Continued hope for modest law school applicant increase in 2018

After a sharp spike in LSAT test-takers in July 2017, I noted that it was good news, with some caution, because first-time test-takers were slowly becoming smaller and smaller in the LSAT test-taker pool. In December 2017, I noted the same cautious optimism for improved applicant quality and quality this admissions cycle.

You can sort through up-to-date figures at LSAC here to see the pace of applicants, including higher quality and quantity. But, again, cautious optimism is in order.

While LSAT test-takers are up 19% year-over-year, applicants look to rise just 8%--better than a decline or a nominal increase, to be sure, but far short of the surge one might project from LSAT test-takers. Then again, given unlimited repeats, this is hardly a surprise. But another surprise is that despite a number of schools accepting the GRE, we don't see a higher applicant pool given the surge in LSAT test-takers. One might expect that LSAT test-takers now understate applicants. That's apparently not the case (at the moment, on a very superficial level).

Schools should hope that applicants exceed 60,000, which would be the first time since the 2009-2010 cycle. (I should emphasize here that LSAC has changed some of its counting in the last few cycles, so it's a rough approximation to go across years like this.) Additionally, if schools modestly increase their matriculants as the quality and quantity increases, we may see more than 40,000 enrolled for the first time since Fall 2012.

But visualized this way, the sharp increase of LSATs administered is in some contrast to the modest increase in applicants. Time will tell what this cycle holds--and by next fall, we'll know how schools handled this applicant pool in terms of overall matriculants.