What LSAT score do I need to get into Harvard Law School?

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What LSAT Score Do You Need For Harvard Law?

Although there is no “cutoff” LSAT score that you need to get into Harvard Law School, Harvard only offers admission to a small percentage of its applicants. Therefore, in order to gain admission to Harvard Law School, you are likely to need an LSAT score in the 170+ range. And LSAT score in the 170s tied with a GPA over 3.75 will make you a competitive applicant.

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The Harvard Law School Class of 2016 had a 25th%ile LSAT score of 170.

The Harvard Law School Class of 2016 had a 75th%ile LSAT score of 175.

The 25th%ile GPA was a 3.77 and the 75th%ile GPA was a 3.95. [source]

If you have LSAT and GPA numbers in this range, Harvard Law School might be an option for you.

Of course, the higher both of those numbers are, the better. If you have a GPA of 3.96+ and an LSAT score of 176+, then you should be confident of a high chance of getting into Harvard. However, because Harvard is so competitive, even applicants with these outstanding numbers would be well advised to apply to at least 5-10 law schools in addition to Harvard.

One thing for LSAT retakers to note is that Harvard is one of the few law schools that has continued to take all LSAT scores into serious consideration instead of simply using the applicant’s highest LSAT score. When the ABA stopped requiring law schools to report the average of multiple applicants’ LSAT scores, most law schools made a parallel shift and generally place most weight on the highest of an applicant’s multiple LSAT scores in their admissions decisions. (For a fuller discussion of this topic on an earlier blog post click here). It is unclear exactly how Harvard treats multiple LSAT scores, but close observers have noted that retakers fare much worse when applying to the school.

The admissions FAQ on their webpage states opaquely: “The LSAT need be taken only once. If you take the test more than once, all scores and their average will be reported and considered.” [source]

What this Delphic pronouncement means is anyone’s guess, but one thing is certain: Harvard has an unbelievably large applicant pool and extends offers of admission to a paltry 15.9% of that pool. With the possible exceptions of Yale and Stanford, it is the most competitive law school in the country. Frowning upon multiple LSAT scores is one of the many ways in which Harvard whittles down the number of offers it makes. That said, retakers can and do get admitted. Should Harvard’s policy towards retakers become more clear we will be sure to update our readers.

Putting the subject of retakers aside, let’s take a closer look at what LSAT score and GPA combination might get you in to Harvard:

Harvard Law had this to say to potential applicants: “Admission decisions are based on the Admission Committee’s experienced judgment applied to individual cases, and many factors are taken into account. Each application is given a thorough review, taking account of all available information. Because GPA and LSAT scores alone do not fully or adequately summarize information about individuals that is important to admission decisions, these “numbers” often prove poor predictors of admission decisions on individual applications. At no point on the GPA or LSAT scales are the chances of admission to Harvard Law School 0 or 100 percent. Current 75/25 percentiles for both GPA and LSAT scores can be found on the first-year class profile.”

That said, numbers are still the best way to predict success, even at Harvard. Here, as elsewhere, having an LSAT at the 75th percentile is the best way to be reasonably sure of admission provided your GPA is high enough. Looking at data from the last cycle on LawSchoolNumbers.com, it seems that applicants with a 175 were consistently getting in even with GPAs as low as 3.65. I expect Harvard’s 75th percentile LSAT score to stay at 175 during the 2013-2014 application cycle in spite of the fact that applications to law school are still dropping, even at Harvard.

If you hope to have a good result applying to Harvard Law with a GPA around the 25th percentile of 171, you want to have a GPA of 3.85 or better. If all this seems daunting, it is only what could be expected of one of the most selective and prestigious law schools in the country. The Harvard name commands universal respect and probably exceeds Yale Law School in its reputation among lay people, so it is no surprise that they cull from the strongest applicants to law schools in a given year.

However Harvard is serious when they say they look beyond the numbers. Many schools essentially auto-accept almost all applications with LSAT & GPA numbers at or above a certain range. On the other hand, Harvard, along with Yale, Stanford, and (to a lesser extent) other Top 6 law schools typically receive more applications with numbers within their target LSAT/GPA range than they can accept. This tends to make Harvard’s admissions decisions a little more difficult to predict, because they’ll look to factors beyond the numbers to choose between the over-abundance of well-qualified applicants. This makes Harvard what is called in the admissions game a Black Box. What makes the likelihood of admission to a black box school so hard to predict is that that its difficult to say exactly what a school is looking for when making decisions based on ‘soft factors.’ Suffice to say, impressive work experience and other unique, standout credentials will certainly be helpful when applying to schools at this level.

If your heart is set on going to Harvard law, be sure to check out the following recommended reading to help you max out your chances of a favorable decision.


Other Recommended Reading:


Also, If you want to get into Harvard Law, make sure that you are maximizing your LSAT score by studying with the right LSAT prep books. Although I ultimately made the decision to attend U Chicago, my 177 LSAT score was enough to gain admission to Harvard. CLICK HERE to learn what I did to get 177 on the LSAT.

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4 Comments

  1. Sorry to be posting a long comment here, but this doesn’t really fit in a tweet….

    So, Harvard is my dream school for a lot of reasons.

    I just took the LSAT today for the second time.

    I thought it went well overall…better than the 161 I got in June…but if I’m still a few points removed from their mid-ranges this time around, do you think it’s overkill to take the test for a third time in December? I would take a Powerscore course or hire a tutor this time around, if so….

    I have AWESOME soft-factors, but I feel a need to overcompensate LSAT-wise for a GPA that was at least top-quarter for my undergrad, but will be low for Harvard.

    (By the way…you guys were right about practicing with more recent tests as the test day gets closer!:
    In the days following my beautiful prep streak of 165, 166, 171, 165, 165, 166, 166, I leapt forward about 10 years to more modern LSATs from 2007-forward and was back in the 161-164 range for my last four prep tests…should have devoted more time to those tests which, no matter what the prep companies say, are in fact different from the older tests, and in more ways than just the Passage A / Passage B in RC)

    • Joshua Craven and Evan Jones on

      No worries about the long comment (yours is actually about average in length).

      This possible issue with Harvard is that they may still consider lower LSAT scores fairly heavily. They say:

      The LSAT need be taken only once. If you take the test more than once, all scores and their average will be reported and considered. http://www.law.harvard.edu/prospective/jd/apply/the-application-process/jdfaq.html#retake

      It’s not clear what this means, because (some reading comprehension practice here) this statement could be consistent with considering the average and giving your highest score little weight or mostly considering just the highest score. I’ll try to figure out more what Harvard’s actual practice is.

      Still keep shooting for it of course, but be aware that you may have the best chances a UChicago, Columbia, and NYU who in practice just take your highest score.

      Let us now where you land when you get your score and we’ll be happy to discuss strategy going forward. I hope it went well!

      • 165! Which puts me in the mid-ranges or one point off from all of the schools on my list at the moment…except Hahvahd.

        So:
        3.53 (top ~20%) / 165 / Non-URM

        Soft:
        -I feel extremely good about my recs. I’ve seen one of them–made me cry–and I can’t imagine a more beautiful, well-written letter.

        -I feel confident about what I share on my resume. I have a six month gap at the moment, but I interned at White House and abroad for two summers with the State Dept. Lots of leadership experience and community service in undergrad.

        -Writing is a passion and strong point for me and I think I convey that in my personal statement. It’s not quite there yet, but I think it will be strong.

        -Parent attended Harvard College; I have toured the law school this year.

        Honestly, I feel like I *could* do better on the LSAT. I scored over 165 several times in prep, even breaking 170 once. I’m kind of ready to be done with it, though and I worry that if I don’t pull off the 170+ in December that I will have totally screwed myself over in this cycle…and I wouldn’t be able to take the LSAT again for two years.

        At this point, what would you do?

        I really appreciate your thoughts! Thank you guys so much for everything!

  2. Thank you for taking the time to letting me know your thoughts!

    I visited Harvard a few weeks ago and they made a point of saying that yes, they do see all the scores and their average, but that they consider the highest LSAT in making the decision.

    I just also know that law schools generally are often condescending about taking the LSAT more than one time. One law school: “We’d like to see you making a better use of your time.” (All I could think: Okay, then don’t make the LSAT the end all / be all, guys!)

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