Well below your dream school's LSAT? It can still happen.
This was written by a client the day after he was admitted to his dream school despite being almost double digit points below their median LSAT. Published with permission, only edits were to take thanking me out of it a few times :)
You thrived academically in undergrad and now you’re hoping to do the same at one of your dream law schools. You look at their median GPA numbers and you’re above them and feel like you’re already in... but then there’s the LSAT. Maybe you just can’t master logic games or maybe, unlike in college where you went into every test feeling like a superstar, test anxiety on the LSAT drove your score down far below your practice test averages. You know that your LSAT score does not reflect your potential, but the most demoralizing questions rack your brain: What’s going to happen now? Do I have any shot at my dream schools now that I’m, for example, 6 or 7 points below their medians and even a couple points below their 25th percentiles? Do I even write an addendum explaining what happened on the test? The answers to your questions might be surprisingly favorable (full disclosure: I worked directly with Mike Spivey), but they come with some serious caveats. I know, because just yesterday (August 17th) marked the end of my long waitlist journey.
Though in many cases you’re unlikely to get into schools during the regular admissions cycle if you’re well below their median LSAT numbers, with a little luck and a strong rest-of-your-application you’ll get waitlisted at some schools you didn’t think possible when you first saw your score. For a strong application, your GPA is a good start, but ( and again I worked with someone) make sure your personal statement topic is fresh and genuine, and then cover every minute detail of the application to perfection and with strategy, is the next best thing you can do. Once you’re waitlisted, the real test begins: can you muster the trust, patience, and self-discipline for a process that, if you’re like me and many others, you will seriously question every step of the way? If you can, you may just end up at your dream law school, but just like the LSAT it will be a difficult test in its own unique way.
In April and May, I was waitlisted at several schools, all with median LSAT numbers 6-11 points above my highest LSAT score. Mike told me I was unlikely to get in until late July at the very very earliest and that more likely it would be some time in August, and though I constantly imagined it would somehow be sooner, ultimately Mike was right. I was admitted five days before orientation. Here’s how we did it:
*Within a few weeks after I was waitlisted, I sent letters of continued interest (LOCIs) to all the schools communicating my willingness to remain on the waitlists as long as it would take.
*I did visit some of the schools to demonstrate interest, and that does help, but I did not visit the school to which I was ultimately admitted. Instead, I think I demonstrated interest and a willingness to move there by telling admissions about my history of living in that city and the family I have living there.
*During the rest of the summer, I sent only one email of my own—to update the admissions offices on a book publication I had go to print and to reaffirm my strong interest. Otherwise, the only time I emailed the admissions offices was to respond to their inquiries about my interest and willingness to remain on their waitlists.
*At the very beginning of August, I emailed Mike to ask if it was time to make more aggressive moves. He told me to wait until the middle of August, when he finally gave me the go-ahead to send one more email restating my interest. Two days later, I was in at one of the schools that I would choose over just about any other possible law school. So only two self initiated emails (bust were worked on very carefully), where I wanted to send 20, and always responding always to the ones they sent me.
The most difficult thing about this process is having the trust and patience for it. As truly difficult as it will surely be at times, you have to trust that if you demonstrate sincere interest in a good LOCI at the beginning, law schools will not remove you from their waitlists even if you’re not sending their already-flooded inboxes constant updates and expressions of interest. I would have sent many more, but I trusted the process Mike described to me. That if you are a spammer you likely will go to a “do not admit pile” because they have so many spammers.. You have to have the patience for several months of anxiety-producing uncertainty and trust that it will be worth it (in my case, it certainly was). Finally, you have to trust that this method—the final email when Mike says the time is right—is the most effective way to get off those waitlists. Interestingly, I have not been admitted to the law school whose head dean received a email encouraging my admission from someone who has a seminar room there named after him. Instead, I was admitted to the school that was willing to pull from its waitlist precisely when Mike thought it might be.
Trust this proven system, remain patient, and eventually you might find yourself, as I am now, packing up your stuff and heading to the law school of your dreams. It will be a grueling process but one that in my experience is well worth it.