What Law School Applicants Need to Know About LSAT/GPA Calculators | Law Admissions

Welcome to the latest issue of Law Admissions Q&A, a feature that provides law school admissions advice to readers who submit admissions questions and profiles.

If you have a question, email us for a chance to be featured next month.

This week, I will discuss the reliability of online tools and websites that students use when searching for law school.

I am preparing to apply for the upcoming cycle, and in order to save time and energy, I try to apply only to schools where I have a realistic chance of being admitted. While doing my research, I came across LSAT/GPA calculators as well as user-updated websites, which I hope will help me get a better idea of ​​the scores that would allow me to enter in some schools. My question is, how accurate and reliable are these tools? –Numbers game

The internet can be a double-edged sword: it gives you all the information you need to do proper research, but the data can be clouded with irrelevant, inaccurate or misleading information. Therefore, when using certain tools, it is best to take the results with a grain of salt.

The most common tool used by applicants is one of the many LSAT/GPA calculators, which can be found with a simple Google search. However, there are some dangers inherent in using them as a guide.

First, the data used by the calculators may be outdated; many calculators stopped updating their database with incoming class information many years ago, leaving the user with an inaccurate idea of ​​the scores generally accepted by a school.

Second, even calculators using more recent data output results based on scores from previous cycles, which – as we saw in the previous cycle – can swing dramatically from year to year, making forecasts for the next cycle possibly inaccurate.

Finally, calculators are machines, capable of evaluating numbers only. Obviously, they are unable to consider things like your personal statement, diversity statement, work experience, and personal background, such as academic probation and arrests. These non-numerical factors are becoming increasingly important to admissions committees when evaluating applicants, so the numbers alone paint a skewed picture.

Although even the Law School Admission Council website offers an LSAT/GPA calculator, it comes with a disclaimer warning users of its limitations. Additionally, some schools — including heavyweights like Harvard University, Yale University, and Stanford University, as well as some lower-ranked schools — chose not to include their names in the results, so even this calculator provides incomplete results.

A more recent trend is websites that collect candidate results — sometimes down to the smallest detail, including early decisions and scholarship offers — and share them publicly.

At first glance, these can be very useful: the data is updated daily and the information can be sorted by factors such as school, GPA and date of application, which allows for a user-friendly experience.

However, consider the source of the data: applicants – like you – who have a clear agenda in mind, which is to gain admission to a good law school. Not everyone has your best interests at heart.

For example, some may want to eliminate the contest and report that they were rejected by a school even though they had high scores, hoping this would discourage others from applying.

Others – as is human nature – will be more likely to report their successes than admit their failures, or simply forget to keep updating their profile once they’ve accepted an offer, giving an incomplete picture of the results of their application.

All this does not mean that these tools are useless. It’s important to apply to schools where you have at least a realistic chance of gaining admission, and the best way to make a high-level determination is to use numerical data.

However, don’t let the numbers alone dictate where you apply. A classmate of mine was admitted to Harvard Law School with an LSAT score of 163 – he was admitted on the waitlist, but that part does not appear on his diploma.

Another candidate I worked with was admitted to New York University Law School with LSAT scores of 161, 162, and 166. And another friend was denied admission in all top 10 schools despite a 3.7/168 split.

Although you want to work efficiently, since applications are time consuming and expensive, it would be wise to consider several other factors and make a list of 12-15 law schools, including a few schools of scope and security, to improve your chances.

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