Balance a 160s LSAT Score in a Law School Application

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Welcometo the latest installment of Law Admissions Q-and-A, a monthly feature of Law Admissions Lowdown that provides adviceto readers who send in questions and law school admissions profiles.

If you have a question, email me for a chance to be featured next month.This week, I address how to get into top law schools when your LSAT score is inthe 160 range.

[Discover four ways to apply to law school with a low GPA.]

DearShawn: I am a current recipient of a prestigious scholarship with a well-substantiated disability,which, due to the Law School Admission Council's stringency, was not accommodated (this is the first andonly test I have taken without accommodations). I took the LSAT twice, scoring bothtimes in the 160s.

The rest of my application is, I believe, strong, andadditionally aided by the adversity story that lies at its heart. In otherwords, there is reasonably compelling evidence that my LSAT score is confoundedby my disability, and therefore has limited predictive power in my case. I havewritten an addendum stating as much, though I have not yet submitted myapplications.

BeforeI hit send, however, is there anything else I can do to strengthen myapplication in light of my lower-than-desired LSAT score? -Undeterred byDisability

Dear Undeterred by Disability: Thank you for reaching out. It is unfortunate that you did notreceive test accommodations, but you are correct that you can submit a strongapplication nonetheless.

To give you an idea of the possibilities,a number of Stratus Prep students with LSATs in the 160s have been admitted toHarvard Law and other top 14 schools. In most cases, the most effective strategywas to cast a wide net, applying to 10 or more schools, and write about ideas like personalbackground vs. academics, work experience and legal experience in theirpersonal statements. They also demonstrated knowledge of and compellinginterest in each of the schools to which they were applying.

Additionally, regarding your disability, be sureto cite in your addendum the accommodations received in previous tests you have taken,particularly the SAT or ACT. You should not complain about LSAC’s decision notto provide test accommodations.

Instead, simply state that you do not believeyour LSAT score is an accurate representation of your abilities. Keep it asbrief as possible. If you do not make a big deal out of it, neither willadmissions readers. -Shawn

[Learn to manage a drop in your LSAT score.]

DearShawn: I hadn't been particularly concerned about my 3.45 cumulative GPA untilI received my LSAT results. I had been shooting to apply in the 2014-2015 cycleto a bunch of schools between number 7 and number 35 in the national rankings, but I knowthat with my GPA and my current 160 LSAT, I don't have good chances.

I havealready graduated so I can’t improve my GPA, but I'm strongly consideringretaking the LSAT in June because I had been consistently scoring between 168and 172 on my practice tests.

I knowthat to be a strong contender at these types of schools, I will likely have toscore at least at the median, or even at the 75th percentile, on my nextLSAT. Is there any other advice you have for me to help strengthen myapplication? Thanks! -To Retake or Not

Dear To Retake or Not: Thanks for your question. Because you were scoring 8-12 pointshigher on your practice tests, I recommend you try retaking the LSAT in June.You have plenty of time to resume studying or even take a class to ensure thatyou boost your score.

[Weigh GPA and scores when deciding to retake the LSAT.]

Furthermore, you can implement several of the strategies Imentioned to the reader above: focus on your personal background in yourpersonal statement and tailor optional essays to each school. You may also wishto take a few extra courses, even though you graduated college.

It will notcount toward your undergraduate GPA, but if you get A's, it will demonstrateyour abilities and that you are committed to improving.

Good luck! -Shawn

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