Eva Lana is the most knowledgeable LSAT instructor and researcher in the world. She developed the only
complete and general solution for the LSAT. Eva’s work is based on a unique logical deconstruction that
gave rise to a theoretical model of the exam with predictive value. After each LSAT, Eva refines her model
to include even the most subtle changes on the test—most of which were predicted by her model.
Eva Lana is a Harvard graduate, a Bronx Science alumna, a Harvard National Scholar and a fifth
place winner in the Intel Science Talent Search. Her achievements range from chemistry to law, but
the LSAT is her life’s work. In 1990, she developed a formula for the Analytical Reasoning (aka
Games) section of the LSAT that continues to dominate the field because it remains the fastest way
to solve it. In 1991, she left her job as the top-ranking LSAT teacher in the largest commercial LSAT
prep company to found Binary Solution. Within a few years, Binary Solution received academic
recognition for its stellar score improvements, and Eva became the only LSAT professor that has
ever been invited to teach the exam at an Ivy League Law School.
For the last twenty years, Eva has devoted an average of 60 hours per week teaching and researching
the LSAT. During that time, Eva has trained over 5000 students, whose score improvements have
earned over 28 million dollars in merit-based scholarships.
Eva’s constant search for better ways to present the complex material on the LSAT lead to the
development of the tablet lesson in 2005. By combining several software programs on a computer tablet,
Eva discovered a way to allow students to watch a solution being executed directly on the pages of the
LSAT. This in-class demonstration evolved into the most effective online LSAT course available
today. Eva is currently working on a similar platform for schools in China.
While teaching at Columbia Law School, Eva uncovered the parallels between the LSAT and the
law. Most notably, she wrote the only Casebook for the LSAT—which includes typical as well as
boundary cases of every question type that appears on the LSAT.
Moved by the affirmative action dialogue that reached the Supreme Court in 2003, Eva conducted a
number of studies to prove that LSAT scores correlate more highly with instruction than with other
factors such as gender or race. Today, Eva is the sole provider of the award winning Pipeline to
Justice Program, which she co-teaches with the Associate Dean of CUNY Law School. Eva also
partnered with NYU to create a total access scholarship program for their law school candidates.
DECONSTRUCTING ADMISSIONS: An Essential Guide for Pre-Law Students
Your legal career begins the moment you enter college. That is because Law school admissions is more
numbers‐ driven than any other admissions process, and so, the value of a good Undergraduate Grade
Point Average (UGPA) cannot be overestimated. In addition to your UGPA, law schools will require a
law‐specific admissions test known as the LSAT (Law school Admissions Test), which can comprise as
much as 60% of the admissions decision. The LSAT scale ranges from 120‐180, which looks a bit unusual,
until you remove the 1, in which case the 20‐80 looks similar to the typical 200‐800 score range that the
SAT and GRE employ.
What is totally unique about the LSAT,however, is the fact that LSAT scores get reported in “bands” of
+/‐ 3 points, due to the margin of error of the test. Consequently, a student who scores a 160, will
receive an LSAT score report that provides an actual score of 160 as well as a “score band” which will
span from 157 to 163. This imprecision is due to the fact that LSAT scores tend to distribute bimodally
rather than in the form of a bell curve.
1 The bell curve is preferable for admissions officers because it
creates a slope with fine distinctions, while the LSAT distribution has cusps at certain scores, because
people tend to clump at either end of the LSAT curve. Translation: people either get it or they don’t,
there is little in between. So, by trying to impose a linear ranking onto this situation, some of the
distinctions made between scores are actually inaccurate.
To give you an example—though there are 61 possible LSAT scores between 120 and 180, the top 2% of
the LSAT scorers (known as the 98th percentile because they beat out 98% of the testtakers) get about 8
of those available LSAT scores (173‐180). This means that 2% of the country is ranked using 13% of the
scale—which means that different scores may not be associated with different performance on the test.
Sometimes there is so much room at the top of the LSAT scale, that a high LSAT score does not get
awarded at all. Consequently, a person with one additional correct question may get a 179, rather than
a 177, if no one receives a 178 for that particular LSAT adminsitration. The error of the exam is so
significant that the test writers (known as the Law School Admissions Council, or LSAC) are obligated to
report it. Law Schools compensate for the imprecision of the LSAT scale by looking at LSAT percentiles,
which tend to vary less than the scores themselves ‐‐to get a sense of how LSAT scores correspond to
percentiles, see the following chart2
But this does not mean that Law Schools don’t care about every single LSAT point…
Law schools are practically held hostage by the US News and World Reports Law School Rankings, a
publication widely regarded as the gold standard of the academic ranking system.3
The report ranks Law
Schools mainly by the mean UGPA and LSAT of their entering classes. Harvard’s entering class had a
170/173/175 LSAT spread for its 25th/50th/75th LSAT percentiles ‐‐ and it was still only number two in the
US News and World Reports rankings! If Preparation H can lose the top spot with those numbers, you
can see why Harvard law school may be unwilling to accept an applicant with a mere 167 on the LSAT.
The reality is that even after admitting a staggering number of 170’s , Harvard still lost to Yale, whose
entering 25th/50th/75th percentiles for the LSAT were 170/173/176 ‐‐ a fact that, along with Yale’s small
1 LINK to curves 2 LINK‐ to recent LSAT scaled score v percentile rank 3 LINK‐ US news released annually for all American Bar Association (ABA) approved Law schools
class size, contributed to its being ranked number one. Folks somewhere in Cambridge are undoubtedly
The economic and social impact of the rankings on Law Schools is arguably excessive. Nonetheless, the
Deans at law schools who are charged with guarding the reputations of their schools take these rankings
very seriously, and know that any diminishment in their school’s ranking could trigger the loss of funds,
enrollment and prestige (not to mention the Dean’s job). Alumni contribute more to successful
institutions and people want to apply to top schools, so, this reality will keep numbers central to the
admissions process, even if they are not perfect indicators of a particular applicant’s abilities.
Of course, it’s not all about the numbers, and many admissions officers like to wax on about holistic
admissions, and the importance of other fuzzy factors. A former Dean of Admissions at Columbia Law
School told me that he could fill his class with 180’s but chose not to, though at least half of his entering
class scored a 178 or better on the LSAT. At a cocktail party I once sidled up to a Yale admissions officer
only to discover that he wasn’t sure what the 120‐180 scale meant, and didn’t care much for the LSAT in
the final analysis, even though he admitted that by the time he was reading an application, it had been
screened for an LSAT score that was at least in the 98th percentile. This still sounds very numbers‐ based,
if you ask me. With one caveat: that once a candidate reaches a law school’s UGPA/LSAT threshold,
other factors will start to play an important role in a school’s final decision to accept or reject that
Admissions officers have an acronym for the total picture of an applicant—ALURP, which stands for
Application, LSAT, UGPA, Recommendations and Personal Statement. At a convention of law school
admissions officers, I constantly heard them asking “how’s his ALURP?” while discussing candidates. So,
there is no doubt that many factors play a role in admissions, and that you should mind your GPA,
endear yourself to recommenders and have a robust resume to attach to your application. I also
recommend that you get a book of Personal Statements that worked (there is even one called 55
Successful Harvard Law School Application Essays), and a few people to read your final draft. But in the
end, nothing succeeds like high numbers, not least because lawyers are very practical people who are
fond of applying objective standards to resolve issues of uncertainty. And your UGPA/LSAT combination
gives them an anchor that appeals to their sense of fairness, makes their decisions efficient and ensures
that the entering class can handle the rigors of law school.
Back to the numbers: Determing your odds of admission using the UGPA/LSAT
So, as you start to dream about your legal career, and choose the law schools that are right for you,
seriously consider the UGPA/LSAT combination you will need in order to gain admission to those
schools. You can do this by consulting LSAC’s very groovy UGPA/LSAT calculator, which is based on
official data gathered by LSAC and can be found here
https://officialguide.lsac.org/release/ugpalsat/ugpalsat.aspx. The data that powers LSAC’s UGPA/LSAT
search datatbase is very reliable because, in addition to adminsitering the LSAT, LSAC acts as a
clearinghouse for law school applications and provides the schools with official LSAT score reports—so
they actually have all of the data. Indeed, it is impossible to apply to law school unless you enroll in the
Credit Assembly Service (CAS) offered by LSAC, so that your data can be compiled and shared with lawschools on your list. Every part your applications (such as your transcript and recommendation letters)
must be uploaded to this online platform, which costs $165, unless you can obtain a fee waiver.4
Law schools generally employ a weighted sum formula called the Index to rank candidates and that
formula has separate coefficients for the GPA, the LSAT and certain fuzzy factors, so it looks like this:
INDEX= A(GPA) + B(LSAT) + C. Some schools even release their coefficients5
. The LSAT coefficent tends
to bring the value of that single score to at least the value of the UGPA. In some schools (especially large
state schools, and schools looking to claw up in the rankings) the LSAT carries more weight than the
GPA. This is largely due to the fact that LSAT scores are awarded nationally, and so there is a cap on the
number of good LSAT scores out there, which makes a high LSAT score scarcer than a high UGPA.
Admissions committees increase their efficiency by drawing a line at some minimum Index value, based
on the A and B coefficients alone ‐‐which means only the hard numbers‐ UGPA & LSAT‐ are considered
in the first cut. Thus, the UGPA/LSAT calculater approximates the first line drawn by admissions
committees and gives accurate odds of admissions based on a candidate’s hard numbers. Enter a
combination of values for the LSAT and UGPA, and the calculator will instantly report your chances of
admission to each participating law school as bands. The width of the band reflects the effect of the “C”
term ‐‐ the non‐numerical factors that play a significant role in the admissions process. Tinker with the
inputs in the calculator, and you will quickly see that your chances for admission to a school can increase
by 30‐40%, if your LSAT score value increases by a mere 5 points.
Even though this may all sound a little scary, and the competition will be fierce at the best schools,
always aim high. When you draw up your list of schools think to yourself, someone has to get in, why
not me? And work as hard as you can towards the loftiest academic goal you can envision. If you aim
high, then falling short will mean that you end up in great school. But failure to plan and invest effort
today, may jeopardize opportunities for admission in the future.
Although your list will change over the years, and no list can be accurate until you know what your final
UGPA and LSAT values are, having that list frames your goal, and serves as motivation if you are a
freshman or sophomore. As you reach the end of your sophomore year, your plan must crystallize into
action, and the single biggest step in the admissions process will be your LSAT preparation.
3 Js of the LSAT Prep: in January of your Junior year, begin preparing for the June
The LSAT is the only admissions test that is entirely self‐referential‐‐ which means that it provides
enough information for the solution of its own questions. So, the answer is on the page. At bottom, the
LSAT is measuring a thought process, rather than a body of facts or formulas. That thought process
allows you to extract the proper meaning from the words on the pages of the LSAT. Thus, LSAT
preparation is actually a form of linguistic reprogramming geared to the development of a “semantic
net” so that functional language is captured, while extraneous language flows through and is ignored.
4 For details goto www.LSAC.org site 5 LINK to Index coefficentsThe bulk of the language on the LSAT is irrelevant to the solution of its questions, and so the
cornerstone of any solution must be a commitment to never multiply steps.
This belief in simplicity consistent with the fact that the functional language of the LSAT is drawn from
propositional logic and legalease (the latter means words as they are employed by lawyers such as duty,
negligence, intent). It may be that the best preparation for the LSAT is law school itself, but the catch‐22
is that you cannot go to law school until you take the LSAT.
Proper LSAT training will indoctrinate you in the manner of the law—so preparing for the LSAT should
give you an advatage in law school. Unlike a lot of other admissions tests, the relevance of the LSAT to
the study of law is clear—the LSAT measures the basic binary (either/or) reasoning that is the foundation
of the ability to study and practice law.
The LSAT is given 4 times a year: in June, October/September, December and February. June is
considered the first exam of any admissions cycle—as most people will take the LSAT in the very same
year that they apply, with the hope of starting law school the following year. Most top law schools have
admissions deadlines that would not make it feasible to take the February LSAT, and the
October/September LSAT is considered to be the “typical” LSAT date (analogous to the May SAT). The
June LSAT is therefore early, while the December LSAT is slightly tardy, and the February test is
considered a last resort, with the exam itself being undisclosed. The lack of disclosure means that you
will not see the specific results of a February test (ie, your scantron), probably due to the fact that the
February LSAT is not a very popular date, as most top law schools will not accept February scores from
the same year that a candidate hopes to enter law school. The top law schools tend to have application
deadlines in mid‐February, while February LSAT scores are released in early March.
For a college student, the rule of thumb in LSAT prep is the 3Js: in January, of your Junior year, begin
preparing for the June LSAT. The June LSAT is optimal for everyone because it is a forgiving test date—if
for some reason a student requires more time to study, the test date can be shifted to the fall and the
application is still timely. Furthermore, if your first practice test is more than 10 points from your target
score, you will need at least 3 months to prepare for the LSAT, so the 3J approach guarantees that you
will have enough time to prepare. Ideally, it helps to start your preparation at least 6 months in advance,
so that you give the LSAT language a chance to marinate.
Some think the LSAT sucks, others want it abolished, but it’s predictive value is undeniable. Whatever
else can be said about the LSAT, it is a yardstick, a uniform exercise, and the best available indicator of
first year law school performance. Many merit scholarships are based largely on LSAT scores due to the
fact that high LSAT scores are limited, and a law school’s ranking will rise and fall according to the
UGPA/LSAT stats of its entering class. It is impossible for someone to be awarded a high LSAT score
unless that person has competed with everyone in the nation. Meanwhile due to grade inflation, high
GPAs are easier to come by, so you will not stand out as much with a high GPA/ low LSAT combination,
as you would if the situation were reversed.
Survival of the Fittest- Ensuring Diversity
Darwin extolled the value of diversity in the survival of any species. Much like a species, an entering law
school class thrives through a diversity of viewpoints. Stimulating dialogues encourage students toevolve intellectually, and preapre them for the real world. Thus, a numbers exception is made for
candidates who bring “diversity” to the table. But, diversity cannot offset both crucial numbers: diverse
candidates generally have to possess at least one of the hard numbers, so either the GPA or the LSAT
(but not both) has to meet the school’s standards (i.e., the mean). The fact that diversity is cherished in
higher education, means that law schools are trolling for a “critical mass” of interesting, talented people
who have at least one adequate number, and consequently, each Law School Admissions department
has a Minority Admissions Officer who is tasked with attracting qualified, diverse applicants. And though
diversity does not apply exclusively to race, it is largely code for students whose ethnicity/race is Black,
Latino, and Native American Indian. Being Asian, though diverse, does not create much forgiveness on
the numbers since applicants from that pool tend to have uniformly high scores and apply to many
If you bring bona fide diversity, you can consider the 25th percentile of the school as your benchmark for
admissions, since many diverse applicants make up the lowest quartile of a particular school’s numbers.
Along with students of color, one finds certain “high risk” applicants that the school is willing to take a
chance on despite their lack of numbers, due to that person’s diverse background (eg, person is a best
selling author, or a fighter pilot). Most applications include a “Diversity Statement” which minority
students are expected to complete describing their uniqueness as well as any factors they had to
Be Prestige Based and Buy into the Best Brand
I hate to sound shallow, but the rank number of your school is inversely related to your job prospects.
This has never been truer than now, because the collapse of the market in 2008 deeply affected the
legal profession, and many laywers are scrambling to find work. Over the last 4 years, law school
applications have dropped by 40%, because hiring is simply not what it used to be. Though reliable
indicators suggest that the market will recover within a decade, employers can be more choosey as
more Ivy League graduates find themselves in need of work.
The fact is, that all law schools offer the same basic curriculum and cost about the same, so there is no
value‐based reason to settle for a low ranking school. Would you feel good paying the same amount for
a Mercedes as you did for an Accord? Don’t get me wrong, the Accord is one of my favorite cars to drive,
but there’s a reason J‐Lo sings about a Benz in her My Love Don’t Cost a Thing track. The bling is key
here, and it’s not in the price tag, it’s in the status of the school, so do what you can to up your school
status, or you may be carrying a chip on your shoulder for many years. Law is about being “right” and
the appearance of confidence, which can be helped by the reputation of your law school. Your alma
mater can ensure that you command respect before you say a word. The key is to look for schools with
“portable” degrees, namely ones that have name reognition outside of their locale. Partners tend to hire
folks from their own schools, and so if you want to work locally you can be forgiving on the rankings, but
if you leave the area, name recognition will open doors. There is a lot of intellectual machismo in the
law, and a degree from a top school is a way to deflect it.Second Bite at the Apple: Waitlists, Transfers and LLMs
Waitlists, particularly now that law school applciations are at an all‐time low, may be a way into a better
law school, though you may not hear from a school until August. Law schools do not have to report the
scores of applicants they accept from the waitlist, so their rankings are relatively unaffacted. If you are
waitlisted, the key is show continued interest via emails or campus visits. When a seat opens up,
admissions officers does not want to make 10 phone calls, they want to offer the seat to someone they
know will accept this largesse.
If the wait list does not get you into your dream school, the transfer process also offers a second bite at
the apple‐ as you get the degree name from the school that you spent two years at. If you are reading
this article in your senior year, it may be too late to change your numbers. So do what you can with the
cards you have left on your ALURP (upping the LSAT is usually the fastest way to get traction), and apply
to the best schools that your numbers will sustain. Take the best offer you can get, earn great grades
during your first year of law school, and apply to a higher ranked school. The transfer application must
be submitted while you are a 1L , and is based mainly on first‐year law school grades, though they also
look at your LSAT (yes, that number continues to haunt you but is not nearly as crucial as it was in the
standard application process).
Upgrading a law degree after you graduate from law school can also be done by getting an LLM at a
better‐ranked school. This is a meta‐ degree (sort of like a masters in law) that has become popular in
this currently tight job market. The additional degree can also help in areas of law that benefit from
specialization such as tax, national security and environmental law. Employers find applicants with extra
knowledge more desirable as it is an open secret that even recent law graduates from top schools know
less than paralegals about firm life and actual legal practice.
Lawyers are the power brokers, politicos, judges, and businessmen of the future. Lawyers mold social
processes, influence legislation and defend the values that we hold dear. Law school teaches a thought
process that allows you participate fully in the real‐world by understanding its laws. To do that, your
thinking must become rigorous, objective and rational. The law school admissions process reflects a
commitment to those traits, and admissions officers want to ensure that the students they select can
handle the workload, exercise ethics and possess the maturity to practice. Because being a laywer is a
pro‐fession, not just a degree. Law is not for the faint hearted, and the admissions process is not easy,
but for those who want to become laywers, the admissions process offers an excellent introduction to the
field itself. Good luck in all of your endeavors.
Eva Lana, Founder/Author of Binary Solution LSAT Prep, Harvard Class of ’89