## What happens to people who get 170 and above? Forum

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tomwatts

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### What happens to people who get 170 and above?

So I was curious if I could data mine an answer to the question, "What happens to people who get 170+ on the LSAT?" That is, do people who score 170 and above virtually all go to t14 schools, or what? Here's what I found.

From my IRR from my 2010 LSAT, for 2006-2009, a 170 is 97.5th percentile, so 2.5% of LSAT test-takers get 170+. I assume that this doesn't change radically from moment to moment. According to LSAC's Volume Summary, there were roughly 87,500 applicants to law school for Fall 2010 (the most recent year for which data is available). Of those, 2.5% would mean that 2187.5 should have 170 or higher on the LSAT — or maybe more, because applicants probably are disproportionately higher-scoring than test-takers, but probably not by much.

Just to put an upper bound, LSAC says that about 171,500 tests were administered in the 2009-2010 cycle, and in 2008-2009 68.9% took the test once, 25.3% twice, and 5.9% more than twice. If we take those numbers to be relatively stable (70% once, 25% twice, 5% three times, let's say for simplicity), that means that there were roughly 134,000 independent test-takers in the cycle, which would give 3,350 people with 170 or above, and if we take all of those 171,500 LSATs, there were 4287.5 scores of 170 or above handed out (presumably several to the same people). At the end of the day, I'd guess that there were 2500-3000 people applying with scores of 170 or above, though the number could be higher.

Now, here are the 75th-25th percentiles for top schools (and median where useful), with number of matriculants (from LSAC's Official Guide to ABA schools):
Yale: 176-170, 214
Harvard: 176-171, 559
Stanford: 172-167 (median 170), 180
Columbia: 175-170, 400
Chicago: 169-173 (median 171), 191
NYU: 169-173 (median 171), 450
Berkeley: 165-170, 292
Penn: 166-171 (median 170), 255
Michigan: 167-170, 371
Virginia: 165-171 (median 170), 368
Duke: 167-171 (median 169), 228
Northwestern: 166-172 (median 170), 271
Cornell: 165-168, 205
Georgetown: 168-172 (median 169), 590
UCLA: 164-169, 320
UT Austin: 164-168, 379
Vanderbilt: 164-169, 195

Nothing below this has 170 or above as any part of the percentiles, though all the way down to Washington & Lee, there are schools with a 75th percentile within spitting distance of 170 (in that case, 167 — and that's for a school ranked 34th).

Now the calculations begin. Here's the basic concept of the methodology: Yale, for example, has a 25th percentile of 170. That means that 75% of matriculants have 170 or better. Since it has 214 matriculants, that's 160.5 people with 170's accounted for (round that up to 161 for sanity). At Harvard, the 25th percentile is 171, which means more than 75% have 170 or above, so I'll calculate a lower limit number of 170's by taking the 559 matriculants and finding 75% of that, which is 419.25 (so 420). Here are the lower limits for the relevant schools:

Yale: 161
Harvard: 420
Stanford: 90
Columbia: 300
Chicago: 96
NYU: 225
Berkeley: 73
Penn: 128
Michigan: 93
Virginia: 184
Duke: 57
Northwestern: 134
Cornell: 0
Georgetown: 232 (the median for the FT program is 170, and there are 463 in that)

That accounts for 2193 people altogether, which is pretty darn near the number of people with 170's that I estimated there were in a given application cycle at the beginning. Also, I'm probably underestimating the number of people with 170's at Harvard, Chicago, NYU, and Duke, all of which have a percentile at 171 instead of 170, but that's probably not more than 100 additional people. For that matter, obviously, some people with 170 and above go to Cornell and to the schools outside the t14, though interestingly we can put upper limits on that (for example, it's fewer than 80 people at UCLA, or else the 75th percentile would be higher). If I had to guess randomly, I'd probably put it at 40-50 each at UCLA and UT Austin and maybe 20-30 at Cornell and Vanderbilt, which accounts for another 100+ people. At that point, I've accounted for something like 2400-2500 people.

Thus, I'd estimate that roughly 2500-3000 people apply with scores of 170 or above each year, and at least 85% (and perhaps nearly every single one) matriculates to a school in the t17. If the number really is 2500, something like one in six of them go to Harvard, and nearly half of them go to Harvard, Columbia, NYU, or Georgetown.

I imagine that this is not a surprise to anyone, but this is what happens to people who get 170+ on the LSAT.

EDIT: Note, if you're just coming to this thread for the first time, that these conclusions got somewhat revised in later posts.
Last edited by tomwatts on Mon Feb 14, 2011 4:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Knock

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### Re: What happens to people who get 170 and above?

Great read (as usual). Thanks a ton Tomwatts.

suspicious android

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### Re: What happens to people who get 170 and above?

Yeah, not hugely surprising. Only weird test prep professionals take the test without the aim of going to law school. Interesting breakdown though, I always forget how big Harvard is, it really is a factory (that I would kill to be accepted to).

Jack Smirks

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### Re: What happens to people who get 170 and above?

Interesting. Thank you Mr. Watts.

Lonagan

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### Re: What happens to people who get 170 and above?

This makes it easier to understand why schools in the 20s throw fistfuls of cash at people with 170+. I didn't realize the pool of 170s was so small outside the T17.

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crumpetsandtea

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### Re: What happens to people who get 170 and above?

That's crazy!! Thanks for posting this.

Miracle

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Curry

### Re: What happens to people who get 170 and above?

well done. I am impressed.

GATORTIM

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### Re: What happens to people who get 170 and above?

You need more hobbies

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sojasoph

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### Re: What happens to people who get 170 and above?

GATORTIM wrote:You need more hobbies
well done

ElvisAaron

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### Re: What happens to people who get 170 and above?

Wow, I always wondered how the numbers fit but sure as hell wouldn't have ever put the time in to figure it out.
Thanks to you, sir.

joebloe

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### Re: What happens to people who get 170 and above?

This is good to know and quite encouraging. Time to redouble my efforts for June!

kch3684

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### Re: What happens to people who get 170 and above?

The only people you're forgetting are splitters. Even with a 170 I don't have a snowballs chance in hell at the T14

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Fresh

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### Re: What happens to people who get 170 and above?

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### Re: What happens to people who get 170 and above?

Interesante... thanks!

Eugenie Danglars

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### Re: What happens to people who get 170 and above?

kch3684 wrote:The only people you're forgetting are splitters. Even with a 170 I don't have a snowballs chance in hell at the T14
I thought that too, but I'm in at two so far...

champsound

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### Re: What happens to people who get 170 and above?

Very interesting, but wow... don't you have something better to do?

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Eugenie Danglars

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### Re: What happens to people who get 170 and above?

champsound wrote:Very interesting, but wow... don't you have something better to do?
I mean, as long as he's posting on a forum, might as well contribute and be helpful to the people who clearly have nothing better to do than read and comment on them.
Last edited by Eugenie Danglars on Wed Jan 26, 2011 11:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

joebloe

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### Re: What happens to people who get 170 and above?

champsound wrote:Very interesting, but wow... don't you have something better to do?
I love when people criticize others for doing detailed, interesting, informative and important statistical analysis. I wish I could do this stuff. Maybe I'd be going into a field that wasn't saturated.

albanach

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### Re: What happens to people who get 170 and above?

kch3684 wrote:The only people you're forgetting are splitters. Even with a 170 I don't have a snowballs chance in hell at the T14
Simply not true. Applying early and ED if you're willing to pay sticker. That's the biggest decision for splitters, having to accept paying sticker when high T1 schools might throw a lot of \$\$\$ in your direction.

champsound

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### Re: What happens to people who get 170 and above?

joebloe wrote:
champsound wrote:Very interesting, but wow... don't you have something better to do?
I love when people criticize others for doing detailed, interesting, informative and important statistical analysis. I wish I could do this stuff. Maybe I'd be going into a field that wasn't saturated.
Hah, I didn't give OP enough credit, I certainly wouldn't be able to pull this stuff together either. Good job.

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Miracle

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### Re: What happens to people who get 170 and above?

albanach wrote:
kch3684 wrote:The only people you're forgetting are splitters. Even with a 170 I don't have a snowballs chance in hell at the T14
Simply not true. Applying early and ED if you're willing to pay sticker. That's the biggest decision for splitters, having to accept paying sticker when high T1 schools might throw a lot of \$\$\$ in your direction.
+1

My friend paid 180+ for T4 school, and is proud of her accomplishment.

tomwatts

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### Re: What happens to people who get 170 and above?

kch3684 wrote:The only people you're forgetting are splitters. Even with a 170 I don't have a snowballs chance in hell at the T14
That was part of why I did this. I was curious how much of a difference GPA makes. And surely it does make a difference. I mean, let's say you get a 171. You're at Harvard's 25th percentile, so Harvard definitely matriculates people with your LSAT score. However, you're also under (for example) Northwestern's 75th percentile, so Northwestern definitely matriculates plenty of people with your LSAT score, too. What determines whether you go to Harvard or Northwestern? Well, part of it may be geographical preference or merit aid, certainly. But I'd bet a lot of money that not everyone with a 171 who gets into Northwestern and fills out that upper LSAT half also got into Harvard. GPA explains this.

Here's what I mean. Northwestern's GPA range is 3.40-3.81, whereas Harvard's is 3.76-3.96. So if you're a splitter who nailed that 171 but only has a 3.4 GPA, you have a fighting chance at Northwestern (LSAC's UGPA/LSAT Search puts you around 30-40%), but you've got essentially no shot at Harvard. On the other hand, if you're a mild reverse splitter and have a 171 paired with a 4.0 GPA, you've got a decent shot at Harvard (LSAC puts you at roughly 50%). A severe traditional splitter, with (say) a 3.1 GPA paired with that 171 LSAT still has some shot at Vanderbilt (LSAC puts it at above 25%) or UT Austin (just under 25%), though any school ranked above that is pretty out of the question. But what if we bump that up to a 3.1 GPA paired with a 178 LSAT score, just to make the splitting more extreme? Now you're almost certainly in at Vanderbilt, and you have a fighting chance at UCLA and the like.

So how many extreme splitters are there (people with 170 and above LSATs but B+ or worse GPAs)? Probably not very many. High LSAT scores are rare enough to begin with, and probably studying really hard for your classes and studying really hard for the LSAT are correlated, so high LSAT scores probably correlate with high GPA pretty decently. So maybe there are a few hundred such extreme splitters? That might account for those few hundred who don't go to the t14, even with 170+ scores. But even they're getting into the bottom end of the t17, at least to some extent. As for the ones who don't, well, depending on the uncertainty involved here, there maybe only a few hundred people below even the t17 who with 170's, or there may be upwards of a thousand... it's hard to tell. Either way, slim pickings for the rest of Tier 1.

As noted above, ED may also account for some percentage shifts here, too. Vanderbilt evidently discontinued its ED program, but if you had been able to ED at Vanderbilt as an extreme 3.1/171 splitter, you might have had better than even odds to get in, for example.

As to the suggestions that I need a hobby: This is my hobby! No, this didn't take as long as you might expect. It was just a matter of looking at some easily available tools and doing some quick math. Maybe an hour or so.

Miracle

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### Re: What happens to people who get 170 and above?

tomwatts wrote:
kch3684 wrote:The only people you're forgetting are splitters. Even with a 170 I don't have a snowballs chance in hell at the T14
That was part of why I did this. I was curious how much of a difference GPA makes. And surely it does make a difference. I mean, let's say you get a 171. You're at Harvard's 25th percentile, so Harvard definitely matriculates people with your LSAT score. However, you're also under (for example) Northwestern's 75th percentile, so Northwestern definitely matriculates plenty of people with your LSAT score, too. What determines whether you go to Harvard or Northwestern? Well, part of it may be geographical preference or merit aid, certainly. But I'd bet a lot of money that not everyone with a 171 who gets into Northwestern and fills out that upper LSAT half also got into Harvard. GPA explains this.

Here's what I mean. Northwestern's GPA range is 3.40-3.81, whereas Harvard's is 3.76-3.96. So if you're a splitter who nailed that 171 but only has a 3.4 GPA, you have a fighting chance at Northwestern (LSAC's UGPA/LSAT Search puts you around 30-40%), but you've got essentially no shot at Harvard. On the other hand, if you're a mild reverse splitter and have a 171 paired with a 4.0 GPA, you've got a decent shot at Harvard (LSAC puts you at roughly 50%). A severe traditional splitter, with (say) a 3.1 GPA paired with that 171 LSAT still has some shot at Vanderbilt (LSAC puts it at above 25%) or UT Austin (just under 25%), though any school ranked above that is pretty out of the question. But what if we bump that up to a 3.1 GPA paired with a 178 LSAT score, just to make the splitting more extreme? Now you're almost certainly in at Vanderbilt, and you have a fighting chance at UCLA and the like.

So how many extreme splitters are there (people with 170 and above LSATs but B+ or worse GPAs)? Probably not very many. High LSAT scores are rare enough to begin with, and probably studying really hard for your classes and studying really hard for the LSAT are correlated, so high LSAT scores probably correlate with high GPA pretty decently. So maybe there are a few hundred such extreme splitters? That might account for those few hundred who don't go to the t14, even with 170+ scores. But even they're getting into the bottom end of the t17, at least to some extent. As for the ones who don't, well, depending on the uncertainty involved here, there maybe only a few hundred people below even the t17 who with 170's, or there may be upwards of a thousand... it's hard to tell. Either way, slim pickings for the rest of Tier 1.

As noted above, ED may also account for some percentage shifts here, too. Vanderbilt evidently discontinued its ED program, but if you had been able to ED at Vanderbilt as an extreme 3.1/171 splitter, you might have had better than even odds to get in, for example.

As to the suggestions that I need a hobby: This is my hobby! No, this didn't take as long as you might expect. It was just a matter of looking at some easily available tools and doing some quick math. Maybe an hour or so.
So what happens to splitter friendly schools such as GULC, and UVA.

luckyme

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### Re: What happens to people who get 170 and above?

great post

but you should stop posting this here and write a book: What Happens to People Who Score 170 and Above?
picture of a gunner on the front
stories of a few people who scored 170+: a traditional applicant, a reverse splitter, splitter, phenom, etc.

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