Reach, Target, and Safety Schools
When you put together a list of law schools, you should prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I advise many applicants to use the rule of three: apply to at least three reach, target, and safety schools, respectively.
A reach is a school that you probably won’t get into but might. Usually, this means that your top LSAT score and your LSAC GPA are both below the school’s medians, or that—regardless of your GPA—your LSAT score is below the school's twenty-fifth percentile. Other factors like character and fitness issues, multiple LSAT takes, or being an international applicant can affect your chances.
If your top LSAT score and GPA are both below a school’s twenty-fifth percentiles, or if one of your numbers is just below the median while the other is way below the median, the school is probably a super reach. Although you have nothing to lose by applying (except time and money), I wouldn’t substitute a super reach for a more plausible reach.
A target is a school you have a decent chance of getting into. Usually, this means that your LSAT score and GPA are close to the school’s medians, or that one is above and the other below.
A safety is a school you’ll probably get into. Usually, this means that your LSAT score and GPA both exceed the school’s medians. A school is super safe if your LSAT score and GPA both exceed the school’s seventy-fifth percentile—assuming, of course, that you don’t have any major character and fitness issues.
You should consider applying to safeties even if you don’t intend to go to them because they may offer you scholarship money. It’s sometimes possible to turn an offer of aid from a lower-ranked school into an offer of aid from a higher-ranked school.
Using Our Predictor
We made a statistical model of real results to build a 7Sage Predictor. Our tool will estimate your chances of admission based on your GPA, LSAT score, and a few other factors.
I like to break schools into five categories based on the predictor's "estimated chances":
- Super reach: 0–20%
- Reach: 21–40%
- Target: 41–60%
- Likely target: 61–80%
- Safety: 81–100%
Please note that those categories are subjective.
Other Helpful Links for Figuring Out Whether a School is a Reach, Target, or Safety
- 7Sage Predictor
- We built this model using data from Law School Numbers (see below) and our students.
- Law School Numbers (LSN)
- LSN is a database of user-reported results. For example, you can view a scatterplot of 2017–2018 results at Harvard by LSAT score (X-axis) and GPA (Y-axis). The filters let you look at results for early decision (ED) and under-represented minority (URM) applicants.
- LSAC Calculator
- LSAC created this resource from law schools’ ABA-reported data. Not every school participates.
- You can see your chances in the right-most column, called “Likelihood.” Hover your mouse over the white band to see a range of odds.
- Law School Medians
- This is our compilation of law school medians.
You can usually use the same personal statement with minor adjustments for every school to which you apply, so the marginal effort of applying to one more school is often small. Some schools, though, have finicky requirements and extra essays.
In any case, applying to more than fifteen law schools is probably overkill.
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