Understanding Admissions Criteria
Law schools consider the objective criteria, the GPA and LSAT score, the factors that most accurately predict how applicants will perform in their first year:
Law School Admission Test (LSAT): Applicants take the LSAT, a half-day standardized test, during one of four test administrations offered annually by the Law School Admission Council. Scores, which range from 120 to 180, are used by most law schools as a common measurement of potential for success in law school.
Undergraduate Grade Point Average (GPA): Applicants submit undergraduate transcripts to the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS), which converts grades to a cumulative grade point average using a set of consistent values. The GPA offers admissions committees another numerical basis for comparing applicants.
Applicant Index: Many law schools ask the LSDAS to combine applicants’ LSAT scores and GPAs with weighted constants to produce a single number which can be used to assess and compare potential for doing well.
Subjective criteria are the factors law schools consider in addition to GPAs and LSAT scores:
Personal Statement: Applicants submit a personal statement as part of the application process for almost all law schools. Admissions committees look for a concise, detailed, well-written statement revealing the applicant's individuality. They want to learn from the statement who the applicant is and what makes him/her qualified to study at their law schools.
Letters of Recommendation: Most law schools require applicants to submit letters of recommendation from professors or employers to gain a different perspective on the applicant’s academic strength and personal qualities. Admissions officers find most helpful specific examples of applicants’ motivation and intellectual curiosity, an assessment of communication skills, and a comparison with peers.
Experience: This factor includes undergraduate curricular and extracurricular activities, internships, part-time and full-time work experience. Include a resume in your application materials that demonstrates your skills and abilities relevant to the study of law and how you will contribute to the diversity and strength of the class.
Addenda: An addendum is something you can choose to include in your application to offer explanation regarding another part of your application. An addendum should be very concise and can explain issues such as a low GPA, low LSAT score, lapse in academic performance, etc. If a legitimate reason cannot be offered for a particular weakness in the application, an addendum should not included, nor should one be included if there are no obvious issues needing to be addressed.
Most law schools have recruitment programs to increase participation in the legal profession by underrepresented groups. State schools may reserve seats for state residents. Review websites of schools to learn about their selection criteria, and you may want to contact schools about your specific concerns.
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