Cornell Law Why Cornell Essay

LSAT and Grade Point Medians

When should I take the LSAT?

We recommend that you sit for the LSAT only once you are well prepared.

Taking the June, September, or December exam will allow you to apply under one of our Early Decision options. For regular admission, taking the exam in June or September will allow you time to retake it in December and still meet our February 1 application deadline.

Do you accept the February LSAT for admission?

Yes; however, your application will be considered late and admission will be on a space available basis.

How does the Admissions Committee view a canceled LSAT score?

A single canceled score has no impact on the evaluation of an application but please feel free to explain the circumstances surrounding your cancellation.

What is the oldest LSAT score you will accept in order to apply for the Fall 2018 cycle?

  • We do not accept LSAT scores that are more than five years old.
  • Applicants applying to enroll for fall 2018 must have taken the LSAT on or after June 2012.

What is the median LSAT score?

The median LSAT score for the 2017 entering class was 167 and the median undergraduate GPA was 3.77.

If I got a low score the first time, should I retake the LSAT?

The decision to retake the LSAT is a complex and personal one. Factors we think an applicant should consider are:

  • Did your score significantly differ from your practice tests?
  • Can you identify something in particular that might have negatively affected your score the first time (you did not properly prepare, you were sick, there was a marching band outside the exam site, etc.?
  • Will I be able to increase my score by more than 3 points?

Depending on your answers, you should think about retaking the test. The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) has data that supports the view it is likely that a second score will not be a substantial improvement. Most people who retake the LSAT do not score higher than 1 to 2 points.

If I take the LSAT more than once, will you take the highest score or the average of the scores?

In general, Cornell Law’s policy is to take the higher score if it is at least 3 points higher than a prior score, but the Admissions Committee invites applicants to submit an addendum to their application explaining the different LSAT scores and why we should take the higher score. We will not hold an application from review for a future exam. The LSAT score(s) in the CAS report at the time of application will be considered during the review of your file.

Must I register with the Credential Assembly Service?

  • Yes, you must register for the Credential Assembly Service at LSAC.
  • LSAC will send your CAS report to us once it is complete based on our requirements

  • A complete CAS report consists of your LSAT score(s), your academic transcripts, LSAT writing sample, and two letters of recommendation.

Where do I find out about

Credential Assembly Service

Find out more about both by going to LSAC.

How important is the Law School Admission Test (LSAT)?

The Admission Committee looks at a number of factors when making admissions decisions. Certainly, academic potential as measured by the LSAT and GPA play an important role in the admissions process.

We use more than numbers to evaluate our candidates. We also consider extracurricular and community activities, life experience, work background, and recommendations.

We subscribe to Cornell’s long-standing tradition of affirmative action and members of traditionally underrepresented racial and ethnic groups are encouraged to discuss their status where they think it relevant.

Is there a minimum GPA or LSAT requirement?

No, there is no minimum GPA or LSAT.

Do Admissions Committee members examine transcripts?

Admission Committee members review every transcript and take into consideration factors that may have had an impact on an applicant’s grade point average. We strongly consider:

  • Trends in an applicant's grades
  • Grading curves at the college or university
  • Rigor of the courses taken

Do you take into account grades received in graduate school?

While grades received in graduate studies are not counted as part of your grade point average, we do review graduate school transcripts and take note of grades received. A strong graduate school record is generally viewed as a plus.

How does the Committee view pass/fail grades on transcripts?

The Committee considers the circumstances, including whether such courses were required or optional, how many and in which subjects pass/fails were earned, etc. Please include any narratives or course evaluations of these courses with your transcripts and applications if they are available.

How should I submit foreign transcripts?

If all undergraduate work was completed at institutions outside the United States (including its territories) and/or Canada, we require that your foreign transcripts be submitted through the LSAC Credential Assembly Service.

If you completed any post-second­ary work outside the U.S. (including its territories) or Canada, you must use this service for transcript evaluation and authentication of your foreign transcripts. This service is included in the Credential Assembly Service subscription fee. A Foreign Credential Evaluation will be completed by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), and will be incorporated into your Law School report.

Exception: If you com­pleted the foreign work through a study-abroad, consortium, or exchange program sponsored by a U.S. or Canadian institution, and the work is clearly indicated as such on the home campus transcript.

To use the Credential Assembly Service, log in to your online account with LSAC and follow the instructions to regis­ter for the service. To use the authentication and evaluation feature, you must register for the Credential Assembly Service and you must request that the appropriate documents (e.g. mark sheets, academic records, diplomas degree certifications, transcription) be sent directly to LSAC from the institution(s) you attended. Remember you must print out a Transcript Request Form and send it promptly to each institution that possesses a transcript for you. Foreign transcripts usually require more time to process than U.S. transcripts.

Questions about the Credential Assembly Service can be directed to LSAC at 215-968-1393 or LSAC's help page.

Is a TOEFL score required for the JD program?

No, the TOEFL is not required for JD applicants.

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Preparation for Law School

What should I study?

There is no particular major or curriculum that is required for admission to law school. An entering class typically represents 40 or 45 different majors. The majors most commonly found in our entering class are political science, history, economics, English, psychology, and philosophy. Some atypical majors that we think provide particularly good training for law school are computer science, mathematics, classics, and physics. Typically ten percent of the entering class has majored in a "hard" science.

Pursuing a particular major simply because you think it will give you an advantage in the law school admissions process is an exercise in futility. You are less likely to perform well in a major that doesn’t engage you. We recommend, therefore, that you study subjects that are challenging and interesting to you and that you follow your academic passion.

Because we seek curricula that are both broad and deep, we also recommend that you take challenging courses in your chosen core field and that you branch out and test yourself in areas outside your comfort zone. Classes that give you experience with close reading of texts, detailed analysis, logical reasoning, and extensive writing are always helpful.

What extracurricular activities should I participate in?

As with majors, we have no pre-conceived list of “best extracurricular activities.” You should pursue the areas that interest you. Although in general we like to see some evidence of involvement and engagement in something outside of academic studies, we have no particular preference for the type of activity.

We advise students to focus their interests and work to obtain a leadership role in whatever activities they pursue. We are looking for the quality of your extracurricular activity, not the sheer quantity of your memberships in clubs or groups.

In preparing your application, keep in mind that it is helpful if you give us some sense of the nature and extent of your involvement; if the name of a group or organization is a little mysterious to the uninitiated, it might be helpful to describe briefly the mission or purpose.

What if I have a disciplinary record?

It is always best to answer questions concerning your disciplinary record fully and openly, and to provide a detailed explanation. 

Complete accuracy is required in all statements made on any portion of the application.  To ensure that decisions are based on factual information, we audit some applications at random each year.  In addition, you are required to update us about any changes that take place after submission of the application.  Inaccurate, incomplete, or misleading statements, or failure to update, can result in withdrawal of admission offers, honor code proceedings, dismissal from Cornell Law School, rescission or cancellation of any degrees you may have received from Cornell Law School, or other disciplinary sanctions.

Note: In some states you must register with the Board of Bar Examiners before beginning the study of law.  Make sure you check the requirements in the state(s) where you want to practice.  All applicants are advised that there are character, fitness, and other qualifications for admission to the bar.  Prior to your matriculation at Cornell Law School, you are encouraged to determine what those bar admission requirements are in the state(s) in which you intend to practice.

Are all applications read?

Yes, each application is thoroughly reviewed, and all of the components of your application will be considered. We do not make any decisions based solely on numerical scores.

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