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By: Jennie Goldsmith Rothman, Managing Director, Admit Advantage
Jennie Goldsmith Rothman, a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, is Managing Director at Admit Advantage, a premier admissions consulting firm. Following a career as an employment lawyer, Jennie has been advising applicants to college, law school, graduate programs, and fellowships for more than 10 years. You can sign up for a free consultation with Jennie at http://Calendly.com/admit-advantage to learn how Admit Advantage can support you through the application process.
As with all other sectors of American society, the 2020-21 law school admissions cycle was deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. How could it not be?
Not surprisingly, several administrations of the LSAT were cancelled due to the quarantine. When the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) resumed testing in May 2020, they introduced the LSAT Flex, which consisted of only the 3 primary sections (Logical Reasoning, Games, Reading Comp), with no experimental section. Moreover, applicants took the LSAT Flex from the comfort of their own homes. Add to those changes the fact that the quarantine gave many test takers extra time to study and prepare for the exam, and it’s easy to imagine the result: LSAT scores went up.
In fact, LSAT scores went up a lot, with increases clustered at the top of the scale. According to data released by the LSAC, the number of applicants with LSAT scores of 165-169 was up nearly 29% over the previous year. Scores above 170 increased even more in year-over-year comparisons, with scores of 170-174 up more than 55%; and the highest score band of 175-180 up a breath-taking 101.4%. Yes, you read that right: LSAT scores between 175-180 doubled from the previous year!
LSAT scores weren’t the only thing that went up during the 2020-21 admissions cycle; law school applications increased as well. The same LSAC statistics reveal that the total number of law school applicants as of 5/24/2021 increased 19.3%. Those applicants also submitted more applications than past applicants have, as is evidenced by the 31.2% increase in unique applications. Experts have suggested a variety of reasons for this increase, ranging from strong post-law school employment statistics to the value of a legal skill set in combating racial injustice during a year of social unrest and protests.
Taken together, these trends made the 2020-21 admissions cycle the most competitive in memory, with low acceptance rates and long wait lists.
The million-dollar question on everyone’s minds is will the 2021-22 cycle be the same? So far, the evidence points to another crowded cycle. Over 35,000 people have registered to take the June 2021 LSAT, the first test of the new cycle. While some who registered for the June test may drop out, the June administration has only seen more than 30,000 test takers twice since 1998.
It’s too early to know whether LSAT scores will normalize over the course of this cycle with the return to a more traditional test and the phasing out of the LSAT Flex, or will remain at this year’s higher levels. However, first-time test takers have the option of purchasing Score Preview, which will allow them to review their scores and cancel them for up to six days after receiving the score. Applicants whose first score is significantly lower than they expect should strongly consider taking advantage of this option.
Without a crystal ball, we can’t know exactly how the 2021-22 law school admissions cycle will play out. So, the best advice for applicants is to get your applications in early in the admissions cycle. The earlier, the better: aim to submit in October or November. In order to do so, you’ll need to get your personal statement, letters of recommendation, and all the other application components ready early too. This summer is the perfect time to get started.
Remember, there is only one YOU. So, if you get started early, highlight your unique strengths through a compelling narrative, and edit and revise your application carefully, the forecast for YOUR admission to law school is good.
 LSAC introduced Score Preview in July 2020, for use on the August 2020 exam. https://www.lsac.org/lsat/taking-lsat/lsat-scoring/about-lsat-score-preview