Q and A: Will Law Schools Admit Applicants if Their LSAT Score Does Not Meet the Minimum Standard?

ladder-1390167-mA student recently asked me how likely a law school is to admit a student if their LSAT score doesn't meet the school's minimum standard. He also wanted some advice on whether to apply to multiple schools when he was already accepted to one. Here are my answers to these questions. Oscar: On the June 2012 practice exam, I think I received a scaled score of 160. I'm surprised that taking the exact test that I took in the past doesn't make too big of a difference in terms of score! I hope I can build enough endurance to get close to 160 on the real thing in December.

How likely is it that a school will admit an applicant if their LSAT doesn't meet the minimum standards of the school?

I'm trying to decide which schools to apply to. I recently got admitted to the University of Maine Law School, and will go there unless I get into a top law school. I'd not need to rent a room for three years there and would pay instate tuition. But I'm not sure if I want to practice law there. However, I'm also aware that I can't go to law school on the assumption that my idealism will propel me into a successful career. So I can't accrue significant debt; especially because I want to practice International Law (human rights). Work in this area (where it exists) is poorly paid, because corporations have no interest in it. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts. Many thanks for all your help.

Nathan: Hey Oscar, thanks for the results. To answer your questions:

How likely is it from your past experience that a school will admit an applicant if their LSAT doesn't meet the minimum standards of the school?

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "minimum standards," but if we define "minimum standards" as "25th percentile LSAT score" then I can provide a very certain answer: 25% of a school's admitted applicants would be "below minimum standards" if that's the definition. On the other hand, if you defined "minimum standards" as the lowest end of their admitted range, then the answer changes: 0% of a school's admitted applicants will be "below minimum standards" if this is the definition.

I'm trying to decide which schools to apply to. I recently got admitted to the University of Maine Law School, and will go there unless I get into a top law school. I'd not need to rent a room for three years there and would pay instate tuition. But I'm not sure if I want to practice law there. However, I'm also aware that I can't go to law school on the assumption that my idealism will propel me into a successful career. So I can't accrue significant debt; especially because I want to practice International Law (human rights). Work in this area ( where it exists) is poorly paid, because corporations have no interest in it. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

You should apply to a broad range of schools, and see what happens. Get fee waivers, so you can apply for free! Apply to schools where your LSAT score is at or above the 75th percentile, in hopes of attracting scholarship offers. Apply to schools where you're right in the middle of the pack. Apply to schools where you're at or below the 25th percentile, but dream of attending those schools anyway. Apply to 20 schools, or 30 schools even. Good things will happen, especially after you achieve the 160-something that I know you're capable of.

Don't forget that you're going to get the "underrepresented minority" boost in admissions at most schools. This boost won't mean anything if your LSAT is below the bottom of the admitted range at that school, but something between the bottom of the admitted range and the 25th percentile is definitely in play. The 25th percentile at Berkeley last year was 163. This means that many Berkeley Law students were admitted with 161s or 159s. There's no reason this can't be you next year. Then again, I also think you're capable of a 165, which would put you in an entirely different category of applicant. :)

It's my continued pleasure having you in class, and I'll always be on your team.

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