This fall, as we always do, we have been aggregating preliminary data for the new entering class: LSAT/GPA medians, class sizes, and (when published, which is relatively infrequently at this stage) acceptance rates. While the official, complete ABA-reported data will not be formally published until December (at which point we will fill in the rest of the spreadsheet), please note that we have only included data that has been officially released by law schools—either on their websites, in an email from a law school administrator, or on their official social media.
You can find the full spreadsheet here, but here's the early data, below.
First, an important caveat: The below numbers do not include the full data set of all law schools. So far, we have 104 schools' median LSATs out of 197 ABA-accredited law schools (~53%), and for multiple reasons, that 53% may not be perfectly representative of the full pool once we have the complete school list.
Entering Class of 2022 Data (So Far)
- 53 schools' LSAT medians did not change from last year
- 45 schools went up (33 are +1, 12 are +2)
- 6 schools went down (5 are -1, 1 is -2)
- 82 schools' GPA medians went up from last year
- 9 schools did not change
- 11 schools went down
- 69 schools decreased their class size from last year
- 25 schools increased
- 3 schools did not change
- The average class size change across all schools so far is -6.54%
We only have 11 schools' acceptance rates so far. The average change is a 1.33% increase from last year, but with so few schools, that number doesn't mean much at this point (if anything).
There are a few interesting (but again, preliminary) takeaways from this data.
As we expected due to the mostly-inadvertent 10% class size increase two cycles ago, most law schools appear to have decreased their class size this year so far, though not yet by enough to "make up" for last year's increase.
LSAT medians are mostly flat so far, but quite a few have gone up as well (admittedly more than we expected). These increases seem to be particularly concentrated in the 15-35 ranked range of schools, which makes sense given that 165+ LSAT scorers continued to make up a disproportionate share of the total applicant pool (relative to historic norms) last cycle.
Probably the most striking takeaway is how many schools have successfully increased their median GPAs (and to what degree—more than half of the schools that have published increases so far improved by over 0.05). GPA inflation has been a phenomenon on the minds of law school admissions offices (and applicants) for years, but many believe that pandemic-era pedagogical changes have led to an acceleration of this inflation. This seems to be panning out in the data.
Let's look back a bit further historically, to the entering class of 2011. It's still too early to make great comparisons here to this year's entering class, so we'll look at entering class of 2021 data for now.
Law School Undergraduate GPA Medians in 2011
- 1 school (Yale) reported a GPA median of 3.9 (zero schools reported a GPA median above 3.9)
- 9 schools reported a GPA median at or above 3.8
- 25 schools reported a GPA median at or above 3.7
Law School Undergraduate GPA Medians in 2021
- 8 schools reported a GPA median at or above 3.9
- 33 schools reported a GPA median at or above 3.8
- 51 schools reported a GPA median at or above 3.7
Compare that to LSAT medians over the same timeframe:
Law School LSAT Medians in 2011
- 2 schools reported an LSAT median at or above 173
- 11 schools reported an LSAT median at or above 170
- 31 schools reported an LSAT median at or above 165
- 72 schools reported an LSAT median at or above 160
Law School LSAT Medians in 2021
- 3 schools reported an LSAT median at or above 173
- 15 schools reported an LSAT median at or above 170
- 33 schools reported an LSAT median at or above 165
- 79 schools reported an LSAT median at or above 160
While there has undeniably been a marked increase in applicants' LSAT scores relative to the past few years (for a simple depiction of this phenomenon, check out our blog from earlier this year, "Five-Year Applicant/LSAT Trends"), the long-term increase in law schools' medians has been notably more extreme with GPAs. There are numerous explanations for why this is happening, including the increasingly consumer-driven higher education model and law schools feeling trapped in the rankings arms race.
There is a silver lining, of sorts, for applicants who do not possess these sky-high GPAs that we are increasingly seeing. We speak to a great many law school admissions officers on a regular basis, and while their medians may be rising to 3.8+ or 3.9+, that does not mean that they are now seeing, say, a 3.75 GPA all that differently. If a school is targeting e.g. a 3.89 median, an applicant with a 3.88 GPA means exactly the same thing (as far as achieving their median goals) as an applicant with a 3.72. All law schools accept "splitters," and if you're below a school's target GPA median but above their target LSAT median, their GPA median increasing probably doesn't mean all that much to your chances.
Apart from your numerical relationship to schools' target medians, which is the most important facet of your undergraduate record to law schools (and again, that is the same whether you are 0.01 below or 0.20 below), your transcript will be evaluated as a whole. If you have, say, a 3.6—but a strong LSAT score, a rigorous course schedule, and strong letters of recommendation—a target school moving their GPA median from 3.79 to 3.84 probably won't make a significant difference to your chances.
Still, we see no signs that the recent GPA inflation will reverse this cycle, and applicants should be prepared that this may be the new GPA reality for years to come.
If you're interested in getting further into the weeds of law school data, analysis, and predictions, these topics come up frequently on our podcast, Status Check with Spivey (also available on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, and other major podcast platforms). We also post regular data updates to our blog and Twitter.