The U.S. News Short List, separate from our overall rankings, is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas. Be sure to explore The Short List: College, The Short List: Grad School and The Short List: Online Programs to find data that matters to you in your college or grad school search.
A good score on the Law School Admission Test, known as the LSAT, can be the key to getting into law school. But an ideal score at one J.D. program may fall short at another, so aspiring attorneys can use admission statistics to set a target LSAT score for themselves.
The LSAT is made up of two parts: a multiple-choice exam and an unscored written essay. Test-takers who complete the LSAT receive scores ranging from 120 to 180. Generally, experts say scores in the high 160s and 170s are considered excellent.
Experts also note that while an applicant’s LSAT score is important, it is not the only factor in an admissions decision. Law schools typically consider a student’s personal statement and undergraduate transcript in addition to his or her LSAT score. Some law schools also accept the GRE in place of the LSAT for applicants who may have a preference between the two graduate exams.
Among the 193 ranked law schools that reported the median LSAT score for incoming full-time students in fall 2020 to U.S. News in an annual survey, the overall median was 157.
Meanwhile, prospective students hoping to gain admission to a competitive law school will need to set their sights high when studying for this lengthy exam. According to U.S. News data, among the 13 ranked schools with the highest-scoring students, including ties, the overall median LSAT score was 170.
Yale University in Connecticut and Harvard University in Massachusetts top the list, as entering full-time students earned a median LSAT score of 173 at each school.
[Read: What Is a Good LSAT Score?]
Most of the programs on this list are ranked in the top 10 of the U.S. News Best Law Schools rankings. Only three schools with the highest median LSAT scores are not ranked among the top 10: Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law in Illinois, the University of California–Los Angeles and Washington University in St. Louis.
Below is a list of the 13 ranked law schools with the highest median LSAT scores among incoming students in fall 2020. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report.
|School (name) (state)||Median LSAT score for full-time students entering in fall 2020||U.S. News law school rank|
|Yale University (CT)||173||1|
|Harvard University (MA)||173||3|
|Columbia University (NY)||172||4 (tie)|
|Stanford University (CA)||171||2|
|University of Chicago||171||4 (tie)|
|New York University||170||6 (tie)|
|University of Pennsylvania (Carey)||170||6 (tie)|
|University of Virginia||170||8|
|Duke University (NC)||169||10 (tie)|
|University of Michigan–Ann Arbor||169||10 (tie)|
|Northwestern University (Pritzker) (IL)||169||12|
|University of California–Los Angeles||169||14|
|Washington University in St. Louis||169||16 (tie)|
Don’t see your school on this list? Access the U.S. News Law School Compass to find standardized test scores, complete rankings and much more. School officials can access historical data and rankings, including of peer institutions, via U.S. News Academic Insights.
U.S. News surveyed 197 schools for our 2020 survey of law programs. Schools self-reported myriad data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News’ data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While U.S. News uses much of this survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Law Schools rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. While the data comes from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News’ rankings of Best Colleges, Best Graduate Schools or Best Online Programs. The LSAT data above is correct as of March 30, 2021.
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