The T is for ‘Tarded

When I appeared on the Down by Lawcast I supposedly said something along the lines of the cognitive deficiency that makes people score a 155 on the LSAT is the same deficiency that makes you view that 155 as a sign that law school is the right place for you. Honestly, I don’t remember exactly what I said because I was a couple drinks in and don’t listen to other shows when I’m on them. I have to listen to myself all day long anyways, why make it worse for me? If wouldn’t even listen to my own show if I didn’t have to the audio editing.

Well, apparently a few people took offense to that.  Guess where they fell on the LSAT curve.  If you were one of those people, here’s some math (ah! oh no! numbers is hard!) for you to consider:

The median score for the LSAT is around 151.  So, let’s assume you take the LSAT, get a 158, see that you’re at about 77th percentile, and figure that’s pretty decent, you’ve got 17 percentile points between you and average.

Except then something weird happens between getting your score and going to law school, causing the median score to jump way up.  Actually, two weird things.

First, some people won’t enroll in law school, and the people who don’t enroll are more likely to be on the low end of the spectrum than the high end.  If everyone who got a 140 or lower didn’t enroll anywhere, the median score would go from 151 to 153, and your 77th percentile drops down to 73rd.

Now here’s the second strange thing that happens.  Assume 100 people take the LSAT, 1 person gets a 127 or less, and 1 person gets a 172 or higher (those two numbers are the top and bottom 1%).  The LSAT is offered four times a year, so at the end of a year, you’d expect 4 people with 172+ and 4 people with 127- right?  If you said yes, you probably sucked on the LSAT.

At the end of the year, 4 people will have 172+, but only 1 or 2 people will have a 127-.  Why?  Because low scoring test takers are more likely to retake the exam.  People who do well stop taking it.

How does this affect you?  It means the part of the curve below you consists of a lot of clones, and they’re artificially propping you up.  They’ll stop propping you up in law school and in real life, where they go back to only counting once.

Of course, some people with good scores won’t go to law school (maybe they’ll become doctors instead), and some people with high scores will retake the exam (because they want top 5, not just top 14).  But, in general, people with lower scores are less likely to enroll, and more likely to retake the LSAT.

The LSAT is taken about 150,000 times a year, but law schools enroll only around 45,000 1Ls.  Your 77th percentile that looked so hot before isn’t just dropping down to 73rd, but probably closer to 50th.  If you started at the 50th percentile, you’re not safely in the bottom third.

So now, when you get your 158 on the LSAT, should you still be taking that as a sign you should go to law school?  Probably not.

Of course, the LSAT pretty much only tests logical reasoning and reading comprehension, and if you’re not good at those skills, you’re not going to understand any of this, and you’re probably not going to understand why it’s a bad idea for you to go law school in the first place.  After all, someone has to feed law tier four law school deans.  If not you, then who?

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17 Responses to “The T is for ‘Tarded”

  1. thenambypamby Says:

    What’s that LSAT out of? Uhh…Uhh…

  2. Joey Says:

    Lol, the LSAT tests reading skills, so if you got a 158 you will not understand any of this, and yet you will go to some crappy law school some place. I scored a 171. I went to a top school. I had a cousin that went to U of A and got like Cs and Ds or whatever, he was a horrible student. I do not even know if he took the LSAT. He went to Birmingham School of Law, one of the unaccredited law schools in Alabama. At family parties most of the tards had no clue there was a difference, we were both lawyers.

  3. bl1y Says:

    My cousin is marrying a guy who is planning to go to Faulkner University Jones School of Law in Mobile.


  4. chris Says:

    Joey, don’t they realize the difference when you roll up in your Bugatti Veyron and cousin Jim-Bob is driving a twelve year old Civic and/or Horse drawn carriage?

    Bl1y, when I take the LSAT in June I will post my score here. If I get anything below the 170′s I deserve the merciless heckling to come.

  5. bl1y Says:

    Chris: With another 8 month until the exam, yeah, if you don’t break 170, you should seriously reconsider your ability to study for a law school exam in 3 months or the bar exam in 2.

  6. Jimbob Says:

    I got under a 170 on the LSAT and have a job with a V50 firm lined up for next summer. While I understand your theory, I wholeheartedly disagree with it.

  7. Wells Says:

    Doesn’t a third thing happen after the first semester?

    People with poor law school grades leave law school for various reasons. Some might have been told that they were going to be made to practice shit law if they weren’t in the top X%, Others might have simply flunked out. The people with lower LSAT scores should be more likely to leave, making the bottom fall out.

  8. Lawyer for Hire Says:

    I got a 167 the week after I decided “Fuck it, why not law school?”
    My LSAT score did not even remotely reflect my crappy grades. But I still passed the BAR, so WTF is the point? If people are still stupid enough to be applying to law schools, let them come in droves. Profs have to eat.

  9. loltier2 Says:

    Wow 167, 171, whoa guys those are

    actually not that good

    why are you bragging about those scores

  10. chris Says:

    Alright, I’ll bite. Bl1y, how long did you study for the LSAT and what was your score.

    I’m not taking the LSAT in December as I don’t think it’s enough time even if I start studying this weekend, but if I’m testing high enough February is an option.

  11. Aline Says:

    I did not do well on the LSAT’s but still got into law school. But now I need a good job.

    Are there any legal jobs out there? I have a JD and am trying to pass the bar in New Jersey to increase my marketability.

    Are there any good ideas I have not thought of?

  12. bl1y Says:

    Chris: On the first practice test I took without any studying, I scored a 165. I studied with Kaplan, but did very little extra work outside of class (I was also taking a 3-week summer class on mystery novels that required reading 2 books every 3 days).

    I got a 172.

  13. bl1y Says:

    Wells: That does happen, but it’s not very common. Law schools have every incentive to keep you there, so that they can keep collecting tuition from you. Attrition rates are extremely low.

  14. bl1y Says:

    Jimbob: An exception does not disprove an argument about generalities. I see why you did so poorly on the LSAT.

  15. m Says:

    I was on the admissions committee of a TTT. All the LSAT is designed to do is to predict survivability of the student for his 1L year. It is pretty good at doing this. After the 1L year, there was no value to the score.

    As far as admissions, your GPA is the best predictor of Law school success. If the admissions candidate had a good GPA, good undergrad, and or good employment record but a poor LSAT, then the candidate was discreetly told to plug away at the LSAT until a score of 150 or better was had.

    I have never been asked about a LSAT score in a legal interview. I don’t ask about LSAT scores during interviews. The only people I hear talk about LSATs are T1 grads and people with framed 170 scores on their walls. So, lets talk about the Bar Exam that actually counts for something!

  16. Linda Says:

    I’m taking the test in 3 weeks and I’m ctrneruly taking the Princeton Review MCAT class but I also bought the ExamKracker books so I could study on my own. I prefer the ExamKrackers. The books we got from TPR have a lot of errors. Most are just typos that don’t really affect the meaning of the material but sometimes their mathematical solutions to their samples problems have typos and that can lead to confusion. The ExamKracker books are must more condensed and they claim to cover only what is on the MCAT. Also, they give you good mnemonics and they way the books are written make them much easier to read. And their practice problems are harder which I think is better because it tests whether you really know the material. However, I feel that these books are designed for people that already have a decent background in the subject whereas TPR books are better if you haven’t seen the subject matter in awhile. All in all from personal experience I think it’s most beneficial to read as many different prep books (ExamKrackers, TPR, Kaplan) as you can. Each book explains things differently and you may not understand something from one book but then read it in another and it’ll make sense.

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