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Law School Numbers: Rankings for Top Law Schools

It’s no secret that law school admissions are a very numbers-driven process. And the most important law school numbers: your combined LSAT score and GPA make up key pieces of your application, and carry great weight during the review process.
law school numbers and rankings

The Importance of LSAT Numbers

Out of all of your application pieces, the LSAT is often regarded as king. Why is that? If we look at the top law schools, we can see that there is a correlation between LSAT scores and U.S. News law school rankings (table below). The higher the range of middle 50% LSAT scores, the higher the ranking. Given how much importance law school applicants and students put on rankings, schools are in turn incentivized to pay attention to factors that can improve their standings. This means that even though there are no threshold cutoff LSAT scores at top law schools, those schools’ admissions processes still heavily account for performance on the LSAT.

Law School25th to 75th Percentile LSAT ScoresU.S. News 2017 Law School Ranking
Yale University170-1751
Stanford University168-1732
Harvard University170-1753
University of Chicago166-1724
Columbia University169-1735
New York University166-1706
University of Pennsylvania163-1707
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor164-1708
University of California-Berkeley164-1689 (tie)
University of Virginia163-1709 (tie)

Table from U.S. News 2017 Best Law Schools.

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More About Law School Numbers: The Role of your GPA

Of course, the LSAT is not the only number that admissions officers will be looking at. Your GPA will also play a role. Ideally, you will have both a strong LSAT and a strong GPA to complement each other. However, since the LSAT is such a critical piece of your application, a strong LSAT can help offset a weak GPA. The reverse is less true – a strong GPA will not do as much to offset a weak LSAT. This makes sense, after all, since a 3.8 GPA at a college in Kentucky may or may not equate to 3.8 at a college in Texas, which in turn may really have been more like a 3.5 at a school in Maryland. Law school admissions officers account for the great variation in college GPAs by treating the LSAT as the “equalizer” across the playing field.

What next?

What this means for you is that you should take your law school numbers very seriously. To the point where you can still course-correct if needed, you absolutely should. Now, you may not have much ability to drastically improve your GPA at this point. In fact, you may have already graduated. But no matter where your GPA stands, you can always commit to performing optimally on the LSAT. If you aren’t completely satisfied with your score, retaking the LSAT to boost your score by even a few points can unlock thousands of dollars of scholarship money, and possibly unlock a stronger tier of schools that you’d be competitive for. Check out our post on how to study for the LSAT to help you perform your best.

Are law school admissions all about the numbers?

With all this importance that admissions officers place on numbers, are LSAT and GPA the only things they consider? No, not at all. While these numbers are critical, law schools would have no need for human admissions officers if they could simply plug in numbers to a computer and let the computer calculate admits based on LSAT and GPA alone. Admissions officers continue to want to see you diversify your interests and talents outside of your numerical profile. Your work experience, volunteer experience, extracurricular activities, leadership abilities, personal statement, and ability to contribute to a school’s class diversity help to round your candidacy out. Top law schools will especially want to see evidence of both academic and non-academic accomplishments.

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