Predicting Law School Academic Performance from LSAT Scores and Undergraduate Grade Point Averages: A Comprehensive Study
David A. Thomas
Brigham Young University - J. Reuben Clark Law School
Arizona State Law Journal, Vol. 35, pp. 1007-1028, Fall 2003
The study reported in this article is partially intended to identify the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) predictive value for overall law school academic performance compared with first-year law school academic performance. The study also identifies and compares undergraduate grade-point average (GPA) predictive value in both settings. Finally, the study identifies and compares, in both settings, the predictive value of the GPA/LSAT combination used at the author's own law school, a combination usually referred to by the Law School Admission Council as the "index," and which is customized to each law school's admission patterns.
Based on an analysis of twenty-seven years of admissions and academic records from Brigham Young University's J. Reuben Clark Law School (covering graduating classes 1976-2002), the author documents the following three conclusions:
1. The predictive power of the LSAT score, undergraduate GPA and a combination of those two measures in an "index" is about the same, both for first-year and for overall academic performance.
2. Although the differences may be small or statistically insignificant, the LSAT score is a better predictor than GPA of first-year law school performance, and GPA is a better predictor of overall law school performance. An index with a combination of LSAT score and GPA is substantially better than either LSAT score or GPA alone in predicting both first-year and overall law school performance.
3. The predictive power of any of these measures is not strong, and only the most general patterns may be discerned. Entering law students should not feel that their future academic success is either unduly limited or assured by the quality of their academic credentials.
Section II of this article describes the informational resources available for carrying out this study. Section III describes the methodology used, and Section IV displays the data generated by that methodology. In Section V the author analyzes the data for what they reveal about the power of LSAT and GPA credentials to predict law school academic performance, and Section VI contains a conclusion and summary.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 22
Keywords: Law school admission test (LSAT), undergraduate grade-point average (GPA), Law School Admission Council (LSAC), law school admissions, legal education, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University, law student performanceAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: July 29, 2008
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