I would like to congratulate the students who took the LSAT over the weekend, and wish good luck to the Sabbath observers taking it today. You have likely been intensely focused on your studies for the past few months, and now that the October exam is over, it is time to look at the big picture: how your LSAT score fits into your law school applications.
Law school admissions committees examine two key aspects of your application: your numbers – namely, LSAT score and GPA – and the qualitative portion (essays, recommendations, extracurricular activities and so on). While your LSAT score is not the only component that affects your candidacy, as many people mistakenly believe, it weighs significantly in admissions decisions.
When you receive your score at the end of the month, you will need to assess how it will affect your chances of admission. You should base your school selection loosely on your score, and it can help you determine which schools will be safeties, targets and stretches for you.
[Follow this checklist to get your law school applications done.]
If, when you get your score, you find that it is lower than your practice test results, you may wish to consider continuing your studies and retaking the exam in December. You want to make sure your LSAT score accurately represents your abilities, since it is a key part of your applications. Even a couple of points can make a difference – and you know you are capable of gaining them.
If you score about where you expected, but it is lower than the average at the school or schools of your choice and you dedicated several months to preparing, it may be time to set your books aside and delve into the rest of your applications.
Keep in mind that the average LSAT score accepted at a given law school is just that: an average. Thus, there were applicants with lower scores who were admitted, and if you are committed to attending a certain law school, do not let a lower-than-average score deter you from applying.
[Check out photos of the top law schools.]
For example, I have had several of my students at Stratus Prep admitted into Harvard Law with LSAT scores in the 160s – well below the average.
Successful applicants with lower LSAT scores can put forth compelling essays, attain glowing recommendations and bring diverse interests and experiences to the incoming class. You may even wish to draft an addendum to your application to account for the lower score, if you have a specific reason to explain.
By putting your all into the qualitative portion of your applications, you increase your chances of acceptance to a stretch school; however, as mentioned, be sure to apply to target and safety schools as well.
[Learn more about handling a low LSAT score in an application.]
I also must note that even if your LSAT score is in the median range of accepted student scores, you should not neglect your essays and other components. Just as a low LSAT does not negate all chances of admittance, a high one does not guarantee acceptance.
Overall, you should feel proud that you made it through the October LSAT. Now is the time to buckle down on the remainder of your application materials while you wait for your score, and be prepared to make the decision of whether to retake it once you get your report.