Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

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ksllaw
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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby ksllaw » Sun Jan 20, 2013 9:09 pm

Here are the fuller lists from Nieswiadomy's data that are separated into two rankings based on the number of test takers per major:

TABLE 1. Average 2007‐2008 LSAT Scores
Rank Major field Average score No. of students
1 Economics 157.4 3,047
1 Philosophy 157.4 2,184
3 Engineering 156.2 2,197
4 History 155.9 4,166
5 English 154.7 5,120
6 Finance 153.4 2,267
7 Political Science 153.0 14,964
8 Psychology 152.5 4,355
9 Sociology 150.7 1,902
10 Communications 150.5 2,230
11 Business Administration 149.1 1,971
12 Criminal Justice 145.5 3,306
Note: For major fields with at least 1,900 students taking the exam.


TABLE 2. Average 2007‐2008 LSAT Scores
Rank Major field Average score
No. of
students
1 Physics/Math 160.0 577
2 Economics 157.4 3,047
3 Philosophy/Theology 157.4 2,581
4 International Relations 156.5 1,520
5 Engineering 156.2 2,197
6 Government /Service 156.1 578
7 Chemistry 156.1 632
8 History 155.9 4,169
9 Interdisciplinary Studies 155.5 652
10 Foreign Languages 155.3 1,084
11 English 155.2 5,899
12 Biology/Natural Sciences 154.8 2,201
13 Arts 154.2 1,438
14 Computer Science 154.0 682
15 Finance 153.4 2,267
16 Political Science 153.1 15,181
17 Psychology 152.5 4,355
18 Liberal Arts 152.4 3,892
19 Anthropology/Geography 152.2 808
20 Accounting 151.7 1,439
21 Journalism 151.5 3,408
22 Sociology/Social Work 151.2 3,123
23 Marketing 150.8 1,574
24 Business Management 149.7 4,629
25 Education 149.4 484
26 Business Administration 149.1 1,984
27 Health Professions 148.4 703
28 Prelaw 148.3 1,078
29 Criminal Justice 146.0 4,016
Note: Grouped by major field with at least 450 students taking exam.


Upon second look, it's not so clear that STEM dominates the high LSAT scores. Although none of the bottom 50% or so of LSAT score ranks are comprised of STEM majors (in the second list), in the top 50% there is a good mix of STEM and non-STEM with various STEM majors occupying a diverse range of ranks (e.g. math/physics higher and bio lower with majors like English, history, and government separating them).

WhatOurBodiesAreFor
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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby WhatOurBodiesAreFor » Mon Jan 21, 2013 2:53 pm

As this this discussion goes on, I feel like I should reiterate that all LSAT takers are a self-selecting group.

Training in philosophy and math can help you on the LSAT, but philosophy and math majors choose their majors because they already associate with thinking like a philosophers or mathematician.

Just a contextual point.

ksllaw
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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby ksllaw » Tue Jan 22, 2013 3:29 am

WhatOurBodiesAreFor wrote:As this this discussion goes on, I feel like I should reiterate that all LSAT takers are a self-selecting group.

Training in philosophy and math can help you on the LSAT, but philosophy and math majors choose their majors because they already associate with thinking like a philosophers or mathematician.
Just a contextual point.

Yeah, I think that's correct with maybe one caveat.

STEM majors aren't a perfect measure or test of the exact skills needed to succeed in and taught in law school. They may be self-selecting towards a particular type of thinking, but it's not clear (to me, at least) whether or not there is a perfect symmetry between their STEM major and the type of thinking/skills found in law school (the way physics UG's may be compared with physics Ph.D.'s).

But, no, you're right. It does to some degree take away some of the "specialness" we might otherwise associate and find curious with STEM majors possibly doing better than their non-STEM major counterparts in law school (the way perhaps some sub-group of pre-med majors with similar backgrounds may signficantly outperform their peers in medical school).

wannabelawstudent
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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby wannabelawstudent » Sat Jan 26, 2013 10:03 am

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Last edited by wannabelawstudent on Sun Apr 28, 2013 1:11 am, edited 2 times in total.

WhatOurBodiesAreFor
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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby WhatOurBodiesAreFor » Sat Jan 26, 2013 11:41 am

wannabelawstudent wrote:I wish I would've seen this thread earlier because I have a little secret for you guys....holistic ...is numbers based. It's not some obscure subjective process where if you make the officers believe in you then you can overcome poor numbers. No, holistics is strictly another numbers based way of admitting people.

Your entire app is broken up and graded. Your GPA is one one part, lets say a 4.0 is 40 points. 3.8 is 38. The academic rigorous of the classes you took is graded....if you took a bunch of hard classes you get 10 points if you took something like ballroom dancing you'll get 3. The institution you attended is given a grade. Work experience. Letters of recs. The essays you wrote. Every single part is broken down and graded based on guidelines from a format already established. They then take those points and add them up. If you're above a certain number (lets say 80) you're in. 70-80, waitlisted, below 70 rejected. That's it. There might be few exceptions but that's it.


Evidence? Link? Not saying you're wrong, but this is the first time I've heard someone so convinced that there is this sort of approach.

Though I have only built my opinion from TLS and LSN, I think it's pretty clear that this is not how it is done, at least uniformly. They cannot presume to know a course's academic rigor and UG institution doesn't matter in the least. It's almost certainly strictly GPA and LSAT-based. Now, I think softs can play a role at times. For instance, I think schools would be generally more likely to offer a larger scholarship to someone who is an established professional or who has a strong upward grade trend. Or also determining WL or rejection/WL or acceptance when you have identical LSATs and similar GPAs. For all of this though, I feel like they do use some obscure subjective process.

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suralin
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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby suralin » Sat Jan 26, 2013 12:12 pm

WhatOurBodiesAreFor wrote:
wannabelawstudent wrote:I wish I would've seen this thread earlier because I have a little secret for you guys....holistic ...is numbers based. It's not some obscure subjective process where if you make the officers believe in you then you can overcome poor numbers. No, holistics is strictly another numbers based way of admitting people.

Your entire app is broken up and graded. Your GPA is one one part, lets say a 4.0 is 40 points. 3.8 is 38. The academic rigorous of the classes you took is graded....if you took a bunch of hard classes you get 10 points if you took something like ballroom dancing you'll get 3. The institution you attended is given a grade. Work experience. Letters of recs. The essays you wrote. Every single part is broken down and graded based on guidelines from a format already established. They then take those points and add them up. If you're above a certain number (lets say 80) you're in. 70-80, waitlisted, below 70 rejected. That's it. There might be few exceptions but that's it.


Evidence? Link? Not saying you're wrong, but this is the first time I've heard someone so convinced that there is this sort of approach.

Though I have only built my opinion from TLS and LSN, I think it's pretty clear that this is not how it is done, at least uniformly. They cannot presume to know a course's academic rigor and UG institution doesn't matter in the least. It's almost certainly strictly GPA and LSAT-based. Now, I think softs can play a role at times. For instance, I think schools would be generally more likely to offer a larger scholarship to someone who is an established professional or who has a strong upward grade trend. Or also determining WL or rejection/WL or acceptance when you have identical LSATs and similar GPAs. For all of this though, I feel like they do use some obscure subjective process.


This. I could see certain softs being broken down and graded (e.g., Peace Corps, Fulbright), but it's pretty implausible that they assign a number to the rigor of the classes taken or the institution attended.

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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Jan 26, 2013 12:15 pm

WhatOurBodiesAreFor wrote:
wannabelawstudent wrote:I wish I would've seen this thread earlier because I have a little secret for you guys....holistic ...is numbers based. It's not some obscure subjective process where if you make the officers believe in you then you can overcome poor numbers. No, holistics is strictly another numbers based way of admitting people.

Your entire app is broken up and graded. Your GPA is one one part, lets say a 4.0 is 40 points. 3.8 is 38. The academic rigorous of the classes you took is graded....if you took a bunch of hard classes you get 10 points if you took something like ballroom dancing you'll get 3. The institution you attended is given a grade. Work experience. Letters of recs. The essays you wrote. Every single part is broken down and graded based on guidelines from a format already established. They then take those points and add them up. If you're above a certain number (lets say 80) you're in. 70-80, waitlisted, below 70 rejected. That's it. There might be few exceptions but that's it.


Evidence? Link? Not saying you're wrong, but this is the first time I've heard someone so convinced that there is this sort of approach.

Though I have only built my opinion from TLS and LSN, I think it's pretty clear that this is not how it is done, at least uniformly. They cannot presume to know a course's academic rigor and UG institution doesn't matter in the least. It's almost certainly strictly GPA and LSAT-based. Now, I think softs can play a role at times. For instance, I think schools would be generally more likely to offer a larger scholarship to someone who is an established professional or who has a strong upward grade trend. Or also determining WL or rejection/WL or acceptance when you have identical LSATs and similar GPAs. For all of this though, I feel like they do use some obscure subjective process.

That is indeed how undergraduate admissions works (things like rigor of courses and which school you attended are measured, because schools can look at things like AP Bio or Calculus v. Algebra or Earth Science)... what makes it more "holistic" than law school is that they assign greater weight to things other than GPA and LSAT. Law schools aren't going to consider the academic rigor/UG institution and I don't think wannabelawstudent suggested they did - he was just saying that even in processes that are holistic (unlike law school), you're still talking about a process that assigns points/numbers to different things. It's not just people saying, "I like the look of candidate X."

The thing is that any time you have a number of different people trying to evaluate applicants, institutions will come up with some kind of way of comparing across categories, which means you get the kind of points-values system described. I think even when you're evaluating softs and determining between similar candidates. It's subjective in that someone decides what categories get what weight, but it's not subjective in that people are likely getting measured against set rubrics.

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby MikeSpivey » Sat Jan 26, 2013 12:29 pm

For an fyi, on your LSDAS report law schools get an "LCM" score. This is the median LSAT from all test takers at your school (it is left blank if there are not enough test takers from that school in that year, i.e. not enough statistical power). This is used by *some* admissions offices for comparative value in GPAs. In other words, schools with higher median LSAT are deemed more competitive than schools with lower LCMs, although this is one of many variables including the schools median gpa.

Interesting side note (maybe), Transylvania University always had one of the highest LCMs when I read files. Year after year. So much so I started visiting Transylvania to recruit.

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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby WhatOurBodiesAreFor » Sat Jan 26, 2013 12:42 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:That is indeed how undergraduate admissions works (things like rigor of courses and which school you attended are measured, because schools can look at things like AP Bio or Calculus v. Algebra or Earth Science)... what makes it more "holistic" than law school is that they assign greater weight to things other than GPA and LSAT. Law schools aren't going to consider the academic rigor/UG institution and I don't think wannabelawstudent suggested they did - he was just saying that even in processes that are holistic (unlike law school), you're still talking about a process that assigns points/numbers to different things. It's not just people saying, "I like the look of candidate X."

The thing is that any time you have a number of different people trying to evaluate applicants, institutions will come up with some kind of way of comparing across categories, which means you get the kind of points-values system described. I think even when you're evaluating softs and determining between similar candidates. It's subjective in that someone decides what categories get what weight, but it's not subjective in that people are likely getting measured against set rubrics.


Fair point. Law schools do see thousands of applications and definitely need a group, rather than one person, to read them.

That said, I doubt that law school admissions assigns a value to softs in any concrete way. Sure, an established academic - with a Fulbright and a masters from a prestigious institution, or something - has great softs. But is this "better" in any measurable way than someone who has spent the past 2 years covering the Arab Spring in Libya for BBC? Or someone who spent a year in Nepal doing psychedelics, returned to the U.S., got a couple crazy cool jobs, and is clearly brilliant and going to be successful (à la Steve Jobs)?

Similarly, is an applicant with semi-important student government positions in UG "better" than someone who never had such opportunities because of a crap UG or because of socio-economic circumstances but has a proven record of success and ambition?

Anyway, you could value a person's softs as a whole, I think, but not an individual soft. This is what Yale does, right? They rate an application 1, 2, 3, or 4 (with LSAT and GPA included) right? It just seems too robotic and ineffective to rate any individual soft. It seems more likely that a reader rates an applicant's non-LSAT and GPA portion of the app 1, 2, or 3 rather than to have some extravagant numbers-based system taking LORs, WE, etc. into account.

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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby wannabelawstudent » Sat Jan 26, 2013 12:49 pm

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Last edited by wannabelawstudent on Sun Apr 28, 2013 1:10 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby WhatOurBodiesAreFor » Sat Jan 26, 2013 12:53 pm

MikeSpivey wrote:For an fyi, on your LSDAS report law schools get an "LCM" score. This is the median LSAT from all test takers at your school (it is left blank if there are not enough test takers from that school in that year, i.e. not enough statistical power). This is used by *some* admissions offices for comparative value in GPAs. In other words, schools with higher median LSAT are deemed more competitive than schools with lower LCMs, although this is one of many variables including the schools median gpa.

Interesting side note (maybe), Transylvania University always had one of the highest LCMs when I read files. Year after year. So much so I started visiting Transylvania to recruit.


How would this help calculate to any significant degree the comparative value of the GPA though? UGs don't grade on a curve. There may be significant grade inflation, just really good instruction and learning atmosphere.

Also, I pretty sure my UG's LCM is really low. Does this help me in any way?

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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Jan 26, 2013 12:58 pm

WhatOurBodiesAreFor wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:That is indeed how undergraduate admissions works (things like rigor of courses and which school you attended are measured, because schools can look at things like AP Bio or Calculus v. Algebra or Earth Science)... what makes it more "holistic" than law school is that they assign greater weight to things other than GPA and LSAT. Law schools aren't going to consider the academic rigor/UG institution and I don't think wannabelawstudent suggested they did - he was just saying that even in processes that are holistic (unlike law school), you're still talking about a process that assigns points/numbers to different things. It's not just people saying, "I like the look of candidate X."

The thing is that any time you have a number of different people trying to evaluate applicants, institutions will come up with some kind of way of comparing across categories, which means you get the kind of points-values system described. I think even when you're evaluating softs and determining between similar candidates. It's subjective in that someone decides what categories get what weight, but it's not subjective in that people are likely getting measured against set rubrics.


Fair point. Law schools do see thousands of applications and definitely need a group, rather than one person, to read them.

That said, I doubt that law school admissions assigns a value to softs in any concrete way. Sure, an established academic - with a Fulbright and a masters from a prestigious institution, or something - has great softs. But is this "better" in any measurable way than someone who has spent the past 2 years covering the Arab Spring in Libya for BBC? Or someone who spent a year in Nepal doing psychedelics, returned to the U.S., got a couple crazy cool jobs, and is clearly brilliant and going to be successful (à la Steve Jobs)?

Similarly, is an applicant with semi-important student government positions in UG "better" than someone who never had such opportunities because of a crap UG or because of socio-economic circumstances but has a proven record of success and ambition?

Anyway, you could value a person's softs as a whole, I think, but not an individual soft. This is what Yale does, right? They rate an application 1, 2, 3, or 4 (with LSAT and GPA included) right? It just seems too robotic and ineffective to rate any individual soft. It seems more likely that a reader rates an applicant's non-LSAT and GPA portion of the app 1, 2, or 3 rather than to have some extravagant numbers-based system taking LORs, WE, etc. into account.

I'm not saying a particular set of softs is "better" than any other. But a given school could indeed value particular softs, or categories of softs, over others. So I could easily see them creating a system whereby, for instance, advanced degrees get a certain number of points, having work experience at all (regardless of what it is) garners x number of points, and so on. Also, once a given class has started to be populated, it may be a question of, We have a LOT of students with humanities backgrounds, we'd like more STEM people - so a STEM person may be more desirable *in that setting* than someone with an advanced humanities degree. It's not entirely robotic, but it's not necessarily entirely holistic, either - you yourself are suggesting a ranking system (1, 2, 3). Evaluation is probably going to get more subjective the further along the margins you go. And in LS admissions, the softs are also going to be a relatively small part of the question anyway.

(And also, someone like Mike Spivey will know much more about this than I do - my knowledge is much stronger for undergrad admissions...)

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MikeSpivey
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Re: Why is LS Admissions Mostly Numbers-Based vs. Holistic?

Postby MikeSpivey » Sat Jan 26, 2013 1:01 pm

WhatOurBodiesAreFor wrote:
MikeSpivey wrote:For an fyi, on your LSDAS report law schools get an "LCM" score. This is the median LSAT from all test takers at your school (it is left blank if there are not enough test takers from that school in that year, i.e. not enough statistical power). This is used by *some* admissions offices for comparative value in GPAs. In other words, schools with higher median LSAT are deemed more competitive than schools with lower LCMs, although this is one of many variables including the schools median gpa.

Interesting side note (maybe), Transylvania University always had one of the highest LCMs when I read files. Year after year. So much so I started visiting Transylvania to recruit.


How would this help calculate to any significant degree the comparative value of the GPA though? UGs don't grade on a curve. There may be significant grade inflation, just really good instruction and learning atmosphere.

Also, I pretty sure my UG's LCM is really low. Does this help me in any way?


Well, again the implication is that schools with high LCMs are more competitive (this correlates rather tightly with undergraduate rankings, prestige, etc although of course not 1-to-1) so a high gpa is more "weighty". It is just one of many variables admissions folks look at. As most people on here have alluded to, your LSAT and GPA are far and away the most important factors.

The good news is I doubt a low LCM at your school will have much of an impact. That said, the bad news isif it did it would not be in the direction of helping you.




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