Predicting the 2023-2024 Law School Admissions Cycle
- Nov 01, 2023
- Law School Admissions
- Reviewed by: Matt Riley
Between the wide-scale movement to withhold private data from US News & World Report, the subsequent rescaling of the USNWR rankings, the Supreme Court decision to eliminate the use of broad-based demographic factors in admissions, the August LSAT proctoring fiasco, and the announcement that LSAC is removing Logic Games from the LSAT, it’s been a momentous year in law school admissions thus far.
Whiplash aside, the most important trend for law school admissions this year is the overall applicant data. We analyzed LSAC’s latest LSAT data to predict how competitive (or not) this admissions cycle is setting up to be.
Are you safe to wait longer to apply or will the early bird still get the bird? Is your LSAT score competitive compared to this year’s test takers? Let’s find out!
More Applicants. Higher Scores. More Competition.
The last five years have seen a sharp increase in overall law school applications, as well as an increase in applications with LSAT scores above 170. However, now we’re seeing a steep decline in applications but a persistent increase in applicants with extremely high scores.
|Applicants with 170+ Scores||12.4%||17.4%||15.7%||16.1%||15.6%|
In the 2020 cycle, 12.4% of 9,270 applicants scored at least 170. In 2021, 17.4% of 12,662 applicants had similar scores. In 2022, the high-scoring applicants fell to 15.7%.
How did this affect law school admissions during those years? Since both the overall number of applicants and the number of high-scoring applicants went up in 2021 and again in 2022, many law schools were able to maintain or increase their enrollments while simultaneously raising their LSAT medians (an integral part of law school rankings and the perceived competitiveness of each school).
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What Will Happen in the 2023-2024 Admissions Cycle?
This year, as of October, 15.6% of applicants have scored in the 170 range. Since the overall applicants are down 23% from their peak, it seems unlikely that most schools will be able to keep the same class size and the same median scores.
For all but the most desirable schools, this likely means a difficult decision between accepting a larger number of below-median students than usual or admitting fewer students to maintain their medians.
The overall uncertainty of this cycle suggests law schools may move quite slowly, in the hopes that they can put off these painful decisions as long as possible.
So, what does this mean for you?
1. February is probably not too late to apply to law school this year (except at the T14 schools).
First, don’t forget that many of the T14 law schools have firm (or nearly firm) deadlines in advance of the February LSAT score release date. So if you’re only applying to T14 schools, February might be too late for you.
For everyone else, you can breathe a little easier this year. While it’s true that some slots and some money will be gone by the time February scores are back (thanks to rolling admissions), we saw some waitlist decisions from top schools coming after 1L orientations last cycle. Can you imagine going about your life, resigned to the fact that you might need to reapply next cycle, and next thing you know, you get an admissions offer from your dream law school?! This cycle, we predict even more liberal use of holds and “hold tight” communications as schools try to give themselves additional time to evaluate the overall applicant pool.
This snail’s pace means that most applicants will be better off increasing their LSAT scores by taking the February LSAT instead of simply settling for a lower score in January.
2. Meeting the median still matters.
As law schools try to decide whether to continue chasing medians or prioritize class size, you can simplify this decision for them by scoring at or above last year’s median. While you always want the highest score possible, we don’t expect many schools to increase their medians this year.
For reference, among schools with reported data from the previous cycle, 62% maintained their medians, 25% increased medians, and 13% decreased medians. Given the continued downward trend of overall applicants, applying with a median score is likely safer this year than it has been at any time since the 2020 cycle. Make this score your target score and create your LSAT prep schedule accordingly.
While these predictions may not be the case at every law school, being prepared is always a better option than being early, and this year will be no exception. With the October LSAT scores-back day behind us and the November LSAT on the horizon, now is the time to start thinking about whether you might want to retake the LSAT (or take it for the first time) in January or even February.
No matter what you decide, we have a Blueprint LSAT course for you! Our Live classes for the January and February LSAT are starting now, or you can prep on your own time with our Self-Paced Course. Blueprint LSAT students increase their LSAT scores by 15 points on average, so you can hit your target score and get into your dream law school.
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