Academic Factors

In the View from the Admissions Officer's Desk, we saw that admissions officers look at your grades and LSAT score for several reasons. They want to:

  • minimize their risk, avoiding people who might flunk out;
  • keep the school's reputation competitive with that of other schools; and
  • guarantee the quality of discussion in the classroom.

The starting point for this inquiry is your index number. But it is only a starting point. Admissions officers recognize that a number of factors affect your grades. These include

  • a bad semester or year for which you can give a reasonable explanation,
  • the difficulty of your major or overall course of study,
  • the undergraduate institution,
  • upward or downward grade trends, and.
  • grade inflation over time.

For a really good reason, such as an undiagnosed learning disability or a long-ago problem that has been solved, they may be willing to disregard as much as two years of bad grades.

Similarly, law schools may disregard one of two LSAT scores if the two scores are very different and you can make a compelling argument that the higher score is more representative of your ability. Students with learning disabilities, people who got sick (physically or emotionally) on LSAT day, and students who were not familiar with the LSAT format the first time they took it may benefit from making these circumstances clear to the admissions officer in their file.


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