Now with that said, I do believe that one with low test scores has to be realistic about their aspirations.
One who scores a 176 has only exhibited that he or she can do exceptionally well on a standardized test. Have you taken a standardized test throughout your law school experience? I personally would not think so.
George Washington. I had to stay in the DC area because my employer is paying for law school and GULC is hella out of the way from where I work and live. What about you?
One's performance on a standardized test shouldn't be completely disregarded. Since most people have similar test-prep resources (books, courses, practice tests), someone who effectively utilizes these resources to get a better score is probably better suited for an academic environment. Although I generally agree that people with very low LSAT scores should be realistic about their admissions prospects, I also think there is a significant economic disadvantage for some people that should not be dismissed or disregarded so easily. I was technically homeless when I began preparing for taking the LSAT and applying to law school and had to choose between buying a prep book and buying food at some points. I certainly could never have dreamed of taking a prep course or even the amount of self-study materials a prep course would include. While I realize that this is a relatively uncommon experience, many prospective law students face serious economic problems that limit their access to the preparation assistance that most pre-law students take for granted (receiving a private LSAT tutor for several hours a week as a birthday gift, or just because one's parents are willing and can afford to provide this opportunity to help their child succeed, etc.). I am by no means begrudging the more fortunate the benefit of their opportunities, but as someone from a very poor background, I think the issue is more complicated than it first appears. Many of the T10 schools now provide substantial grants and scholarships based on financial need instead of the exclusively merit based scholarships that the lower-ranked schools tend to offer. I knew that it would be cheaper for me to go to Harvard than to go to my local second tier law school because of this disparity in aid resources. That having been said, I worked extremely hard and quite literally sacrificed a lot (about 20 pounds of unneeded weightloss) to prepare for the LSAT and break 170 to get into one of those T10 schools (otherwise, I would have had to go to a very low-ranked school that would have offered me a full merit scholarship, as I did in undergrad). However, I did so on my own with just two old, worn, used copies of commercial LSAT prep books. I've always been a good standardized tester and won scholarships to get through undergraduate school with a 4.0, but I think that economic circumstances definitely contribute to a person's ability to prepare. Those of us that grew up poor were told that education was the way out of poverty, but access to higher education is largely dependent on some level of wealth and the opportunities for self-improvement that come along with having money. Most law schools fail to recognize this, although Yale now asks applicants what assistance they had in preparing their applications and for the LSAT. They say having taken a course does not reflect positively or negatively on a person's chances, but that if a candidate who had no such assistance did as well or better than another candidate who had lots of help, the level of work each candidate put into preparing would be compared. I think that someone with unfortunate personal circumstances beyond their own control who has demonstrated their intellectual and scholastic abilities in other ways besides the LSAT deserves consideration in an holistic admissions decision-making process. I think this is a good thing, especially considering that there are now entire marketing firms devoted exclusively to getting people into Ivy League schools, for both graduate and undergraduate admission, charging several thousands of dollars to "package" you attractively to admissions committees. Combine this with legacy policies (whether official or not, we all know that the kid whose daddy donated the money for the new campus Planetarium is getting in, regardless of how many prep schools he's been expelled from, etc.), the boost an applicant from a top tier undergraduate school gets based on the prestige of the institution, and the increasingly exorbitant cost of even applying to law school (between the LSAT, LSDAS registration, score report fees, and application fees, etc.) and it is clear that poor applicants are at a significant disadvantage in comparison to well-off or even middle-income applicants. Consideration of these factors is an effort to compensate for some of these handicaps.