The LSAT is well-known as a difficult and challenging exam, but it is unfortunately required by most law schools and acts as an important determining factor in admission. If you have scored low on the LSAT, you may think that your chances of being accepted into a top school are zero, but this is not the case. There are several things you can do to boost your application and improve your chances of being accepted into a top law school, even with a low LSAT score.
Below, we will be discussing the importance of your LSAT score and what it means for your law school applications. Then, we will be giving you our best tips on maximizing your acceptance chances into any law school, despite what you scored on the LSAT. We'll also be leaving you with some advice on retaking the LSAT to improve your score.
Why Is Your LSAT Score Important to Law Schools?
The Law School Admission Test, commonly known as the LSAT, is an integral part of gaining admission into most law schools in the United States, Canada, and in select other countries. The test consists of 4 multiple-choice sections that test logical reasoning, analytical reasoning, and reading comprehension skills. There is also an unscored competent that is used to test new LSAT questions for future administrations — you will not know which section is the experimental one, so you will need to perform your best on each section of the test.
The LSAT is important because it is the most accurate way to gauge a student's potential performance for their first year of law school. It is thought that the higher you score on the LSAT, the easier a time you will have during your 1L year. Most law schools also believe that the higher you score on the LSAT, the more likely you are to succeed on the bar exam. Additionally, if you score well on the LSAT, it is probable that you will get higher merit aid or scholarships from any given law school. You can read more about the importance of your LSAT score in admissions here.
Schools that are higher ranked or considered top law schools are more likely to require a higher LSAT score, which can present a challenge to many students. However, we all know that standardized test scores aren't everything. Oftentimes, students who have the ability to perform very well in law school may find themselves hindered by a low LSAT score and difficulty taking a standardized test. In these cases, it is best to look at other areas of your law school application to improve your chances of being accepted into a top law school.
Maximizing Your Chances of Acceptance With a Low LSAT Score
If you have scored low on the LSAT, there are a few steps you can take to round out your law school application and raise your chances of acceptance into any law school, including your higher-ranked school choices.
Take Note of Admissions Statistics
Before you get started applying to law schools, it's important to review admissions statistics at the schools you are considering. Look at the average LSAT score and GPA of those accepted into the school and compare it with your own statistics — this will give you a good idea of how strong the other areas of your application will need to be in order to secure admission. It can also tell you whether or not you have a good chance of being accepted based on your scores alone.
When applying to law schools, make sure to pick several top schools that are a "reach" for your scores, several target schools, and a few safety schools, as this gives you the best chances of being accepted into a school for any particular admission cycle. Reviewing admissions statistics will help you determine these schools.
Focus on Your GPA
Another highly important component of your application, your undergraduate GPA can be a determining factor on whether you are accepted into certain schools. The higher your GPA, the better, and if you have a low LSAT score, law schools will sometimes overlook this in favor of your higher GPA.
If you are still in undergraduate school when you receive your LSAT score, try and focus on bringing your GPA up by summer classes or putting in extra study time on your final exams. If you have already graduated and had a lower GPA, you may want to consider writing a GPA addendum to explain your performance during college. More information about this process can be found here.
Craft a Strong Personal Statement
One of the most helpful things you can do to boost your application is to craft a strong, well-written personal statement. Your statement will be required on most law school applications and should give the admissions committee insight into who you are as a person and your unique experiences. This is the perfect place to highlight elements of your life, career, or personal experiences that make you a competitive candidate for the school and demonstrate your ability to succeed once accepted. It is essential you take your time and begin working on the personal statement as early as possible, as you want to ensure it is typo-free and offers a cohesive narrative to the reader.
More help on crafting a strong personal statement for law school admissions can be found in this article.
Add to Your Resume
The most competitive candidates for law schools have a strong resume full of extracurricular activities and other legal experiences at the time of applying to law school. If you have received a low LSAT score but want to make your application stand out, you should make an effort to join on-campus clubs that provide leadership opportunities (if you are in undergraduate school) and may want to consider reaching out to local law firms for volunteering or internship opportunities. The activities that you add to your resume do not have to be legal-related, as oftentimes admissions committees enjoy seeing distinctive activities and unique skills among candidates.
It can be helpful to mention some of your more unique experiences from your resume in your personal statement and highlight how they will help you excel in law school, as this provides a cohesive narrative for your entire application.
Consider a Diversity Statement
A lot of times, law schools will be willing to overlook lower LSAT scores and GPAs in favor of a candidate who is more diverse or who can bring a unique outlook to campus. Diversity can refer to anything from your ethnic and cultural background to socio-economic status, first-time law student status, and significant life experiences.
Diversity statements will typically be asked for separately from a personal statement, but some law schools may ask you to combine these into one statement. You should closely check the law school's website for information on who may be eligible to submit a diversity statement and the necessary written requirements before getting started on one.
Write an LSAT Addendum for Your Application
In cases where your LSAT score is much lower than your desired law school's average accepted score, it can be helpful to include an LSAT addendum along with your application. The addendum consists of a few short paragraphs that explain your low score and the reasoning behind it. It is important to note that an LSAT addendum should only be used in cases where sickness, a family emergency, or other significant life issues interfered with your score. You should not write an LSAT addendum for your application if your low score was caused by a lack of preparation on your part or because you "feel like" you should have scored higher.
More details on writing an effective LSAT score addendum for your application can be found here.
How Low Is Too Low of an LSAT Score for Law School?
While you may be able to apply and even be accepted into a law school with a lower LSAT score, there is a cut-off for acceptable application scores. If you are consistently scoring lower than 145, you may need to consider significant studying and a retake before applying to law schools. There are few law schools that will accept an LSAT score this low, and those that do may not offer the quality of education that you desire.
You should aim to bring your LSAT score into at least the 150s before you start applying to law schools. If you are looking into a higher-ranked law school, then you should be in the upper 150s and 160s depending on the other aspects of your application.
What Is a "Splitter"?
As you begin applying to law schools, you may see the term "splitter" thrown around a lot. This term refers to someone who has either a high GPA and lower LSAT score or vice-versa. A lot of schools, including top law schools, will accept splitters in order to achieve a certain average set of scores in each incoming class. This is also why if you have a lower LSAT score, you should be working on raising your GPA at all possible to improve your chances of acceptance.
Should You Retake the LSAT?
Whether or not you retake the LSAT is highly personal choice. While there is a chance that you can raise your score, your score may also be the same or lower after your retake. This being said, if you have enough time and the ability to study for another administration, it can be very helpful for you to attempt to raise your LSAT score, as the higher your LSAT score is the more likely you are to be granted admission into a law school.
If you want to retake the LSAT, take note of our retake tips below for the best results.
Change Your Study Methods
For students that have previously taken the LSAT, it can be helpful to switch up your study methods to something that is more effective for your learning style. You should be able to gauge from your previous test what worked and what didn't, so now is the time to revaluate your study methods and begin the preparation process with a renewed studying technique. Tips on effectively studying for the LSAT can be found here.
During previous LSAT administrations and practice tests, you may have been able to narrow down what your weakest subjects are. You should focus on these question types and work on understanding them because even a few additional correct questions can be incredibly helpful in improving your overall LSAT score.
An LSAT prep course or tutor can also help you identify your weakest LSAT areas and ensure you focus on the right subjects during the preparation process.
Leave Ample Study Time
It is important to leave ample study time before your retake of the LSAT. Cramming information or trying to fit studying into your schedule when there is no room for it will surely only lead to burnout and not a lot of improvement. Make sure when signing up for a retake that you select a date far enough in the future that you have time to prepare and make sure that you are completely ready to raise your LSAT score on test day.
Achieving Your Law School Dreams
Lower LSAT scores are common among students as the LSAT is a difficult exam to conquer. If you have a low LSAT score, you may think that your chances of being accepted into top law schools, or any law schools, have been ruined, but this is not the case. Creating a well-rounded law school application that highlights other unique and important experiences in your life can help you significantly improve your chances of being accepted so you can achieve your law school dreams.