Mailbag Vol. 3 – All About the LSAT…

As a great many of you took the LSAT this Saturday, I thought it might be helpful to address a few of the more frequent LSAT-related questions.

Before I begin, I would like to reiterate the following: With admissions matters, given their largely subjective nature, it is extremely difficult to generalize. Consequently, our response to a great many of the following questions will likely depend upon context, a candidate’s explanation and our general impression of the situation. As a result, it should be noted, while in many cases our response to one of these questions may very well be the same for a great many applicants, it could nevertheless vary for a particular candidate and her situation.

How do you interpret multiple LSAT scores?

This is without a doubt the #1 LSAT-related question. As with a great many admissions matters, schools approach this question in fundamentally different ways, and, as a result, there is often some very real applicant confusion as to how a particular school might interpret multiple LSAT scores. At W&L Law, our answer is fairly simple.

In accordance with our policy of reviewing all the materials submitted with an application, we look at each of your LSAT scores as we consider your candidacy. Absent a compelling reason that persuades us otherwise, we place the greatest weight on your highest score because statistical analysis indicates that a student’s highest score is the best predictor of her success at W&L Law. In accordance with American Bar Association guidelines, the median LSAT score for an entering class is calculated using matriculants’ highest LSAT score.

How do you interpret a cancelled LSAT score?

We know candidates cancel LSAT scores for a great many reasons. You weren’t feeling well on test day and, consequently, your performance was less than your best. Or your testing conditions were less than ideal, and your performance suffered as a result. Typically, such cancellations do not negatively impact the consideration of your file. If you wish, you are more than welcome to submit an addendum explaining the reason for a cancellation. If you cancelled scores from multiple administrations, I would strongly encourage you to submit such an addendum.

Naturally, as admissions officers, when faced with such information, we often wonder “Why?,” and in these instances, it is often extremely helpful to have an explanation. If you do not provide us with such an explanation, we are often unsure as to what to think. In the application process, you should strive to eliminate any such confusion. Whether it be a bad semester on your transcript, a significant difference in LSAT scores or multiple LSAT cancellations (just to name a few possible topics), you absolutely need to address any such issues as they will likely give an admissions officer pause when reviewing your file. As previously noted, your file should make the reviewer feel confident about your potential for success at her law school. A multitude of these sorts of questions (or even a couple) can often have the opposite effect.

How do you interpret a “did not show” for an LSAT administration?

Once again, our response to this question may very well depend upon the circumstances of a particular candidate’s situation. Typically, a “did not show” will not adversely impact the consideration of your file, however, I would strongly encourage you to submit an addendum explaining the reason for your absence. If you failed to attend multiple administrations, you should absolutely submit such an addendum. Even if you failed to show for one LSAT administration, we will wonder what happened, and, as previously noted, it is your responsibility as an applicant to answer any and all such questions.

What weight do you assign the LSAT in reviewing an applicant’s file?

Once again, just as there are 200 different, ABA-accredited law schools, there are 200 different approaches to file review. Some schools use an admissions index or formula which assigns your LSAT score (or scores) a specific weight or value in the review process. We are NOT one of these schools.

At W&L Law, we take a holistic approach to file review, or, more specifically, when reviewing your application to our law school, we read your whole file. As a result, while your LSAT score is an important element in our consideration of your candidacy, we do not assign it a specific weight, and it is certainly not the only factor we weigh we assessing your potential for success at our law school. As the above statements attest, we will read your personal statement, your letters of recommendation and anything else you wish to submit as part of your application to our law school. This is truly the only way we can identify those candidates we believe would be a good fit at W&L Law.

While the more numerical aspects of your application are an important part of our evaluation of your ability to manage the work of a law school of W&L’s caliber, they do not tell us anything about what kind of person you are. They do not reflect your values, integrity or force of character. They do not say anything about your leadership ability. They do not detail the impact you have had on your community or the other people with whom you’ve come in contact. These are all things in which we are truly interested, and they can only be gleaned from the so-called “softer” portions of your application (i.e. personal statement, letters of recommendation, etc.).

In our opinion, when applying to W&L Law, you are asking to join a unique community united by common principles (collegiality, collaboration, honesty, trust, for example). We want to know you possess these very same values and will thrive in a friendly, personal, liberal arts environment. Such a determination requires both a quantitative and qualitative consideration of each and every application.

Hopefully, this post answered a great many of your LSAT-related questions. If not, or you just have questions, please feel free to contact us at

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