Very Low LSAT scores?
If your LSAT score is in the 140s or lower, you need to spend some time looking at the 25th percentile LSAT scores for the schools you were hoping to attend. If that number is more than five points higher than your LSAT score, please be realistic that your chances of admission are slim to none (especially if your GPA is also below the 25th percentile for that school).
If you have an LSAT score in the mid-140s or lower, you have three choices:
- Retake the LSAT and improve your score (by doing something differently than you did the first or second time, which for nontraditional applicants can include reducing hours spent working, and for international applicants it can include spending more time on English reading fluency and speed and comprehension). Don’t expect the same behavior to bring about different results. If the way you prepared for the LSAT didn’t help you last time, it’s unlikely to help you this time unless you just didn’t put in the time to use the materials/program effectively. If you do plan to retake the LSAT, only do so if you’re willing to invest the time and money necessary to really improve the outcome. Think long and hard about whether you could improve your score by increased preparation time or changing your preparation methods, and whether you’re willing to do what it will take. If so, then try again. If not, reconsider your goals.
- Be more flexible in your list of law schools by including schools that do take people with your numbers. If a school never takes anyone with your numbers, then they won’t take you – no matter how amazing your personal statement and letters of recommendation may be.
- Re-think your plans to attend law school. After all, if you have a 2.3 GPA and a 138 LSAT, you – unfortunately – are very unlikely to be able to make it through law school and then to pass the bar exam when you get out. So making this decision now, before you’ve invested three years and $200,000, could be the smartest thing you could do. This is especially true for those of you harboring a “dream” of becoming a lawyer but who do not have a lot of practical experience in a legal environment and therefore may not be clear about the profession and its demands. I welcome people to fill out a form on my website for a free initial consultation, and every year I hear from people who were academically dismissed from Thomas Cooley or Ave Maria but “have always dreamed of being a lawyer.”
I get a lot of comments on this blog from people who are in your situation. I first published this post in 2007, and it’s my most popular blog post. I welcome you to read the responses, but they can be summarized in these points:
- If you have a high 140s LSAT, a GPA at 3.5 or above, and no major arrests, discipline issues, etc., then if you apply to the right schools and submit the best possible application materials, you will probably be successful. If you have a mid 140s LSAT, a high GPA, and a history of accommodations that you were not awarded for the LSAT, you may also be successful with a persuasive application.
- If your grades are terrible and your LSAT score is under 150, I don’t care if you have 20 years of experience as a paralegal, and an MBA from the University of Phoenix, you are probably wasting your time applying to law school. Some mitigating factors include military service or coming from a significantly underprivileged background.
- If you have a 130s LSAT, you’re not going to law school. It’s not fun for me to say this, and I know it hurts to hear it. And, yes, I will answer this question exactly the same way no matter how many times or in how many variations it is posted as a comment on my blog or the Law School Expert Facebook page. People get really mad at me for saying this, like I’m saying it to be mean. People leave comments about how mad they are that I wouldn’t help them because of their 136 LSAT. So then I message them and ask them to prove me wrong – where did they get in? My favorite response was the person who recently told me that she “almost” got into a certain law school. I’m just not sure how a person “almost” gets into law school. I hate dashing people’s dreams, but I like making sure people don’t ruin their lives or pound themselves into debt for no reason. If you can try to retake the LSAT with better preparation, that’s my first suggestion. Only after repeated attempts would I suggest giving up the dream entirely.
What about Conditional Acceptance Programs?
There are schools that will offer you the privilege of paying to take a summer course or two with the incentive that participants who earn a certain grade will be admitted to the fall entering class. These programs are sometimes referred to as “AAMPLE” programs. Sometimes conditional programs are online, and sometimes they are on campus. If your LSAT score isn’t an accurate predictor of future academic success, this may be your best and only option. But there is no guarantee of acceptance, and before you commit to any programs ask about the number of people admitted during previous sessions and whether those people went on to graduate/be in good standing once enrolled as law students. For a list of law schools with conditional acceptance programs, see
I first wrote this post in 2007, and it has been my most popular blog post in the years since. I have not seen students with scores in the low 140s be successful with admission to ABA approved law schools in quite a few years. When someone approaches me who has a very low LSAT score I always encourage them to spend their dollars on LSAT preparation/tutoring before admission consulting and to contact me again once they have achieved a higher score. Schools are not taking chances on people with very low LSAT scores because, statistically, these students do not perform well in law school. Law schools are being closed for taking students who have little chance of success – see Thomas Jefferson Law School.
See also: When is an LSAT Score Too Low?