am also interested in completing for-credit public service, through an offering such as the Interdisciplinary Child Advocacy Clinic. Penn’s overtly interdisciplinary approach to law is also appealing, since I have practical goals involving cross-disciplinary work. My wife is an Ob/Gyn here in Delaware, which has a developing medical malpractice insurance crisis, and I am interested in supplementing my legal education with courses like “Economics of Health Care and Policy” at Wharton in hopes of one day contributing to a solution.
My wife, and my family in general, represent another major reason why Penn Law would be the ideal place for me to pursue my legal education. We have lived in Boston, New York City, and the Bay Area of California, but Dover, Delaware is where we have made our home. We are deeply involved in the community and have established strong friendships here. My wife has recently become a partner in her medical practice, and would prefer not to start her career over somewhere new. If nothing else, there is one very practical consideration tying us to the area: if my wife were to leave the state, she would be charged a malpractice insurance premium to cover hypothetical lawsuits that could be brought against her regarding any of the deliveries and other surgeries that she has performed here over the past three years. That premium would cost us, personally, over $75,000.
I realize that, if admitted, I would need to find an apartment closer to the school than our home is. But the University of Pennsylvania Law School is the only institution where I can get a top-quality legal education without tearing up the roots we have worked hard to put down during our years in Dover and also avoid putting the family in debt far beyond just the cost of law school. I am truly lucky, therefore, that Penn Law is also the school I am most excited about attending. In fact, if admitted, I wouldn’t even sue if I were to somehow fall through the floor of a lecture hall during one of Professor Feldman’s Torts classes. My GPA was only 2.95, but I majored in (hard major) at (Reputable University), so what will adcomms see my GPA as in reality?
In all probability, they will see it as a 2.95.
Difficult majors (especially engineering and the physical sciences - history is not a difficult major) are taken into account, but not hugely. The reason for this, or at least one reason for this, is that when USNews and the like calculate rankings, they just look at the average GPA of the incoming class and do not take into account things like majors or whether that GPA was earned at Chico State or UC Berkeley.
Nevertheless, apply anyway. We at TLS are just a bunch of (friendly) strangers on the Internet. We don't make admissions decisions at major law schools. Still, in all likelihood if your GPA is bad, then you're going to need a good LSAT score and/or some great work experience if you want to get into a good law school. You may get some bounce from a tough major or an extremely prestigious undergraduate institution, but it likely won't be huge.Great thanks to Splitt3r, Deldad, Sofboiledlife, and Underdawg and others for helping me add some of these FAQ questions. I look forward to others contributing their questions and answers to build up an extensive list of FAQ. Please post your questions with answers below and I will incorporate them into this post. Thanks!