Receiving a low LSAT score can be a devastating experience. I remember the fear I felt during the four weeks that I waited for my score to arrive. Thoughts of receiving a low score and never being able to attend law school constantly flooded my mind. I recall sitting in my car as the email with my score came through on my phone and feeling like the wind got knocked out of me as my below average score loaded on the screen. I immediately decided that law school may not be in my future and after finally working up the courage to take the exam again, my new score was only two points higher. Feeling devastated was an understatement. However, I decided to jump all in and begin applying to schools, even with my low score. I figured that there had to be some school that would have mercy on me and then, at the very least, I could transfer to a higher ranked school after my first year. Therefore, you can imagine the surprise I felt when I got accepted to a top 25 school with a hefty scholarship offer.
So how was this possible? Getting into a top school with a low LSAT score isn’t a frequent occurrence. You should absolutely assess yourself realistically in determining your best chances for admission. However, while making this assessment, bear in mind that despite your low score, admission to your dream school is possible. Therefore, I’ve outlined some of the things I did during my law school application process that I think may have helped my chances. Who knows if some of these tips may be your ticket to your dream school.
1. Review Admission Statistics
One way to increase your chances of getting into your dream school, is by carefully reviewing admission statistics to determine which factors the school primarily considers in making its admission decisions. Does the school give more weight to a high LSAT score or does it give greater consideration to your undergraduate GPA? Unfortunately, most tier 1 law schools require a high LSAT score, however, some of these schools will accept students with a lower score if they have a high GPA. While applying to law school, I was completely unaware of this. Therefore, I primarily applied to lower ranked schools with the assumption that my score would get me nowhere. I only applied to the school I ultimately went to by sheer chance and then I learned that they actually accept students that either have a high LSAT score or a high GPA. Thankfully my GPA was above average and ultimately had a bearing on my admission.
So what does this mean for you? If you have a low LSAT score, don’t allow this to dissuade you. Do your homework, and apply to schools that consider other factors in making their admissions decisions. If you have a high GPA and a low LSAT score then you could be a shoe in at a top law school. Additionally, if you have unique or outstanding work or life experience, you should expound on this in your application because these are also factors that a school may consider regardless of your score or GPA. I’ll touch on this more below. However, just be aware of the admission culture at your schools of preference, then apply to the ones that best match your abilities.
2. Submit a Well-Rounded Application
Another factor to consider if you have a low LSAT score is the fact that this score is just one aspect of your application. There are still a variety of ways that you can sell yourself to your dream school that are not necessarily contained to a three-digit number. Submitting a well-rounded application will be crucial if you have a low LSAT score. Below are some of the ways that you can beef up your application to sell yourself to top schools even with a low score.
Draft a Strong Personal Statement
What are some of the things that make you great? Think about that and channel this into your personal statement. The fact that you have a low score may appear minuscule if you’ve spent years overseas working for an amazing cause or if you’ve overcome extraordinary obstacles in your life. Law schools want to admit students who they believe will leave an indelible mark on the school and ultimately excel as attorneys. Therefore, if your experiences indicate that you will be such a candidate, they may be willing to overlook a lower score. Just make sure that your personal statement sells this to them.
Submit an LSAT Addendum
Another tool that you can consider if you have a low LSAT score is submitting an LSAT addendum with your application materials. An LSAT addendum allows law school applicants to explain what factors may have contributed to receiving a low score. I submitted an addendum with my application based on my history of poor standardized testing. I explained that based on my record, I have scored either average or below average on standardized tests, but despite this factor, I’ve always excelled as a student. I included a copy of my low SAT scores and also my high undergraduate GPA to show the discrepancies between both figures. If you’re trying to determine whether you should submit an addendum check here.
Submit a Diversity Statement
Finally, another tool you can take advantage of is submitting a diversity statement. A diversity statement provides applicants with the opportunity to explain how their background and life circumstances would contribute to creating a diverse student body. Law schools, in general, try to enroll students with different viewpoints and experiences in order to create a culturally rich student body. Therefore, if you’re an ethnic minority, if you’ve had an ongoing disability or if you’re from a low-income background, these are a few of the factors that would allow for a strong diversity statement. If you fall into one of these categories or into a category mentioned here, and you have a low LSAT score, be sure to consider submitting a diversity statement with your application.
A low LSAT score does not pigeon hole you into a lower ranked school. It will take some extra work to sell yourself without this golden ticket, but, you may be able to access your dream school if you apply the above. So get to work!
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