Drake014 wrote:Just like with any group there's going to be variation. I'm a URM who did a significant amount of prep for the LSAT and scored much higher than I needed. Likewise, I've heard another URM talk about how they only needed to score so high to get into the grad program they wanted. I've also heard a rich white kid say he doesn't have to worry about his grades or his test scores because his father is alumni and a major donor. I find the latter scenario to be the most disturbing even though its the least talked about.
Most people (especially those against "AA") still don't get it. The majority of AA in grad school applications, as well as undergraduate admissions, is accounted for by legacies and GOBN. Besides that, AA really doesn't exist. Law schools don't admit "less qualified" or "unqualified" applicants. They'd never want to waste their time and resources, not to mention their reputations.
Look at it this way. The LSAT is about 35-60% of the typical white applican'ts profile, whereas it it ccounts for about 20-30% of a URM's profile. But that also means that white applicants need not have essays that are as strong. After all, they usually do not have to explain how growing up in dire financial straights built their character (Note: I said "usually"). But that other 30% difficulty is replaced by the stringent writing standards and profile construction imposed on URM's. To get into Harvard, a URM can't have a single typo! Every single date must match up, and those LOR's had better all be stellar. The grade trend has to be steady or upward, with no drops. Plus, if a URM claims to be poor, his college work record needs to reflect that, so his resume must have not only W.E., but good W.E. And URM's are still asked to perform community service if possible, just like rich whites.
And although they do need to have community service or have darn good explanations for not having it, white applicants' other soft factors just don't factor in as much. For URM's, soft factors are a big part of the process, and that makes it much more difficult to construct their profiles for the adcoms. One obstacle (high LSAT score) is exchanged for another (the need for a much more comprehensive, well-constructed application). I don't know which is the higher burden, trying to convince adcoms that you belong in law school despite having lower scores (that's quite a sales job one must pull off), or spending six months to a year working for a 165+ on the toughest styandardized exam in the world. It seems to me that the playing field is level in many ways.
Besides, regardless of background, the people with the highest test scores do not always make the best law students or attorneys.
FTR, I have always wondered what would happen if the LSAT actually mimicked actual law exams in terms of format. Real law exams are 3.5-4 hours long, combinations of short answer, essay, multiple choice and bonus, and students can allocate their time as they see fit. A smart (law school) test taker goes for the "points", thus taking on the most cumbersome questions as designated by the professor. In this way, the LSAT does test one's mentality. After all, we do have to go for our points, but their value is designated by what each test-taker does best.
For ex: in logic games, some people are better with ordering, some are better with grouping, others mapping. Some people find the combination questions easiest. From that perspective, the LSAT does simulate law exams, but the management of time factor is another story. What would happen there were no short bursts? What if we had 3.5 hours to just go for it and could take our breaks as we saw fit? Maybe the cultural biases that inflict URM's insofar as standardized testing is concerned is somewhere in the formatting. And maybe that's why the same minorities who score lower on the LSAT find it easier to get through actual law school exams.