Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Understanding The Impact Of Range Restriction On LSAT Correlation Studies

Richard Gardiner (AccessLex), Understanding the Impact of Range Restriction on LSAT Correlation Studies:

Several empirical studies have found a link between LSAT score and bar exam performance. AccessLex is currently seeking to gain a better understanding of factors, both LSAT score and others, that influence bar passage through the Bar Exam Success Initiative in partnership with LSSSE. So far, our work suggests that there may be a tenuous relationship between the LSAT and bar exam outcome. At 5 of the 19 schools we studied, LSAT scores had some predictive relationship to bar exam performance. These relationships usually faded by the second year of law school, being overshadowed by law school grades. At the other schools, no relationships between LSAT scores and bar exam performance were found. However, there is a reason why the relationship between LSAT and bar passage may be difficult to detect—that being the influence of range restriction. ...

As before, you only accept students with a 155 or higher. But you have never been able to yield those students above 165. You can guess what happens—the correlation drops even further (though very small changes do not necessarily lead to changes lower correlations). Figure 3 shows the new graph, which results in a correlation of 0.14.


I have built an interactive web application where you can filter that same 5,000 simulated individuals. You can view it here: All graphs and the app were built using R. If you have any questions, contact us at

Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink


Use of LSATs within schools is relatively rare. Mr. Gardiner's observations do not undermine the use of LSATs in admissions. What would be really useful would be the same school-restricted analysis for GPAs, particularly if they could be segmented by public v private universities (there is much greater grade inflation in the latter).

Posted by: Theodore Seto | Oct 23, 2019 6:54:42 AM

Law school needs to justify itself as more than a HORRENDOUSLY EXPENSIVE hurdle to the bar exam.

Most of a "elite" 1L year - that didn't get halfway through some Emanuels my dad picked up at the library for a buck each - taught me only to resent the patronizing big government that foisted debt on us. The tax classes were good, though I wondered why the successful semi-retired biglaw adjuncts needed the school collecting rent in the middle.

Just let us spend $2500 on Barbri (or a few hundred bucks on Kaplan and the LSAT first if you must) - or a few tens of dollars on self-study - or smile and ask the nice predecessor foreign student for her two-hundred-page outline better than all the above, and have at it!

(Dean Caron will take care of the stimulating discussion :))

Posted by: Anand Desai | Oct 23, 2019 5:03:01 PM