Comparing LSAT Scores To Bar Exam Performance
Two of the most important benchmarks during the law school lifecycle involve taking the LSAT and the bar exam. One essentially decides your law school fate and the other decides whether you will become a full-fledged attorney. And they are very much connected. Many experts believe the LSAT is the most direct indicator of bar performance, which is one reason why it’s so heavily considered in admissions decisions. Knock out the LSAT, it’s likely you’ll do the same on the bar.
But of course, those are generalizations. They are trends, but there are certainly outliers. And so this year, U.S. News took a deep-dive into the median LSAT scores and bar performances of the 196 law schools they ranked this year. No surprise, schools with entering classes boasting high median LSAT scores also had graduates producing impressive bar pass rates.
For example, both Yale Law School and Harvard Law School enrolled classes this past fall with median LSAT scores of 173 and both had graduating classes of 2014 with incredible New York State Bar pass rates. The LSAT is scored on a scale from 120 to 180. Some 97.3% of graduates sitting for the New York bar from Yale passed. Meantime, 96.4% from Harvard Law did the same. The state bar chosen for each school represents the state exam where the majority of their graduates sat.
The next two schools to boast impressive LSAT scores for their incoming 2015 classes were Columbia Law and Stanford Law, each with median LSATs of 171. Columbia’s 2014 graduates passed the New York bar at a clip of 92.4% and Stanford’s 2014 graduates passed the California bar–considered the nation’s toughest bar exam–at a rate of 86.8%. The rate is much lower, but considering the average pass rate in California was 60% and the New York average was 73%, comparatively, Stanford held its own.
Perhaps more impressive were the law schools at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Virginia. Pennsylvania’s incoming class had a median LSAT of 169 and Virginia had a 168. However, both were able to produce graduates passing the bar at a higher rate than Harvard and Yale with pass rates of 99.3% (Pennsylvania) and 98% (Virginia).
While Harvard and Yale held steady in terms of median LSAT scores for another year, Columbia and Stanford both lost a point from a median LSAT of 172 for the entering class of 2014. New York University’s School of Law also slipped from a median of 170 in 2014 to 169 this year. The University of Virginia also fell one point to 168. All other schools remained the same as the previous year. No schools were able to increase their median LSAT score.
Of course, this data comes with a very large caveat. There is virtually no causality between the two data points. A more appropriate way to make the connection would be to compare 2011 median LSAT scores with 2014 bar pass rates. Still, it’s an interesting look at the most recent data available to see which of the elite schools are doing well in terms of median LSATs and bar results.
Source: U.S. News