The 2021 law school admissions cycle is going to be extremely competitive. Due to an influx of new circumstances stemming from an incredibly unusual year, we are seeing law school applicant numbers rise significantly and you will have a lot of competition. So, let’s look at the four factors driving this cycle:
1. More Applicants and More Applications
The total number of law school applications submitted so far is up 57%, and the number of applicants is up 32%. Of course there is always the chance that more students are simply applying earlier than ever and the number of total applicants will settle near the normal range by the end of the cycle. However, these initial numbers are unusual enough that things seem to be strongly trending towards a much more competitive landscape throughout the entire ’20-’21 admissions cycle.
2. More LSAT Takers
More students are taking the LSAT…a lot more. November had 27,500+ test-takers and registrations for the January-April tests are already up 100% over last year. With the combination of the at-home LSAT Flex being offered this year due to COVD-19, and more frequent testing opportunities (compared to the former 4-per-year amount), students have taken it upon themselves to make the most out of this year and give the LSAT a shot like never before.
3. More High Scores
There is a large (and extremely unusual) bubble of high LSAT scores seemingly fueled by the recent Flex test format. It appears that many students are finding that the comfortable home testing environment and the less-fatiguing 3 section version of the LSAT plays in their favor. LSAC has also kept the scoring scales for the Flex test we have seen relatively loose, which directly benefits high scorers. Although scores in every bandwidth are up, the scores in the top bandwidth of 175-180 are seeing considerable increases of 116% above normal, and those in the 170-174 band are up 64%. Good candidates will still get in, but the cycle is much more competitive at the top.
With higher scores all around, that means LSAT medians for most law schools will be jumping up as well. A school that may have had a previous median score of 165, might suddenly find themselves considering applicants with a median that has shot up by a handful of points and that 165 target is no longer enough.
4. Fewer Spaces Due to Deferrals
Many law schools announced they would be going remote this fall due to the pandemic, and consequently number of students deferred a year and will now occupy slots in next year’s class. These individuals take away spaces from new, incoming students from this cycle. While some law schools may decide to accept more students overall this cycle, that is not guaranteed at this time, and so in certain cases we may be looking at fewer spaces available in the incoming class.
What Can You Do?
The key is to present the best application possible. While that should always be your goal, this year you have to make sure you make no mis-steps and that everything stellar. Remember, law schools would prefer to have a better application than an early application, so if it takes a few extra days or weeks to get it right, do it. Ultimately, you must do everything within your power to have the best LSAT score you can, the best personal statement, the best letters of recommendation, the best Why X essay, and so on (and if you need help with any of those, we can help). Quadruple-check your application for errors before submitting it and make sure you examine every word as if your future depends on it. Because it does.