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November 17, 2017


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I think sometimes we focus too much on the quantitative side and not enough on the qualitative side. Getting under 150 means you almost certainly got most of the questions wrong. Can anyone look at the LSAT questions themselves and legitimately argue that someone who gets basic, high school-level reading comprehension.

My proposal is that if a law school wants to admit someone with sub-150 LSAT scores, they should be required to:

(a) Place tuition funds into an escrow account that will only be released on bar passage;
(b) Have to approve the student's admission through a formal committee process, with written minutes.
(c) Be given, and forced to review, a copy of the LSAT the student took with their answers.

That way not only do they have skin in the game, but the ABA accreditation committee will have something to interrogate admissions officials with. "So as you can see here, this student got this question wrong, despite the fact that it probably could be successfully answered by a junior high school student. Didn't this cause concern for you?"

Of course, step (a) above would probably obviate the need for the remaining steps.


Oops, didn't finish the second sentence in the first paragraph (yes, ironic I know, considering my argument).

Can anyone look at the LSAT questions themselves and legitimately argue that someone who gets basic, high school-level reading comprehension wrong has the ability to function as a lawyer?

David Frakt

twbb -

Thank you for raising this point. I think a lot of people involved in the admissions process, including law professors and law Deans, are willfully ignorant about the kind of people they are admitting. A student graduating with a 2.6 from an undistinguished college today is often barely literate. And a student with a 144 or lower LSAT is struggling to operate at a very basic level of reading comprehension and analytical reasoning, and often can't make simple logical connections. Virtually all law professors went to elite law schools, or excelled at schools just below the elite level. It is hard for people like that to understand how hard law school is, and how daunting a bar exam will be, for people of average (or lower) intellectual capabilities. The idea that anyone can be a lawyer if they just work hard at it is a fantasy, and also demeans the profession as a whole.



Indeed, this is true. And, in large first-year classes, where a few of the students who "get it" raise their hand for every question, the 50% of a student body at high or extreme risk, according to your scale, is simply lost and even more intimidated. THis often results in the professors at the bottom feeders "dumbing down" the material to the point of basically just teaching rules and telling the students what will be on the exam. THis, in turn, leads to even greater failure on the bar exam, which leads to greater attrition and more dumbing down.

No one wants to admit it, but it is a fact that bottom feeders, more and more, are simply larding up on bar exam coaches, AND THEY STILL CAN'T GET RESULTS. THis is because the vast majority of the professors are not able to teach, and the majority of their students aren't able to learn.

Whoever thinks that earning a JD at Harvard means you know how to teach law, especially if you've done nothing in your life that even resembles a real law practice (or real work o any kind), is as arrogant and obtuse as a post.

What a mess.

That is the reason it is so important to shutter the bottom feeders. They aren't giving the folks they fleece an "opportunity" - they are preying on hope and unlimited federal loans to rip off every single class they admit: and they know it.


The article claims that students with a 137 are in the bottom 8.5 percentile. The LSAT is graded 120-180, which offers a 60-point range. That means there is a 17-point range (between 120 and 137) for classifying test takers in the bottom 8.5? Why is that? Such granularity at the very bottom of the scale seems wholly unnecessary. Why should approximately 1/3 of the possible point scale be used to classify only the bottom 8.5 percent of test takers? Why not have a score of 126 correlate to the 8.5 percentile? Such a recalibration would leave a wider range of scoring options available to distinguish among better performing test takers with a real chance of getting into law school. For that matter, do the scores matter at all - are the percentiles the only relevant piece of LSAT info?

David Frakt

Anon - I don't know why the LSAT uses the 120 to 180 scale, but I do know the scoring distribution is a classic bell curve with very flat ends. So yes, the bottom 17 scores are for the bottom 8%. It is similar at the top. 165 is 92% and 173 and up are all for the top 1%. The one thing that I really don't understand about LSAT scores is that 150 is neither the average nor the median score. Average is between 151 and 152. And there is a big drop off below that. So people see a 149 and they think the person is basically average, but actually they are at the 40th percentile, which is already getting into a high risk category. So yes, the percentiles are far more important than the raw score.

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