Your law school application will be judged on two primary criteria: (1) the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT); and (2) Undergraduate grades. You will also be asked to write a personal essay and submit letters of recommendation, but the LSAT and grades are widely considered the most critical in making a determination on admission.
Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)
The LSAT is the exclusive admission test for law school. Anyone applying to an American law school must take the LSAT. In some respects, the test mirrors the college entry equivalent – the SATs. However, the LSAT is significantly more difficult and tests a different set of abilitilies when compared the to the SATs. It does not test law per se, but rather the attributes considered necessary to succeed as a law student. As LSAC (the body that administers the LSAT) desribes the test, “The LSAT is designed to measure skills that are considered essential for success in law school: the reading and comprehension of complex texts with accuracy and insight; the organization and management of information and the ability to draw reasonable inferences from it; the ability to think critically; and the analysis and evaluation of the reasoning and arguments of others.”
The test has five, 35 minute sections. It is administered four times a year. Many students take the test at least twice. Students are permitted to keep their highest test school, making it advantageous to repeat the test if a student feels he or she did not reach their potential. Most students take the LSAT in their Junior year of college, but may also take it their Senior year or after years off from school. It is graded on a scale from 120-180. Test takers who wish to get in a top ranked school should aim for a near perfect school. For middle teared and lower teared schools the score requirement is less demanding, bottoming out at the 150 range.
Although the LSAT is the primary tool used to judge law school admissions, undergraduate grades are also significantly important. Again, if seeking admission to a top law school an applicant should have close to perfect grades – around the 4.0 range. Other schools vary. Particularly if a student took on a demanding undergraduate major, such as a science, schools are more willing to look past a lower overall GPA.