TastyMango wrote:If we are speculating why the very high LSAT scores are increasing in applicants compared to everyone else I'll throw in my own wild speculation:
1) The possibility of GREs reducing the value of LSATs has spooked some people that have been sitting on high test scores. This could explain a small bump.
2) There seems to be a trend of applying earlier, and high test scorers may be 'ahead of the curve' on this trend, so to speak. If this is the case, the difference between % increase should decrease over the course of the cycle.
3) I haven't seen this mentioned yet, but random chance. Because there are substantially fewer people with 175+ compared to the general body of test takers, it is more vulnerable to large fluctuations. While this probably doesn't explain the discrepancy entirely, it probably contributes a good deal. It would also explain the dip at the 170-174 band.
Furthermore, if you look at the trends, with the exception of the 170-174 band, every band increases in % applicants with each increase in LSAT score. This seems to be strong evidence, to me, that people are becoming more aware of the importance of law school rank (or that the law school rank is becoming more important). This would explain the large jump starting at the 165-169 band, as that is where people start becoming seriously competitive at the T-14/T-20 level.
Speculation is what I came here for.
1. The GRE should spook people into applying this cycle. But an 86% increase in 175+ applicants is a lot. There is the increase in this year's apps to factor in too so maybe it is only a 60 or so% jump from this effect, but that is still a lot. That said, this could definitely be part of it. You can sit on a score for 5 years right? So we could have a few years of holdouts jumping in.
2. Applying earlier at high scores. Maybe, but why would that be significantly stronger this year? Just playing devil's advocate.
3. Random chance. Count me skeptical. There are still humdereds of applicants. Given normal statistical assumptions chance shouldn't play much of a role. Same with the 170-174 band.
4. People becoming more aware of the differences in opportunities based on rank could explain some of the numvers. But why would people be so much more aware this year than last year?
Let me toss in another two alternate explanations both of which could play a role, but I don't think explain enough.
It could be that specifically high LSAT job opportunities are waning. The rise of online classes may mean that people no longer can use their 175+ lsat score as effectively to score a lucrative tutoring gig. Online LSAT companies simply serve too much of the market with too few employees forcing these potential LSAT tutors into law school. This seems too small scale to explain the change though. It also suffers from the fact that it should have affected last year's cycle too.
Slightly similar idea LSAT discussion boards may have popularized the idea that you can keep improving all the way to the 175+ range which maximizes your score at all schools. This would explain why 170-175 applicants are holding off to get their scores up to near 180. It suffers from the same problem as many of the others, not explaining the radical difference between last year and this year. However, I like it because it and the GRE fear perfectly explain my own application and its timing took a 170-175 last cycle, held off for a retake, and am applying this cycle with a 175-180 from this cycle before the GRE makes too big of an impact.